Be the Coach: ‘Game of Thrones’
Archery Mistakes Be the Coach: ‘Game of Thrones’ Archery Mistakes

“Game of Thrones” archery? This series might be one of TV’s most popular shows with its ever-increasing drama, dragons and death toll, but the HBO hit has fallen victim to a plague: inaccurate archery.

It seems the “Game of Thrones” cast neglects proper archery training and just wings it.

Although “Game of Thrones” includes many questionable archery practices – none of which dampens fans’ love for the show – here are three of the show’s common archery mistakes:

Wrong: hand away from archer’s face

Although Ygritte (Rose Leslie) isn’t the only “Game of Thrones” archer who fails to properly anchor her bowstring before shooting, this character shoots often and commits this mistake almost every time. Well, she did until (SPOILER ALERT!) Season 4, when the beloved and betrayed Ygritte meets her demise, bow still in hand.

Ygritte (Rose Leslie) Game of Thrones

Ygritte (Rose Leslie) often fails to properly anchor her bowstring before shooting. Photo: HBO

Right: Drawing the string to the same spot every time you shoot helps you achieve tight arrow groups on the target. If you draw the string to a different spot on your face each time, your draw length varies with each shot. Many intermediate and advanced-level archers – including Olympic silver medalist Brady Ellison – draw the bowstring so it touches the tip of their nose and center of their chin each time. For beginners, a great anchor point is placing the index finger on the corner of the mouth.

Brady Ellison bow

Olympic silver medalist Brady Ellison draws the bowstring so it touches the tip of his nose and center of his chin each time. Photo: Scott Council Photography

Wrong: four fingers on the bowstring

Like many archery shots on this show, the flaming-arrow shot that lights Ned Stark’s funeral pyre is accurate. It’s also incredible – as in, impossible. Not only does Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully (Clive Russell) hold the bow too far from his face (perhaps he learned archery from Ygritte?), he also draws the bowstring with four fingers, which would torque the string and send the arrow off its mark.

Brynden The Blackfish Tully (Clive Russell)

Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully (Clive Russell) would torque the string and send the arrow off its mark by drawing with four fingers. Photo: HBO

Right: Archers use one of two techniques for drawing a bowstring: split fingers or three fingers under. Split-finger, commonly called “Mediterranean style,” means the archer places the index finger above the arrow nock, and the middle and ring fingers below it. The three-fingers-under draw means the archer places the index, middle and ring fingers below the nocking point.

Split finger World Archery

Split-finger, commonly called “Mediterranean style” means the archer places the index finger above the arrow nock, and the middle and ring fingers below it. Photo: World Archery

Wrong: leaning

We’ve seen a couple of instances in “Game of Thrones” when canting – leaning the bow to one side to help keep the arrow in place – is taken too far. But the best lean is when one archer leans against a wall, presumably to steady himself before drawing his bowstring.

Game of Thrones archery

Bracing against a wall or other object hinders, not helps, you shoot archery. Photo: HBO

Right: Bracing against a wall or other object hinders, not helps, you shoot archery. If you can’t reach full draw, you’ll shoot with far less power than intended, and you’ll be inaccurate. It’s the same problem Hawkeye had with his famous falling-off-a-building shot, as described by Jim MacQuarrie for “Wired.”

Jake Kaminski archery

No leaning here. Note how Olympic silver medalist archer Jake Kaminski stands up straight when shooting his recurve bow.

For more about archery in “Game of Thrones,” check out Brady Miller’s “8 Archery Mistakes In ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 4” and “Is Archery in ‘Game of Thrones’ for Real?”

Learn Archery with Jake Kaminski

In this video, Olympic silver medalist archer Jake Kaminski explains archery basics, including anchoring each shot, archery stance and proper form.

Interested in archery? Check out Learn Archery and 5 Fun Ways to Get Started in Archery Right Now.

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