Skip to main content

Four Elements of Aiming Your Bow


Should you shoot with the non-dominant eye open, closed or squinted? Aiming your bow with both eyes open produces the greatest possible field of view, which is an advantage while hunting. But unless your aiming eye is clearly dominant, this may produce visual conflict. It is very common for the non-aiming eye to try to seize control of the sight picture, especially when low-light conditions make it difficult to see through the peep clearly. If your non-dominant eye takes over the aiming process, you'll miss by a mile.

I prefer to keep one eye closed (or blocked, more specifically) while competing. I actually use a small blinder that prevents my non-dominant eye from seeing the target at full draw. However, while hunting, I prefer to shoot with both eyes open. If I feel my non-dominant eye taking over (which, as I've said, often happens in low-light conditions), I squint my left eye to allow my right eye to re-establish control. This technique is not ideal, because it can create inconsistencies. However, when hunting, you sometimes have to compromise pinpoint accuracy for practicality.


Properly controlling your breathing during the shot is crucial to aiming well. This aspect of aiming your bow is very important!

I prefer to take a very deep breath before I draw the bow, another breath as I pull the string back and then another as I settle in. I then let one quarter to one half of the last breath out. I am trying to fully oxygenate my red blood cells to give me a longer time to shoot the shot before hypoxia sets in. I leave three quarters or so of the breath in for two reasons. First, it keeps the lungs relatively full of air so oxygen exchange can continue as I hold my breath. Second, it splints my ribcage and creates additional core stability. This is important because we want our entire body to be rigid -- as long as the rigidity is passive (without muscular involvement).


You can shoot very well with your pin moving. Everyone's pin moves as they aim -- no matter what they may tell you. You do not need to become a shooting machine with a rock steady hold in order to shoot well. Many bowhunters never grasp this truth and fight target panic as a result.

You will produce smaller groups if you forget about shot timing and simply focus on your technique. Use proper body positions during the shot (I'll touch on this in future columns), relax fully and squeeze off a surprise release. Though your pin may be floating around the aiming point, if you learn to stay truly relaxed and centered, the arrow will often hit closer to the center than you were aiming when the shot broke.

Some archers try to scribe a tiny figure-eight pattern with their pin -- the center of the eight being the aiming point. Others try to circle the aiming point very slowly with the pin. Still others (myself included) do not use a specific system; they just let the pin float through its own pattern as they fully relax and focus on technique. I believe you should not try to control the specific movement of the pin; just relax and let the pin float as you simply attempt to keep it as close to the aiming point as possible throughout the shot. There is a natural centering tendency that occurs within the shot if you simply let the pin float. I believe this centering tendency allows you to subconsciously move the pin toward the middle as the shot breaks and the tension is released.

One system that will not work well in the long term is the one most archers naturally choose: consciously trying to hold the pin rock steady and pulling the trigger when the pin is on the spot. This method can lead to tension and target panic.



I focus primarily on the pin and let the target blur, but I know many great archers and handgun shooters who focus on the target and let the aiming device (pin) blur out. Rather than telling you which method to use, I will only say one method will produce better accuracy for you than the other. Experiment until you determine which point of focus produces the smallest group. Only a couple sessions on the range using this simple test will let you know which technique is best for you.

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

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

The most advanced unit of its kind, Ozonics' HR500 is sure to give you the edge.

Ozonics Unveils New HR500

Petersen's Bowhunting Editor Christian Berg talks with Travis "T-Bone" Turner to learn about the new 2022 Hoyt bow line.

New 2022 Hoyt Bows

Lynn Burkhead, Outdoor Sportsman Group Digital Editor, learns about all the new decoy products from Flambeau for 2022.

New Flambeau Decoy Products for 2022

Petersen's Bowhunting Editor Christian Berg talks with Matt Pell to learn about the new Ozcut broadheads for 2022.

Ozcut Broadheads: First Look

North American Whitetail publisher Laden Force talks with Mike Galloway to learn about new products from Rock Ridge for 2022.

New Rock Ridge Products for 2022

Matt Pell, of Tectonic, and Petersen's Bowhunting editor Christian Berg discuss the features of the programmable Tectonic Daytime Deadfall Deer Feeder.

Tectonic Daytime Deadfall Deer Feeder: First Look

Lynn Burkhead, Outdoor Sportsman Group digital editor, talks with Brandon Reyes to learn about the new bow releases from T.R.U. Ball for 2022.

New T.R.U. Ball Bow Releases for 2022

Petersen's Bowhunting Editor Christian Berg talks with Matt Pell to learn about an innovative new product for 2022 called the Accubow 2.0.

New for 2022: Accubow 2.0

Lynn Burkhead, Outdoor Sportsman Group Digital Editor, learns about the new Formula Bow Case from Flambeau for 2022.

Flambeau Formula Bow Case: First Look

Petersen's Bowhunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Bowhunting App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Petersen's Bowhunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now