Tips For Better Archery Shooting | Transitioning From Target Practice to a Hunting Scenario
Before taking to the field, it is the duty of every hunter to make sure they are as deadly as possible with their weapon of choice. As bow hunters, learning how to properly shoot a compound bow and how to shoot a bow accurately is not only our right, but our responsibility. Put your time in practicing the basics of shooting a compound bow and applying those acquired skills to situations similar to those you will face in the field before putting yourself in a hunting situation and better archery shooting and bow hunting success are sure to follow.
Archery Shooting Form
The single most important thing to remember when it comes to proper compound bow shooting technique is form. Archery shooting form pertains to everything from the way the archer holds the bow in their hand, to the positioning of their elbows, to the direction their feet are facing in relation to the target they intend to hit. Perfect form yields a perfect shot every time. Perfect form…Perfect shot…Get it?
Starting with the base of the shot, and archer’s feet should be shoulder width apart, toes directly perpendicular to the target. Starting from this position, the spacing between the feet may be spread wider apart or closer together depending on what is more comfortable for the shooter. Keep in mind that the wider an archer’s feet are spread apart, the sturdier they will be. Western hunters and those who prefer still-hunting often have a variety of options when it comes to foot placement, including shooting from a kneeling position. Where as the Eastern or Midwestern whitetail hunters who, because of small tree stand platforms, are often have limited footing options while preparing for a shot. As a happy medium, practicing with your feet shoulder width apart offers plenty of stability during the shot while keeping you within the confines of a tree stand platform. As a general rule, consider the position from which you will most likely making make a shot in the field and practice accordingly.
In regards to hand and elbow placement, there are several archery shooting techniques that can make or break your shot; one of the most important being the archer’s non-dominant hand. This hand is used the hold the bow, and coincidently has a tremendous influence on the accuracy of the shot. There are several issues that can be caused by this point of contact and all of them involve torque. Basically, any kind of pressure that is put on the bow that is not directly on the center point of the riser causes torque, which negatively influences the movement of the string in relation to the position of the bow, decreasing the accuracy of the shot. The more torque caused by the shooter, the more inaccurate the shot will be. In the same way, different methods of causing torque like inconsistent hand placement will cause inconstant arrow groupings, and an extremely irritated archer in most cases.
The best way to eliminate torque caused by the non-dominant hand is to make as little contact with the bow as possible. Ideally, the bow grip will rest in your hand where the thumb meets the center of your palm, uninfluenced by any other point on the hand. This is the point of least mobility in you hand and offers the least interference with the natural firing sequence of the bow. Some archers have a tendency to grip the bow with their hand. This may cause torque on the bow because you are not allowing it to rest naturally at its center most point. Be mindful of finger positioning and tense muscles in your hand that may negatively affect your shot. Certain bow grips are also available to decrease bow to hand contact, decreasing torque imposed on the bow, and increasing shooting accuracy. The bow is a machine. It will fire in exactly the same way every single time. The archer, in this case, is the only thing that can interfere. Remove as much human contact with the bow as possible and it will continue to fire in exactly the same way every single time.
In conjunction with non-dominant hand positioning, elbow placement plays an important role in how to shoot a bow accurately. The elbow on your non-dominant side should be stiff and slightly bent to avoid interference with the string and potentially a world of pain. You know who you are… The elbow on your dominant side should be positioned in such a way that your forearm as directly parallel with the arrow. This minimizes torque by facilitating a clean break between your release and the D-loop or string itself depending on your setup. There are also releases available on the market today that help minimize torque caused by human error.
With feet planted, elbows in position, and hands relaxed, hopefully you have a solid understanding of the proper way to shoot a compound bow. Now we can focus on actually firing the bow.
There are several bad habits that can develop as a result of practicing poor form. These poor shooting habits can get worse over time and are often amplified in hunting situations. Fortunately, they can be remedied and avoided altogether by practicing correct compound bow shooting techniques. By understanding and practicing with perfect shooting form, you will be less likely to develop negative shooting habits.
One of the most important pieces of advice a hunter can be given in regards to how to shoot a bow accurately is this… “Know your release.” It doesn’t matter how fast your bow shoots, or how many pounds you pull, or even how well tuned it is if you don’t know exactly how and when your bow will fire once you put pressure on the release trigger. So, as a basis for better archery shooting, know your release!
