With archery season fast approaching, I’m sure everyone has knocked the dust off the bow from last season and begun practicing, but is your technique as nice as you would like? Whether you are a new shooter using a second hand bow or a veteran shooter that’s shooting “old faithful”, there is always a few things to improve upon every season. Insuring proper draw length, shooting form, draw weight, and/or grip on the bow play vital roles in these pre-season preparations.
Draw Length and Proper Shooting Form
Draw length by definition is the measure from the knock point to the backside of the bow (side facing away from the shooter) at full draw. It is an integral part to ensuring a bow “fits” the shooter properly especially if you are shooting a bow that was given to you second hand or buying a new one. Improper draw length can cause issue with proper form and accuracy.
Proper Form: body, in straight line with the target, feet shoulder width apart, vertebrae straight up and down, bow arm slightly bent
Tell Tale signs of improper draw length:
Too long: Leaning back when at full draw, anchor point set too far back, and/or eye too close to peep (too large of field of view). Another tell tale sign is the bow arm being completely straight to compensate for the extra inches of length and possibly pulling the bow arm to the left (right for lefties), which could cause you to shoot off of your mark and possibly slap your arm with the string upon release. Getting an arm guard is not the fix for this… its a draw length issue (TRUST ME I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE!)
Leaning too far back off of center
Bow arm totally straight
Too Short: Bow arm too bent, anchor point set too far forward, and/or eye far from peep (decreased field of view). Being “jammed up” to fit into the shorter draw length can pull the bow arm to the right (left for lefties) in attempt to shorten the draw, once again causing you to be off center with your shots.
Draw length can be easily measured by standing with both arms outstretched to the side and measuring from finger tip to finger tip. This will get you a good starting point from which you can fine tune.
DRAW LENGTH =”WINGSPAN”÷ 2.5
(Remember to keep in mind that using a loop and some releases adds additional length to your draw.)
Many bow shooters are “over-bowed” and do not realize it. NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO PULL BACK 70+ POUNDS. The poundage you are pulling back should allow you to draw the bow straight back from any position and shoot numerous rounds without fatigue or soreness. Too often hunters are seen having to the raise their bow up to draw back because it helps them gain more leverage (not to mention how impractical all the excess movement is when you have the trophy of a life time only yards away). This is a sure sign the draw weight is too high and should be knocked down to a more comfortable poundage.
Also, its important to check with state rules and regulations for minimum draw requirements. For example, Louisiana requires a bow to have a draw weight of at least thirty pounds to hunt whitetail, but most states require a forty pound draw weight. This may not seem like much to an experienced archer, but for a woman or youth archer this may take some work to build up to. Building up poundage on a bow should be done gradually and not increasing to the next poundage until you can shoot your current poundage with ease. The muscles used to draw back your bow are rarely strenuously worked otherwise, so the best way to build them is to practice regularly.
Although most archers will swear by their grip technique, proper grip can make the world of difference in tightening your groups. The goal is to stabilize the bow during release without torquing it in reaction to the shot or slight hand movements.
Grip too tight aka “Death Grip”
Grip Too Loose aka “Spirit Fingers”
The Ideal Grip: The basic principle it to have your thumb at a “two o’clock” position from the grip and turn the fingers slightly upward causing the grip to fall right into the pocket along side of the thumb. Closing your hand and placing the finger tips lightly on the grip allows to stabilize the bow without causing it to torque.
Too Tight (aka “Death Grip”): Although stabilizing the bow, this grip can cause the shooter to torque the bow and any slight movement of the hand will cause you to move the entire bow.
Too Loose (aka “Spirit Fingers”): With the fingers outstretched, the bow has too much back and forth freedom. Also as an instinctive reaction, the hand may close slightly with the shot causing the muscles to move in the palm of the hand which in turn can move the bow.
Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, and Shoot Some More
- Practice makes perfect and forms muscle memory to where shooting techniques become instinctive instead of a list of information to remember.
- Be sure to anchor in the same spot every time. Changing up your anchor point will cause inaccuracy and larger groups.
- Practice in the hunting gear that you just bought from EvoOutdoors and plan on hunting in to find out how extra layers, headwear, gloves, face mask, badlands pack etc., affect your grip, anchor point, and maneuverability.
- Practice shooting from the location/position you are likely to shoot from in the field whether its from a elevated platform (safety harness please!), ground blind, uphill, downhill, sitting, standing, kneeling, etc. Also be sure to practice in different climates and lighting to be ready for any situation that can be presented.
- Extend your practice yardage out as far as you can. Being accurate at further distances will make close shots seem like nothing (REMEMBER: Just because you can shoot a target at a certain yardage does not mean you should shoot animals at that distance!)
- Make sure your bow is properly tuned. All the practice in the world can not help you improve your groups if your bow is out of tune. It also important to know your bow. Educate yourself on every part, its purpose, and how it works. By understanding this, you will be more capable of troubleshooting your problems on your own during practice or on that trophy hunt. Do not be afraid to ask your bow shop technician questions about how and why.
Photo Credits: to my amazing Nanny Jo Ann LeBoeuf .
Be sure to check out her stunning work at www.joannleboeuf.com or her Facebook Page.