identify your target and what is beyond. An arrow can travel quite a distance
if it misses the target.
yourself in a responsible and ethical manner at all times when using a
an arrow, or draw a bow when facing someone.
Shooting The Bow
There are seven basic steps
involved in becoming a good archer. The following steps are for right-handed
shooters, reverse the directions for left-handed shooters.
Position Or Stance
Position your body at a 90 degree
angle to the target. Spread feet conformably apart with your body weight
equal on both legs. Your shoulders should line up with an imaginary line
drawn from the center of the target.
Holding The Bow
The bow should be able to move
freely after an arrow is released. Proper bow grip is achieved by forming
a "V" by the thumb and forefinger. To get a relaxed grip, many archers
use a bow sling to prevent the bow from falling out of their hand upon
Notching The Arrow
Hold the bow in the left hand
with the arrow rest up, and the bowstring against the inside of the left
arm. Lay the arrow shaft across the arrow rest with the "cock" feather
at right angles to the bowstring. Draw the arrow toward the bowstring until
the string sits firmly in the arrow notch.
Drawing The Bow
The bowstring is drawn back by
the first three fingers of the right hand, with the arrow notch held lightly
between the first two fingers. Draw the string back until the index fingers
on the right hand is "anchored". The same anchor point is used each time
you draw the bow. Using different anchor points will result in poor shooting.
Either the instinctive aim or
the bow sight aim can be used. With the instinctive aim, an archer views
the target with both eyes open and releases. Using a bow sight, the shooter
aligns the sight on the target and releases.
The bow is held at full draw long
enough to achieve accurate aim. After taking a deep breath and holding
it, the three draw fingers are relaxed, allowing the bowstring to be released
smoothly. Again, to ensure consistency, the same form of release must be
used at all times.
As in any other sport, follow
through is important. To become accurate, the bow hand and string hand
must remain where they are until the arrows hits the target. Practice this
discipline to shoot well.
methods may vary slightly depending on the equipment you shoot.
When I say Practice I don't mean practice. Not going
down to the hangout and spending your time jabbering with your friends
and shooting a few arrows... (although that too definitely has it's part!).
I mean shooting good arrows. You have to concentrate in practice otherwise
you might as well not be there. Work on something every time you shoot.
I believe that it is essential to have good back tension.
In order to draw and hold a bow while you make a shot it is necessary
for your body to do a lot of work. Trying to do this work with arm muscles,
even for the bodybuilders is nearly impossible. The back muscles are multitudinous
and large so why not use them. Shooting with just your arms and you WILL
collapse after the shot, maybe not always, but sometimes.
A good shooting Rhythm will aid accuracy. Shoot with
a continuous fluid action, if you stop it will take a lot of effort to
get the rhythm started again! Research has shown that the longer you try
to aim the less accurate you aiming becomes. You are at your most accurate
early on in your shot cycle. I believe a cycle of 5 seconds is more than
enough and over 7 seconds is too long. If you cannot shoot in such a rhythm
there are several possibilities:
I cannot emphasize the importance of drawing smoothly.
Never stop pulling! If you stop pulling then you have to start again which
will be jerky and inconsistent. If you never stop then all your actions
can be smooth and refined! Watch the top archers shooting, they pull all
the way through, no stopping and starting again.
You are over-bowed (bow too heavy)
You have a basic technical error (e.g. bow shoulder
You are not pulling continuously
You are over-aiming (in archery your aiming does not
need to be that precise!
It is essential for a good release that the fingers
that draw the string are as relaxed as possible. If you have a lot of tension
then the string will clear them with a jerk, therefore proving inconsistent.
If your fingers are more relaxed the string can just push them aside as
you relax the holding tension. The key to this is IMHO a good deep hook.
If you support the string on the tips of the fingers then the string is
well away from the line of power, exaggerating the holding tension. Your
finger tips which are in front of the string are rigid. With a good deep
hook your finger tips can be far more relaxed, the only tension in your
fingers is the minimal amount that will hold the string. When I say "deep
hook" I mean past or near the first joint. To some extent it will depend
on the shape of your hand. I prefer to be past the joint on my top and
middle fingers and in the joint on my bottom finger.
form the joints may cause joint damage and possibly increase the risk of
The bow hand is the last place where you can influence
the arrow. If you are torquing the bow-grip, then as you release the string
the bow will begin to rotate or kick. To minimize this effect you must
relax your bow hand, this will improve consistency from shot to shot. To
maintain a relaxed bow hand follow these steps:
Now you must check that your hand does not make any
contact with the grip to the bow-side of your lifeline (on your palm!).
If you start with your hand and fingers like this you should be able to
maintain that position through the draw cycle.
Rotate elbow so that joint is faces the string.
Make a V shape with your bowhand (Thumb to forefinger)
Place hand on the base of the grip and slide up into
Relax thumb and forefinger.
