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Form Breakdown: Stance

Shooting a bow is a progression of steps that include how you grip and draw the bow, how you release the string, and how you orient your feet and shoulders relative to the target, called your stance. Altogether, these steps make up your archery form

Consistent shooting starts from the ground up. Your stance is the stable foundation of the rest of your archery form. That’s why setting your stance is the first step in shooting a bow. 

The Basics

Stand with the target to your side. Photo Credit: ATA

Instead of facing the target like you would when shooting a basketball, you stand with the target at your side like you would when playing golf or swinging a baseball bat. 

As with many things in archery, there isn’t only one correct way to stand while shooting, but there are characteristics that all good stances share. 

As a rule of thumb, your feet should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Although your stance starts with your feet, it also includes your hips and shoulders. Roll your hips forward to keep your weight more toward the balls of your feet. Stand with good posture to avoid leaning, bending or creating a curve in your back known as “hollow back.” Learn more about the latter by clicking here.

The two most common stances are closed and open. 


A closed stance is perpendicular to the target with your feet even with each other. Photo Credit: ATA

To take a closed stance, stand perpendicular to the shooting line with your feet even with one another. Your shoulders are pointed to the target, which can make alignment easier. What is alignment? Learn more about ithere

The potential downside of a closed stance is that it can be less stable than an open stance, especially in high winds. 


For an open stance, keep your hips pointed the same direction as your feet. Photo Credit: ATA

To take an open stance, set your feet at about a 45-degree angle to the target. The key here is to keep your hips pointed in the same direction as your feet as you draw the bow. If your hips twist when you align your shoulders, push down with your leg nearest the target to keep your hips open. 

Some archers find it more difficult to get into proper alignment with an open stance. But it can be very stable, and some archers find it easier to engage their back muscles when using an open stance, too. 

If you’re having difficulty getting into alignment, or you’re finding the open stance uncomfortable, try for a happy medium between the open and closed stances. That middle ground is also a good starting point if you can’t decide what stance you like best. 

Once you find a stance that works well for you, get into the habit of setting it each time you step to the shooting line. If you watch archery tournaments on YouTube, you’ll see top competitive archers look down and adjust their feet before they start shooting. You should do the same. 

If you need help with your stance or any aspect of your form, schedule an archery lesson with a nearby instructor. Find one near you by clicking here



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Learn the basics here, from the different styles of archery to how to choose the bow that’s right for you.


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