Beginner’s Basics

A young beginnerYou can’t master archery without first mastering the basics. Here’s a few things for a total novice to keep in mind to help improve.

1. STANCE

Stance may be the most crucial aspect for accuracy. Your left foot should be in front of the right if right handed (and reverse if you are left handed). They should be shoulder width apart and you should feel comfortable and stable.

You should stand facing towards the target at about 45 degrees, halfway between standing parallel to it and facing it directly head on (NOT completely parallel as some mistakenly believe). Similarly your feet should also be pointing at a similar angle. Some people find it difficult do do so with their back foot and still have a good sense of balance; this is okay if your back foot lags behind a bit to more of a parallel stance. The FRONT foot (left foot if you’re right handed and vice versa if you’re left handed) is the CRUCIAL one that really helps you aim and gets you in line. Make sure this is facing around 45 degrees towards the target and is not merely parallel.

Practice this many times if you have to, just facing a target without your bow and simulate shooting with your hands to get the stance down and feel comfortable and stable. Then try with the bow.

2. GRIP

A loose grip is crucial for proper firing of the bow. If your grip is too tight, you will inhibit the bow’s flight upon release and reduce the chances of a smooth, fluid shot. Standing right behind the bow and slightly to the side of it, you should pull the bow back with your dominant firing hand, while your support hand should be anchoring the front of the bow, holding it a couple inches below the front of the arrow. As you pull back with your dominant hand, your dominant elbow should be making a 90 degree angle parallel to your body. The length of the take back will have to do with how far away your target is and you will naturally get a feel for this with practice. A general rule of thumb however is that your firing hand should be pulled back far enough so it is roughly in line with at least your face.

3. RELEASE

Focusing on your target with your eyes steady and your fingers relaxed, release the bow. Pretend you are slightly moving your elbow back towards something behind you as you let it go and keep your hand and fingers steady and loose. Remember that the firing of the bow really comes from your back muscles, not your hand. Your hand is just a lever that will do what your back muscles tell is to do. Similarly with your elbow; it can be very helpful to focus on moving it slightly backwards on release for a smooth shot, but always keep in mind that the true movement is coming from your back. Practice this many times to master a fluid and easy movement. You may not always have perfect accuracy at first, but should be able to get off many shots in a row without jerky movements or shots going badly astray due to a bad stance or loss of focus during your chain of movement.
 
Good luck and get to practice!

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