How to Properly Shoot a Bow! Step by Step Guide

Last Updated: 25.05.20


Once you got your hands on the best bow stand, you’ll really have to know how to shoot a bow the proper way! Use this step-by-step guide to help you impress everybody with your newly-acquired talent. Don’t forget to practice as much as you can!

For What Are We Aiming

The list of steps below can be seen as a general guideline and they are not meant to be seen as the ultimate word on archery. You will have to alter some steps, skip or add others, depending on how well you are trained and if you have natural skills for this.

Try talking with archers with experience as well, join a club, do some more reading on forums and even join a club if you’re serious about this. Everybody is in a constant state of learning so you don’t have to feel bad for asking questions or taking advice. Apply to your shooting sessions all that you can and you’ll also become an expert in no time.

This guide is built for beginners that are using a compound, recurve or traditional bow. Several parts of the learning process are similar to other types of bows as well. With only one or two lessons you’ll discover you have the basics down.


Aim High With Your Dominant Eye

Before we get to the proper first step, there is a pre-step that you have to take into account and that is finding out which one is your dominant eye. Just like you have a hand you use more often, you also have the inclination of using the visuals you receive from one eye and not the other.

This means if your right eye is dominant, you’ll use it more often when focusing on an object, while if your left eye is dominant, you’ll use the left one. Pretty simple, right? You are doing this voluntarily and this is also the reason why you need to find out which eye is the one you rely on most.

You can find which is your dominant eye by using the Wink Test. There are plenty of websites that teach you how to find this information out so go check it and don’t forget to return here for your archery guide!


The Ten Steps

The first thing you need to do is to have a correct stance. This aspect can be overlooked so don’t forget about it. Then, nock your arrow and grasp the bowstring. This grasping can be done in various ways actually and with time, you may notice you’ll do better if you have protective gear for your fingers and hands. Using a bow repeatedly without said protective gear can be very painful and have long-lasting effects.

The fourth step is to get your bow hand ready. If you’re new to this you may have a tendency to do a death grip on it, when, in actuality, a calm grip can be just as good – this is something you’ll learn in time. Now you have to ready your bow arm since archery is quite often simply about perfect alignment.

For step six you have to draw the bow. This is actually the first time in all of the steps so far that you’ll actually be using your muscles so it’s pretty important. Now it’s time to find your anchor point after which you have to aim. This is also rather important so you will need to practice. Now release your arrow and for the ten and final step, review your shot.

Let’s Get to It

Now that you glanced over what you have to do, let’s actually get into some details.

Your stance is one of the most important aspects and if you don’t do it right you won’t be able to draw the bow well either. When you find yourself in front of a target, there is a shooting line you have to take into consideration that is several yards away from what you are aiming at.

You have to stand with your side toward the target and having each leg on the sides of the shooting line. The distance between your legs should be equivalent to the distance between the shoulders. Maintaining your back straight is a must, but so is keeping comfortable while doing so. This way you’ll be able to fully draw the bow with your whole body being open.


True Grip And Nocking the Arrow

Coming back to the gripping of the bow – you should avoid gripping it too tightly because you will tense up your arm and affect the level of your accuracy as a result. Keep your hand close, but also relaxed. If you notice you have problems with the loose grip, a wrist sling with an open hand will be of help as a sling will get you a better and more accurate shot.

Most arrows have a nock made of plastic. Point your bow toward the ground and then place your arrow into the arrow rest of said bow. Make sure that the odd colored fletching is pointed to the sky and away from the bow.

The bowstring will surely have either a nock bead or two nock locators. You will simply have to connect the nocking point of the arrow with the bowstring. If you’ve done it successfully, you will hear a clicking sound.


Drawing the Bow

To draw the bow properly, you have to be sure that you can handle the weight. In case it’s too heavy and you can’t draw the bow back completely, then your accuracy will suffer and you can even injure yourself.

This sport relies quite a lot on the strength of your upper body which will increase with time and practice. At first, you may try a light bow and move to the heavier ones later. A takedown recurve bow lets you upgrade the limbs without having to buy another bow so it can be a solution.

Drawing the bow means you will have to point the bow toward the target and by using the hand that is not holding the bow you need to start pulling back on the bowstring. There are several ways in which you can do this, but two are most common.

The first one is to place the index finger above the arrow and two fingers below the said arrow. This method is probably the most common one since it helps you keep the arrow steadier. The second method is to place your index, middle and ring finger below the arrow and to pull back.

Both methods are really effective, but the first one is the one most commonly recommended for beginners since it helps you keep the arrow steadier and have better accuracy.

Start pulling the bowstring back slowly toward your face. When doing this you have to be sure that the bow doesn’t move. Now your bowstring should be drawn completely to the anchor point.

What Is the Anchor Point?

The anchor point represents nothing else but the side of your face where your arrow is found when the index finger starts touching a side of your mouth. Keep in mind that you have to “anchor” the drawn bow before you let go of the arrow. This helps to ensure that the eye you use for aiming is aligned with the bowstring. 

At first, you may find it easier to put the thumb up against your cheek, thus pulling the bowstring closer. By doing this you make sure that your shot is being fired from the same position and you can adjust your aiming.


Aim at the Target

After you have drawn the bow, you can aim at the prepared target. For a proper aim, you’ll need to look down the arrow, toward the target and move it so it fits the shot you want to take. In case the target is a bit further, you will need to aim higher. If your arrow seems to be moving toward a certain point you just need to adjust it so it can go in the other direction.


Release the Arrow

If you move just a little, flinch, etc., when releasing the bowstring, the arrow will stray from the target you had envisioned. At first, this will probably happen, but you’ll get used to doing it better. You just have to learn how to slowly relax your fingers.

Now that you went through all of these steps, see what you did well and what you need to work on and get to it! You’ll get the hang of it in no time.



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