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Bad at Archery? 13 Tips for Getting Better

Archery is an exhilarating sport. There’s a rush of adrenaline and excitement every time you hit the bull’s eye. As a result, it’s only natural to want to hit your target every time you pick up that arrow. But if your shots are not anything to write home about, it can be frustrating, especially if you’ve been practicing.

Lots of us have been there: “Why am I bad at archery?” You’re not alone. Many beginners and even experienced archers face challenges that affect their performance. For this reason, it’s crucial to know how to perfect your performance and improve your chances of hitting your target every time.

First, we’ll talk about some possible reasons why you’re bad at archery. Then, we’ve provided some helpful tips for getting better in archery and highlighted some of the common mistakes to help you better your performance.

Shall we get started?

Why Am I Bad at Archery? Possible Reasons

Granted, you have a better chance of improving in archery if you know why you’re bad in the first place. Fortunately, if you’re a beginner, you’re probably making some of the common mistakes among first-time archers. These mistakes are fixable. We’ve rounded up some of the common mistakes and provided solutions to fix them. Let’s dive right in.

Incorrect Elbow Rotation

Proper elbow rotation is a crucial archery skill. However, while it’s the simplest skill to master, most beginners don’t pay much attention to it. You’ll find most beginner archers picking up their bow and drawing without any thought about their elbow positioning. Don’t make this rookie mistake.

Your elbow should be in proper alignment before you draw your bow. Ensure you rotate your elbow straight up and down when you’re preparing to draw. Failure to do so may lead to several problems. Some common ones include:

  • Arrows veering on one side of the target
  • Elbow injuries
  • Incorrect posture
  • Weaker shots

Here is an excellent video that shows you how to correct for elbow rotation:

Wrong Stance

As we mentioned, your stance is crucial in archery. Most beginner archers change the position of their feet from one shot to the next. Don’t do this. Your stance is the foundation of every shot you take. If you begin in the wrong stance, the likelihood of hitting your target is very slim.

If you’re struggling with maintaining a consistent stance, consider using painter’s tape. Place the tape where your feet should be planted to ensure your feet and toe alignment is consistent with every shot. Do this in every practice session until you’ve mastered how to do it effortlessly.

Incorrect Finger Placement

Here is an example of a “fixed crawl” for the string walking technique.

Most archery beginners also don’t pay much attention to their finger placement. They simply grab the bowstring and aim. Be wary of this mistake because it greatly affects your shots. Every time you’re preparing to draw, check your finger placement to ensure it’s how you were taught to do it.

Also, make sure you’re not applying too much tension on the string. Doing so not only increases your likelihood of missing the target but may also result in finger blisters. 

Inconsistent Anchor Point

As you now know, an anchor point directly impacts your accuracy. An excellent archer knows the right spot to place their draw hand on their face and which area of the face the string should be on to hit their target. If your anchor point changes with every draw, one thing happens; your arrow moves in a different direction with every shot.

If you’ve noticed this during practice, your anchor point is off. You need to find the best anchor point for you and stick to it in every shot. Most experienced archers prefer the corner of the mouth or just below the chin. You’ll also find some who swear by below the cheekbone. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, practice until you identify your sweet spot.

Not Following Through

Even the best archers make this mistake. They have everything in check. Their stance is perfect, their posture on point, and their grip is just right, but they make one mistake – they let the front hand fall away before they hit their target.

You can’t afford to do this if you want to hit your target because every time you do, the arrow goes wide, and you miss the mark. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, it’s crucial to maintain proper posture until you hear your arrow hit your target. 

Not Practicing Enough

Practice makes perfect, they say. This adage holds water in archery as well. The best archers didn’t get to be the best by sitting back and hoping a miracle happens. They practiced day and night and did what it took to improve their performance. You should do the same.

Attend practice sessions if you’re training with a team or hire a trainer to help you get better. Alternatively, you can attend archery classes. It’s also possible to train alone and see results. However, if you’re just getting started, it may help to familiarize yourself with the rules and recommendations to ensure you’re doing the right thing.

