The work isn’t over just because hunting season ends. The preparation bowhunters put in during the offseason makes a big difference during hunting season. If you want to become a better bowhunter, focus on your form between now and opening day.
How did you learn archery? Many bowhunters are self-taught or learn from family and friends. This isn’t a critique if you learned that way, but sometimes it means you skipped learning the foundation of form. The best instruction comes from certified archery coaches. You can find them at archery shops.
Form is the building block of consistent shooting. It includes your stance, grip, posture, bow arm, anchor point, release and follow-through. Let’s look at each element.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Stance can vary a bit due to personal preference, but be sure to keep it consistent for every shot.
A bad grip can be a bad habit to break. Grip pressure greatly influences your accuracy because it’s the main contact between the archer and the bow. Place the bow’s grip between the lifeline on your hand and the thumb pad. Knuckles should be at a 45-degree angle to the bow. Don’t hold with too much pressure.
Did your parents or teachers ever tell you not to slouch? The same is true for archery practice. Stand upright and tighten your core to help strengthen your back.
Your bow arm is the one that holds your bow. When positioned correctly, it should have a slight bend. To achieve the right position, apply a little tension to the bowstring and rotate your bow arm’s elbow away from the string. This will keep your bow arm away from the bowstring, avoiding contact that can be painful and produce bad shots. Be sure to test your shooting while wearing all your bowhunting layers. You don’t want your string hitting against a heavy jacket.
Anchor points ensure you bring the bowstring to full draw in the same place every time. Most bowhunters have three main anchor points: the string touching the corner of the mouth, the string touching the tip of the nose, and the peep sight creating a full circle with the sight housing. Another good anchor point is the thumb pressing against the jawbone.
Punching the trigger is a big problem for bowhunters. That’s when they anticipate the release and hit the trigger too hard or flinch during the shot. The best way to ensure accuracy is to slowly squeeze the trigger while remaining focused on the target.
It’s important to remain focused on the target to do a proper follow-through with the shot. If you drop the bow too fast, it will affect the arrow’s trajectory. Watching the shot is critical during bowhunting because it will help you see where your arrow hits and where the animal goes.
Some bowhunters focus on making sure their arrow groups hit within the kill zone. They think they’re prepared as long as they’re shooting well enough for a quick, clean kill. However, with the right form, you should notice your groups tightening up.
Instead of drawing back and focusing on the bull’s-eye, walk through the steps of shooting. Be sure that with each step, you use the proper form. As your form improves, so will your groups. This will help you sight in your bow faster. Once this form becomes instinctual, you’ll be able to execute the shot in the field when it really matters.