Mastering archery is a matter of focus, good instruction and technique. It’s important to review the fundamentals periodically even if you have years of experience shooting. Whether you’re just starting out or a veteran of the sport, here are some basic tips to elevate your performance.
Test Your Anchor Points
The anchor point is the point which the bow is pulled back to prior to firing. Consistency and precision here are both very important. If you’re just getting your feet wet with archery, you’ll want to experiment with your anchor points to find the position that works the most consistently for you. Common anchor points are to place the hand that pulls the string under the cheek bone on that side and to pull the string to the tip of your nose. Again, you’ll want to experiment to find a position that you’re both comfortable and also repeatedly accurate with. Learning the balance of your anchor point is the key to keeping your groupings tight and accurate.
Consistency in bow positioning is just as important as consistency in locating your anchor point. Put some sort of identifying information on your bow so you know that it’s yours when shooting in a group. Keep your hand in a consistent position when gripping the bow. It’s important not only to hold the bow at the same point every time you fire, but to also have a moderate level of grip. Gripping too tightly changes the angle of your shot slightly, but gripping it too loosely will reduce power. Keep your grip firm yet relaxed. It should always feel comfortable and natural, not tight and tense.
As in other sports, posture is important as it directly influences your aim. Proper stance will increase your accuracy and power and make it easier to locate your anchor points. When shooting, your feet should be perpendicular to the target and just a bit less than shoulder width apart. Always check your stance before raising the bow and finding your anchor point. It may seem simple, but proper stance alone is half the battle.
Prior To Shooting
Your stance is good, you’re gripping your bow correctly and you consistently find your anchor points. Now you’re ready to shoot and hit the target. Shots should never be rushed, however, even if you feel every other aspect of your form is perfect. Your brain needs time to process the complex physics involved in shooting. Focus on your target and concentrate for at least ten seconds before releasing the shot. It’s important to train yourself to do this as it’s easy to become nervous or impatient and release a shot hastily. Simply being patient and giving yourself enough time to concentrate and focus can actually be one of the most challenging obstacles for those new to archery. Commit to focusing on the target for at least ten seconds and you will see major improvements in your accuracy.
The old adage “keep your eye on the ball” can be adapted to apply to target shooting too. After firing it may be tempting to drop the bow and look elsewhere to relieve the tension of shooting. But you should stay in your stance. Keep the bow up and keep your focus on the target until the shot has landed. While it may seem pointless, this is a habit that will improve your aim and keep it steady over time. If you get in the habit of dropping the bow and breaking your stance immediately after shooting, you may start unconsciously dropping the bow a little too early. You can check yourself on this by having a friend or instructor watch you shoot, or bring a video camera and tape yourself. A camera can always impartially reveal flaws that a human eye might miss (or that a friend might not feel comfortable telling you about.)
Relax and Enjoy!
While it can be competitive, always remember that archery is a hobby that you engage in for fun, enjoyment and release of stress. Relaxing and not stressing out will not only enhance your enjoyment of the sport but it will actually improve your accuracy and power. If you teach your body to be relaxed and natural when shooting, you won’t experience any of the subtle problems that come from tension. If you’re just starting out with the sport, don’t overtrain. If you’re not planning on shooting competitively, there’s no good reason to have a grueling training schedule like you’re preparing for the summer Olympic games. So keep it relaxed and enjoy and you’ll find yourself a better shooter in the end!