If you want some more info about practising well, check these out:

A 5-step Practice Routine for Next Level Archery Skills
28 Archery Practice Tips from the Pros
Practicing Archery at Home or Indoors: The Ultimate Guide

Negative Thoughts

When you have a million things going through your mind when you’re taking your shot, the likelihood of hitting the target is quite low. Similarly, you can’t expect to give a good performance when you have all sorts of negative thoughts going through your mind. If you’re thinking, “There’s no way I can make this shot,” you’re probably right. 

You’ll be too in your head to focus on what you’re doing. As a result, you’ll have no control of where the shot lands. The trick is to clear your mind before your shots. Also, try thinking happy thoughts that put you in the right frame of mind to concentrate. You’ll find that doing so greatly improves your shots, especially during a tournament.

13 Tips to Improve Your Archery Skills

Okay, so you’ve gone over all the possible reasons for being bad at archery and you’re ready to start trying to fix things. Here are 13 tips you can follow to get better at archery.

Relax Your Grip

One of the common mistakes among beginners is focusing too much on the target and equipment. You’ll find new archers buying the latest archery equipment, obsessing over their target, and buying into the latest gimmicks that promise to improve their shot. Unfortunately, all these tricks don’t work. When they get back in the field, their shot is the same.

One thing beginner archers should focus on that can change their game completely is their bow grip. The non-dominant hand has a significant influence on one’s shooting accuracy. The bow hand should have as little contact with the bow as possible. 

Start paying attention to how hard you’re gripping the bow, and you’ll start noticing an improvement. Aim to have the bow rest on your hand instead of gripping it tightly.

Improve Your Posture

The importance of proper posture in archery cannot be overestimated. Your posture directly influences your aim. Interestingly, most new archers know what type of posture they should maintain, but they don’t do it.

To examine your posture:

  • Stand in front of a mirror that’s large enough for you to see your entire draw.
  • Without looking in the mirror, draw your bow as you do it normally.
  • Now, look at the mirror and check your draw. Is your posture as recommended? What are you doing wrong?
  • Repeat these steps until you’ve fixed the mistakes you notice with each draw.

Here is a video where Olympic archer Sjef van den Berg explains the perfect posture for recurve archery:

Remember to Breathe

When most archers are nervous or have pressure to perform well, they forget to do one thing – breathe. You’ll find most beginners holding their breath until they’ve made their shot. While breathing seems like a simple thing to do, it can greatly affect your performance. 

The next time you’re tense while shooting, pay attention to your body. You’ll notice that you’re holding your breath. When this happens, take a deep breath, think happy thoughts, and relax. Doing so goes a long way.

Hold Your Aim Longer

Another bad habit among archers is releasing their shots too quickly. There’s no hurry. If you want to improve your accuracy and hit the target every time, you need to master the art of patience. Don’t just pick up your bow and release the arrow as if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. 

Get into the right posture, draw your bow, breathe, aim at your target, and hold it for at least 10 seconds before releasing. Do this every time you’re practicing, and you’ll notice a significant improvement in your accuracy.

Avoid Moving Until Your Shot Lands

Most beginners can’t wait to see where their shot lands when they release their arrow. As a result, they’ll release their aim quickly to check where the shot lands. Ironically, this move affects your accuracy. 

It’s crucial to maintain your stance until you hear your arrow has hit a target. This simple trick will improve your accuracy by ensuring the arrow’s movement isn’t affected by any sudden movements. However, this is easier said than done. You may need to practice a few times before you get the hang of it.

Perfect Your Stance

Beginners also tend to focus on everything else and forget to check how their feet are planted. A rule of thumb in archery is to maintain a wide stance every time you’re shooting. You see, the wider your feet are apart while shooting, the stronger they’ll be throughout your performance.

Therefore, before you draw your arrow or take any shot, it’s crucial to ensure your stance is correct. A simple trick you can use is planting your feet first before focusing on anything else. Once you’ve confirmed your feet are well planted, get into the correct posture and start thinking about your shot. This way, you never have to think about the placement of your feet midway through your shots.

Practice Your Anchor Points

The point at which you pull your bow back before firing is known as an anchor point. It’s crucial to ensure consistency and precision during this step. If you’re just starting, it’s advisable to practice your anchor points until you find one that works consistently well for you.

