Archery is one of the safest sports. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely without risk. Before shooting your first arrow of the day, it’s important to follow a few steps to make sure you’re doing it properly.
Never Draw Without an Arrow
This might seem obvious, but it happens more than you’d think. Shooting a bow without an arrow nocked on the bowstring is called a dry-fire. It can happen when people aren’t paying attention or don’t understand the necessity of having an arrow in place to absorb the energy produced by the bow.
When the archer releases the bowstring, the bow’s limbs spring back into place and convert stored power into kinetic energy to propel the arrow into flight. Without an arrow to absorb all this energy, it goes back into the bow, which isn’t designed to absorb the power. This sends an explosion through the bow that is loud and potentially dangerous. The vibrations can damage the equipment and send parts flying. Before drawing any bow, always make sure there’s an arrow nocked properly.
Inspect Each Arrow Before Every Shot
Inspect each arrow for damage before every shot. This might seem redundant but it’s important. Arrows carry a lot of energy, and shooting a damaged arrow is unsafe. There are many ways an arrow can become damaged, and it’s not always obvious at first glance.
Perform a flex test on the arrow. Hold it on both ends and flex it away from your body. Look and listen for dents, nicks, cracks and splinters. If you see or hear any damage to the spine, get rid of the arrow because it can’t be fixed.
Nocks and fletchings can also become damaged, especially when arrows are grouped tightly. Luckily, if nocks or fletchings become loose or damaged, these can easily be replaced. Just set the arrow aside until it’s fixed.
Nock the Arrow Properly
Failing to properly nock the arrow on the string can cause the arrow to fall off as the archer draws back. This can result in a dry-fire. When you nock an arrow, you should hear it click onto the string. It’s important to have the right nock fit. If it’s too tight, the arrow won’t release smoothly from the string; but if it’s too loose, it might fall off while drawing. You also need to make sure that the odd vane is facing up. This will ensure that the arrow clears the rest. Your local archery shopcan give you expert advice on the fit and adjust things if necessary.
Set Your Stance
The form of your foundation rests on your stance. Setting your stance is the first step in the shooting process. It’s easy to get lazy about stance, especially when you’re shooting several rounds of arrows. But before every arrow, it’s important to check your stance. There isn’t one correct way to stand while shooting. However, once you find a stance that works well for you, do it every time. If you need help with your form, schedule an archery lesson with an instructor. You can find one near you by clicking here.
Align Your Peep Sight
Compound bows have peep sights. However, a common mistake some beginning archers make is to look around or over their peep sight, rather than through it. While aiming, the peep sight and the sight housing need to create two concentric circles. If the two aren’t in the same alignment for every shot, this will create inconsistent shooting.
Create Consistent Anchor Points
Anchoring is how you position your draw hand as you pull back the bowstring. Your anchor points are certain parts of your body that touch the string every time you draw. Consistent anchor points are critical for good shooting. Even small changes in the way you anchor can make a big difference in where the arrow hits the target.
Anchor points differ between archers. Some archers attach a kisser button, made of soft plastic, to the string so it touches the corner of the mouth. Or it might be a finger against the side of the jawbone or just below the ear. Your anchor point should be a spot on the face that’s comfortable to come back to every time.
Get a Grip
Many beginning archers think they need to grasp the bow tightly to keep it from falling forward. However, the tighter you grip the bow, the more likely you are to torque it. Torquing the bow allows it to twist side to side. This causes arrows to fly off course. A good grip is a loose grip because it reduces torque.
Bend Your Bow Arm
Most archers have slapped themselves in the arm with a bowstring at least once. This leads to a bruised ego, in addition to a bruised forearm. This happens when archers get sloppy with their form or have ill-fitting equipment.
The elbow on your bow arm should point at an outward and slightly downward angle, away from the bow. This gives the bow arm a slight bend. If the bow arm’s elbow faces directly downward, it can cause the bowstring to slap your forearm during the shot.
Most archers have heard of “punching” the trigger on the release aid. That means to release the trigger in a swift and rapid motion. This isn’t ideal. Many archers don’t even know they’re doing it because it’s an easy habit to acquire and can provide decent accuracy. But punching the trigger can also cause target panic, a psychological condition that affects an archer’s ability to shoot.
To avoid punching the trigger, place your finger on the trigger and slowly apply pressure. The trick is to train the brain to understand you can touch the trigger without it going off. The goal is to apply steady pressure once you’re ready to shoot and let the release surprise you.
Set up at a target that’s 10 yards away for your first arrow of the day. Go through the proper shooting steps before releasing the arrow. Check where it hit the target and adjust your sight accordingly. By starting at a short distance, most archers will be less nervous about the arrow’s hitting the target and more focused on everything covered above. A good first arrow can help the archer move confidently into practice for the day.
There’s a lot more that goes into archery than sending arrows toward the target. By implementing these measures into your practice, you’ll create consistency and make sure your gear remains in tiptop shape.