Do you remember practice sessions where you enjoyed small amounts of pin movement, and the thought crossed your mind, “why can’t I always hold this steady”?My significant event that led me to reevaluate my form/mechanics was a state indoor championship years ago. Practice sessions had resulted in high X count 300’s (NFAA), with a comfortable amount of movement in the X ring.Soon as the tension built with the scoring and competition, my movement went from inside the X to barely inside the 5ring. Mentioning it to the guy next to me, he noted “shuffle your feet”!
Of course, my mind was set on nervous tension being the culprit, and watching this well intentioned gentleman miss half of his x’s while leaning back with a hard angle bow arm, I just dismissed his advice. It wasn’t until a few years later when I attempted another indoor event, where this trick came into play. My form and experience had improved in the time between events, but as soon as the nervous tension arrived, pin movement and frustration set in. Running thru the shot sequence in my head, I knew everything was in order, so the only thing left to do was “shuffle my feet”! The pin movement instantly was cut in half and the X’s became very easy and a 2nd place finish was my reward.Now was time to go to work and find out why this helped and how to incorporate it into my routine.
There are so many elements to aiming steady with a compound bow, with the draw length and correct body alignment being the top two in my opinion. What I found, was shuffling your feet improved your body alignment. Correct body alignment and draw length provides strength and ease of holding the bow at full draw. It cuts down on muscle tension, and makes aiming easy. When you’re aiming easy, duplication of shot execution makes your groups tight and consistent!
Stand in front of a mirror without your bow.With the mirror being your target, set up your stance as normal, and “come to full draw”. Like playing “air guitar” but only for archery! Now with your bow arm finger, point to the target (mirror). Now move that front foot or “shuffle” it around and watch where your finger ends up pointing. It is completely at the mercy of your front foot position. Now look at your release side elbow and shuffle your back foot, noticing the position change of that elbow.Now that your see the changes made in form with subtle foot changes, you can better understand why it’s so important to not only find what works for you, but to be consistent!
Keep in mind, just shuffling your feet may or may not instantly work for you. You’ll have to first get a good base. Make sure your current footing is a stable platform for your body size/style.Then with practice, start making small adjustments of one foot at a time. When I found my stance, I started with back foot first, then adjusted front foot.Pay attention to pin movement with each adjustment you make. Find what works for you and keep in mind, draw length adjustments may have to be tweaked during this process as well. It’s not going to happen overnight and will take discipline on your part to find what works, but once you find what works, your archery will become more enjoyable!
And with any form adjustment you make, don’t just try it once and move on to something else. You may have the perfect stance for your body size/style, but set your shoulders wrong or have an incorrect draw length and the pin movement will be all over the place. Patience and time is the key to improvement and complete understanding of how to hold your bow steady.
When you do find your perfect stance, place an arrow on the floor (near your toes) pointing towards the target and take a reference photo of it with your cell phone. If you’re on the range having issues, just reference that photo and see if any adjustments need to me made.Now that your stance and draw length is set correctly, you’ll be pushing the bow straight towards the X, and pulling the release straight away from the X resulting in steadier sight picture and consistent points of impact.
Not only did I learn a vital element in archery that day, I learned a good lesson in life as well. We all can learn anything, at any time, from anyone.Have a great archery season!
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