Archery – Foundational Skills

Want to shoot like Robin Hood? Here are some tips to get you started. 

By Mark D. Harris

Archery is a fine, fun and relaxing sport. During our courtship, Nancy and I would spend hours at the outdoor range just shooting, talking, and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around. She would pack a lunch and the days were delightful. I highly recommend picnics at the range rather than expensive restaurant lunches and movies during which no one talks to really get to know a person.

For those interested in learning the basics of archery, here they are.

Stance – Shoulder towards target, posture good (back straight, shoulders back and stomach in), feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Keep your attention focused on the target. Your bow arm shoulder should be low, not hunched up against your neck.

Nock – Place the shaft of the arrow on the arrow rest and turn the odd fletching the proper direction for your bow. Then snap the nock of the arrow on the bowstring. Once the arrow is nocked, keep the bow and arrow pointed downrange at all times.

Set – Grip the handgrip on the bow with your thumb facing towards the target when the bow is hanging down at your side. Wrap your fingers around the bow grip but keep them relaxed.

Pre-draw – Raise the bow and place your fingers (or mechanical release) around the bow string. If using a release, place your trigger finger behind the trigger and press gently forward to prevent the trigger from accidentally releasing when you draw the bow. Do not tightly grip the bow with thumb or fingers. A relaxed hand will provide better bow control. At this point your chest should be rotated parallel to the arrow shaft.

You should not have had to reposition any part of your body, whether stance, gripping hand, or anything after it was done the first time. If you must reposition something, do it now before you draw.

Draw – Pull the bowstring with the arrow loaded in a straight line back towards your face. Your drawing arm should be directly behind and parallel to the arrow shaft. Do not let your drawing arm hang down.

Anchor – Make a firm connection between your drawing hand and your face, often the angle of your jaw. This will place the bowstring close to your nose. The anchor must be firm. Now transfer the weight of the draw from your arms and shoulder to your back muscles.

Aim – Pause and check your overall form, including stance, overall body position, anchor, and concentration on the target. Make sure that your grip on the bow is loose and comfortable. Aim by sighting up the bowstring or using the sights. Ensure that the bow is vertical, neither tilted left nor right.

Release – Double check everything up until now. If something is not right, slowly let down the bowstring and start over again. Never dry fire a bow, and never fire a bow uncontrolled.

  1. If using fingers, let the bowstring leave your fingers holding the bow string, almost pushing them out of the way of the bowstring.
  2. If using a mechanical release, slowly move your trigger finger from behind the trigger to the front of the trigger. Then squeeze the trigger slowly.

Follow Through – Hold the bow up, not letting it fall until the arrow hits the target. Meanwhile relax the muscles in the drawing hand and arm. Once the arrow hits the target, let the bow slowly fall and begin the sequence for the next shot.

One thought on “Archery – Foundational Skills

  1. nice summary ^_^ recommend for beginners!
    especially the part about restarting the process of a shot if we think something is wrong. thats crucial.

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