If there’s any tension in your body, it will be transferred to the bow and make your pin flit around the bull’s-eye like a moth around a street light. Ideally, your pin should float in small circles around your target. It will never completely stop moving, but it should stay close to the spot. Relaxing all the muscles not essential in holding the string back and the bow up is the key to making this happen.
Start with your legs and work up. Focus on each body part while shooting to ensure it is fully relaxed. Improving your strength (or reducing draw weight) will help steady your bow arm. Some archers (me included) think a slight bend in your elbow — just enough to unlock the joint and allow it to act as a shock absorber — will help you hold better.
The fingers of your bow hand should hang loose and free. The bow arm should act as a lifeless post. Be sure to check your bow hand regularly. Consciously keeping it relaxed is key to long-range shooting.
Smooth Out The Release
You can get by with rough shooting on close shots, but when you stretch it out, you have to be as smooth as silk. With a release aid, this means squeezing the trigger while the pin floats. As long as you don’t break your concentration on the target to mentally shout “Now!” the release will be fine. Squeeze that trigger like a good rifleman. Ideally, it will take you by surprise. Your only job is to remain relaxed and keep the pin near the spot you want to hit until the bow goes off.
Follow-Through Is The Glue
There’s nothing more important to long-range shooting than follow-through. I’ve helped average bowhunters improve their shooting at 40 yards by doing nothing more than insisting they keep their bow arms steady until the arrow hits the target. It is amazing how many people drop their bow arm at the shot.
Follow-through is also a mental exercise. If you’ve conditioned yourself to focus until the arrow hits the target, you won’t be tempted to break your concentration at the moment of release — a deadly sin.
If you want to be a great shot at 40 yards, do most of your shooting at 50 and 60 yards. With enough long-range practice, the 40-yard shot will feel like 30-yard shots used to feel. Push yourself. You will never increase your maximum range unless you make practice sessions more difficult.
Increase Arrow Speed
Suppose you range an animal, and as you are drawing it moves closer or farther away. A fast arrow will help compensate for the uncertainty that results. Following are three ways you can gain arrow speed:
Increase draw weight: For every pound you increase draw weight, you increase arrow speed by approximately 2 feet per second (fps). Crank the weight up until you can no longer draw the string straight back and hold it for more than a minute without shaking. Now, back it off a half turn. You should be pretty close to your maximum draw weight.
Increase draw length: For every half-inch added to draw length, you increase arrow speed 2 percent. At your correct draw length, the elbow and forearm of your release arm will point straight away from the target. If you’re stopping short of this position, you can increase your speed by increasing your draw length slightly. Be very careful increasing your draw length. Most archers shoot better with a draw length that is too short vs. a draw length that is too long.
Shoot a lighter arrow: For every 5 grains you reduce arrow weight, you increase arrow speed roughly 1 fps. A minimum arrow weight of roughly 6 grains per pound of draw weight is a nice compromise among speed, penetration and noise. I currently shoot a 440-grain arrow at 70 pounds.
Increasing arrow speed is a solid step in the right direction. If you bump your speed from 260-290 fps, your margin for error at 40 yards will increase 25 percent. That will make you slightly more accurate in real hunting situations. As your archery skills improve and your mastery of the equipment grows, you are ready for longer shots. If you can add just 10 yards, increasing your maximum range from 30 yards to 40 yards, it will pay off big. This simple improvement nearly doubles your area of coverage.