Useful tips

Unless you are already an experienced archer (or shooter) don't buy a bow until you visit the club! There are right-handed bows and left-handed bows, and it doesn't depend on which hand you write with!

An expert at the club will soon help you find which is your dominant eye. 
Once you know your natural eye dominance you'll know whether you will shoot more accurately with a left-handed bow or a right handed bow.

archer testing eye dominance

A straight and upright posture is important for accurate shooting. It will help you to draw the bow back efficiently and with consistency, using the strong muscles of the back as well as the arm; plus it will give you a physical reference point, so you can adopt the same stance on each and every shot.

Broadly speaking, in the bow drawn position the arms and body form a capital T, as you can see from the photograph of coach David Reaney.

archer at full draw

A good deal of successful archery revolves around maintaining the same holds and stances from shot to shot. This is especially true for the 'anchor point' - which is where the hand holding the drawn arrow touches the jawline or cheek.

If the hand can be made to make the same anchor point each time, then the amount of power going into each shot will be the same - and this will make for tighter arrow grouping on the target.

anchor point uder teh chin

The correct foot position for an archer is important for maintaining stability, balance, and proper body alignment to the target. The archer's feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart, with weight evenly distributed between both feet. The leading foot may be angled slightly outwards, pointing more towards the target. This helps create a firm base, especially in windy conditions. Finding and keeping the correct foot position helps an archer improve accuracy and consistency.

Take proper aim - 1. Always try to keep both eyes open when taking aim. You can still shoot fairly well by aiming with just one eye, as when shooting a rifle but for best results try to use both eyes. Your dominant eye will take over anyway, so there won't be any blurriness but you will have reinforced visual attention and superior depth perception. 2. Always focus your aim on the target, not the sight pin - when done correctly the target will appear sharp and clear, with the sight pin perhaps slightly out of focus or fuzzy. We are aiming to hit the target, not the sight pin. 

The bow grip - or lack of it! Don't grip the bow tightly but hold it loosely, even perhaps just with a relaxed thumb and index finger. You will notice archers use a finger-sling and this is to retain the bow once the arrow is loosed. During the draw the 'weight' of the taught string will hold the bow against your padded palm until the arrow is loosed. Then the bow will roll forward to be held by the finger-sling. Shooting this way ensures the grip doesn't affect the intended trajectory of the arrow.

Mindfulness - good archery requires a calm and concentrated mind and if you don't have one to start with, you will by the end of a practice session! The more you can empty yourself of extraneous thought and become singularly focused on your task, the more accurate you will become. In fact there is a branch of Zen Buddhism that uses the meditative focus generated in the practice of archery to improve all aspects of a persons life and progress.

Taking time to gather your attention and to internally reaffirm your intention before beginning to take your shot is a valuable habit to cultivate and maintain right throughout the shooting cycle. It's also great antidote to the stress of a busy lifestyle.

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