There are several components to getting the perfect shot. Shooting, stance, hand placement, how to hold the bow, shoulder and arm placement, string release, follow-through, and aiming.
Here are some suggestions about how to perfect shooting with a bow that I’ve come up with after many years of bowhunting.
The best way to shoot well is to get out of the way of your bow, and to do that you must relax. The more relaxed you remain during the shooting process, the more or less influence you will have on the bow.
Your bow hand is the key to better shots. Keep your bow hand relaxed, and the rest of your body will respond with less tension.
Make sure your overall posture is natural and comfortable — face, arms, shoulders, etc. — while holding the bow, and the full draw should be relaxed.
If you have a solid stance, you have steady sights; wobbly stance, wobbly sights. You should stand 90 degrees to the target, feet shoulder width apart, with about a half-step back with your left foot to open your stance toward your target, keeping weight even on both feet.
Turn your head to look at the target, keeping your neck and head in a comfortable position, maintaining position throughout the shot. When you draw your bow, bring the string to meet your face, do not move your face to meet the string.
Always keep your bow hand natural (point at something with your hand, notice that your hand is angled diagonally). That is the position your hand should be when holding and shooting your bow.
If you let your hand stay natural, especially your bow hand, it will be torque-free and not twist your bow after the shot.
The grip of your bow should be pressing on the meaty part of your thumb in a low wrist position. Keep your bow hand fingers relaxed and loose, and don’t stick your fingers out straight like the spokes on a wheel; then grip the bow. Remember to be relaxed as you shoot your bow, even after the shot.
A good archer will drop his or her bow after the shot. If you are keeping your bow hand relaxed and limp throughout the shot, you should drop your bow after every shot. That’s why you use a wrist sling.
As you raise and draw your bow, keep your bow shoulder pulled low (it’s the most stable position). If you cannot hold your shoulder down as you draw, your draw weight is too heavy. You should be able to allow your bow arm to remain sightly bent throughout the shot.
When holding the bow at shoulder level to draw, the elbow on your drawing arm needs to be held a little above your shoulder level, then draw your elbow down and around behind your head using the large muscles of your upper back.
Then when at full draw, find a solid anchor point. It’s very important to develop a solid anchor point that you learn and always use when shooting. Your anchor point is like the rear sight on a rifle, and should become a solid point for a good shot.
The best way to release the string is surprise. Don’t anticipate the release. Just remember as you aim, the string should suddenly be gone. Don’t pull your release trigger; just squeeze it like a rifle trigger and stay relaxed during the shot.
After the shot, keep doing what you were doing before you released the string – keep your bow arm up and continue to aim at your target, don’t drop your arm to watch the arrow fly.
Your bow arm may drop some from the weight of your bow, but only a little. Continue to hold the follow-through position until the arrow hits your target. You may not see your arrow in flight or when it hits the target if you are shooting properly, but you should hear the impact.
Remember, you will never hold your pin steady on the target, it will always float around on the target. Practice, develop your strength, form, and always relax to reduce the movement as much as possible.
Stay relaxed and don’t tense your muscles. The way to accuracy is to be relaxed. As you are aiming, slowly begin to release, relax your fingers, squeeze the trigger until the string lets go.
Never try to time the shot or try to start over, just execute the shot as you aim and let the arrow go.
With practice it will fall where you want it to.
(John Merideith lives in Neosho, Mo.)