Learning how to get better at archery is a goal for many archers. Whether you’re still learning or have plenty of experience, you must learn how to shoot well as this defines your level of shooting. When you’re trying to improve your game, know there are things you can do to develop and even enhance your archery skills.
Once you have a better understanding of what you can do to become a better archer, it’s time to create a game plan. This plan will include details on how you can make certain improvements that yield better shooting results.
Whether you’re searching for archery tips for beginners or archery tips for experienced archers, if you want to learn how to get better at archery, simply follow the tips below.
How To Become A Better Shot With A Bow
Archery may seem like a physical sport, but it requires strong mental game. The more you practice your mental process, the more comfortable you’re going to feel with every shot. Not only do you need to hone your mental ability, you also need to focus on your physical strength and ability. It really all comes down to being highly focused, calming your nerves, and ignoring nearby distractions.
Below, you’ll find useful pieces of advice that are not taught to most archers. When you follow these suggestions, you’re giving yourself an edge and sometimes that’s all it takes. Many archers wonder how to get better at archery and by following these tips, you’ll be sure to see results.
Let’s dive in and remember, the more you practice, the better you will become. So, here’s what you can practice to gain that edge.
1. Relax & Breathe Easy
The first thing you must do is relax. While you may be tempted to hold your breath, tense up, hunch up your shoulders, or anything else, that adds unnecessary tension to your body, you must resist these temptations. Sometimes you may not even know you’re tensing up, so brining awareness to it is your first step. Tension (especially in your bow hand) has a huge influence on the accuracy of your shots, so be sure to practice relaxing your body and bow grip until you’re able to shoot with ease.
It’s also important to breathe easy. Many people hold their breath when they become anxious or nervous without even realizing it. In a way, it makes sense to hold your breath so you can remain perfectly still while aiming. However, holding your breath eventually causes fatigue and could lead to target panic. So, aim, let the pin float around the bullseye, breath, and release when it feels right.
2. Hold & Follow Through
Hold and follow through is crucial for any good shot. The opposite of this is snap shooting. Snap shooting means you immediately release the arrow instead of holding your bow at full draw and following through. While snap shooting is a more instinctive way to shoot, it does not involve aiming. Instead, snap shooting uses muscle memory learned from trial and error to become more accurate.
Since your focus is on how to get better at archery, you must learn to hold your bow at full draw, completely focus on the bullseye, and slowly start the release process while continuing to aim. Holding your bow and following through provides the consistency you need for accuracy.
3. Complete Focus
To improve as an archer, you must be completely focused while shooting. It’s easy for any archer to become distracted while shooting, so if this is something you need to focus on you’re definitely not alone. When you think about it, it’s completely understandable as archers must focus on multiple things before, during, and even after taking a shot.
Many archers choose to shoot arrows casually with others. While this may be fun, it’s not best for focused practice. In order for you to improve your game, you’ll need to completely focus on each and every step of the shot process. Simply clear your mind, focus on the process, and make adjustments where you feel necessary.
4. Shot Process, Not Impact
As an archer, you must judge your shots based on how you performed the shot process vs where your arrows have landed. For example, if you happen to hit the bullseye using bad form. it’s still a bad shot because you just got lucky. This means you must perfect your shooting process if you expect to become a better shot. Even if you miss the bullseye but it felt like a good shot, then that’s a good shot! Just keep this mentality and it will serve you well.
The eleven step shot process includes:
- Nocking the arrow
- Hook & grip
- Posture & alignment
- Raise the bow
- Draw down
- Transfer to hold
- Release/Follow through
If you’d like to learn more about the shot process, we have a whole article that goes into depth about the 11-step shooting process.
5. Take Your Time
Archery is not a race. This means you must take all the time you need to execute a good shot, every single time. Since patience can be difficult for some people, one of the best ways for archers to take their time while shooting is to hold for at least 5 seconds. All this relates to is lining up your shot, focusing on your target, and aiming for about 5 seconds. You don’t have to take your shot immediately after 5 seconds is up. Instead, take your shot when you feel ready. That said, I would keep your shot under 8 seconds as fatigue will start to set in at that point.
It’s also important not to rush the shot to see where your arrow lands. This is called “peeking” and can introduce user error into your shot. To reduce user error, it’s best to wait until the arrow reaches the target before moving your bow arm. If you must know where the arrow lands, pack yourself a good pair of binoculars to see where your arrows land or have someone watch where they land.
6. Shoot With Perfect Form
You must master each step of the shot process by practicing perfect form. From your stance all the way to follow through, you need to focus on perfecting each step. This allows your body to establish muscle memory. This is your foundation as an archer and what separates those who excel from the rest.
Once muscle memory is established and you’re shooting well, you’ll have gained something very important…the ability for self-correction. This ability allows you realize flaws in your own shot process and correct them as necessary to maintain accuracy.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
It’s true. Perfect practice internalizes good shooting habits and repetition will solidify those good habits. Essentially, the more you practice shooting, the more you’re honing your skills. Practicing not only helps you solidify good form, it also builds strength and endurance.
When it comes to how often you should practice, it really depends on your goals. If you’re shooting casually, then consistent practice isn’t as important. If you’re shooting to compete at a high level, then a higher level of practice is necessary.
One more note on practice…don’t overdo it. Once fatigue sets in, your form starts to break down. If you push through and continue to practice, you’re only re-enforcing bad form. Once fatigue sets in and you start losing accuracy, it’s best to finish up and continue another day.
8. “Let Down”
Have you ever been at full draw and felt uneasy? At times like this, it’s best practice to “let down”. Letting down is the process of gently letting your bow down from full draw instead of shooting. While letting down your bow without taking a shot means you must start the shot process all over again, this is a great way for you to build up physical and mental strength. Reasons for letting down your bow can be anything including wind gusts, holding the bow for too long, or anything else that can jeopardize a good shot.
How You Can Get Better At Archery
Now that you know what it takes to become a better archer, your next step is to create an archery training plan that’s right for you. Take the above 8 tips and start working on each of them at your own pace. Remember that you’re only competing against yourself here, so don’t compare yourself to others as you’re gradually improving.
Archery can definitely be self-taught as long as you carefully study all there is to learn about the sport. Just be sure to consistently work on perfecting your form, put the necessary hours of practice in, and don’t hesitate to reach out to others for help, and you’ll be on your way to being the best archer you can possibly be.
If you need step-by-step instruction to help you get started. We’ve created an online archery course, “Archery Foundations” to help you get started. There, we cover the different styles of archery, types of bows, equipment, and the entire shot process so you can feel confident out on the range.
Now that you know how to get better at archery, it’s time for you to take action! The above tips will help you become a better shot. By putting in the time, you’re sure to improve your shooting ability quickly. Just be sure to create a plan that’s right for you, as well as one that you can stick to.
Once you start seeing an improvement in your shooting accuracy, you can slowly start challenging yourself with distraction, pressure, and many other challenges to continue improving your ability as an archer.