How To Improve Bow Shooting Accuracyon Jul 12, 2013
So you want to be a better shot with your bow, eh? Join the club. As bowhunters, we know accuracy is everything. There are so many factors out of our control that have to go our way in order for us to get within bow range of some of the spookiest critters on the planet. However, the one thing we have total control over is how good we are with the “stick and string”. So if the stars align, the gods smile on us and our targeted quarry ventures to within 30 yards or so of our position, it would be a real shame to blow the shot. I know there’s no denying that improved accuracy comes with practice, practice, practice. Slinging lots of arrows is key to finding that bull’s-eye at will. But just because you’re shooting a ton of arrows doesn’t mean you are the most accurate archer you can be. There’s always room for improvement. With that said, if you’re interested in shrinking your groups from that of a paint can lid to something closer to a soda can top, or from a soda can top to a quarter, here are five tips to consider.
Is your bow tuned properly? For some of us, that’s a no-brainer. For many others, it might be something you’ve never even considered. Truth be told, if your bow is out of tune you definitely have room for improvement in the accuracy department. As far as I’m concerned, tuning a bow has two facets – timing and center-shot alignment. Both can affect how well you shoot.
Shooting your bow through paper will let you see if your arrow rest and nocking point are centered properly.
Timing refers to the rotation of your bow’s cams. Ideally, you want both cams to rotate exactly the same and to reach full rotation – the back wall – at exactly the same time. If they don’t, then your back wall won’t be rock solid. You’ll feel some play in the string, which is caused by the cam that’s out of sync completing its rotation after the other one. Normally, a couple twists of one cable or the other will bring your cams into sync. All two-cam and cam-and-a-half bows have timing marks that will show you if your bow is timed properly or not. Those timing marks vary widely from brand to brand and bow to bow, so check with your local pro shop to find the marks on your bow. If you’ve got a single-cam bow then timing will never be an issue. That’s one of the advantages of this kind of compound.
The hole on the left shows the arrow coming off the bow at an angle, with the nock to the left of the point.
The hole to the right shows perfect arrow alignment.
Once your bow is timed properly, shoot an arrow through a sheet of paper placed directly in front of your bow. If your rest and nocking point are centered properly, you should see a bullet hole perfectly framed by your arrow’s fletching. If the bullet hole is high, low, left or right, then you’ve got issues with your rest and/or nock placement. Make adjustments until you get a perfect center shot. If your arrow is leaving the bow at an angle, then you can count on accuracy problems – especially at longer distances.
In this photo, there is a metal post touching the string at full draw. The Timing1 photo (below) shows the top cam of a Hoyt bow, while Timing2 shows the bottom cam. When a bow is timed properly, the upper arm and the lower post should both hit the string at the same time when the archer comes to full draw.
There’s no doubt the No. 1 cause of accuracy problems is poor shooting form. Torquing the bow, dropping your bow arm, punching the trigger, etc., all will send an arrow off its intended mark. You must get your form right or you will always have accuracy problems. Proper form starts with a proper stance. Imagine the target is at 12 o’clock on a clock face. Right-handed shooters shoot stand so they are facing 3 o’clock. Lefties face 9 o’clock. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your bow arm and make a V with your forefinger and thumb. The bow should sit in the middle of that V, and then relax your fingers. In that position, the knuckles on your bow hand should extend away from the riser at a downward angle. They should not be straight up and down. If they are, you’re holding the bow grip like it’s a pistol. Don’t do that. With correct hand position, all of the energy released when you release the string should head dead toward the target, along with the arrow.
While at full-draw, the bow should make contact with your shooting hand along the point where the large bones of the forearm met the bones of the hand. Any deviation from this line will cause torque and result in a change in accuracy.
Clip your release to the bowstring and draw back to your anchor point. Keep your drawing elbow up high at full draw, so it’s parallel to the ground. Set off your release by slowly squeezing your shoulder blades together. When the arrow is released, keep your drawing arm moving away from the string, like you’re following through on a golf shot or bat swing. Let the bow fall forward in your hand as you keep your arm up, parallel to the ground. Don’t move your head until you hear the arrow hit. There’s an old archer’s saying that goes, “If you want to see a bad shot, look at it.” What that means is if you move your head to see around your riser the instant your release your bowstring, you’re sure to see your arrow hit off its intended mark. Practice this form over and over until it becomes instinct. If you’re still having trouble, videotape yourself and look for problems, or have someone at your local archery shop watch you shoot and offer pointers.