Archery is a game of skill and precision, which means it takes lots of time and practice to become proficient.
You’ll hit some bumps while pursuing that goal, but new archers share many issues, and so the fixes are well-documented. Here’s a guide to five common archery problems and how to cure them.
Wrist Slap and Bow Torque
Wrist slap and bow torque are fixed much the same way. But first, the issues: Wrist slap occurs when the bowstring hits your forearm after you shoot. It can be painful. If you have forearm skin exposed, it can suffer an abrasion that might even bleed. Your forearm might even form an ugly welt if hit hard, but it’s not a serious injury.
Wrist slaps usually are caused by poor hand position on the grip. Same goes for bow torque, which occurs when your hand twists the grip. This problem causes inconsistent left-right hits on the target.
What’s the fix? In both issues, the archer’s hand typically holds the bow grip like it’s a pistol. The hand essentially forms a fist, almost like it’s pounding a table. That grip brings the bowstring close to the forearm, making it easy for the archer to twist the bow’s grip left or right.
The proper technique is to extend your bow hand like you’re motioning someone to stop. Depending on which hand grips the bow, turn your left hand counterclockwise (for right-hand shooters) or your right hand clockwise (left-handers) until your thumb and forefinger form a “V.”
Now slide the bow into that V so its grip sits against the meat of your thumb. The outside of the grip should sit against your hand’s lifeline. As you draw the bow, let your fingers fall limp. If you let them grab the bow, they can torque it.
You’re trying to push the bow straight toward the target with your bow hand. When you shoot, keep pushing in that direction. If you’re worried about dropping the bow, add a wrist sling.
With proper hand positioning, you turn your forearm away from the string. This technique all but eliminates string slap. If you do still get some slap, strap on an armguard to protect your skin or press down your sleeve.
Punching the Trigger
Whether you use your index finger or a thumb button to trigger a mechanical release when shooting a compound bow, you might punch the trigger. That means slamming you index finger or thumb into the trigger at the exact moment you want the bow to shoot.
Punching the trigger can cause flinching and target panic. Flinching can cause arrows to fly off line, and target panic can make it difficult to aim solidly.
Why do archers punch the trigger? Mainly because they want to control the shot. When the sight pin is on or near the aiming point, they want the bow to release at that exact moment. Rather than squeezing your index finger or thumb on a trigger, it’s better to activate the release by pulling through the shot with your whole arm. With an index-finger release, you hook your finger around the trigger without activating it. With a thumb button, you essentially do the same, but you won’t get as deep of a hook because your thumb is shorter and has only one joint.
Now pull backward with your whole arm, as if someone has a string tied to your bent elbow and is pulling it straight behind you. Your thumb or index finger naturally increases pressure on the trigger until it fires. By using your whole arm, you create a more natural, relaxed shot than the sudden jerk of punching the trigger.
Bad Arrow Flight
After an arrow gets released, its flight should look clean from your perspective; its nock end following directly behind the point. If the arrow flies at an angle, something’s out of whack, and accuracy suffers.
First check to ensure you’re shooting an arrow with the correct spine for your bow. Arrow “spine” is its stiffness. The higher your bow’s draw weight, the stiffer the arrow’s spine should be. Arrow manufacturers provide charts recommending the correct spine for different arrow lengths and draw weights.
Assuming you’re shooting the correct arrow, you’ll need to adjust the arrow-rest to fix left-right flight issues, or the nocking point to fix up-down flight problems. An archery shop’s pro can help you make these adjustments if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself.
Dropping Your Bow Arm
Holding your bow upright and on target until the arrow hits is critical to accuracy. Archers, however, often drop their bow arm the instant they release an arrow, which can cause low misses. They might drop their arm to get the bow out of the way so they can see the arrow hit, or they simply let gravity take over when releasing the string.
To correct that problem, push the bow toward the target all the way through the shot process, including the moment the string releases. By pushing the bow toward the target, it can’t drop straight down. Likewise, gravity can’t pull the bow and your arm down until after the arrow is gone.
Don’t worry where your arrow hits until you complete the full shot process. You can then look without affecting the shot. Arrows more often hit where you want if you stay with the shot process to the end.