A release, just like your bow, will fire exactly the same way every single time. The only room for error is when you introduce a human archer or hunter to the equation. Seeing as we are a necessary part of the equation however, it is important for everyone who shoots with a release to practice and practice and practice until firing your release becomes second nature. A great way to do this is by shooting at a target from an extremely close range (no more than five yards) with your eyes closed. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly… With your eyes closed! By taking sight picture out of the equation, it forces the archer to focus solely on their form and on the release. As always, make sure you have a safe backstop before practicing this method of shooting. Draw the bow and take aim in the same way you would typically, but before letting the arrow fly, close your eyes and focus on the other elements of the shot besides what you see. This will heighten you awareness of tension required to keep the bow at full draw and also the exact pressure required to release the arrow. Do this repeatedly until releasing the arrow becomes second nature. Now, open your eyes!
After practicing the method above long enough, your body will naturally start to anticipate the arrow being released from the bow, eliminating the need for you to anticipate the shot. This is a difficult concept to get across, but it is extremely important. The idea is to be surprised by the shot every time. Hence the name “surprise release.” This is one of the most important techniques to master in learning how to shoot a bow accurately and is the best way to avoid developing negative shooting habits. Essentially what is happening by practicing with your eyes closed is that your muscle memory is learning the act of shooting your bow correctly without giving your eyes a chance to see the result. Muscle memory takes time to build. This is why repetition is extremely important. Once you have moved on to shooting with your eyes open, your sight and mind aiming the bow first and foremost while your muscle memory takes over the remainder of the shot execution. This is not learned overnight. If you find yourself resorting to bad habits or panicking before the short, go back to the basics and work back slowly to where you were. Eventually, you will develop proper compound bow shooting technique, resulting in better archery shooting.
Take It To the Woods
Now that you’ve mastered you’re shooting form and shot execution, it’s time to put some distance between you and the target. If you’ve been shooting 20 yards and in, try stepping off ten more yards. Once you feel comfortable hitting a target from that range, increase the distance again. As long as you have a safe backstop, don’t be afraid to push yourself. That is what the range is for! One of the biggest misconceptions hunters have about practicing shooting their bow is that they should only practice within a range they feel is ethical for shooting at a an animal. Is it unethical to miss the target in the back yard? No! The best way to improve shot accuracy at close distances is to practice shot accuracy at long distances. As a rule of thumb, you ought to be able to hit a vital sized target on the range at double the distance you plan to shoot in the field. Shooting long distances will increase your comfort at all ranges and make you a better bow hunter in the long run.
Another step you can take to shoot your bow more accurately in a real hunting scenario is to make your practice sessions as realistic as possible. If you’re bow hunting for deer, set up a treestand or ground blind in the back yard to practice shooting from. Pay attention to how different shot angles from elevated positions affect your shooting form and get comfortable shooting from those angles before heading to the woods. If you’re still hunting elk in in the mountains or hogs in the south, practice shooting uphill as well as downhill and from both shooting and standing positions. Practice as if it is the real thing and you’ll perform when the real thing happens…Guaranteed.
The Right Bow
While all of the above is accurate and will more than likely get you to a point where you are able to hit a small target every time in the back yard and even have success while archery hunting for deer and other game, there will most likely come a time when short range accuracy is not enough. Maybe you missed the trophy of a lifetime because of a limb or he was just out of your effective range and elected not to take the shot. The bottom line is an archer is only as good as his gear will allow. Maybe you’re looking for the best bows for deer hunting or turkey hunting in the timber. Or maybe you want a bow for hunting open country when you need to be able to reach out and touch them. By improving different aspects of your archery equipment, barriers can start to be overcome.
Accuracy, speed, and comfortability are all aspects of a bow that are affected by the design and manufacturing process that went into that bow. We at G5 Outdoors take great pride in our manufacturing processes and quality assurance practices, all of which take place right here in the USA. What is the most accurate compound bow on the market? Flat out, we build the most accurate hunting bows and target bows, and the straightest shooting fixed and expandable hunting broadheads in the world. We also produce the Quest Series of bows, which offers an economy option for hunters who still want great quality at a lesser price point. Incredible consideration to detail has gone into each one of these bows from the spreadsheet to the final product, which to us is the trophy of a lifetime hanging on your wall. The archery shooting tips in this article will get you a long way in learning to shoot compound bow, but when your ready to expand your limits as an archer and as a bow hunter, consider one of the models from these lineups to get you where you want to go. You won’t be disappointed.