When I first started getting into archery, I didn’t know anything about it. I wanted to begin it as a hobby because I felt that learning archery would make me feel transported to medieval times. These were the periods when I really would have liked to have lived and been the most interested in discovering.
Now that I have some experience (5 years as an active archer), I am comfortable sharing some big archery mistakes commonly made by rookies, which are you can easily fix. For this reason, I have analyzed LOTS of really weird habits about archery. For the regular, experienced archer, some of these things may look very silly or weird. But in reality, I’m sure most of us have gone through this and faced these problems at some point of our journey.
Moving your Feet / Inconsistent Stance
You’re normally taught ‘‘how to stand’’. After watching so many videos of famous archers, it looks so easy, right? You take your stance and let the arrow fly.
However, your stance – the placement of your feet while you’re in shooting position – is the most important thing for your shot. It has to be solid and consistent.
The most critical information which you must always remind yourself is your feet, or your knees should not point towards the target.
Once you’ve sorted out you’re the position of your feet, you should consider your upper body. Only your head and your arms can be able to move while you’re in shooting position.
◊ But how to be sure that you don’t move? Well, I know one efficient way; If you can put approximately 80% of your body weight on your back foot, it will decrease the possibility of your involuntary body movements.
But, another problem begins the moment you finish your shot. Most probably, you will move your feet before the next shot. The reason why this is so important is that everything in the shot process depends on your stance. Your hip alignment, your shoulder alignment, your string alignment; all these things can change when your stance changes.
◊WE ADVİSE! Your stance affects your foot position, balance, and center of gravity. To be able to have a stable, consistent stance, you can use painter’s tape on the floor while you shoot. So your foot position will be the same for each shot.
Scared of the String and String Slap
Most of the time, learners presume the string is an elastic band and will come back to hit them. Conversely, it is a dangerous habit as this often ensures that the shooter is more likely to get hit by the string. In the normal position, shooters are meant to have the string right in their face and fingers on the corner of their mouth. They are expected to have the string touching their face. Remember that the string won’t hack your face. Just don’t be afraid of the string.
Another fear about the string is string slap. This is one of the most common archery mistakes that nearly everyone faced at one time or another. Lots of first-time students have a fear of being hit by the string, and they try to do everything they can to avoid string slap.
◊Warning! Some instructors teach that putting a bend in your elbow to avoid string slap. But, this technique varies from one to one. Your stance and your arm will be less stable than it would be. That causes difficulties to remain consistent with your posture, positioning, and draw length. If you’re going to shoot in this way, you have to be sure that you are not putting pressure on the elbow joint and that you have a good balance of skeletal and muscle force. So, everyone needs to figure out their best stance themselves. Unfortunately, this is something you must work out by yourself.
How to avoid string slap?
◊ If you hold the bow too loosely, the bow will rotate and will bring the string closer to your arm. So, your bow hand’s position is very important to prevent yourself from string slap.
◊ If you don’t have a good posture, it can turn easily causing string slap. With a good stance and the ability to lock your muscles, you can pull on the bow with less fatigue than you otherwise would.
◊ Often, the problem is that you’re using a bow that is too heavy for you to pull. If you have trouble with pulling the string, you can consider two options. First one is to increase your upper muscle strength; the second one is to use a lighter bow.
◊ Sometimes even experienced archers get hit by string slap. So, armguards can be a good solution for a rookie archer. You can be sure that it will block most of the damage.
For beginners who are scared of getting slapped by the string, they can purchase the biggest arm guards that cover the whole arm.
Aiming too High
I know you think that you’re doing perfectly for everything. You look at the target and aim at the middle, but the arrow goes high or sometimes beyond the target. You aim at the middle of the target because that’s where you want it to go. Instead of aiming towards the center of the target, place the arrow tip on the bottom of the target. Exactly how far down you go depends on how far you are shooting and the strength of the bow. Generally, you should be aiming lower than you think you need to.
Another thing about this archery mistake for beginners is anchoring. It can be sometimes scary. The anchor point is a spot on your face. It’s where you pull the bowstring and usually the corner of your mouth or below your chin.
I advise you to learn the physics behind the arrow trajectory. You can check our article to have deep information about how to aim.
An anchor point prevents you from placing your hand in different spots every time you shoot. Otherwise, it would send your arrows flying in different directions. Your fingers should always go under your chin. Also, remember always to keep your elbow higher than your shoulder.
◊The most important part is drawing the bowstring to the same anchor point with every single arrow!
If you are shooting in a normal style, there will be a gap between your eye and the arrow. Your eyes are up there, and the arrow is down there. In the Olympic style, that gap is even more. Mostly, beginners fall into this trap; they always try to aim high. In reality, that causes lose a lot of arrows with people going way too high. This can be easily solved by resisting the instinct and shooting straight.
Why this happens to you and how to fix the aiming too high problem?
◊ First of all, use a glove. Shooting with bare fingers can cause long-term damage. If the arrow is “always high,” aim lower. Rising your bow shoulder causes the arrows to rise with each shot consistently. This can happen as archers become more tired.
◊ You may have an inconsistent draw length and are putting more effort into each subsequent shot. If you find that you are getting a little tired, talk to yourself through your process, and take a little more time on the next shot. Try to do everything the same in the end.
◊ Some instructors suggested 60% of the string should be on the middle finger 30% on the index 10% on the ring finger. Concentrating on this will help your consistency on your string grip.
◊ You could be kicking it up with your bow arm and should practice relaxing your bow hand when drawing.
◊ You might be unknowingly aiming slightly higher. If you find that you are having trouble aiming in the same spot each time, try finding a different reference point on your bow. You could just try to aim slightly lower, and it might correct itself.
