Learn how to hold a compound bow, the proper technique, safety tips, and how to choose the safety gear you need.
Properly holding the bow while aiming at a target is arguably the most refined skill archers need to learn. After all, shooting accurately is what archery and archery equipment are about.
Although experience and having the right instants is what makes great arches so accurate, there are a lot of factors that can improve your aim without having to practice two hours a day.
This article walks you through the basic steps of holding and aiming from a compound bow. We explain each step in detail and discuss things you need to consider during each step. But before you go through the details of holding a compound bow, you may also check this article on how to set up a compound bow.
Without further ado, let’s grab your bow and get right into it.
1. Getting Into the Proper Position
If you ask an expert archer for advice to improve your aim, they will probably advise you to adjust your stance. Proper stance is the base the other steps build up and rely upon. If your stance is incorrect, you will not be able to execute the rest of the steps.
The best way to learn the proper stance is by looking at professionals and by practicing your drawing method in front of a mirror. There is one rule that you can easily follow to enhance your stance: while aiming, stand so that both your feet and the target are collinear.
2. Mark the Target
The anchor point is the point where the serving and the bowstring touches. There is no strictly defined anchor point, and it can be different for different people. The best way to know yours is to aim through the sight and see where on your face the serving touches.
3. Hold the Bow Properly
The most effective way to hold the bow is to make a V with your index finger and thumb, with your fingers pointing outward at an angle of 25 to 45 degrees. Imagine a V, down towards the palm. Now gently grab the bow while still focusing on the area between your thumb and the index finger. You do not have to hold the bow; you just have to keep it in place as you pull on the bowstring.
4. How to Choose a Proper Position for Holding the Bow?
The bow hand should be relaxed to avoid dropping the bow after drawing it. If you are calm and steady, the bow fits well with your hand.
At Which Point Can the Bow be Held?
Hold the bow at the topmost and deepest part of the grip. This way the bow will not drop as you release the arrow even if you’re not holding the bow.
Ease your Hand
As you draw the bowstring, your bow hand will accordingly be pushing the bow away from you. You do not need to actively grip the bow. Limiting the number of muscles being used while aiming will allow you to aim more calmly, steadily, and precisely.
Catch Sight of the Target
Peep sights work with bow sights and allow you to align your line of sight with the trajectory of the arrow. Adjust your line of sight such that you can see the bow sight from the peep sight and then aim from the bow sight. (1)
Here’s additional information on when do bow sights work best to your advantage.
One of the most effective ways to fine-tune your method is to practice in from of the mirror and see what you are doing differently from the experts. Looking at yourself from a third-person perspective might give you insights about your method that you might not be able to see from a first-person perspective. (2)
5. How to Take the Perfect Shot?
Some beginners push or pull on the bowstring as they release the arrow. This does not help the speed of the arrow in any way. Instead, the result is significantly reduced accuracy. The correct way is to let release the bowstring with as little movement as possible.
6. Finish Naturally
Once your aim is on the target, let go of the bowstring as naturally as possible. Let the bow do the rest of the work.
7. Shoot the Bow
Pull the trigger with as few muscle movements as possible. Keep aiming at the target even after you have pulled the trigger. Keep your stance still, as it was while aiming.
Do not get a hold of the bow immediately after you pull the trigger. The action you should be thinking about when you’re about to pull the trigger is that of pulling the trigger.
You might have noticed when professional archers release, their bows immediately drop forward because of their weak grip on the bow. All of this is to minimize the movement of the body and the bow as you release the bowstring and as the arrow leaves the bow.
If you’re thinking about correcting your stance and grabbing the bow as your trigger, you might add to the inaccuracy.
8. Reset the Pin
The pins on your sight take into account the drop due to gravity. If your arrows are consistently hitting above the target or below the target, you should try adjusting your pins appropriately. Suppose a group hits above the target, just the pin a little bit higher, and then try showing another group. Keep adjusting till you’re able to show a group centered around the target.
9. Have a Break
Shooting arrows continuously one after the other might tire your muscles resulting in decreased accuracy. Instead, try taking your time before each draw.
10. Visualize Success
We learn and evolve subconsciously through the feedback we get. If you reward yourself after successful shots, your subconscious will register the positive feedback, and you will instinctively learn to repeat whatever allows you to aim better. This is the basis of instinctive aiming, and this is the reason it can’t be learned through reading a book about aiming. You learn it subconsciously through feedback loops.
Things to Avoid
Releasing your Palm
Initially, you might face a problem of arm dropping after the release of your arrow. This will be challenging to keep your arm directed towards the target. To avoid this, the shooting technique must be adjusted. The arm should direct forward and slightly raised to avoid deviation of the arrow from the target. Dropping of arms causes inconsistency in shots, therefore creeping back to the point is important.
In-Expensive or Imperfectly Manufactured Bows
Beginners usually buy cheap bows to practice, but these are not at all effective. A poorly designed bow will never aim at the target the way a well-designed bow will. It will also be ruined easily after two-three shots costing you even more than the original bows. Hence, it’s good to invest in a good piece of kit.
Unleveled Aiming Towards the Target
If the peep sight is not aligned, you won’t be able to look through it, causing hindrance for the archers and vision problems. The target is aimed through the peep sight; therefore, immediate adjustment is necessary. This usually occurs because of the stretching of strings. Therefore, reinstalling it again at the position is the only solution.
Hanging On to the Bow Too Much
You are nervous, and you have a fear of dropping your heavy bow. Therefore you apply enough pressure to tightly get a hold on the bow. That is where the problems start, the tension developed in the string will wiggle the arrow, and it flies in a fishtail manner. Thus, a poor draw is performed. Torque is developed, and muscle strain is also evident with a tight grip.
Adjusting your Face to Aim at the Target
A good shooter knows how to stand, anchor point, posture, sight, and maintain consistency. Moving your face here and there to adjust according to the target will never allow you to gain the target. Closing one eye ad focusing on the other through the peep sight will help you achieve your goal without any mistake. Your face shift will shift the direction of the arrow as well.
Once you incorporate these steps into your shooting style, you will properly be on the path to becoming a good archer. By properly following these guidelines, you will minimize the inconsistencies, which will help you improve your instincts at a faster rate.
(1) tragectory – http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/traj.html
(2) third-person perspective – https://www.thebalancecareers.com/third-person-point-of-view-1277092