Be sure not to underestimate the importance of archery practice. As a new archer, finding and focusing on how to improve your weak areas allows you to shoot at your very best. There are many archery practice drills, so you’ll need to choose one or more to properly develop your accuracy. No matter which drill(s) you choose, know that the different techniques you decide to use will ultimately help you become an overall better archer.
Most archers choose to use a variety of practice drills to improve their form, technique, and skills.
What’s Your Aim?
Aiming drills use several different approaches to develop and enhance a shooter’s precision. These disciplined drills support one’s muscle memory, muscle strength, mental focus, and physical ability to shoot well. Perfecting your aim is one of the more important things to learn so you can become a great archer. While focus and patience are both essential, practicing is what’s going to help you be the best archer you can possibly be.
Most people who choose to participate in the sport of archery have a goal. If you don’t happen to have any specific archery goals yet, that’s okay. You can always make them when you have a better idea of what it is you want to achieve.
Whether your objective is practicing for competition, hunting, and/or recreation, realizing your motivation allows you to practice in a way that supports your goals.
Practice With Purpose
Once you’ve learned your correct stance, how to properly nock your arrow, how to properly hook the bow string, how to properly grip your bow, and how to properly draw your bow, you’re on your way to practicing with purpose. Be sure to also keep in mind the importance of mental focus, as well as patience, as these two factors play a large role when it comes to accuracy.
Keeping score is a great idea when practicing, as this is one of the best ways for you to keep track of your progress. If you’re unsure about how to keep score, here’s an article that’ll help you score your targets correctly. While many archers may think the goal of practice drills is to win, the actual goal is to improve your shooting abilities.
Below are a few questions you need to ask yourself before and after practice. Your answers are important when it comes to honing in on any areas that require improvement, as well as creating a necessary practice plan.
Before Archery Practice
- What should I be focusing on today?
- What do I need to work on more?
- How am I going to work on it?
After Archery Practice
- Did I accomplish all of my intentions?
- What else do I need to work on?
- Am I improving?
Archery Practice Drills
So which of the below 11 archery practice exercises should you try? The practice drills you choose depend on your personal style and overall archery goals. See the details of each drill below so you can choose 1, 2, 3, or more drills to increase your accuracy and focus.
1. Blank Bale
This practice drill helps you perfect your form and reduce target panic. Instead of focusing on your aiming abilities, you’ll shoot at a target with your eyes closed at close range. This helps you focus on form such as your stance, bow hand position, anchor position, and execution of the shot. Taping yourself while performing this drill allows you to assess how well you’re performing the shooting process.
2. Resistance Bands
Using resistance bands is a great way for you to challenge the muscles you use when performing archery. Since strong muscles build stability, learning how to strengthen them will only improve your shooting abilities. Once specific exercise you can do is to place one end of a resistance band around your bow arm wrist, with the other under your foot. This will work the side deltoid, which is a very important muscle in archery.
3. Aiming Drill
This simple aiming drill requires you to pull back, aim, hold, let down the arrow without firing, and repeating this process several times. The goal is to aim directly at the middle of the target while holding your bow in the aiming position for as long as you possibly can. Starting distance should be at about 15 yards when performing this drill. After aiming at this distance move back a few yards and practice your aim again. Repeat this process until you’re at the furthest distance you’re looking to shoot.
4. Extreme Angles
Arrow impact differs when shooting at extreme angles. Shooting at a variety of angles allows you to better prepare for field experience. Angle drills require you to change the distance of your shot depending on the degree of the angle. The more extreme the angle, the more the distance changes. Below, you’ll find an angle chart to help you better understand the change in yardage depending on the angle of the shot. Most archers have trouble with extreme angles, so the more you practice, the better prepared you’ll be.
5. Uneven Footing
Since you can’t always shoot on level ground, this practice drill requires you to shoot in uneven conditions, like the side of a hill. Shooting in an uneven environment places more stress on your body, improving core and upper body strength. Uneven footing also challenges your sense of balance, helping you build accuracy in any type of terrain.
6. Low & Bright Light
A very challenging and important drill to practice is shooting in low and bright light conditions. Low-light conditions take place during the early morning hours, late afternoon hours, and in heavily shaded areas. Bright light shooting takes place during the day when the sun is shining brightly. The challenge is when the sun is shining directly in your face. This makes the target very difficult to see, especially if the target is located in the shade. Practice in all lighting conditions and you’ll be better prepared for any lighting condition.
7. All-Weather Practice
While it would be ideal to always shoot in nice weather, this isn’t realistic. Shooting in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, or when it’s windy presents several shooting challenges. Shooting in all-weather conditions prepares you for the various challenges that come with shooting in different types of weather. For example, shooting in cold weather causes muscles to contract and lose their range of motion. Shooting in windy conditions challenges your ability to aim and affects your arrow flight. Shooting in all types of weather conditions will help you gain experience and shoot with accuracy while inexperienced archers begin to break down.
8. Layered Clothing
Cold weather is a challenge with archery. You don’t want to get cold, but you don’t want too many layers. Too much clothing can become bulky and negatively affect your accuracy. The challenge here is to accurately hit your target wearing multiple layers of clothing. If you can retain accuracy with extra layers of clothing, you’ll be better prepared for those colder temperatures.
9. Long and Short Distances
Shooting extremely short or long distances can be challenging. These extreme distances improve both aim and accuracy, making it an important part of archery practice. For example, wind affects an arrow differently at long distance, so you’ll learn how wind changes the trajectory of an arrow when shooting. On the other end of the spectrum, short distance can be a challenge as well. Most archers can hit a target at 20 yards, but how about a target the size of a quarter at 20 feet? It’s these types of extremes that are important to a well-rounded practice routine.
10. Small Targets
One of the best ways to practice precision is to shoot a small target. Many archers, especially those who are new to the sport, experience some level of panic when thinking about shooting at a smaller target. Since archers need to remain calm, this practice drill helps reduce anxiety about missing the target. This issue is extremely common among archers, so the more comfortable you become with small targets, the better you’ll handle the stress.
11. Intended Targets
Whether it’s paper or 3D animals, every archer should practice shooting at targets they’ll often be shooting at. For example, archers who intend to hunt turkeys should shoot at 3D turkey targets. Competition archers should shoot at traditional bullseye targets. If you’re shooting paper targets, be sure to practice all the different color variations you plan to shoot as well.
Practicing with intention ensures your best shooting. Since there are many drills you can use to improve precision, you’ll need to choose the ones that best help you. Whether you prefer archery practice at home, at your local archery shop, or at an archery range, your shooting skills will improve once you start challenging yourself with practice drills. Which drills are the best? That decision is 100% up to you, as every archer must decide what’s important in progressing their overall shooting ability. So, get out there and start practicing!