Whether you are a bow hunter or a competitive target archer you should always strive to be as accurate as you can be. Great shooting requires a lot of practice. You might start with a few lessons from a friend or a professional archery instructor. It’s nice to have somebody there to show you the basics but once you are practicing on your own there are some techniques you should use to improve your skills. Below are my archery accuracy tips for beginners:
Prepare Your Mind, Body And Gear
Clear Away The Day.
When you go out to practice you should focus on your practice session. If you are worrying about bills, what the boss told you to do for work tomorrow, world politics or what your going to watch when you get home, then your shooting will suffer. You have to mentally set all of the day’s concerns aside and concentrate on improving your archery skills.
Pay Attention To Your Body.
If you are feeling tired or hungry or just listless when you go to practice assess our health. If you have sore muscles from too much practice then rest and recharge for an evening and give your body a break so you can recover and have a fun productive practice session tomorrow. Don’t burn yourself out.
Dress For Success
If you wear a team uniform when you compete then your practice clothes should match your uniform. If you sometimes wear warm layers in cold weather be sure to practice in layers.
Bow hunters should practice in any gear they plan on wearing or carrying while in the field. Can you shoot in that heavy camouflage jacket or while you are carrying your backpack?
Find out at the practice range if your puffy coat sleeve interferes with the bow string or your warm layers restrict your ability to fully draw your bow. Don’t wait until you are in the field or at the tournament.
Inspect All Of Your Equipment.
Check your bow and all of your arrows for damage, wear or loose fasteners. Check the bow string and/or cables for fraying or nicks. Inspect your clothing, bags, packs, arm guards and everything else. Repair or replace anything that could hurt you or cause you to have to leave practice early because you have to get a new one.
Bring All Of Your Equipment.
Do you have some water and a snack? Do you have an equipment table that you like to place your gear on? Do you have your glasses, hat, arm guard, target dots, binoculars and a release. Is there at least a first aid in your gear bag or trunk of your car? Did you pack a tool kit?
Make a list and always check it off before you leave the house. Print it out and keep it with your gear. Anytime you start using another piece of gear add it to the list.
9 Steps Before The Shot
You’ve arrived at the range with all of your gear and you are pumped to get started. In order to get the most out of your practice time you should try to do the following;
#1: Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Before you shoot an arrow down range you should know that no people are on the range, Know what is beyond your target and in front of it.
If you miss the target, is there a clear path beyond for the arrow to safely stop or better yet, a backstop? A missed arrow can travel a hundred yards or more before it stops. You’ll be looking for your arrow for a while. Who knows, you might even find someone else s arrows, too.
#2: Where are your feet?
Your stance is important. Most people do well with their feet slightly more than shoulder width apart with your toes facing at about a 45 degree angle to the target. Some shooters turn more, some less. As you draw, your upper body will turn slightly toward the target and you will align the sights.
Adjust your stance for your comfort. As you practice you will make tiny adjustments until your stance works perfectly for you.
#3: Nock the Arrow
Place the shaft of the arrow atop the arrow rest at the top of your bows grip. Place your index finger of your grip hand over the arrow to keep it there. Now place the nock on the string at the nock point and push it on until it clicks firmly in place.
The nock point is usually a special fitting that squeezes on to the bow string. It can’t slip and serves to mark the point where you nock the arrow. Be sure that with each shot you place the arrow nock on the top of the nock fitting.
#4: Prep Your Release Device
If you use a mechanical release be sure it is properly attached around your wrist. Clamp the jaws over the bow string and set the trigger. If you use a three finger shooting glove or a finger tab you should have your index finger atop the arrow ant the next two fingers below the arrow.
#5: Grip The Bow
While you draw back the bow string your bow hand should grasp the handle firmly. Once the bow string is drawn fully back, you should be able to relax your fingers of your bow hand.
All the pressure from the bow handle will be on your thumb and palm. Keep your fingers lightly wrapped around the bow with just enough force to keep from dropping it. The relaxed grip keeps you from exerting twisting forces on the bow as you shoot.
