Aim and Let the Bow Shoot the Shot

Aim and Let the Bow Shoot the Shot

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.

One very common way bowhunters interfere with the bow is by pushing the string into their cheek at full draw.

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.

Eliminating Interference

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.

Minimize Contact

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.

It is acceptable for the string to touch the end of your nose.

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.

Recommended for You


Goof-Proof Tips For Sighting-In Your Bow

Bill Winke

Follow Bill Winke's tips to ensure you have the most accurate bowhunting setup possible.

Treestands & Blinds

Where Do I Put My Feet When Tree Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

Sit, stand or lean - this is what you'll need!

Big Game

Elk Calling With the Experts

Tracy Breen

Learn how to lure wary bulls into bow range.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bill Winke's Bowhunting Treestand Set-Up Tips

Field Editor Bill Winke provides bowhunting treestand set-up tips that'll help make life easier when it's go time in the fall.

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Kevin Steele and the boys are bowhunting turkeys with the help of some well-placed decoys.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

ATA Show

New Mechanical Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

Check out our top picks for the best new mechanical broadheads to debut at the 2019 ATA Show!

ATA Show

Best New Bow Sights for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new bow sights from the 2019 ATA Show!

See More Stories

More How-To


Bowhunting Gear & Tuning Tips from the Pros

Jace Bauserman

Maximize accuracy and prevent gear failures in the field.


BOWHUNTING's Guide to Tree Saddle Hunting

Greg Staggs

Embrace the lightweight comfort and versatility of tree saddles.


How To Use Trail Cameras Throughout Hunting Season

Paul Annear

Follow these in-season tactics to maximize the value of remote scouting from opening day...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.