Archery has recently experienced a surge in prominence with the most recent London Olympics. According to NBC’s Olympic coverage, this sport was watched more than any other of the 2012 games. If you have recently caught the archery bug, you may be interested in trying this incredible lifetime sport out for yourself. In fact, you may have already gone out and bought equipment, but are not quite sure how to use it. Learning proper technique is paramount to making progress in the sport and preventing injuries. While archery classes are the best way to learn about the sport, here are 12 steps to have you accurately hitting the target with your new equipment in no time.
1. Stance. Your stance is the foundation of your shot, and should be strong and stable. You can use a closed stance, with both feet in-line with the target. Or an open stance, where your front foot is placed about 45 degrees to open up your hips to face the target slightly. Which stance you choose is a matter of preference, but most competition-level athletes use an open stance.
2. Nock the Arrow. ‘Nocking’ means to place the arrow on the string. Most arrows will have an odd-colored fletching or feather, that should be placed facing away from the bow.
3. Grip the String. Using a shooting tab or glove, position your fingers on the string. Traditional archers will place one finger above the arrow and two fingers below the arrow, gripping it just slightly.
4. Concentrate. Eliminate all distractions with a few deep meditative breaths. Try to relax your head, neck, and shoulder muscles, while keeping your lower body firmly planted.
5. Set the Shoulder. When you are ready, raise the bow high enough to allow your shoulder blade to drop back, and then lower the bow to roughly firing position. Keep in mind, you are not pulling the arrow back with force, but simply setting your shoulder blade so that your hand is near your face.
6. Draw. With your shoulder in place, draw the string back to just below your chin. Keep your drawing arm and hand as relaxed, yet not so relaxed you release the arrow.
7. Anchor. The most important part of the shot. It is vital that you anchor your drawing hand, and the bowstring at the same point of your face every time you shoot. This will ensure that your form is always consistent, so that you can make adjustments to improve accuracy.
8. Loading. Allow the bow to rest on the bones of the bow arm and hand, keeping both relaxed. You should not be gripping the bow tightly. Expand your chest slightly and transfer the weight of the bow string to your drawing side’s core back muscles.
9. Aim. With complete focus, relax your entire body except for your back muscles. Allow your face and your gaze to go soft. Your sights will hover around a bit, this is normal. When you are ready…
10. Release! Relax the drawing fingers, and allow the core back muscles to pull the drawing hand and arm back as a natural result of the bowstring’s release. With the bow arm relaxed, the bow should tumble forward.
11. Relax, Analyze, and Prepare for the next shot. Regardless of what happened in the last shot, try to not get too emotionally swayed by it either way. If it was a good shot, simply observe what you did right. If it was a bad shot, do not get upset, just analyze what went wrong. Finally, just let it slip out of your mind, and get ready for the next shot!