Common Shooting Mistakes with Your Bow
Archery is an art form as much as a skill. Anyone can draw a picture, but becoming the next Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso is a significant challenge. Similarly, anyone can pick up a bow and shoot it with some accuracy. However, it takes years of careful practice to truly become a consistently good archer. If you can eliminate these common shooting mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to mastering your archery skills.
The first shooting mistake you might make starts with your stance. Let’s assume for this article that you’re a right-handed archer. You want your feet to be shoulder-width apart. Imagine an invisible line below you, with your left foot ahead of the line and your right foot behind the line. Both feet should slightly face toward your target, but be roughly parallel with each other. These tips should be enough to keep you balanced and establish a solid foundation for your shot.
Many archers have a tendency to grip their bow too tightly. When you place your bow hand on the side of the bow handle, you’re forced to completely circle your fingers around it to tightly maintain your grip. This also torques the bow at an angle, resulting in inaccurate and inconsistent arrow flight paths. Instead, let the bow naturally sit in the cradle between your thumb and index finger, and maintain a relaxed grip with loose fingers not fully encircling the handle. You’ll end up with more consistent groupings and also be more accurate.
The next shooting mistake most are guilty of is not having consistent anchor points. An anchor point is critical to staying consistent. Without one, your release hand can deviate from near your eye to down by your chin, and your arrows will be all over the board. To be effective, anchor points must be comfortable for the individual archer and easily repeatable. It needs to feel natural and be something that you could settle into in the dark. Some common anchor points include where your release hand contacts your jaw, or where the bowstring contacts your mouth or nose. Anchor points will vary based on what kind of bow you have, as the design and geometry is slightly different. All that matters is having reliable ones that work for you.
Especially when first starting out or when faced with a tense hunting situation, we have a tendency to quickly “punch the release” or pull the trigger. This generally leads to arrows flying off mark and inconsistency. One way to mitigate this issue is to change how you release the arrow. Instead of focusing on slowly squeezing the release with your finger, which will take your attention off of the situation at hand, try this method. Don’t use your finger at all. Slowly continue to contract your back muscles, which will pull your elbow backward slightly until the release lets loose. It will be a surprise, which is actually a good thing for your consistency.
Finally, one of the most common shooting mistakes is not properly following through with your shot. Typically, most archers drop their bow hand immediately after shooting, which can affect your arrow’s flight path significantly. Following through keeps the bow centered and allows the arrow to fully leave the bow in a straight trajectory. This can be very hard in an adrenaline-fueled hunting situation, which is why you need to develop this muscle memory by practicing often. After releasing an arrow, count to three seconds before moving or lowering your bow hand. It will seem like an eternity, but it will also increase your awareness and help develop an automatic response to hold still instead of dropping your hand.
Using these techniques will help you eliminate the most common shooting mistakes and make you a more consistent archer.