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Form equals Function


Archery is a sport of technique. It’s a sport of discipline. A sport that will challenge and frustrate you, and one of the more rewarding sports for a hunter.

Perhaps the challenge of bowhunting is exactly what draws people into the sport. There are the challenges of getting in close to wild game and being able to put oneself in the position to execute the shot. And there are the challenges of actually executing the shot itself.

Much has been written about bowhunting, and a lot more will be written about this great sport. This installment however is centered on shooting form. When we place ourselves in a situation to have a shot opportunity at a trophy animal, the last thing we need to worry about is our ability to execute the shot. But there are many things that go into preparing ourselves for this opportunity. Much of it begins at the practice range. Just as professional golfers will tell you; “You learn to hit the ball at the driving range, not on the course.” The same is true for archery. We learn to shoot at the practice range, in our back yards or at our local club. Responsible hunters will not go into the field without knowing what their equipment limits are and more importantly what their limits are. Sure there are some archers out there that can consistently group broadheads out to one hundred yards or more. But for most of us, this isn’t the case. Knowing what that number is will increase our success.

It all begins with form. For this discussion we are talking about using a modern compound bow with a mechanical release. Whether trigger or thumb activated. And we are assuming you have a bow set up for your draw length and the appropriate arrows as discussed in earlier posts on this site. How does one develop good consistent form? The key word here is consistent. Consistency is everything when shooting arrows at game. You as the archer has to know that the arrow you release is going to fly exactly where you intend. This begins with form. To get this into place there are several key elements to incorporate into your practice that will make hunting shots more lethal.

First is a relaxed release – by standing a few feet from your target at home, draw your bow, aim at the target and now close your eyes and concentrate on the release of your arrow. Gently squeeze your release until the arrow is released. This exercise does several things at once. It gets you accustomed to drawing your bow, ensures a good anchor and helps to focus on your release trigger. Do this at least a dozen times as you are warming up. This exercise will help you to feel the release and see where the arrows are firing as you are concentrating on other parts of the shot.

Secondly is a strong hold. What this means is that your bow hand (The hand actually holding the bow itself) is strong, and solid. When the arrow is released this arm cannot move at all. Even in today’s technology advanced world, it still takes time for the arrow to fully clear the arrow rest. If the bow arm isn’t solid, its movements can affect the flight of your arrow in a negative manner.

When shooting at home, concentrate on holding the bow as still as possible for as long as possible before shooting. This will build stamina and concentration in your bow hand.

Lastly is follow through. While at first this may seem to be the same as a strong hold, its actually a lot more. The follow through encompasses the final influence you have on the flight of your arrow. Its importance cannot be overstated.

At a recent 3-D tournament I found myself not following through on my shots. My yardages were perfect, but nineteen of the twenty five shots were all three to four inches to the right of my aim point. After the tournament my partner pointed out to me that I was flinching. In other words as I shot the bow, I would peek around the bow looking for the arrow, thereby moving my bow arm to the right. Since this experience I have improved a great deal in my follow through. At my practice rounds, I will hold the bow as still as possible for a full three seconds after the arrow found its target. By doing this I ensure I have given the arrow the best possible chance of connecting.

In the hunting situation, I have a little saying I repeat to myself as the moment of truth is unveiling for me. Draw, anchor, hold, release and follow through. When that buck I have been hunting steps out, if I follow my list, I know I will make the best shot I am capable of making. This confidence helps me to know that as a bow hunter, I am doing all I can to ensure I have the opportunity and puts my senses in relief that I am giving myself the best possible chance available to me.