By Levi Morgan
Archery seems simple at a glance. You pull back a string and let it go, right? How hard could it be? Well, the answer is pretty dang hard if you're looking to be the best archer possible. Archery is made up of so many steps you must be able to repeat to shoot consistently. One of those many steps is your stance.
Stance is the foundation on which your shot rests, and if it is different from one shot to the next, chances are your arrows will hit in different places too. Some of the key components of a proper stance include keeping your feet shoulder width apart, pointing your toes slightly outward and opening your hips to the target.
It is important to be steady while shooting a bow. So, naturally, your body needs to be planted solidly on the ground. You don't see tall buildings that are smaller at the base than at the top. So, why would your stance be more narrow than the rest of your body? It shouldn't. You want to keep your feet about shoulder width apart. I see a lot of people shooting with their feet close together. Simply put, that can and will cause aiming nightmares.
After a lot of trial and error, I've found that if I point my toes out just barely, it helps with my overall balance. I used to shoot with my toes straight and I struggled with swaying forward and backward if the ground wasn't perfectly level. I started pointing my toes out and it immediately got rid of the swaying and gave me a great awareness of my overall balance.
I see too many people closing themselves off to the target. You need to open your hips up. Not drastically, but enough to where you're not having to turn your head 90 degrees to your body. When you are forced to turn your head that hard to address the target, it gets uncomfortable and you will find yourself drifting out of your peep. Archery is all about repetition, and when you are comfortable, things are much easier to repeat.
Now, take all this information and when you have a comfortable stance you are happy with, address the target as if you are getting ready to shoot and have someone trace your feet. Don't move the target or the trace marks for a few days, or as long as possible. Every time you practice, stand in those prints. Before long, it will become natural for your feet to find that position and alignment on their own. You will have a solid and repeatable stance.
Your stance is one of many things that need to be repeated to be a consistent archer. It's something that is often overlooked, but it can really help your game. You want a solid base, so start with your feet shoulder width apart, point your toes slightly out for all-around balance, open your hips up so that it's easy for you to address your peep and finally — after all those are correct — trace your stance out on the ground and shoot from that position until you can do it without trying.