3 Actionable Techniques to Become Good at Archery

In Archery, Archery Tips, Bowhunting, Compound Bows, Longbows, Recurve Bows, Traditional Archery by Vineet Jain13 Comments

One of the things I like about archery is that it constantly gives me that drive to improve myself. Every new shot brings me to a new height, and every small adjustment or improvement produced better results.

Some things work more than others though. After a little bit of research, I have distilled 3 actionable techniques to become good at archery.

3 Actionable Techniques to Become Good at Archery

3 Actionable Techniques to Become Good at Archery

What is Good Archery

Now I want to break a stereotype here. When people say good at archery, they mean being consistent.

Even a newbie can hit the bullseye once or twice. But consistently hitting the same area over and over again shows that you are good archer.

In fact, after some time, you’ll lose the charm of hitting the bullseye. What’ll give you rush is creating a trail of successful shots. Hitting, 5, 10, 20 times the bullseye one after the other.

You see, while the goal of practicing archery is to have fun, but you also want to improve yourself as much as possible, and to hit the bullseye more often.

Well, it takes some practice to be really good at archery. Archery is easy to learn but hard to master.

Fortunately, we can cut short that arduous journey by focusing on a few key areas that bring maximum benefit to our shooting.

Also Read:

3 Techniques That Will Produce Maximum Results in Shortest Time

  1. Mastering the anchor points
  2. Point of aim with gap shooting
  3. Back tension

If you correct any problems in these areas your archery will very fast leave the realms of beginners and move into territory of advanced archers, bringing you closer to mastery.

Read: 10 Things Every New Archer Should Know

Let’s look into detail what you can do to improve them:

1. Anchor Point(s)

They basically something that provides stability to your stance, which in turn helps you with consistent shots.

Anchor point(s) are some points on your body that you identify and designate to assist you by fixing the position of your hands and some muscles during the shots.

Anchors are generally points on your face that you or the arrow touch for a consistent reference point

Basically, if you shoot arrows without any kind of a ritual or routine, it will be inconsistent every time, and you won’t have enough data to understand what parameter, or what area you need to tweak to perfect your shot.

An anchor can be anything, such as any point on your face, neck, and even chest area.

Anchors in Archery function like tripods in photography. Good photographers know that human hands waver and shake, no matter how experienced you are. That’s why they use pods/stands.

A monopod provides one touchpoint and one anchor of stability. A bipod provides two. A tripod provides three and is the most stable of all. So, the more anchor points you have, the more stable your stance will be, and more consistent you’ll be as a result.

Now when you are starting out, you are afraid that string might hurt your face or any part you touch. But, unless you wrap your body part around the string, it will not hurt you.

Unless your face is between string and bow when you shoot the arrow, it is not going to hit your face. And no, string wont snap back and hit your face ever.

So, there is no problem if the string touches the face. But if you are still uncomfortable with this idea, you can go for your release hand touching various spots on your face. Like your lips, nose, chin, jawbone, and even earlobe.

Ideally, you should identify 2-3 anchor points as soon as possible when you start out. The choice of anchor points DOES NOT MATTER. Choose whatever is comfortable to you. But what is most important is to keep them constant.

The idea over here is to have a reference point to fix your posture. Anchor points provides a rhythm to your shots. They provide stability to your body, and exact same orientation and alignment to your bow and string. This consistency leads to accuracy.

Anchor points explained

2. Point of Aim with gap shooting

Gap shooting

Now this just blew my mind when I first learnt about this because this was so NOT natural. When I first started archery (and in fact whenever any new person starts archery), I matched the arrow tip to the target.

Guess what, all my arrows were hitting way above the target.

It sounds logical. You match the tip of the arrow, which will hit the target, with the bullseye. But they were all landing way above the target.

When you are anchoring from near your mouth, if you match the arrow head with the bullseye (meaning your eyes, arrow head and bullseye is making a straight line) then your arrow is pointing up by about 10-15 degrees upwards. This is because there is 3-4 inches gap between your eyes and mouth.

When you shoot by this position, you are shooting in a 10-15 degrees upwards arc.

To correct this, aim the arrow below the target. You will immediately see the difference in your shot accuracy.

So that’s what you need to do as well. Aim the arrow around 5-6 inches below the target, and voila, you’ll see sudden correction in your shots.

This is also called gap shooting and it has been a very popular method since ancient people started archery.

Gap shooting is adjusting where you are aiming based on the distance you are shooting at. If you are shooting something very far away, then you should aim way above the target.

There are many cool videos on Youtube, and articles on Google demonstrating gap shooting. People are able to hit targets at 100 yards or more by aiming way above the target.

Gap shooting – how to find your gap

Read: Traditional Archery Aiming Techniques

3. Back Tension

Surprisingly enough, most of the power for archery doesn’t comes from your arms, but from the back.

Bow and arrow might not be that heavy, but pulling a bow requires quite a lot of strength.

If you use only your arms for this heavy draw, you are using only some muscles in your body – and that too not the strongest ones.

The strongest muscles in your body are your leg, core and back muscles (in terms of volume and power).

When you use arms and hands more, which have far weaker muscles, you will tire yourself faster. You won’t be able to exert too much power, additionally, you’ll also be susceptible to many more injuries than using strong muscle group in your back.

You might have noticed one more thing when you put too much pressure on any particular muscle (try to squeeze a lemon to test this out). Your muscles are so tight that your body part quiver. When that happens to your arms during archery, you loose consistency. And consistency is accuracy.

If you use the back muscles, it is much easier to draw the bow back. They are much sturdier because they make up your frame.

It is always advisable, when you first start with the archery, you start with a low draw weight bow. Use it till you correct your form, and to get habitual to using the appropriate muscles.

It’ll also help you to develop proper muscles so that you don’t injure yourself when you move to a higher draw weight bow. It also provides a very stable form.

There are specific exercises you can do to correct your form and develop some of the commonly used muscles in archery. Click here to learn more.

Back tension explained really well

3.1 So how do you do that?

Back tension in archery
  • If you tense your back when you are drawing the bow, you realize the muscles you are using are completely different from when you don’t stiffen your back.
  • Lift up your drawing elbow more when you draw the bow. It automatically allows you to engage more of your back muscles.
  • When you pull back, put pressure on your shoulders. Basically, when you engage your shoulders more, you start engaging back as well. So focus your attention on using your shoulders more for your shots, (whether it be drawing arm, or bow arm) and you’ll see you start engaging more and more of your back.

(Fun fact: the strongest muscles in your body are actually your jaw muscles (aka masseter), but because they are small, that is less volume, and very specialized, you can’t use them in almost any form of archery)

Conclusion

These 3 techniques will help you become a good archer. If you are doing them right, you are golden.

There are many more nuances to archery then just these three, but they provide the biggest benefit to your archery by giving you 3 biggest things required for a good shot, that is:

  • Anchor points provide you consistency,
  • Right aim provides you accuracy, and
  • Using back muscles as your main muscles group provide you strength and stability

If you are consistent, accurate and have the strength and stability to pull shots, you are already a good archer.

Happy shooting.

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References:

  • https://www.wikihow.com/Start-Archery
  • https://www.realtree.com/all/articles/archery-tips-from-the-pros
  • https://www.completeguidetoarchery.com/how-to-aim-a-bow-and-arrow/
  • https://worldarchery.org/news/149488/9-common-recurve-archery-mistakes-and-how-fix-them