Learn the basics of shooting compound bows. Photo Credit: ATA

Basic Compound Archery Form

  Scott Einsmann   FeaturedHow ToVideo   November 7, 2018

Archery’s fundamentals form the building blocks of consistent shooting. Whether you’re drawing on a deer or shooting in a league, these basics help you make clutch shots.

These essentials include your stance, grip, posture, bow arm, anchor point, release and follow-through. By mastering archery’s basics, you’ll become an excellent shot. In this video we explain how to apply archery’s fundamentals to compound bows.



Make sure your feet are positioned at the correct angle and that you are not leaning too far in one direction. Photo Credit: Jessica Emmett

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. You can take a closed stance, which lines up your toes evenly; or an open stance, which puts your front foot slightly back. Your stance is based on personal preferences, but keep it consistent for each shot.


How you grip the bow is an equally important component to a perfect shot. Photo Credit: Jessica Emmett

Your grip is the main contact point between you and your bow. That’s why it greatly influences accuracy. An ideal grip is consistent and imparts little torque. To achieve that ideal grip, place the bow’s grip between your lifeline and thumb pad, as the above diagram illustrates. Your knuckles should be at a 45-degree angle to the bow. Keep your hand relaxed, and hold the bow with little pressure.


Stand upright with good posture, and don’t lean back or forward. If you’re arching your back at full draw, tighten your core to straighten your back. Your body should look like a “T” at full draw.

Bow Arm

Make sure your arm is straight, but not locked. Photo credit: ATA

An important guiding principle in archery is to use more bone than muscle to support the bow. It’s a stronger and more consistent way to shoot. You’ll be steadier and won’t quickly fatigue.

For right-handed archers, your bow arm is your left arm. Keep it straight, not bent, but don’t lock it. A locked bow arm hyperextends, which can cause issues, such as the bowstring slapping your elbow or forearm. A bent bow arm, meanwhile, reduces the arm’s overall strength, and makes it difficult for archers to maintain equal muscle tension on both sides of the elbow, which hampers consistency.

Once you properly set your grip, apply a little tension to the bowstring and rotate your elbow away from the string, which is clockwise for right-handed archers. That subtle rotation sets your bow arm into a strong position, and keeps the bowstring from hitting your elbow.

Also keep both shoulders low. That creates a bone-on-bone connection in your bow arm’s shoulder, and properly aligns your drawing arm’s shoulder for efficient drawing.

Anchor Point

Make sure you are centering your aim by touching the bow to the same point on your face every time. Photo Credit: ATA

Your anchor point is the place on your face where you bring the bowstring and your drawing hand for each shot. Most anchor points have three contact points: The string touches the corner of your mouth, the string presses into the tip of your nose, and the peep sight aligns with the sight housing.

The more contact points you have, the more consistently you anchor. One of your anchor points should make a bone-on-bone connection, such as your thumb bone pressing against your jaw bone.


Letting go of the bowstring is a simple but critical step. Some archers struggle with it, however, by anticipating the release and flinching while activating the trigger. That’s called punching the trigger. Try to create a surprise release by slowly building pressure on the trigger while focusing on the target. The release is a difficult aspect of archery form. You’ll likely need in-person coaching to learn its finer points.

Follow Through

Your work isn’t over when you release an arrow. You must remain focused on the target and let your bow jump toward the target. Good follow-throughs do not influence the arrow’s trajectory as it leaves the bow.

When in doubt, seek expertise from an archery coach who can work with you and give specific instructions. To find a coach, click here.


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