Developing proper archery form is as critical as having a well-tuned bow. Without proper form, even the most well-tuned bows will not perform with great accuracy. There are many elements involved with good archery form and mastering them all is a tedious process; but when mastered and practiced, good archery form will become second nature to you. Three important things to practice to improve your form are stance, grip, and draw length.
A good stance is a foundation for every shot. A stance should give you stability and allow you to repeat it consistently. There’s more to stance than where you put your feet. Your shoulders, back, hips, head, knees, they all play a part. But foot position is normally what people are referring to when they talk about stance. Foot position determines where your hips and shoulders are naturally pointed.
Archery form imperfections show up and affect your arrow flight from the point you release the arrow until the arrow leaves the bow. During the shot, when your hold slips and your body tries to center itself, your arrow will go off course.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Your weight should be evenly distributed between your feet.
- Stand with your legs relaxed. Your knees shouldn’t be locked out or be too bent unless you have to crouch due to the nature of the shot,
- Don’t lean forward or backward. Don’t let the bow tilt you forwards. Don’t compensate for bow weight by leaning backward.
- Keep your back straight.
You don’t grip a bow like you’d grip a bat or an ax. Hollywood actors and models holding bows will invariably grip a bow with their entire hand. This isn’t how you do it. It may feel like you should grip a bow like this but, in doing so, you’re making the shot harder. Think of all the muscles in your hand that is working when you grip a bow like this. Those muscles become involved in the aim of your shot. After you release the arrow, pressure disappears from the grip. The bow jumps forwards. Those muscles begin to act on the momentarily weightless bow. Before the arrow has left the string, they may begin to twist the bow and change the trajectory of the arrow…
Make a gun with your bow hand by tucking your little finger, ring finger and middle finger into your palm. Extend your index finger and thumb. Use the finger and thumb of this gun-shaped hand to pick up the bow and hold it out in front of you. As you draw, the bow will pull back into the flesh between your thumb and index finger. This piece of your hand is known as the thenar space. When you reach full draw, you’ll feel the bow pushing against the ball of your thumb. You won’t, and shouldn’t pick up a bow this way normally. You’d be in danger of dropping it. Usually, you’d pick it up using all your fingers. Then reposition the little, ring and middle fingers in preparation to shoot.
If draw length is too long, it:
– Causes you to fully extend your bow arm
– Causes right-hand archers to push the bow to the left
– Causes you to lean back at full draw, which is hard to duplicate each time, especially in steep terrain or a steep shot from a treestand
– Shaky sight picture, more muscles involved the more tension, the more tension, the more movement. Use the least amount of muscles possible for bow arm.
– Pulls your bow arm closer to the string, causing the bowstring to slap your wrist
However, if your draw length is too short:
– Your body will hunch up
– Fatigue will set in quicker because you are using more muscles to keep the bow drawn back
– Following all of these methods above will give you a solid foundation to base your form off of, and lead you down the path of shooting consistently from shot to shot.
The perfect drawback
– Stand straight up and do not lean back.
– Keep your eye over the center of your waist with your head directly over your spine.
– Your body should form a perfect T-shape.
– Hips are directly over your feet.
– Shoulders are directly over your hips.
– Square your shoulders.
– A slightly open stance is preferred but should ultimately be determined by your natural body position.
– Feet are shoulder width apart.
– Distribute weight evenly.
– Bow shoulder should be low and relaxed.
– Bow arm should be almost straight, with a very slight bend. When the bow arm is severely bent, you incorporate muscles to keep it in that position. You want the bones in your arm to hold the weight at full draw, not your muscles.
– String should touch the tip of the nose without leaning your head forward or backwards.
– Obtain other consistent anchor points (release hand along jawbone, string next to mouth, etc)— the more anchor points, the better.
– Release hand should anchor on a repeatable spot along your jaw.
– Hand should be placed properly on the bow grip.
– High draw elbow, at least as high as the nose, and the crease of the elbow is on the same level, or above, the line of the arrow at full draw.
– Overall have a relaxed stance; tension causes muscles to become fatigued.
Even if you nail all 3 of these skills, you still might be having problems with your form. There is a lot that goes into perfecting the perfect archery skill. These three steps we’re just the biggest one to focus on before you move into tweaking the smaller skills.