Consistency In Archery - 15 Tips to Improve Your Shooting
In the world of archery, consistency is vital to achieving accuracy and success on the field or at the range.
Whether you're a seasoned archer or just starting, there are several essential elements to implement when building or refining your shot process.
Over the last six years, I have coached hundreds of archers, and there are several common mistakes I see across the board on both veteran shooters and those just starting.
For today, let’s explore these 15 valuable tips to help you get the most out of your time on the range and make you a more confident shooter!
1. Nock Your Arrow: This may sound like a rudimentary element to shooting your bow, but over the years, I have seen at least a dozen people dry fire their bow (coming to full draw and shooting without an arrow nocked). And you’d be surprised that the people who dry fire their bow aren’t always the new kids on the block. At a Total Archery Challenge event in 2016, I watched a well-known hunting podcast host dry fire his bow as he set up for a “cool video” on the course. Needless to say, that cool shot didn’t work out so well. One of the easiest ways to avoid getting thrown off your shot process and dry firing yourself is to add ‘check for arrow’ in your shot process. To this day, as I am drawing my bow, I glance down to confirm my arrow is indeed nocked.
2. Use a range finder: Before you even nock an arrow, use a range finder to accurately measure the distance to your target. Knowing the exact range can make a significant difference in your shot. Additionally, it’s important to sight in for the range finder you will be using in the field, as it is common to have some discrepancies between range finder models.
3. Shoot at Different Dots on the Target: To avoid damaging your arrows and improve your skills, practice shooting at different dots on the target. Doing so can prevent damage to your arrows and mentally keep you feeling free to move around the target with confidence. I have heard, and even occasionally felt myself, “I can’t shoot the left/ right/ top/ bottom dot...” Keep yourself from this mental block by routinely shooting different dots. As a bonus, this will distribute the wear and tear on your targets more evenly.
4. Check Your Nocks for Damage: Inspect your nocks for any signs of damage. Damaged or broken nocks can affect arrow flight and potentially damage your bow or cause harm to you while shooting. This is also why tip 3, shooting at different dots, is essential, as you can mitigate some of the damage to arrows while shooting. Keep backup nocks and replace them when needed.
5. Ensure Nock feeds into D-Loop Correctly: Make sure the nock of your arrow properly fits into the D-loop on your bowstring. You should be able to hear or feel it “click” as you nock your arrow to the string. A secure fit is crucial for consistent shots and preventing damage to your bow, but there is a balance between too tight and too loose of a fit. If you feel like your D-loop isn’t the correct size, take it to a bow shop you trust and have it looked at.
6. Check Field Points for Tightness: Loose field points can lead to inconsistencies in your arrow's trajectory. Ensure they are securely attached to the arrow shaft. If you notice your field points coming loose frequently, you can use your bow string wax on the threading and re-screw them in to help them stay tight. Note: do not use Loctite if you plan to use those same arrows for hunting as you won't be able to get your field point out of the arrow shaft.
7. Practice with Your Gear On: Mimic real hunting conditions by practicing with your hunting gear on. This includes wearing any clothing, bino harness, pack, etc. This will also help you feel more confident in the field if you get an unsuspecting shot on your target game but still have your pack on your back.
8. Get in the Habit of Checking Your Arrow for Damage: Regularly inspect your arrows for any signs of damage, such as cracks or splintering. Damaged arrows should be replaced immediately to prevent shattering when you’re shooting. Bonus tip: if you have a bad arrow remove the nock immediately to prevent yourself from accidentally shooting that arrow.
9. Quality Reps Over Quantity: Focus on quality over quantity when practicing. Take your time between each shot. Don’t rush. Make each shot count, and pay attention to your form and technique every time. (More on stance and form in an upcoming blog).
10. Shoot a Dot Size Appropriate for Your Range: Choose a target dot size that corresponds to the distance you're shooting. This will help you fine-tune your accuracy for different ranges by allowing you to adopt an “aim small, miss small” mentality. For example, if you’re shooting at 20 yards, shoot the smallest dot or dots on the target face. When you back up to 40, 50, 60 yards, or beyond, choose a slightly larger dot or target to maintain good visibility for that range.
11. Check Your Sight for Rollback: If you use a roller sight, ensure that you have it set at your home base or to the appropriate distance for your shot. A good habit to get into when shooting a roller sight is to roll back after every round of shooting. Consistency in your sight settings is vital. Even if your sight is rolled a yard or two off of home base, it can change your point of impact on the target.
12. Number Your Arrows: Numbering your arrows allows you to monitor for flyers - arrows that consistently deviate from the rest of the arrows. If you find that you are continually getting random arrows that are outside of your grouping, this can be a sign that your bow or arrow may need tuning.
13. Nock-tune your arrows: This tip is more advanced than some of the rest, but if you are struggling with an arrow or two that continually deviate from the rest, you can nock-tune those arrows. Depending on how your arrows were made, they may be spine-aligned before fletching them or not. To nock tune an arrow that is not flying correctly, nock the arrow on your D-loop and then turn the arrow in one direction or another until you have indexed a new cock vein. After doing the step above, you can shoot the arrow to see if it corrected to arrow flight. If not, nock the arrow again and give it another twist (moving in the SAME direction as before) to see if it corrects the arrow. Nock tuning does not always correct a deviating arrow, but it can!
14. Watch Your Bubble: Pay attention to the bubble level on your bow. Any left-to-right deviations can likely be corrected by ensuring the bubble is perfectly centered. If you’re struggling and feel like it’s difficult to level your bow, try tinkering with your stabilizer and overall weight distribution on your bow. Issues leveling your bow can also come from your grip (which we will cover in detail in an upcoming blog).
15. Be Consistent and Repeatable: The most critical aspect of archery is consistency. Develop a repeatable shot process, from your stance to your grip to your release to your anchor points, and stick with it every time you shoot.
In conclusion, building consistency in your archery shot process is a continuous journey of improvement. By following these 15 tips and remaining committed to refining your technique, you can achieve greater accuracy and success in archery, whether you're a target shooter or a bowhunter.
Remember, practice makes progress, and attention to detail will set you on the path to becoming a more precise and reliable archer!
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