Outdoor season is upon us, and wind can be the quiet devil that accompanies the great outdoors. After months of indoor range season, it’s time to get used to aiming in the wind outside again. You will have to develop your “wind callus” in order to be proficient in gauging the wind, but it is a great learned skill.
Over-aiming can hinder your performance in the wind. Trying to aim harder while fighting the wind can make your groups open up and cause arrows to land farther from the middle than normal. Instead, you should aim with a “softer intent” but make sure to keep your eyes focused on the middle. Your body tends to follow your eyes, and if you are intently looking at the gold, your body will naturally “follow” you into the middle. If you find yourself focusing too much on the sight pin, it might help to remove the dot in the middle of your pin so that you can look through an open ring at the target and keep your focus there.
Wait Out the Wind
Winds can be steady or gusting. When the wind is blowing consistently, the easiest thing would be to either move your sight accordingly or aim off on the target into the wind, which is just aiming on the opposite side of the target from where your arrows are hitting. For example, if the wind is pushing your arrows to the 8-ring on the right, you would aim off in the 8-ring on the left. If it is windy, a consistent breeze is best because it’s most predictable.
Unfortunately, the wind usually blows in short gusts instead, and trying to predict it can be very difficult and random at times. With gusting wind, you will have to aim off on the target so that the windage adjustment on your sight is preserved, and you can aim in the middle again when the wind has calmed down.
Shoot Fast, Shoot Strong
When you’re shooting in the wind, a faster shot usually translates into a better scoring arrow on the target. An archer who spends less time at full draw will spend less energy trying to fight the wind and less time being affected by the wind. The arrow will be affected by the wind while it travels to the target, but the archer’s releasing the arrow will have an even greater effect than just the wind alone. Shoot a strong and confident shot in the wind, or as my coach used to say, “Grip it and rip it.”
Strengthen Your Body
Strengthening yourself helps you shoot well in the wind. While an archer is at full draw, many muscles are in a flexed position (shoulders, back, etc.), but many more are in a stretched and weaker position. The stretched muscles are some of the most important ones used in stabilizing your entire body. The wind affects archers by pushing them over or twisting them around by blowing against their outstretched bow arm and bow. The core stabilizing muscles in your body exist in the middle: your abdominals (yes, all of them), your middle and lower back, and the flexors around the pelvis area. Getting connected with a good core strengthening program through yoga, Pilates, or a personal trainer will help you when the wind starts to pick up.
Shooting in the wind takes a lot of work both on and off the archery range. Following the saying of “Practice makes perfect,” you should get out to the range and shoot on windy days as much as possible in order to know what to expect during a windy-day competition. Of course, when you do a lot of shooting in the wind, you’ll figure out your own tricks that will help you handle the wind and maximize your potential.