6 Steps to Developing Proper Archery Form
Despite the fact that you may be shooting the most highly tuned bow, adorned with top of the line accessories, if your shooting form is bad your accuracy will likely be worse. Shooting with good form requires mastering a number of processes. However, once these processes are understood and learned, shooting with proper form will be as easy as walking across the floor; it will become second nature.
Before incorporating the following steps into your shot routine, be sure that you are shooting a well tuned bow set at the appropriate draw length.
Proper Shooting Stance
Where you place your feet during the shot process can have a great bearing on where your arrow strikes. By nature, your body has a natural centering point. If your feet are not positioned properly you might find yourself being pulled away from this centering point. As a result, the body will fight to return to this location. Unfortunately, this can occur during the shot which will impede accuracy.
There are 3 basic stance positions to consider. They are as follows.
Feet are in-line with one another, drawing a line perpendicular to the target.
Front foot is forward from the front of the body.
Front foot is slightly pointing toward the target.
The best stance, regardless of which you choose, should be comfortable and solid. This starts by placing your feet about shoulders-width apart with your body weight distributed between the midsection and rear of your feet.
Most bowhunting experts will suggest an open stance which starts by positioning your toes 90 degrees to the target, and then taking a half-step backward with the foot that is closest to the target. This stance will essentially place the chest more toward the target and allow for greater bowstring clearance along the bow arm and chest.
However, this stance may not be for everyone. In order to find your perfect stance, enlist the help of a friend and simply close your eyes and draw your bow while facing a archery target with a wide back wall, anchoring as you normally would. With your eyes still closed, move your body and feet around until you find the most comfortable position. Then, open your eyes and note the direction of your aim.
Let down the bow and reference the position of your feet by pointing an arrow straight at the aiming spot. You have just found your stance.
Correct Bow Grip
When it comes to gripping the bow you want to do so in such a way that hand torque is not promoted. In other words, you want your grip to be as torque-free as possible. To do this, you first need to find the best location for the grip to contact your hand. This can easily be accomplished with a simple test.
First, take your bow hand and hold it out as if you were going to grip the bow; keeping it slightly open and rigid to imitate pressure being applied to it. Next, take your thumb from your other hand and push it into your bow hand at different locations. You will notice that every location you push with your thumb causes your bow hand to move or collapse----except one. That one spot is where you want to place the pressure of the bows grip while at full draw.
This location is typically where the bones in the forearm butt up against the base of the palm. It is a bone-to-bone contact point and is the most reliable, torque-resistant location in which to place the bow grip.
When grabbing the bow, place a small amount of tension on the string, just enough to feel it in your bow hand. Then position the grip into the area you discovered by pressing your thumb into your palm. Now you are ready to draw the bow. Just remember, upon reaching full draw, your bow hand should remain relaxed with your fingers falling down or dangling around the front of the riser.
Drawing the Bow
This may seem like a trivial facet to good shooting, but drawing the bow properly incorporates all of the essential muscles needed in order to shoot with good form; mainly, the back muscles. One of the easiest ways to do this is to think of your drawing arm elbow as having a hook in it. When drawing the bow, start with your elbow about as high as your jaw line. Then, imagine someone has a string attached to the hook that is in your elbow. Now, think about them pulling your elbow straight back as you draw your bow. Instead of puling with your biceps, you will notice that you are actually drawing the bow by using the larger muscles of the upper back; specifically, the rhomboid muscles. This will allow you to relax the rest of your body and pull through the shot using only your back.
A steady aim equals comfortable shooting and tighter arrow groups. A relaxed bow hand is the key to this. To acquire this it is imperative that your drawing side shoulder be down and in a locked position during the shot. Positioning the shoulder in such a manner will greatly reduce muscle tension which is the root of poor aiming. Before drawing the bow, lean slightly toward the target, then start the drawing process. This will place the shoulder in a low, locked, “bone to bone” position.
Consistency is the cornerstone to good shooting. The best location to anchor your bowhand is somewhere along the jawbone that provides the most stable platform. In other words, choose a spot that allows your hand, knuckles, etc. to rest solidly as you release the trigger of your release or let go of the bowstring.
A good tip is to locate this spot with your eyes closed, without looking through the peep sight. Then, once your anchor point has been established, with your head in a natural, upright position, you can open your eyes and adjust the peep sight to your eye, instead of adjusting your eye to the peep sight.
The bottom line is to find an easy-to-repeat anchor point; one that will be consistent and second nature when shooting under pressure or any other time.
The easiest way to confirm that proper draw length and comfortable shooting posture are being used is to look for the “T-Form” as the archer is at full draw. This is easily recognized while looking at the shooter from behind. When doing so, his/her body will represent the shape of a “T”.
The torso should be vertically straight, with a direct line running up and down through the spinal column. The horizontal line in the “T” should run from the bow-side elbow, through the shoulders, and across to the drawing elbow. The trick to establishing this “T” form is to make sure that your drawing elbow isn’t too high or too low. Ideally, it should be about the same height as your ears while at full draw. This will promote the use of back muscles to draw and execute the shot.
Incorporate these simple steps into your shouting routine and watch as your accuracy improves and your confidence soars not only on the 3D archery range, but in the field as well.