Basics

TEN STEPS OF ARCHERY

These ten basic steps for shooting are easy to learn and remember however, mastering these steps can lead to years of success.

Stance

A straight upright steady stance is required for a consistent shooting. Archers should avoid leaning in any direction and should always remain as square to the target as possible.

  • Stand comfortably and relaxed with the toes of your feel lined up perpendicular to the center of the target unless an open/closed stance is required.
  • You should have an equal amount of weight each foot and equal weight on the heel and ball of the foot.

Fingers

For consistent shooting, an archer needs to maintain proper placement of the arrow on the bow and proper finger placement on the bowstring.

Start by placing the arrow on the bow,

  • First place the arrow shaft onto the arrow rest and then attach the nock to the bowstring below the nocking point making sure the odd colour fletching (or index fletch) is facing towards the archer. (This is required so that the fletchings do not make contact with the bow after you release.)

Place your fingers on the Bowstring

  • Using only your first three fingers, the index finger is placed above the nocking point and the middle and ring fingers are placed below the nock. The little finger is not used and should be tucked down and under your finger tab.
  • Hook your fingers around the bowstring between the first knuckle and second knuckle and the remaining portion of the fingers need to  be as straight and flat as possible.
  • Tuck your thumb down into the palm of your hand so you can use the knuckle as your anchor point under you chin.
  • It is important not to pinch the arrow as this will negatively affect the arrow flight and produce inconsistent shots.

Grip

You need to properly grip your bow and this begins with the proper hand placement.  The proper bow arm needs to maintain two axis’s of stability including the forward/backward motion and top/bottom twisting motion. Consistency is extremely important.

Grip the bow,

  • Using the bow handle with a firm but relaxed hand, center the bow with the pointer finger and the thumb, aligning the center of the bow with the center of the “V” in your hand.
  • To help you adapt to any top/bottom twisting motion, the back of your hand should have the knuckles at a downward 45 degrees away from the bow.
  • While shooting, pressure should be placed on the ball of your thumb muscle (Thenar muscle) with the pressure going straight back through your bow arm.
  • Quick Tip: Try using a bow sling or finger sling to help maintain a relaxed grip on the bow

Bow Arm

Your bow arm in combination with your bow hand placement manages the left-right motion of your bow. Therefore, once your bow hand is correct, you need to maintain a strong and correct bow arm to avoid injury and perform consistent shots.

Bow arm

  • Your arm should be at shoulder height with the ball of your shoulder set squarely in the shoulder socket. Without your shoulder in the proper location, your shots will be inconsistent and can lead to rotator cuff damage.
  • Your bow arm needs to be strong, without hyper-extending your elbow. To make sure the elbow does not interfere with the string, it should be slightly turned inward and/or down slightly to keep the elbow away from the string.  To avoid injury most archers use an armguard to protect their forearm.
  • Setup with your pre-aim slightly above the center of the target

Draw

Now that you have created a proper foundation, you can begin the actual shot by drawing the string.

  • Starting with the bow string in a deep hook between the first and second knuckles, draw the string slowly back and flatten the back of your hand until the bowstring nestles into the first knuckles.
  • Most archers use a finger tab or glove to protect their fingers and create a smooth surface for release
  • Your fingers when drawing the bowstring require equal amounts of pressure. Too much pressure with the top or bottom finger will cause the arrow to fly high or low
  • In a single smooth motion, draw the string back towards your anchor point in a straight horizontal line using your back muscles and by rotating your shoulder.
  • Remember to maintain your form by standing straight, relaxed and keeping your bow arm shoulder in the socket.

Anchor

All archers need an unchanging anchor point for their draw hand, a location on or below their chin to ensure you have a consistent starting point for your hand and string.  The anchor needs to be consistent and repeatable every shot.

  • A good anchor point consists of an unchanging triangle with the string touching the center of your nose and the center of your chin and your thumb tucked squarely under your chin and the shelf of your index finger riding along your chin.
  • Keep your head straight, bring the string to your nose, and chin. Do not lean forward to touch the string
  • Chewing bubble gum, talking, or even moving your chin will results with inconsistent shots and therefore lower scores since you are changing the angle of the string.
  • Keeping your shoulders relaxed and in their sockets and pointing your draw arm backwards.
  • When using a clicker (draw length checker) bring the point of the arrow to touch the edge of the clicker.
  • Check your string alignment by matching the blurred image of the string in relation with the center of the bow’s riser.

Aim

Aiming is often confused as the most important step in archery, however it is the shortest and simplest step.

  • Keeping both eyes open and using your dominant eye move the sight to the center of the target.
  • In various weather conditions, you may need to adjust left or right to compensate for wind, humidity, etc…
  • Since it is next to impossible to maintain perfectly still, try making miniature figure-eights to help keep the sight on the center of the target.

