By Shane Chuning
It has been a long winter for a lot of us. With spring finally here, it means dusting off those bows for some practice. Others like myself shoot throughout the year, so no dusting is needed. Either way with spring in the air, it brings all of us archers out to enjoy the nice weather and a chance to fine tune our equipment for the upcoming season. It is always nice to get a jump on this early, so we are more prepared for the hunts that we have that are fast approaching. In regards to the sport of archery, I always strive to better myself every year that goes by in some form or another. There is no better way to do this than early spring. Archery is a huge mental game as well, so consider this when it comes time to really hone in on your skills of trying to improve on some of the weaknesses you might have. I look at these things as an important part every year to fine tune my skills as an archer. Let’s look at a few things that will help us be better bow hunters this season and in the years ahead. This takes commitment and often times it is best to tackle this one step at a time.
One important tip to consider is shooting with both eyes open. Now some might be doing this already, however I would wager that the majority out there still shoot with one eye closed. The biggest step to determine if you can even do this is to figure out your eye dominance. You can achieve this by taking your hands and forming a small hole with them straight out in front of you, as shown in the illustration on this page. You would just simply look at someone through that hole and the person you are looking at will naturally see your dominant eye through that hole. This is very critical when fitting new archers to a bow and choosing whether they should start out left or right handed.
Shooting with your dominant eye is critical to having both eyes open when you shoot. This opens your field of view tremendously and also aids in relaxing those secondary muscles that don’t need to be engaged during the shot process. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know your eye dominance first before making this a goal. What will happen when shooting with both eyes open and shooting from the wrong side is that your dominant eye will take over and you will more than likely miss the target by a long shot. I encourage those that want to try this to stay with it for a few weeks and you will find it becomes second nature to you. I actually have never seen one switch to both eyes open and go back to one eye closed, so that should tell you something. It’s well worth a try.
Another tip to consider is to work on achieving your correct draw length. I still see so many archers out there with a draw length that is way too long. This is critical to your overall accuracy and when not right, it can be very difficult to hold on target, steady down range. Now I will admit that some of this is not your fault because some were not ever lead in the right direction to begin with, especially for those that have become accustom to it. We really become creatures of habit, thus making it harder to change. I encourage you to search your correct draw length out and in the end it will pay out big in your overall accuracy.
Some of the other things to look for to get you in the ballpark are your eye alignment with your nocking point at full draw. An ideal starting point would be fairly plumb, with corner of your eye and your nock at full draw. This would get you right in the ballpark right off the bat. When checking for this you will want to line up your reference points as well. This would be nose to string and string running down the corner of your mouth. Sticking with this model will give you a very good solid base to start with. Now if you can’t make this happen you might want to reevaluate your draw length. Another thing to note when attempting to get these things to line up is your peep. You might have to reposition your peep altogether to get this to work, so if you are trying to change with your peep in its current location your eye will naturally go to that spot, right to your old habits that you are trying to break. It’s best to draw back with an arrow nocked and come to these reference points with your eyes closed. Then set in to your anchor and reference points and open your eyes. You might be surprised and find the location of your peep needs to change as well. I encourage you to ask questions and seek good information in regards to proper fit to draw length. It is very critical to your overall accuracy and consistency.
The last thing I would like to mention is the proper grip for a given bow. Grip is very much overlooked and a critical part in attaining true arrow flight. It is also one of the reasons why some have a hard time with fixed blade, broadhead flight. Basic grip placement is based off the lifeline of your hand with your knuckles roughly at a 45 degree angle. For a right handed shooter that would be the left side edge of the grip of the bow following your lifeline. Most of your thumb pad would be directly behind the grip of the bow. All too often guys and gals will grip a bow like a pistol. This will have the grip of the bow crossing your lifeline completely and can lead to inconsistencies in arrow flight due to grip torque. Bows can require a certain
amount of grip pressure from left to right to get the cleanest arrow flight. I will have to explain this more in depth in another article regarding bare-shaft tuning and the impact grip and tune play. You will see how grip is huge in getting a bare-shaft to fly true with your fletched arrows.
With archery, I find it easier to tackle one item at a time until you feel comfortable with it, then move on to the next one. There is no need to rush things you might want to improve on. Let them get ingrained into you so they become second nature, then move on to the next one. These tips I mentioned might seem very small to some, but believe me, they are a huge part of the foundation that will bring about the best in you. There is no better time to think about these things and fine tune them than now. As archers, striving to better ourselves should be our goal . We owe it to ourselves and the game we pursue.