Assuming you do actually anchor, most archers pull into
their face way too hard (me included). Keep your head up (stand tall you
slob!) and draw into anchor. Keep your head and neck relaxed and allow
the head to move a little when you are at the full draw position (backwards
of course!). This is much easier and more comfortable than pulling the
string tight onto your chin bone!
You aim with your body almost as much as with the sight.
It is important that you find out what works for you. Areas to be considered
Although there are plenty of rights and wrongs there
are a lot of correct possibilities! You must experiment and decide for
yourself. Never copy another archer. Everybody has a different physique
so there is no definitive way!
Stance (open or closed, if open how open)
Shoulder (set back, pushed forward or just natural?)
Rear Elbow (in line with arrow tends to be best)
Body must be upright
Tips For The Beginning Bowhunter
Only by practice will you be
able to become a proficient bowhunter and increase your chance of a clean
kill. Practice on the archery field to get your bow tuned and to
determine your effective shooting range. Practice regularly and under
every weather condition. This will allow you to shoot under more
realistic hunting conditions and sharpen your skills as an effective archer.
Improperly judged distances
are a major factor in missed shots. Thus, proper range estimation is a
must for successful bowhunting. Range estimation can be learned through
experience gained from stump shooting. Note that after every practice
shot taken the actual range should be taken as to learn and adapt.
Scent And Wind
To help disguise your natural
human scent just before the hunt, try this method taught to me by a true
(old-time) woods-man. When your warming up next to the fire on that chilly
morning just before daylight, before putting out your fire, lay a large
portion of fresh cut GREEN pine needles on your coals. When they start
up a good cloud of smoke, start jumping through the smoke several times
while in your hunting clothes for the day. Be sure to close your eyes when
doing this, as the sap smoke may burn your eyes a little. The pine sap
and odor will coat you and your clothes with a layer of pine scented residue.
The odor is pleasing, and if you have a very light sticky feeling (which
shouldn't last long before drying) the sap smoke has done it's job. Be
sure to coat your boots real well by holding your feet in the smoke about
twice as long, as it will wear off quicker while walking to your ground
blind or treestand. Even though this may be effective and help you elude
the animal longer than it would usually be possible, it is not an excuse
for ignoring the wind direction.
The keys to staying undetected
are keeping your movement minimal, making the least noise possible and
preventing the animals from detecting your scent. Of all these, scent
is the one that will usually give you away. This is because you have
less control of your odor and no control of the wind. It is important
that you stay downwind of your pray to decrease its chances of detecting
Bear in mind that the wind
direction can change and keeping track of such changes is a must.
There are many ways to determine the direction of even the lightest breezes.
Some hunters use butane lighters, others use a fine scentless powder that
will float with the wind, while others attach a small feather onto a string
of floss and attach it to their bow. Any method will do as long as
it is quite, requires little movement and releases little or no scent.
In order to complete a successful
hunt, you must know as much about your prey as possible. You must
learn of the animal's habits, food sources and travel routes. Scouting
a good portion of the year is a trait associated with many successful bowhunters
and they will tell you that the information and experience gained from
this habit is invaluable. Also note that over scouting an area can
have a negative effect on the wildlife and you may end up pushing the animals
out of the area or may become nocturnal, not be seen or heard from during
Archery is probably the safest
of all shooting sports, yet accidents do happen and it is up to you to
be prepared. Broadheads are sharp and should always be protected,
do not leave the sharp edges exposed. Treestands are notably dangerous
and have even been the cause of death in some bowhunting accidents.
The use of a harness is a must if you plan to hunt from a treestand.
Always carry some emergency supplies in case you get lost or hurt, this
includes your compass. Even if you follow every single safety precaution,
there is always a chance that something may go wrong. Whenever you
wander into the wilderness, be prepared for the worst.
Do Not Over Hunt An Area
Just like over-scouting, over
hunting an area can also have a negative impact. Every time you go
back and forth from your ground blind or treestand, you leave a scent behind
that can alert passing game. Too many hunters in one area will eventually
scare the animals out of that area or force them to become nocturnal.
To minimize over-hunting an
area, try to have more than one possible location for your treestand.
Deer can adapt, if you use the same site every day they will associate
it with humans. Once they associate a site with humans, they will
avoid it and warn other deer as well. Try to avoid areas where hunting
pressure is already great. Don't forget to always keep your scent to a
minimal. So don't pass a game trail on the way to your treestand
or walk parallel to existing game trails.
Getting a shot on an animal
is one of the greatest accomplishments for a beginning bowhunter. Unfortunately
there is still much work to do after you release that arrow. Finding
the downed animal is one of the most important of them. Tracking
the animal can be a challenge in itself, but add that to a rainy day, falling
daylight or a bloodless trail and then you could end up with a nightmare.
Try to bring in an experienced hunter to help you locate the animal.
With his experience you increase the chance of a recovery and learn valuable
tips while doing it.