Getting started in the world of archery is an exciting experience, though it can also feel a little overwhelming if you don’t have someone guiding you through it. How do you know which bow to use? What’s the proper stance to shoot? Why can’t you hit the target every time?
There are a lot of things to learn. We wrote this guide as a way to help new archers avoid some of the most common archery mistakes and start their shooting journey the right way.
Mistake #1: Using a Bow with a Draw Weight That’s Too Heavy
“Draw weight” is measured in pounds and refers to the amount of force needed to pull back the string. One of the best archery tips for beginners is to choose a draw weight appropriate to your strength.
If you’re relatively fit, you may think you can purchase a recurve or compound bow with a high draw weight. It’s easy to misjudge how much you can (or can’t) handle. If it’s too easy to pull, you probably need a higher draw weight. If you find your bow is pulling upward when you draw or it’s just hard to pull, then you’ve gone too heavy.
In general, women do well with 30–50 pounds and men do well with 50–70 pounds. Find an archery store near you and experiment with a few of their bows to figure out how much you can draw. You should be able to pull the string back without straining or lifting the bow.
Mistake #2: Holding an Improper Stance
An essential archery tip for beginners is to master the proper stance. Not only will it help you prevent injury, but it will also drastically improve your shots.
Common archery stance mistakes include facing the target head-on, dropping the elbow on your bow arm, gripping the bow too tightly, and bending or leaning over.
To shoot with a proper stance:
- Stand sideways to the target with your feet at a 90º angle
- Stand up straight; don’t bend at your knees (but don’t lock them either) or from your waist
- Extend the arm holding the grip in front of you; keep a slight bend in that elbow
- Hold the grip loosely using only your pointer finger and thumb
- Draw the string back and anchor it (touch it to the corner of your mouth, your cheek, etc. wherever feels comfortable)
- Keep your bow arm elbow up and in line with the rest of your arm
Mistake #3: Not Using a Consistent Anchor Point
Your anchor point is where you touch the bow string to your face. Some archers choose the corner of their mouth, the middle of their cheek, the front of their ear, or—depending on the bow—even wrap their thumb around the back of their neck.
Not using the same anchor point for every single shot is a common archery mistake. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix. You just need to choose your anchor and remember to touch it every time.
If you’re struggling with this important archery tip for beginners, see if you can get a fellow archer to tip you off or remind you as you practice. Maintaining your anchor point boosts your consistency, eliminating a variable in why you may miss your shots.
Mistake #4: Not Following Through
You may hear “follow through” and think of a different sport like basketball. However, following through on your shot is just as essential in archery.
How you release your arrow has a profound impact on your accuracy. If you jerk the string, the bow itself, or basically move at all after release, your arrow will feel the difference and it won’t fly straight.
One of the best archery tips for beginners is to practice a smooth, gentle, stable release. Imagine you’re brushing a ping pong ball off of your shoulder after you let go of the string. Keep your arms level and don’t lower your stance until your arrow hits the target.
Mistake #5: Not Staying Focused
One of the most common archery mistakes is not staying focused on your target. Unless you’re using a compound bow with a peep sight, archery is not like shooting a gun—there’s no sight down which you aim. So you have to remain laser-focused during your shots.
An easy archery tip for beginners is to start your practice in an area free from distractions. Keep your eyes fixed on where you want your arrow to go. Check your stance, your grip, and your breath.
Lift your bow and draw it in one smooth movement. Don’t hold the draw for several seconds as you aim; you’ll tire your arms. Also, avoid the temptation to try and “aim” down the arrow’s shaft. Instead, keep your eyes focused on your target and hold the draw for only a moment before release.
Once you’re consistent, try practicing in an area with distractions to really hone your focus.
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