Aim and Let the Bow Shoot the Shot
June 08, 2016
With the advent of the shooting machine, archery manufacturers have been able to prove something most serious shooters already knew: modern archery equipment is extremely accurate.
Most state-of-the-art bows, when properly tuned, can shoot an arrow in nearly the same hole over and over again at 20 yards.
However, if we put that same bow in the hands of a human archer, things don't go quite as well. People tend to miss. And there are basically two ways they miss. The first way, and the most common, is by not having the pin on the spot when the shot breaks. That kind of miss is easy to understand and accept.
The real mystery arises from the second type of miss. These are shots that break when the pin is on the spot and yet the arrow still flies wide of the mark. These kinds of misses happen to most of us quite frequently and are very frustrating because we can't explain exactly what went wrong.
I believe the second type of miss is caused by something we do to interfere with the bow during the shot process. We've proven how accurate and consistent our bows are. So, if the bow is properly aimed, the arrow should hit where it was intended to hit — unless we screw it up. My point is this; the vast majority of the time, bows don't cause misses — we force the bow to miss.
Unless we want to keep missing, we need to figure out exactly what it is we are doing to the bow during the shot process that causes it to miss. Then, we have to learn to quit doing those things! In other words, we have to learn to LET THE BOW SHOOT THE SHOT.
Our job as archers is simple: all we have to do is make sure the bow is pointed where we want the arrow to hit. Then we must allow the bow to do its job.
The most obvious way we interfere with the bow is just plain old human error or variation. We are not machines. We change our form a little from shot to shot, and these changes alter the way the bow reacts during the shot and causes the arrow to go somewhere other than where it was aimed. Because we will never be perfect, we want to develop our shooting form in such a way that little variations in our form will cause minimal interference to the bow.
"Because we will never be perfect, we want to develop our shooting form in such a way that little variations in our form will cause minimal interference to the bow."
In order to let the bow shoot the shot we want to minimize our contact with the bow. In theory, archers should only touch the bow with their bow hand and with their release hand (or the release aid itself). However, in practice, many of us touch the bowstring (or allow it to touch us) during the shot process.
In order for the bow to shoot accurately, the bowstring must have a clear path throughout its length of travel. The string can't be allowed to slap your wrist or to touch any clothing on your chest or on your bow arm.
You must not allow the string to firmly contact your face at full draw. If the string is pressed into your cheek, it must move out and around the skin to push the arrow forward. This sideways movement interferes with the string's straight line of travel and you will miss to the left (for a right handed archer).
However, it is acceptable for the string to touch the end of your nose, because this touch is in alignment with its travel path and left/right interference is negligible.
Face interference is even more critical with today's high letoff bows than it was with recurve bows and the low letoff compound bows of yesteryear. It is critical the string be interference-free, especially at full draw.
Once we have ensured the bowstring is free to move without interference, we need to focus on the two areas where we must contact the bow — the bow hand and the release hand. The key is a torque-free, relaxed bow hand and release hand.