Archery Stance: How To Find Your Footing

Apr 5, 2021Form & Technique

The first step of shooting is assuming the proper archery stance. Choosing a shooting position that best supports your style is important, as your stance is what sets you up for success. Finding your shooting stance requires you to try each stance option at least 2 or 3 different times to see which one feels most natural. Using a shooting line is beneficial, as this visual reference will better prepare you for future competitions.

Once you’ve chosen and established a shooting stance that’s both solid and balanced, you’re on your way to improving your accuracy.

What is Archery Stance and Why Is It Important?

So what exactly does archery stance mean? It refers to the proper placement of your lower body before taking a shot. It means standing up straight so you can have complete control over the lower half of your body. It means knowing how far your feet should be apart. It means knowing how to distribute your weight evenly to support good balance. It means not locking or over bending your knees as you need to keep your legs in a relaxed position.

How important is your archery stance? Never underestimate the importance of your bow stance, as it’s the foundation of your shot! Your chosen stance gives you the stability and proper posture necessary to perform your best shooting. Precise body alignment reinforces your ability to shoot consistently accurately, and that’s exactly what you want.

Archery Stance Options

There are a total of three main stance options you can choose from? Understand that foot position plays a large part as this is what supports the foundation of an archer’s proper shooting posture. Thus every stance option requires your feet to be about shoulder-width apart. To start, try practicing all 3 stances to see if there’s one that feels more natural. And remember, there’s no right or wrong stance choice. It’s simply a matter of which one best supports your shooting ability.

In order to decide which option is best for you, you need to first understand the details of each archery stance.

1. Square Stance

What does a square stance mean? This popular shooting stance requires an archer to place both feet parallel to and on both sides of the shooting line. This means one foot will be before the line and the other will be behind. Your feet should be perfectly square, although rotating the feet slightly outward to improve stability is acceptable. This shooting position is often the first choice for new archers due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

Square Stance Advantages
  • Simple and easy to learn/perform
  • Efficient due to the natural alignment between the hips, feet, and shoulders
  • Less stress and muscle fatigue when shooting
Square Stance Disadvantages
  • The shooting line base is more narrow (when compared to an open stance)
  • Doesn’t provide as much stability in windy weather

2. Open Stance

What does an open stance mean? This archery stance is similar to the square option as it also requires an archer to place their feet on both sides of the shooting line. The difference is your front foot is slightly behind your back foot and open towards the target. In other words, your front foot should be a few inches further back and angled outward, making it no longer parallel to the shooting line. Because this shooting position opens up the body, many experienced archers use this stance.

Open Stance Advantages
  • Provides more stability in windy weather due to a more staggered stance
  • The slight rotation helps reduce arching of the low back
  • Can improve bow shoulder alignment
Open Stance Disadvantages
  • Learning proper vertical posture may take longer
  • Difficult to tell when leaning forward or backward
  • Rotating the torso tends to place more stress on the archers lower back
  • Requires archers to be strong and flexible as upper body strength is essential for proper shoulder positioning

3. Closed Stance

What does a closed stance mean? This archery stance is the opposite of open stance. Instead of pulling your front foot back, push it forward, slightly ahead of your back foot. Your front foot may also be slightly angled away from the target, but with much less of an angle compared to an open stance. This makes the stance more similar to a square archery stance. Few archers choose this shooting position due to its higher degree of difficulty, but it is a stance that I personally find most comfortable.

Closed Stance Advantages
  • Allows archers back muscles to be more relaxed (so may be a good choice for archers who have back and/or shoulder problems)
  • Alignment has more structural stability, which lessens muscle fatigue
Closed Stance Disadvantages
  • If turning the feet too far away from the target, there’s a higher possibility of slapping your forearm with the bowstring

How To Find Your Archery Stance

Which of the above archery positions will best support your shooting style? There are a few factors you’ll need to consider to make the right choice. Examples include your circumstances, anatomy, overall comfort level, and personal preference. So keep these in mind before making a final decision. Also, pay close attention to your natural body position when at full draw as this helps determine the best bow stance for you.

Try This Quick Exercise

Trying this easy experiment can help you decide which bow stance is best for you. Take a square stance and draw your bow back while focusing on the center of a target. Close both eyes and then hold your shooting position for about 10 seconds. Open both eyes to see if your aim has moved. Did your aim move to the left? Try moving your front foot so it’s slightly ahead of your back foot. Did your aim move to the right? Try moving your front foot back and angled away from the shooting line to open up your stance. If you’re still on target, stick with a square stance!

Still not sure which stance you should choose? Recommendations for beginner archers are to take a square stance. This stance tends to be the easiest to learn and most effective, making it a good choice. If after practicing it’s determined that this stance is not the best choice for you, try the other two options to see which feels most comfortable.

Archery Stance In Action

Your archery stance allows you to shoot consistently and accurately. Learning how to take your stance will take some practice, just be sure to stay consistent. Consistency is crucial to your success, as variations in taking your stance will significantly affect your accuracy. Follow the steps below to perfect your chosen stance and improve your form.

Step 1: Straddle The Shooting Line.

Shooting a right-hand bow? Your left foot should be forward of the shooting line. Shooting a left-hand bow? Your right foot should be forward of the shooting line.

Step 2: Stand With Feet Shoulder Width Apart.

Assume a shooting position in which your feet are approximately shoulder-width apart, give or take a few inches. If you experience any swaying in your upper body while aiming, your feet are either too close together or too far apart.

Step 3: Take Your Stance (Be Consistent)

Be sure to practice your chosen stance, keeping repetition in mind. This is what develops muscle memory, strength, and overall shooting endurance.

Step 4: Stand Straight And Tall.

Standing up straight and tall improves consistency and accuracy. Keep your knees slightly bent as this will provide stability and control. Don’t excessively arch your low back as this could lead to experiencing an injury. Instead, focus on keeping your back straight.

Step 5: Focus On Your Hips, Torso, And Chest.

Make sure to relax your hips, torso, and chest, which all should be in a forward facing, balanced position. Avoid the urge to stick your chest out as this not only raises your center of gravity, but can also lead to excessive arching of the lower back.

Step 6: Push Your Shoulders Downward.

Relaxing your shoulders is essential to a proper stance. If your shoulders are too tense or kept in a high position, this will get in the way of your ability to shoot with accuracy.

Step 7: Hold Your Head Up Straight.

Your head needs to be held in a straight position. You should not be holding your head back or forwards. Once your chin is even with the ground, keep this position and turn your face downrange. You’ve now achieved proper head position.

Step 8: Settle in!

Once at full draw and anchored, be sure to settle in and relax. Nothing should feel tense or uncomfortable. Once you settle in, you’re ready to continue with the rest of the shooting sequence.


Your chosen archery stance is what supports your shooting posture. Proper posture is what supports your body’s ability to shoot with consistency and accuracy. Mental focus is key when practicing your shooting posture. Simply practice the above steps until your stance feels completely natural, and then watch as you consistently shoot tighter groups.


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