#6: Draw the bow
Now you can draw the bow string back. After just a few practice sessions your draw should get a little smoother. Your coordination should be improving and you will be able to draw without dropping the arrow or triggering the release early.
If you have to yank the string and the bow wobbles all the time, you might need to use a lower draw weight until you build up your strength.
Your goal during the draw is to make it a smooth single pull all the way back.
#7: The Anchor Point
Pull the bow string back to the same place every time. Where your hand rests at this point is called the anchor point. Some people anchor at the side of their cheek, some at the back of the lower jaw.
Your release, the type of sight you use and even your body type can influence your anchor point. Don’t be too concerned if your anchor point is different from other peoples but be sure that every time you draw the bow string back that you anchor it in the same place. Every time. Consistency here is the key to accuracy.
#8: Breathe properly
As you ready to draw take in a deep breath and hold it through the draw. Align your sights on the target and shoot. Let out the breath. Eventually you will be able to hold back the bow string and breathe as you hold the bow ready but as a beginner
#9: Align The Sights
Be sure that you keep the sights aligned while you shoot.
#10: Smoothly Release the Arrow
If you use a three finger glove or a finger tab or a mechanical release, the key to improving your accuracy is having a smooth consistent release.
If you are using a glove or finger tabs, you should slowly relax your fingers and let the bow string slide smoothly off the tips of your fingers without letting your hand move away from your anchor point. Keep your sights aligned as you do this. My favorite release is a calf hair finger tab by Allen
If you use a mechanical release, you should slowly engage the trigger device without jerking it. It should be almost a surprise as you focus intently on keeping your sights aligned.
After The Shot
#1: Don’t Drop the Bow.
This means you should try not to lower the bow until the arrow is clear of the riser or grip if the bow. The less you move immediately after the arrow is released the better.
Just like too tight of a grip can torque the bow affecting the accuracy so can lowering the bow too soon.
#2: Don’t Drop Your Draw Hand
Once you release the bow string, try not to let your hand jerk back excessively. It is going to move because you were pulling 25 or more pounds and it suddenly went slack, Your arm is going to want to snap back.
If your anchor point is solid and you are mindful of what is coming you can train yourself to reduce your arm movement. You can’t eliminate it but you can try.
#3: Watch the arrow all the way to the target
The reason you don’t want to drop the bow and you don’t want to let your arm flop around is so you can watch the flight of your arrow all the way from the bow to the target. After a few practice sessions you will see all of the subtle movements of the arrow during flight.
Use this information to help you judge if your arrows fly true.
#4: Evaluate Your Shot Performance
Once your arrow hits the target you can relax and breathe. Don’t move yet. You have something else to do before you reset for another shot.
You need to ask yourself if you followed the 10 steps before the shot and the 3 steps after the shot.
- Did you check your surroundings.
- Did you assume the correct stance?
- Was the arrow nocked in the right place and was the arrow in contact with the rest?
- Was your release device in the right position
- Was your grip not torquing the shot
- Was your draw smooth?
- Did you anchor in the right spot?
- Was the release smooth and free of movement
- Were your sights properly aligned?
- Did you remember breath control?
- Did you drop the bow?
- Did you control your Draw arm?
- Did you watch your arrow’s flight from rest to target?
Focus on your whole shot not just the target.
The steps in the entire list should all happen in just a few seconds. When you first start out you should focus on one thing at a time. Once you master drawing an arrow without it sliding off the rest, Pay attention to how much you move when you shoot, then focus on grip, then breathing. Etc. Eventually, it will ALL become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it. But developing these fundamentals early on in your bow hunting career will help make you a great shot.
Print These Tips And Keep Them With Your Gear List.
The next time you go to the range you can refer to the list as you practice. Keeping the fundamentals in your mind until they become second nature will greatly improve your shooting for tournaments or hunting.