The more mouths you listen to, the more conflicting and confusing information you get on archery skills and techniques. This is so true for archery where you have so much variety and history.
Even experienced archers with years of shooting under their belt may advise incorrectly about some aspects of archery skills and techniques.
Let’s look at 7 of the most common “advice” being dispensed out there and check their validity. Knowing them will help you steer clear from misinformation and wrong judgement about your own archery.
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7 incorrect advice experienced archers give about archery skills and techniques
1. Change your anchor points
Anchor points are very personalized. They serve only one purpose, that is to give consistency to your shots and remove variation between the shots.
There are reasons why certain anchor point are preferred over others.
For e.g. people who shoot barebow will often use a higher anchor point in order to use their arrow as a sighting tool.
People who use sights (used for aiming, like this one), will have no need to use their arrow as sights. So, they can (and generally do) use a lower anchor for more stability with more anchor points.
Others simply shoot what they are comfortable with.
And this is the point.
By using anchor points an archer removes the variation. This way they can replicate the same shot indefinitely.
This is the number one point of anchor points. It must be consistent and repeatable. For you, it means that if you have an anchor point that works for you, then you should use it.
If you consult a random Joe for your anchor points, most of the anchor points from their point of view will feel wrong. But whether you are consistent archer in a long run will only depend on whether YOU FEEL it is comfortable to YOU or not.
If you sincerely feel your anchor point may not be serving you as it should, experiment a few and change it accordingly. A simple Google or Youtube search will give you lots of ideas on different anchor points. But don’t do it for the sake of doing it or based on someone else’s “advice”.
2. Open Stance
Open stance is the most commonly used stance. It is often said to be the most stable stance. It is the most natural stance. Many sports and activities require an open stance. It is easier to maneuver in and is quite stable even when you do so.
But it is not the only stance. People use square stance for a couple of reasons. Generally absolute beginners use it because that’s how they are taught. While many Olympic archers (not all) do that because that’s how they are trained.
Square stance is standing parallel to the shooting line one foot on each side. While open stance is when you open up your feet so that they are more comfortable.
Beginners are taught that way because often after shots they move either to grab an arrow, or to check their shot, or for any other reason. And unless they have good amount of practice, it is hard for them to come to the exact same posture with an open stance, and any variation in it can lead to compromised consistency. Remember, consistency is the key here.
So, a square stance is much more repeatable than a natural open stance and provides less variation in the shots. Many archers may automatically open their stance with good enough practice and when they are very familiar with their shooting routine.
There is another reason proposed for a square stance. As the alignment of square stance goes, it is said it provides a greater upper body twist, which produces more back tension which is desired because you use your back and shoulders for the draw and back tension provides greater stability to your shot.
While that being said, open stance is perfectly fine too as it is more natural and comfortable. If you feel confident in repeating the same open stance with every new shot, you can go ahead for open stance as well.
3. Bending your Bow Holding Arm
Many people, including top level competitive shooters bend their arm. But is straight arm wrong?
One of the Kisik Lee’s (US National team head coach’s) recommendation is that you look at your arm as the barrel of a gun. The longer the barrel is, the more accurate the gun is. So, a straight arm aids in accuracy.
Straight arm is NOT incorrect. It is very common, in fact it is one the standard ways of learning to shoot a bow. It helps maintain a stable form.
The biggest factor here is that it is alright if you keep your arm straight comfortably, but problem can arise when you start extending your arm out more than comfort zone. Keeping it comfortable and straight is perfectly alright which will in fact decrease the variation in shots.
Another issue that some people face while keeping the arm straight is the recoiling string hits the hand after the shot. This is not because of the hand being straight, but elbow being in different orientation.
If you rotate your elbow clockwise (if you are right handed, or anti-clockwise for left handed people) then you can avoid this issue. Remember, only rotate the elbow and not your arm.
You can test it out by keeping your palm on any wall of the room. You’ll see that you can rotate your elbow while keeping your palm and hand straight.
If it still a problem, bending the arm is perfectly alright. Many Olympic archers do that, and it is perfectly fine.
4. Use shorter Arrows
When it comes to arrows, only keep one thing in mind. Don’t carry arrows that are too short.
And that’s it.
But if arrows are long or uncut, it doesn’t really matter that much. The length of the arrow will not affect the shot that much.
Keeping your arrows 1-2 inches longer than your draw length is a good advice, but it is not mandatory.
But for advanced shooters it may be different where they measure each and everything down to a point.
So, don’t get too bogged down and obsessive about keeping your arrows of a particular size.
