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Archery relies on minute attention to detail. When firing a bow, success depends on having uniform consistency. Even a slight adjustment, flinch, or movement can completely wreck your shot. At the competitive level, this can be extremely costly. That’s why you need an anchor point.
But, what exactly is an anchor point in archery? An anchor point (or points) is a specific physical place where an archer’s bowstring or draw hand rests during a shot to ensure maximum stability. A good anchor point should feel relaxed, be easy to identify, and easily repeated shot after shot.
Of course, there is a lot more to it than that; including different types of anchor points.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about this particular positioning and how to make it work to your advantage!
What Does It Mean To Anchor In Archery?
In archery, anchoring a shot means creating one or more areas of physical contact with the bowstring to achieve a stable foundation for each shot. Each time you reach full-draw, your anchor point needs to be in the same location.
This helps you to maintain good accuracy as you go through the arrows in your quiver.
Successful archery depends on having reliable accuracy and perfect form.
If you don’t use a designated anchor point, each attempt will start from a slightly altered position once you’ve drawn the bow.
This makes it hard to get into a rhythm, especially in competitive tournaments.
Each archer will prefer slightly different ideal anchor points depending on their physical characteristics and preferences.
There are three basic categories of anchor points; release-to-hand, hand-to-face, and string-to-face. Let’s delve deeper into these three types and what they mean.
Release To Hand
A release-to-hand anchor point depends on the implement that the archer uses to fully draw their bow and how they hold this apparatus.
The release apparatus is the part of the bow that the archer holds while they draw the bow back.
For beginners, this will simply be the string of the bow.
For more complicated bows used by professionals, this could be some form of strap that loops around the bowstring.
The archer must comfortably hold their release apparatus in a consistent position during their shots.
For beginners, the hand-to-face method represents the easiest way to choose an initial anchor point.
A hand-to-face anchoring point relates to where the draw hand connects with an archer’s face when lining up a shot.
Using this method creates a memorable, tactile connection between an archer’s face and draw hand, enabling them to easily locate a single static anchor point during each attempt.
The last commonly-used type of anchor point is string-to-face.
When we talk about a string-to-face anchor we are referring to the area the string touches on the archer’s face once the bow is at full draw.
This may seem strange and even intimidating at first, but this method can bring a lot of steadiness to your shots.
String-to-face is also used with more advanced bows using components such as a peep sight, allowing you to aim the shot with control and finesse.
Some archers may utilise a combination of anchor points to ensure an optimum shooting setup.
Where Should My Anchor Point Be?
Your ideal anchor point position will depend on factors such as your skill level and the type of bow that you are using. When choosing your anchoring position, use a comfortable place that is easy to return to and replicate consistently.
If you’re just beginning your journey as an archer, it’s always best to keep everything as simple as possible, including your anchor point.
Novices will get the most benefit from a simple anchor point that can be easily and quickly repeated throughout their shots.
Hand-to-face anchor points are almost always easy to remember.
When drawing back your bow, pressing one of the fingers of your draw hand against the corner of your mouth will likely be the easiest position to remember.
After a bit of practice, this position quickly feels quite relaxed, which is a real necessity if you’re working through a long practice session.
Once you can reliably find this anchor point, you’ll notice that your aim improves tremendously.
A lot of beginners fail to consider using an anchor point, resulting in inconsistent shooting.
As you become more proficient and perhaps begin using more complex bows or engaging in competitions, your preferred anchor point for shooting may change.
Most professional archers utilize an anchor point that involves drawing the bowstring to a spot just underneath their jawbone.
This technique is difficult to get used to, but gives the archer more control and more feeling, resulting in better accuracy.
In many cases, there may be several touch points between the bowstring and you during a shot.
This will depend on your chosen stance and how your bow is set up. Having a couple of specific anchor points in play during a shot gives you better aim and more stabilization.
For example, at the Olympics, you might see archers resting their draw hand below their jaw (hand-to-face) while the string-to-face anchor point may be the tip of their nose or the edge of their lips.
For most archers, the tip of the nose is a common anchor point when using the string-to-face method.
However, creating too much contact with your nose could potentially disrupt your shot, while not initiating enough contact won’t provide a suitable anchor point.
For the best results, aim for a very gentle touch between the string and your nose.
How Do You Find Your Anchor Point In Archery?
Finding the correct anchoring position begins by getting into the full-draw position. This brings your drawing hand towards your face. Now you can rest the string in a comfortable location using your fingers, lips, or nose. This location should be easily remembered and easy to replicate during each shot.
A number of conditions can make finding the perfect anchor point difficult, such as a bow that isn’t well-suited to the archer’s physical measurements.
When choosing a bow, you must use your overall height to work out the draw length that you need.
This is crucial to getting a good anchor point.
Divide your total height by 2 ½ inches to determine the draw length that you need.
If you are working with a bow that is either too small or too big, it becomes more challenging to secure a good anchor point.
Therefore it’s crucial to keep checking your height to make sure that you are always using the right draw length, especially if you’re a young archer who is still growing.
Using a bow that is too heavy also causes problems when locating your best anchor points.
All bows are defined by their draw-weight, which is the amount of pulling force required to reach full draw.
This is usually measured in pounds or kilograms.
A good beginner draw-weight is around 25 lbs (11 kg). If you’re straining to hold your bow steady once you’ve drawn it, you may be using a bow that is too heavy for you.
Particular types of bow may need you to use specific anchor points to work effectively.
For the simple recurve bows used by many novices, the anchoring point should be something easy to recall.
But for more complex devices, such as compound bows, a certain anchoring technique may be required.
Compound bows use a device called a peep sight, which resembles a ring-shaped lens that fixes onto the bowstring to make sighting the target easier.
As you get to full-draw with a compound bow, the peep sight should already be set up in line with a good anchor point.
A good option for compound bows is usually a string-to-face anchor point, like your nose.
If your peep sight is incorrectly fastened too high up or too low down, this can negatively impact your available anchor points and make your aim inconsistent.
How Can You Maximise Your Anchor Point?
You can use some specific techniques or additions to your bow that can help maximise the benefits of utilising anchor points.
Keep Your Head Still
Using a static anchoring position repeatedly isn’t going to have much of an effect on your accuracy if you keep moving your head during or in between shots.
Ideally, you should maintain the same fixed head position during each attempt. Altering this position while shooting forces you to keep switching your anchor point to compensate.
This cancels out any benefits gained from having a chosen anchor position.
Let Your Anchoring Position Come Naturally
It may seem easier to enter full-draw and then adjust yourself to find the right anchoring point, but all this does is generate inconsistencies between your shots.
Ideally, you should stand in the same position for each attempt and organically reach the correct anchor point when you get to full-draw.
You shouldn’t need to make adjustments once at full draw.
Use An Anchor Point Aid
For certain classes of bow, like compound bows, you can add small devices which can make it easier to consistently find your ideal contact point.
Kisser buttons are one of these devices.
These resemble a series of plastic beads that are fastened to the string.
When you enter full-draw, the kisser button should automatically be situated at the chosen anchor position, such as just underneath the corner of your mouth.
So there you have it.
Your anchor point is a very particular spot. Each archer has one, and its essential you become familiar with yours.
And as you can imagine; an anchor point is pretty important!
Besides, stability is essential to accuracy.
And without accuracy – well, it makes you pretty useless!
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.