All of these can make the arrow go higher. I suggest you film yourself on slow motion and pay attention to those things to see which it might be or if it is a combination.
Using too Many Fingers
First learners, usually grab the string with all their fingers. But, what you should do is using only three fingers to grab the string.
◊REMINDER! A good way to do this and to remember this is to put your thumb and your pinkie together.
Another big mistake made by new archers is using their little finger to grab the string. If you use your little finger, it’ll probably ruin your shot. You only need three fingers for efficient control.
There are two common methods to grab the string. First one is the split-finger method, which is one finger over and two fingers under the arrow. The second one is the three under method, which is three fingers under the arrow. But it should always be three fingers.
Knocking the Arrow Off
This is the most annoying part of new archers. The arrow keeps falling off the rest. Even if you put your finger on it, it comes off as soon as you move it.
We can talk about two main reasons why you are having this problem. The first one is called nock pinch. It’s when the archer pinches the arrow between their fingers very firmly. This is particularly prevalent if you’re nervous. If you’re touching the arrow with your fingers, then that’s going to cause the arrow to move when you move your fingers. That’s not a good thing.
◊We Advise! Have some space between your fingers and the nock. You can remind yourself this easy truth when you are nervous; you will naturally squeeze the bow.
The other reason could be because of your bow hand is not in the right position. If you start seeing knuckles in your bow hand that means you’re squeezing your fists and your fingers are twisting inwards. That will cause the string to pull inwards. If you keep the back of your hand flat, there won’t be a twist. The arrow won’t come off.
You have to be aware of how the nock feels and how it sounds when it is “snapped on to the bowstring.” Make sure your nocks are all the same size. Not all bowstrings are the same. Some are thicker, and some are thinner. In the middle of the bowstring where your arrow attaches (near the nock-set or D-loop), there is some additional material wrapped around the main bowstring. This is called the center serving. The center serving material will become compressed or worn out and may begin to fray.
This can cause your arrow nocks to fit loosely as time goes on. It is time to replace the center serving. Remember that The fit between the nock and the bowstring should not be too tight.
Holding too Long / Aiming too Much
So, you’re looking pretty good now, good anchor point, nice line, you’re on target. You don’t need to wait for the perfect aim. Just let it go.
People begin this sport as a hobby, have zero knowledge about archery. They don’t have any comprehension as to how the bow works. They expect that if they just pull the string back, the bow will shoot by itself. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. They must still make the decision when to let the arrow go.
Learners always instinctively assume that this is the easy part. Because you only need to open your fingers. But this is a big delusion. Shot routine and consistent timing is the key to accuracy. Just watch some top athletes. You’ll see how much time they wait at full draw. It’s not much. If you know where your arrow is going to hit, why do you need to hold it any longer than necessary?
How to Decrease Your Aiming Time?
If you ask an archer’s opinion about that, most will probably you that it’s completely fine. Another common mistake that people make is the ‘’ more you aim, the more accurate you will be’’. That’s completely not the case. Just remember the archery games where you have a stamina bar you presumably play. In these games, you’re getting tired every second you wait in the position; holding the bow at full draw. That’s a true story in archery. You do have a time limit. After around 3 to 5 seconds, you start to see that pain and shake and collapse. This is another important reason why you ruin your shot.
So, in short, aiming more does not make you more accurate. You just need to make sure that your arrow is pointing towards the target and you’re not aiming too high. Just start to learn to trust yourself. This is essentially the fundamental of instinctive shooting.
Think about instinctive shooting
Starting with instinctive archery can be difficult and frustrating for beginners. Nobody is born with the great “instinctive archer genes.” Therefore, you should start with a short distance.
For me, a great advantage for instinctive archery is that you will be faster than most archers who use sights because you don’t wait that long before you release the arrow. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about paying extra money for sights. Calibrating these tools is also an extra work-load. Another benefit is that you will feel closer to nature and yourself. Hit a target only using your skills and without any assistance of a tool will feel like a great accomplishment!
Just for a moment before the arrow is released, the thought of an impending accident flashes through your mind, and you hesitate to let the arrow go. You flinch! This could be the most dangerous part of the archery. It’s comparatively the equivalent of shooting a gun with your eyes closed. There is something about the point of release that makes people panic. You’re at full draw, and you’re sure that everything is correct, you have this fear, and then the arrow flies over the target. That sort of thing can be demoralizing for you. But it’s something which you do have to overcome. Don’t try to think too hard about what will happen if you let go. Keep your eyes open and look to where you want the arrow to go.
Bull’s Eye Photos
I don’t want to downplay your achievement. But bull’s eyes shots aren’t as important as you think. When you do archery, bulls eyes happens so frequently that it’s not a big deal. If it was your first shot and you can feel that you’re the master! But I don’t think that has an impact on taking a photo. You might share it on social media to get a few likes. There is no difference between taking pictures of your meal and share it on Instagram.
So, these are the featured most common archery mistakes done by new archers. But fortunately, these things aren’t necessarily bad things. If you’re just learning archery, you might feel a little silly. Don’t worry. Everybody does this. Most of these things can be easily solved and worked around.
Youtube. ‘’How to Avoid Common Shooting Mistakes’’
Youtube. ‘’Archery Tips-10 Things Beginners Do (And Why You Shouldn’t)’’.
Archery 360 / 5 common archery mistakes and how to correct them.
Oxford University – Company of Archers / What Beginners Do Wrong and how to do it right. http://users.ox.ac.uk/~archery/old/mistakes.html#stance
Battle Archery – How to prevent bow string slap?
REddit – Arrow hits Target always too High and Rises. https://www.reddit.com/r/Archery/comments/4l8fwy/arrow_hits_target_always_too_high_and_rises/
Learn-Archery/ Nocking the arrow.