Learning how to shoot a bow and arrow may seem really easy, but there’s a lot more to it that meets the eye. It may seem difficult to shoot at first and even more difficult to do so accurately, but shooting a bow and arrow is practical skill that everyone should learn.
Take this hypothetical situation: you’re trapped in the forest with a bow and arrow and you have no idea how to use it. How are you going to defend yourself? If you get attacked by a bear, are you just going to whack it with an arrow? Of course, it’s highly unlikely, but the point remains. Why not learn such a valuable skill?
What are the benefits to learning how to shoot a bow and arrow?
Learning archery can be beneficial in many ways. You’ll get a:
- Sense of accomplishment
- Better coordination & strength
- A valuable skill
First of all, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment and there’s nothing more satisfying than learning something new. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to archery and it’s just something that you’ve never tried before. What’s stopping you?
Sure, archery can be difficult, but no one’s expecting you to be a master with no prior experience. Everyone was a beginner at one point and everyone has failed. But, you know what? The people that overcame their failures are the ones that really benefited, because they learned from their mistakes. So, if you want to try archery, go ahead and do it!
Second, you’re going to improve your motor skills. The more that you practice, the stronger you’ll get and the better your aim will be. Your hand-eye coordination will improve and you’ll be able to do a lot more.
Third, you’re going to learn a valuable skill. Archery is a skill that you can transfer to so many disciplines. From the angles in physics to the motor skills in sports, the elements of archery are everywhere. Even if you learn just one thing, I’m sure that you’ll be able to apply it to something else in your life. This is just how life works.
What are the basic steps for shooting a bow and arrow?
The right form when shooting an arrow is especially important for beginners. Not only will it improve your consistency and accuracy, but it will also prevent injury. Here’s what you should do:
- Assume your stance
- Position the arrow
- Focus on your grip
- Draw the bowstring
- Pull the bowstring to your anchor point
- Aim and release
1. Assume your stance
In archery, foot placement is one of the most important things because it can have such a big effect on where the arrow goes.
To start, there’s two basic stances that beginners use. The first one is called open stance which is basically when your feet are tilted at a 45 degree angle facing the target, with the foot on your draw side farther back. The second stance is called square stance, which is when your feet are perpendicular to your target.
Either one of these stances will work, but try to find one that you prefer. Just remember to stick to whichever one you choose if you want to ensure consistency across your shots.
2. Position the arrow
The arrow shelf is the part of the bow where the arrow rests before you shoot. At this point, you’re also going to want to “nock” your arrow. Nocking your arrow means that you’re going to attach the back end of the arrow to the bowstring. The nock is usually a brass or rubber ring located on the bowstring. It is made to tell you where you should attach your arrow each time. Attaching it in the same place ensures consistency in your shots.
3. Focus on your grip
At this point, grab the bow at the grip at the front of the bow and extend your arm in the direction of the target. You should extend your arm so that it is horizontal to the floor and hold it there. If you have a right-handed bow, you should be stretching your left hand. If you have a left-handed bow, you should be stretching your right hand.
Your grip should be loose. Holding it too tight will give you a hard time tuning your bow and your accuracy will suffer because of hand torque. Hand torque is when the stiffness of your hand affects where the direction of the arrow.
Also, make sure that the crease of your elbow is vertical and not facing up. If you don’t do this, the bowstring will graze your arm when you fire and it will hurt.
4. Draw the bowstring
Once you have positioned your body, take three fingers with your other hand and grab the bowstring at the nock with your fingertips. You should hold it the string along the first crease of your fingers with your index finger above the nock and your middle and ring finger right below. Your fingers should be close together in a straight line, with the nock between them. Also, make sure to keep you hand and fingers horizontal to the ground. You should hold the bowstring at an angle.
At this point, pull the bowstring backwards. Keep the arrow horizontal to the ground as you draw the bow. If you do this at an angle, your shots will be more inconsistent.
5. Pull the bowstring to your anchor point
The anchor point is the place where you draw the end of the bowstring to when you pull it back. It is usually your chin or the edge of your lip. It doesn’t really matter which one you use, but whichever one you pick, keep using the same one. Otherwise, your accuracy will suffer.
6. Aim and release
Now, you’re going to want to aim. To do this look at the target. Most bows come with a decent sight that will help you with this. Sights are usually a set of calibrated pins that make it easier to aim at different distances.
Once you’ve got your aim down, you can release the bowstring. However, when you do this, be careful not to move any part of your body. This is called the “follow-through”. When shooting, do your best to keep your head in the center. Leaning it forward or tilting it back will both cause unnecessary stress of the body.
Unfortunately, many archers do not follow this form. Instead, they turn their head or move their shoulders when they release their shot. What this does is that it moves the bow and, therefore, changes the trajectory of the arrow. This is a mistake that seriously hurts their accuracy.
Luckily, this can easily be corrected. To break this habit, simply watch the back of the arrow and do not move until it hits its target. If you keep doing this, your shots will be more consistent.