If you’ve tried archery, you know it’s a ridiculously fun and addictive sport. It’s perfect for people of all ages and physical abilities, and creates opportunities to make new friends, attend fun events, and challenge yourself physically and mentally. But a few archery mistakes that almost everyone makes at some point can make it hard to fully enjoy your bow and arrows. Likewise, correcting these errors can bring nearly instant success in your shooting, and put a smile on your face.
Stay Put! Seriously.
Do you find yourself moving your feet between shots? If you’re moving around after each arrow – or worse yet, during the shot – you could be creating major frustrations. That’s because your foot position – your stance – provides the foundation for your entire shot. If your stance is changing, your arrows will likely hit different spots on your target. And even if you’re a competitive archer, a slight switch in your center of gravity or weight distribution can affect your shooting ability.
The solution: Settle on a stance that delivers stability and a consistent center of gravity. Some ranges require archers to put one foot on both sides of the shooting line, or stand behind the line. Either way, make sure your feet stay the same from shot to shot, and that you place your weight equally on both feet.
Your anchor point – the place on your face or lower jaw where you anchor your drawn bowstring – is one of the most important parts of the shot, especially for beginning archers. A solid, consistent anchor point must be as immovable as a boat anchor. It must stop your hand from moving to different spots on your face, which helps you group your arrows more tightly in the target.
The solution: Pick a spot you can remember consistently, and make sure you feel a tactile (touch) cue when drawing the bowstring. For example, many new recurve archers draw the bowstring and stop when their index finger touches the corner of their smile. Intermediate-level archers often draw the bowstring until the top of their index finger firmly contacts the jaw’s underside. Compound archers – whether beginners or advanced – who use a mechanical aid to release the bowstring draw their bow to a fixed point, with their release hand contacting the underside of the jaw. In other words, although anchor points vary by individual, each archer’s anchor must always be the same firm contact point.
Deep Breaths for Calm
Whether you’re a new archery fan or you’ve long loved leagues and tournaments, you can’t afford to forget one aspect of archery: mental focus. One of the best things about archery is its meditative nature. You must concentrate while shooting a bow to succeed on the target. When you lose mental focus, it makes a huge difference in your body awareness, which affects how you shoot an arrow. Everything you do at the shooting line affects what happens on the target. So, it’s vital for archers to be mentally focused – and that helps you in other areas of life, too!
The solution: All other stresses seem to melt away as you concentrate on your technique for drawing the bow and executing a shot. That only happens if you breathe and concentrate on your shooting. At the moment before you raise your bow, take a deep breath from your belly and think about what you want to achieve with that shot. Keep your breathing even as you shoot the arrow, and stay focused on your movements, not the score. By keeping your mind calm and focused on your technique, you’re much more likely to hit the high scores you want!
For more helpful hints, visit your local archery store, whose staff can hook you up with lessons and the gear you need. And visit our How-To section for lots more helpful hints on improving your archery game!