Like any sporting professionals, archers have their own quirks and superstitions which they’ll tell you make all the difference between a bullseye and a balk. While not all techniques will work for everyone, most archery aficionados agree that there are a handful of blunders most amateur archers make which keep them off their target. We gathered up the seven most common mistakes for our list of things you should look for if you want to improve your bow game.
7. Your Stance Isn’t the Right One
It seems like a no-brainer, but proper form is number one in fundamentals. If that sounds redundant, that would be the point. It’s the first thing you learn and it’s the one thing people tend to lose the quickest. When shooting, your feet should ideally be placed a shoulder width apart, which will give you a solid foundation upon which to pivot whichever your dominant hand is, drawing the bow across your body. A line drawn from your draw hand up the arrow to the target should be a straight one.
6. Rotating Your Elbow Will Hurt Your Shot and Your Arm
You’ve no doubt experienced string slap or the dreaded bruising which comes from the bowstring slapping against the meat of your forearm. This is because your arm, specifically your elbow, is rotated in, exposing the fleshy part of your arm to the lighting quick snap of the bowstring when you loose it. You can rectify this by straightening your arm as much as possible when you’re drawing back your bow. Not monitoring this is a surefire guarantee that your arrows will veer off target and you’ll be icing your arm when you get home.
5. Are Your Fingers In The Right Place?
Watch a first time archer place their fingers on the bowstring and what will you see? You’ll see someone knot the string beneath most of their fingers and deathgrip the nock. Like .38 Special said, you’ve “Hold On Loosely”. If you “hook” your bowstring, you’ll be applying too much tension to arrow and when you loose it, you’re sacrificing precious control over its trajectory. You exert plenty of grip strength and draw strength at your top most knuckle. Just grip the nock and string there and your shots will fly true.
4. Anchoring Means Consistency
When you draw your bow, do you bring it to the same place every time? Is it against your chin, or against your nose? Do you feel comfortable in that position? These are pretty basic questions, but this is a basic oversight every archer is guilty of on the way up to consistent shooting. It’s one part being comfortable with your equipment, but it’s two parts being comfortable with your body and your technique. Practice really does make perfect, so take this one in stride. You’ll find your groove eventually, and when you do, lock it in and keep it there.
3. That Target Isn’t As Far As You Think It Is
Judging distances is one of those elements of archery that really comes with time, but there are a few other contributing factors that you can overlook. If you’re using a pin sight for instance, double check it before you hit the range or the field. Those pins are sensitive and can get banged around and fall out of place a lot easier than you think. Wind can also have a negative effect on your arrow’s trajectory, just like when shooting rifles over long distances. Compensate accordingly and it will be straight shooting from then on.
2. Grip and Torque Are Working Against You
Because of the tensions, draw weight, and sheer strength needed to pull a bow back all the way, inexperienced archers will almost always hold the both with an overzealous and overcompensating grip like one would use with something you know is going to recoil in a big way, like a high-caliber firearm. A bow has very little recoil, outside of the string returning to its taut state. The key to a proper hold is simply to brace the bow naturally between your thumb and forefinger, allowing the equipment to do the work, and minimizing your hand’s influence on the pitch of the bow and thus the trajectory of your shot.
1. Caught You Looking
Overeager and impatient archers suffer this problem constantly. If you’re not willing to take your time and methodically work through your shot process step-by-step, you’re in store for many missed shots and even more frustration because of it. Don’t loose your shot until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready to and don’t aim before you draw. You’d be surprised how much of an improvement you’ll see in yourself and your shooting once you give yourself the space and time to work through your shots with patience and consistent methodology.
While you may not be guilty of these foul-ups yourself, we’ll bet they’ve happened from time to time anyhow, or perhaps you know someone who needs that extra push to make them great. Share this with them and remind them that these mistakes are easy enough to correct and you’ll find that once you do, you’ll be back to shooting straight in no time.