January 29, 2022
Target shooters. Hunters. Outdoorsmen and women. Bowtreaders of ages and kinds — as long as you're a human with at least a mild interest in archery, this is just the guide you have been looking for!
The weather is starting to get a little bit more mild which makes for great afternoons outside — and when that fails, chances are you can find an indoor range to get active out of the cold! We're between hunting seasons right now, but this isn’t a dead time if you’re an archer by any means. Now is the prime time to practice, practice, practice!
Maybe you're preparing for a tournament, an out of state hunt in a while, or turkey season. Or better yet you are a beginner! Great news. That means you don’t have to forget anything you already know about archery.
For the rest of you (and some of you beginners), go ahead and hit delete on that dusty file with “Robin Hood,” written on it in your memory, because we have a few tweaks that might just surprise you about the right way to shoot.
If you're ready to hit bullseyes like Disney’s Robin Hood in no time, this is NOT the post for you. We don’t teach screen animation. 😉
Frankly, there are quite a few times his form should have affected his shots just slightly more than they did. Just a few. Slightly. We can cut him a little slack because he is, after all, a fox.
But as far as shooting like a human goes, we have some practical tips that will help you practice, and program the right way of shooting in your mind!
From the tips (and mistakes) of Disney’s Robin Hood himself, here is everything you need to know!
Your first step to shooting accurately is getting your legs and body in the right position. If you've shot a bow before, this is nothing new.
Angle your body perpendicular to the target, so your bow hand (left hand if you are right-handed and vice versa) is facing the target. Your feet should be pointing in the same direction as your body - NOT toward the target, but perpendicular to it.
Perfect. You now have legs.
Next, you want to make sure your hips are in line with your shoulders, not twisted toward the target as we saw our buddy Robin Hood doing a few times.
Your shoulders shouldn’t be facing the target either, or you might just end up shooting to your right or left (which, since arrows tend to be pretty sharp, could be problematic.) Make sure they are in line with your hips and that your hips are in line with your feet. You might be more comfortable with your feet slightly apart, but it isn't necessary.
What is important is that everything lines up.
Perfect. If everything is straight, you should be good to go. Now just keeping it straight…
As you can see, our pal Robin had a little trouble with the whole straight thing. Here, he has his hip thrown out and his shoulders way out of line.
Did it affect his shot? Of course not. He is Robin Hood. For us on the other hand, tilting your hip out and tossing back your shoulders is going to affect everything.
It affects how you aim because your head is in a different position in comparison to the string and your arm is out of line so the entire direction and your perception of your shot is changed. The form matters, which is also why the head and (duh) arms have a big role...
Now that your legs and body are in line, it's time to get your bow and take care of those arms. The keyword here is, once again, straight.
Your shoulders, as we mentioned, should be aligned, so keep it that way and relax your bow arm to a bend only slightly. It should be straight out with your palm pointing up like you're telling someone to stop. The handle sits perfectly, right between that big muscle at the end of your thumb and the cavity between the rest of your fingers, so you shouldn’t even need to grip the bow with your fingers (Ahem, Robin was a little white-knuckled…probably nervous because the rest of his form was so questionable.)
Draw your arm back and anchor your hand just by your cheek, so the string is brushing your nose. Your drawing arm should be fully bent and angled up enough to be in line with your bow hand. That will help make sure that the arrow is level between them.
Your bow arm should NOT be locked, nor should it be bent — if it is either one, chances are you have an issue with your draw length. Instead, your arm should be relaxed and level.
Finally, your draw arm, which is where a lot of shooters unknowingly go wrong. Just a little bit of concentration on this arm and you can improve your shooting dramatically — all you need to do is make sure it is, yes, straight, and that it is tilted UP. Your forearm should not be closed up on the other half of your arm like you are trying to hold your release with your whole arm. Instead, it should be over it, so your arm looks like a “greater-than” symbol barely open toward your string. This, you guessed it, affects your whole body. It gives you more room to get your head in the right place, your string straight — and since straight is the word, it is one of the most important things that keep everything that way.
Not to pick on our pal some more… but he had an issue with keeping his body in the shape of the letter T.
Here, his arm is a bit too high and out of line with his other one, which affects how his head comes in and ultimately how he aims. Chances are, if he’s not careful, he will easily push the string over and shoot right of where he is aiming. Which is another thing you need to avoid as explained below…
Now for the head. Odds are you don’t have trouble with your head unless your draw length is off so you have to lean toward the string. But, as Robin Hood proved one can still have issues with that, we are going to tell you what not to do anyway.
It’s pretty simple. Your head should NOT have to lean dramatically toward the string. Even if you are shooting with a more open stance and your hand seems farther away from your face, this is true. Do not lean your head down or tilt it over. Even if it isn’t affecting how you hold the string. Want us to tell you the problem with doing it? Well, it affects the straightness of your whole body.
There. We said it again. Every aspect of your shot truly does affect the others. That’s why even the pros need to pay attention to all of this every once in a while — because we could all do to clean at least one of these things up!
Robin Hood had yet another little bad habit with this. Ok, we really can cut him some slack on this one because he does shoot an old recurve… but the way he is leaning that patch of fur on the string in this photo, you would think it might affect his shot a little. Or at least scrape off some of those whiskers.
This is really just for the effect that we’re saying this but we thought you ought to know. Pro tip: it's all in the back. Your arms (duh) play a role, but your back muscles all throughout your shoulder blades is what should be the most tense. This is why, if you are a beginner, it is your upper back and shoulders that are probably sore. You are using a muscle people don’t work out very often — if you could only pull back half what you expected in weight at the beginning, that is probably why. Don’t give yourself a hard time about the weight, just keep practicing and edge up gradually as you can.
That’s what Robin Hood did. (except once again he had an old recurve so he couldn’t really change his weight…)
Just kidding. 😉
Finally, eyes. We can’t really help you a lot here because this is mostly up to you (and what sight you're using). We can, however give you a few tips. Your eyes matter more than which is your dominant arm. Remember that when shooting and, not that you are dumb, but make sure you are using the correct eye. Don’t tilt your head to use your left eye if you are shooting with your right hand. If you are more comfortable doing that, just keep both eyes open and get a left-handed bow next time.
Your aim is up to you. It's affected, of course, by every other part of your body but you get to decide where you want your arrow to hit and your eyes are ultimately to blame if you’re doing everything else right.
Decide where you are going with your arrow — make sure your stance is changed to match in the beginning so the rest of your body isn’t affected. Then release. We can’t help you anymore there, this is all you.
We wish you good luck in your shots, and that, with good form, your arrows will always end up in the bullseye!
While we have given Robin Hood a hard time but he seemed to be pretty good with this one.
Though everything else was off, he didn’t have a hard time planting his eye on a target and making the arrow go that way. He had confidence shooting and that’s another thing you might want to have if you want to have success.
Just don’t shoot like Robin Hood, ok? Unless you’ve moved on from the fox version to the awesome live-action Robin Hood. Then, by all means, slay.
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