Release

A smooth release is the most important step in archery since this can affect the arrow flight the most. With your proper foundation setup and the arrow at full draw, now it is time to let the bow do the work and drive the arrow at the target.

  • Simply relax your draw hand while forcing your draw elbow backwards. Let the force of the string draw your fingers backwards and out of the way.
  • Remember to draw your hand backwards along your chin. Do not use your muscles to open your hand because if you flick your fingers outward you will change the arrow flight causing inconsistent shots and therefore lower scores
  • If you are using a clicker (draw length checker), bring your back muscles together (Rhomboideus Major muscles) to move the arrow over the clicker. Once you hear the “click” sound relax your hand and finish the shot.
  • Remember to keep your bow arm strong and still during the release since any movement will affect arrow flight.

Follow-through

Once you have released the string and the arrow in flight you still need to finish the shot during the follow-through stage.

  • Keeping your bow arm strong relax your bow hand and let the bow drop. Your draw hand should be relaxed and it should be near or behind your ear.
  • Most archers employ a bow or finger sling to catch the bow during this stage.
  • Keep aiming at the target until the arrow hits the target

Relax

After the arrow has reached the target, it is time to relax and reflect about the shot. Try to remember the feeling of your entire body for good shots and remember what you need to repeat for consistent shots.

  • Now is the time to correct inconsistent form or make any necessary adjustments to your sight.

15 thoughts on “Basics

  1. Pingback: Stance: The Foundation of a Great Shot « Jordan Sequillion

  2. I’m having some serious trouble with my anchor point and follow through. Every time I hit my target-box, the arrow is always hitting it in an angle and I’m not sure what’s causing it .:(

    • E. Perez… Without seeing you shoot, it can be one of two issues.

      1) You are “Plucking” the string. Make sure you are relaxing your fingers and your elbow is travelling straight back with power.

      2) Or your equipment is not setup properly. The arrows, plunger and draw weight need to be in sync. Visit your local archery shop for help.

      If you can have someone watch or video yourself. Make sure that your hand and and elbow are moving straight back. Your fingers should ride along your chin until your ear.

  3. I noticed that my bow arm is always moved slightly to the right instead of straight. I’m thinking it’s because my body is instinctively doing it in fear of getting string slap. I’m roughly two-months new into Archery and I currently have a PSE Optima.

    • This could be the problem, since for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. If you draw the string back and your hand moves to the right. Then on release the sting moves forward and to the left.

      You need to move the string straight back with your elbow in line with the center of the target. One way you can train your body is to have someone stand behind you and have them gently place their hand on your elbow at full draw. Then push their hand out of the way as you release. Note: This will give you more power and help train your arm to move straight back.

  4. I just wanted to ask, with regards to the form, if I should be expanding my chest during the draw (pulling your shoulders back towards the spine) in order to activate the back muscles to take the load rather than the arms.

    • No, you want to use the rhomboid major muscles (between the shoulder blades and spine) to create back tension. By compressing them together, it will draw the arrow past the clicker for the shot.

      In the future, I will do another blog about the entire process.

  5. hi there. im not sure if my grip is incorrect but the thumb knuckle where my thumb connects to my hand on my bow hand starts to hurt after shooting for like 10 minutes. does that mean it is not centered enough? or is it possible to buy a replacement grip or even just place a small adhesive cushion where my thumb knuckle meets the grip

    • Hi, So it could be a couple of things…

      First. Make the pressure is resting on the V muscles of your hand at full draw (Knuckles roughly at 45 degrees ) Second, you can try either wrapping your grip with a tennis handle wrap (to make larger) or shaving it down to make it smaller.

      Note: you can purchase replacement grips, however it may be easier and cheaper to determine what is wrong to start.

      Please let me know if this helps.

      Jordan

  6. Thanks so much for liking my post “Move Over Robin Hood”. I know there is so much to learn since this is all new to me – I really the Basics page here to see what it is all about. I will update any time I learn something new. It is an adventure and I am excited to try it.

  7. Great site – enjoy your clear & concise explanations – good luck with kinesiology – archery & education are synonymous for me – M

  8. My 3X10 arrows for 18M/40cm score is ~ 175 for a long time (both indoor and outdoor). I feel hard to improve the score/consistency. How can I make a breakthrough? I am a 12 years girl. Maybe I should buy more expensive arrows?

  9. how to avoid bow arm (and shoulder) drop right after release? My understanding is that the bow arm should be strong and straight, and only drop the bow hand (dog sit) with the help of sling. My bow is very heavy, I have a tendency not to hold the bow strong after release. Maybe my bow is too heavy. I also shoot very fast because of not to holding bow long enough. How can I overcome these bad habits?

    thx

    margaret

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