How you ever found yourself shooting arrows everywhere but the bullseye?
I’ve been there too many times to count. It’s frustrating. Usually, I’ll blame the sight first, then the arrow rest; then the weather, if its hot, or cold, or sunny. But when it comes to accuracy in archery, often it’s just simple archery mistakes and if you know what to look for, they aren’t that hard to fix. This article will show you how.
When you become serious about archery, you will begin to analyze your accuracy. This is true not only for competitive archers but bowhunters as well. Both types of archers may have to shoot in stressful situations with variable conditions, and both need to be able to hit the mark.
But…before working on your accuracy, take a minute and watch Lars Andersen in this archery video. It’s hilarious!
We may not shoot like that guy, but accuracy is still important to most archers. The truth is that we all get into slumps at times and aren’t quite sure what we need to fix. Sometimes it can even get into your head.
It’s no good to go into these situations unprepared and unsure of oneself. This leads to more archery mistakes and missed shots, and nobody enjoys shooting poorly.
But many recreational archers are also interested in working on accuracy. Heck, no one likes going out and shooting terribly!
Whether you are a target archer or bowhunter, if your accuracy is off and you are aren’t sure why, this is article will help you to diagnose and fix the problem. You will be splitting arrows in no time.
Before determining what simple archery mistakes you might be making, you have to make sure you’re not making BIG mistakes. The big mistakes are the things that will sink your accuracy before you even release an arrow. Here is a check list for the big stuff. Make sure these things are in order before moving on to the simple archery mistakes.
First, The Big Archery Mistakes
1. A Negative Attitude
It may sound cheesy and (frankly a little hard to write this), but it’s true. I’ve read the studies and they’ve tested it a lot in sports. People who have a positive attitude, believe they will perform well and envision themselves succeeding in what they are doing, perform as well or better than those who just practice without this.
Those who have a negative attitude always perform worse. Know that you can be a good archer and practice having that positive attitude. I’ve come to believe a negative attitude is the biggest mistake you can make, which is why I am making this number one.
2. Using the Wrong Equipment
Having proper archery equipment is a must. I find myself saying this a lot, but proper equipment does not mean it has to be the most expensive, but your equipment must be correctly set up for your size and shooting needs. If you are shooting with your brother’s bow and he is twice your size, it’s just not going to work. You need to have a bow in your size range and have it set up for your draw length and weight.
Along with using the correct bow and having it set up for you, every piece of equipment used in shooting factors in your accuracy. Your sight should be one that works well for your vision and aiming method, i.e. aiming with one eye, or both eyes. The peep sight is also important if you use one. Your arrow rest should function well and you need to be comfortable using it.
The same is true of your release aid if you are using one. There are different types of releases and it’s an important part of your accuracy. Make sure you are using a quality release that functions correctly, and that you are able to use it the way it’s designed.
Finally, your arrows are also important, especially when working on accuracy. Your arrow groupings will be the basis for figuring out what mistakes you are making. The important things here is that you have a set of identical arrows and that they are in good condition. Grabbing a handful of different arrows won’t help you determine accuracy because they will not shoot the same.
3. Poor Form
Correct form is needed for accuracy and will help you to shoot the same way every time. This is necessary for tuning your bow and is the only real way you can identify simple mistakes and correct them. If your form is poor, you need to work on that before moving on to fine tune the simple archery mistakes.
4. Not Tuning Your Bow
Even with the correct equipment, tuning will be essential for accuracy. Tuning involves adjusting your bow, and it’s accessories to the flexibility of your arrows. If you’ve ever watched arrows in slow motion, you know that they don’t really fly straight.
They flex and spin while they are in flight. In slow motion, you almost wonder how anyone can be accurate shooting something so floppy. As you shoot groups of arrows, you may also notice that they don’t all hit the target at the same angle. This can seem odd since you are shooting them from the same spot every time.
The movement of an arrow in flight is in part due to their flexibility or lack of flexibility. In archery, this is referred to as the arrow’s “stiffness” or spine.
Tuning involves not only finding the correct arrow spine for your bow but also making the small adjustments to your bow needed to achieve the best possible arrow flight.
Ideally, you want the arrow leaving the bow as straight as possible and hitting the target straight on.
Analyze and Adjust
Before working on simple archery mistakes, make sure you aren’t making any of the four big mistakes. It won’t do you any good to work on little adjustments if any of the big stuff is off. If your goal is really to improve as an archer, you must learn to analyze and adjust. Big things and small things, yourself and your bow. Accuracy in archery is a process.
Setup For Finding the Simple Archery Mistakes
Your accuracy can be measured by shooting groups. This means you aim and shoot multiple arrows at the same spot. When your arrows all hit close, it’s an indicator of good form. If the arrows are all over the target, checking your form should be the first stop.
If you don’t have a shooting coach or someone experienced who can observe your form while you practice, a good alternative is filming yourself shooting. After you shoot, call out where each arrow hits in relation to where you were aiming. As you go back and watch the video, you may be able to identify what you are doing wrong.
If you are shooting a tight group of arrows, but they are not hitting where you are aiming, it indicates your form is good, but your bow needs adjusting.
A Quick Word About Equipment
If you are shooting a compound or recurve bow with sights and an arrow rest or plunger, this adds another dimension to accuracy. This extra equipment can help with your accuracy but it can also make it much more difficult to diagnose shooting mistakes, like those coming from your form.
The example target pictures are from shooting barebow which makes diagnosing simple archery mistakes much easier. If you are using a sight and rest, make sure your bow is tuned and sighted in before moving on to your form.
Identifying 27 Simple Archery Mistakes
If you observe your arrow groupings, their characteristics can help you identify the adjustments you need to make for better accuracy. These characteristics may show a pattern over time that indicates a problem with your shooting or setup.
This is something that you need to observe over time with a lot of groupings. A few arrows away from a grouping doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem that needs adjusting. However, if most of the arrows from 10 groups are high and left, that is a pattern indicating something you need to adjust.
Error Indicators from Arrow groups- Off Center
High or Low Arrows
1. Inconsistent anchor point
2. Incorrect nocking point
3. Holding bow handle too high or low
4. Heeling bow, tipping bow up. Possibly pushing too much with heel of hand.
5. Raising bow arm while releasing
6. Drawing too far; past anchor point
7. Lowering draw hand during release. (Pulling bowstring down)
8. Anchor point too low
9. Pushing up on arrow while hooking bowstring
10. Pushing upward with bow arm during release. (Not using correct muscles)
11. Dropping bow during release
12. Draw length too short; Possibly from pushing head forward to the bowstring.
13. Not holding back tension; collapsing.
14. Leaning forward while shooting
15. Pushing down on arrow while hooking.
Left of Right Arrows
16. Tilting bow left or right. Canting
17. Gripping bow handle too tight. This can cause torque.
18. Incorrect string alignment
19. Pulling bowstring sideway against bow arm.