5. Use higher draw weight
Many people confuse higher draw weight as a sign of a better archer. But there is only one parameter for a better archer. And that is consistently hitting the target.
Not every person wishes to use a higher draw.
Although the feel of higher draw weight is definitely much more different and refined, but there are disadvantages to higher draw weight too. That’s why not every one wishes to go for a higher draw weight and some people are just as happy to shoot a lighter bow.
There are some additional factors to think of when you tweak with your draw weight. If you are still in the process of perfecting your form, it is better to use a lighter draw weight. If you haven’t gained proper strength to easily handle heavier draw, you should always go for a lighter draw weight.
You can shoot lighter bow for hours, and just enjoy shooting in general. Heavier draw weight impedes that because you tire yourself faster using it.
Higher draw weight may sound cool, but it doesn’t mean you are better archer if you go for it.
That said, there is no problem in using higher draw weight either. If you feel comfortable using a heavier bow, by all means go for it. But don’t base your decision on just the aesthetics and people’s opinions on this matter.
6. Holding the bow with only thumb and index finger
This advice comes with a good reason. Many people who start with the archery have the problem of holding the grip too tightly. This is also called death grip.
If you put too much pressure on your grip, it puts unnecessary tension in your hand which causes it to shake, and that leads to shaking of the bow. This leads to inconsistent shooting results.
So, people recommend only using the thumb and index finger to hold the bow. It provides minimal contact that retains the grip, as well as low tension in unneeded areas of your arm and hand.
The pitfall here is that this grip does not provide the stable hold over the bow, and you risk dropping the bow after the shot.
You can also use a finger sling or a wrist sling (Click on the link to see their details on Amazon). It allows you to put the fingers away from the riser, and the sling holds the bow so that you don’t drop it.
But if you don’t want to, you can avoid finger sling as well. You can most certainly cover the riser with all your fingers while not exerting too much pressure on the bow. It takes some practice, but you’ll be able to put fingers around the riser lightly. Many shooters do that without any issues.
In fact, sometimes having only one finger around the riser reduces your ability to retain control of the bow. All the fingers around the riser helps you retail the control of the bow easily. It is especially more challenging if you are using a high draw weight.
But if you are going the all-finger route, please make sure to practice holding the bow as lightly as possible.
This may be one of the many fairly newbie mistake that many new archers make. Check out how to do archery for beginners to learn more about them.
7. Hold for Longer
Holding for long is a sound advice. Not only it helps you to aim more carefully, it also allows you to take inventory of your stance and muscle expansion more closely. You’ll find within certain hold range you will shoot better.
So, holding for a little bit is better than just nocking-shooting-nocking-shooting, every other second (unless you are a really good instinctive shooter). Not too long, but just a little bit longer will serve you well.
But it may vary from person to person. In fact, many instinctive shooters who have practiced for months and years do not need to wait that long. As soon as they get a feel that they are on the target they take a shot.
Holding for longer than required not only will NOT help you to have a better shot, it may also be harmful to your shooting. If you have a quick tempo attitude, holding for longer may actually worsen your shot.
People often fall into analysis paralysis from overthinking a shot if they wait too long.
Every person’s mileage may vary on this one. I feel very comfortable with holding for about 3-4 seconds, some people feel 8-10 seconds or more is alright for them, some want to shoot in 1-2 seconds.
Try out some timeframes and keep an eye on your tempo. If you start feeling you are being too rushed, or too bored, then change the hold time. And you’ll soon identify a sweet spot for yourself, which you can incorporate in your routine. Soon you’ll be able to shoot more accurately this way.
Archery as such is not very complicated and, as coach Kisik Lee says, there are many paths to be a good or great archer. But often we fall into traps that are either fluff for a given task, or deviate us from our main goal – that is to be an CONSISTENT archer.
The more you’ll mingle with the archery community, the more diversity and variation you’ll find. Some people like to go by the book, some are a lot more flexible. And guess what, no one is wrong.
You’ll find two good archers giving polar opposite advice on certain archery skills and techniques. And they both may be correct at the same time from their point of view.
So how do you decide in that case? Research well, experiment a lot, and follow ONE system till you see results. Only abandon it in case you find some damnable evidence that the system you are following is flawed and/or definitely not suitable to you.
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Hi, I’m Vineet. Creator of DivinioWorld. I am an outdoor enthusiast and absolutely love researching, learning, and applying skills and knowledge in the real world. I started DivinioWorld to share everything I know so that even a beginner can follow the ropes and master the subtle art of outdoors adventure and survival.