There’s a common anchor point that works for most archers. They place the hand pulling the string under their cheekbone that’s on the same side and pull the string to the tip of the nose. Again, you’ll need to test this anchor point and others until you find your sweet spot.

Choose the Right Arrow

If you’re like most beginners, you believe the biggest arrows are the best. There’s a common misconception that fatter arrows are better because they tend to easily catch lines on the target’s scoring rings. However, bigger arrows are not always the solution.

An arrow that’s too big for your bow may not flex easily. This means it will always miss the target. Before you invest in big arrows or give preference to one type of arrow, it’s crucial to test your shots to see what works for you. Alternatively, you can seek guidance from experienced archers who can help you choose the right arrows for your bow.

For more info on how to choose the perfect arrow every time, check out these articles:

How to Choose the Perfect Arrow Every Time?
Top 4 Best Hunting Arrows Used by the Pros
Why Your Arrows Drift Left or Right & What to Do About It
Why Your Arrows Are Shooting High & What to do About It

Increase Your Practicing Range

Do you know your maximum effective range? If you answered yes, chances are you often hit your target in this range. That’s excellent. But if you want to improve your archery performance, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Try adding 20 yards to your maximum effective range and see how that works out.

At first, it may be challenging to hit any target in your new range. But with time, you’ll notice an improvement. When you get good in that range, increase it further until you’re able to hit a target even while far from it. With this approach, closer ranges will seem like chip shots.

Shoot With Similar Arrows

If you have a quiver packed with mismatched arrows, this may be the reason you’re not noticing any improvement in your shots. While it may seem like the arrows don’t matter, they do. If you’re serious about getting better in archery, quality arrows are a must-have.

Do not mix different brands. Get the same type of arrows and practice with those. Arrows may not be cheap, but getting any arrow you can find won’t help your performance.

Stick to Your Perfect Draw Weight

Most archers strive to achieve the heaviest draw weight. The heavier the draw weight you can shoot, the more impressive you’re considered as an archer. However, the weight of the bow should be your concern. You see, some archers can pull a bow of up to 60 pounds back, and they can’t hit any target.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter how much weight you can pull. Your focus should be your posture and accuracy. Even if you can only pull 25 pounds and hit the target with every shot you take, you’re better off than someone who can pull more weight and never hit the target. Therefore, focus on improving your accuracy. If the draw weight follows, that’s fantastic!

Number Your Arrows

Another trick to help you improve your archery performance is to start numbering your arrows. While this may seem unnecessary, it works wonders. Here’s what you should do:

  • Number all your arrows: As we’ve mentioned, it’s crucial to have a set of arrows from a similar brand. Don’t combine different arrows.
  • Take a shot with each arrow in a comfortable range.
  • Take notes of each arrow’s performance in a notebook. Which ones gave the best and worst shots?
  • Repeat the process in your next ten practice sessions
  • Go through your notes and check which arrows are consistently good and which ones always give a bad shot.
  • Throw away the bad arrows.

Even if you bought the same brand of arrows in one set, it’s not surprising to find a few that don’t perform well. It’s also possible that the bad arrows were affected by heat, moisture, and storage factors. Don’t be reluctant to throw them away because they don’t add any benefit to your shots.

Invest in a Drop Away Rest

If you’ve tried all these tips and your accuracy still needs some work, it may be time to get a drop-away rest. This product helps you lift your arrow to a ready position when you draw your arrow. The rest falls when you release the arrow.

The effect of the drop away minimizing the amount of contact your arrow has with the rest. As a result, the product effectively reduces any negative impact that results from any sudden movements you make when taking your shot.

Time to Pick Up Your Bow and Arrow

If you’ve been trying to get better without any luck, you’re probably almost throwing in the towel. Don’t. Many archers have used the tips on this list to better their performance and see results. It may not happen overnight, but you should see results within no time if you stick to it.

While at it, prioritize practice over anything else. The more you practice your shots while incorporating these tips, the more you’ll get better. And if you can, try watching an experienced archer doing their shots and watch what they do differently. 

It may also help to get training and advice from someone experienced. They’ll help you pinpoint what you’re doing wrong and offer advice for improvement. Don’t forget to have fun!