14 Steps of Archery Shooting with a Compound Bow

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I created this list when I was working as a Bow Tech at Cabela’s, to help the customers who came in, and help my fellow Bow Techs improve their shooting accuracy. I hung it up in the Tech Room and passed it out to Customers. Most of these also apply to Olympic Archery. It started with maybe 12 steps, but now has 14. I also added a bunch of tips and good information to the end.

  1. Stance:
    • Step all the way up to the line, Bow in Hand, Wrist Sling or Finger Sling in place. 
    • Place feet on equal sides of the line shoulder-width apart, feet parallel to line.
    • The Line should run directly between your feet.
    • Distribute your weight equally on both feet.
    • Stand Directly in the Center of your lane, between both lane lines.
    • Step up and resume this stance exactly the same every time.
  2. Knock:
    • Pick up an Arrow
    • Keep Bow in an upright perpendicular position
    • Keep Arrow pointed straight down-lane towards target.
    • Set the arrow forward upon the rest, with fletching just behind the rest.
    • Twist the arrow, if needed until your guide Fletching is in the proper location for your Arrow Rest.
    • Carefully Slide the arrow back towards the string. 
    • Lock the knock firmly in place below your knock clip, in the center of your D-loop 
  3. Hook & Grip:
    • Hook into the D-loop, with your release, finger behind trigger
    • Vertically align the Bow grip with your palm line, fingers open & loose
    • Rest fingertips along the front grip line
  4. Set up:
    • Make sure everything is set up properly, double-checking your stance, knock, hook, grip, palm, front finger positions, and trigger finger behind trigger
    • Check your Safety of arrow, bow, rest, quiver, release & clothing
  5. Gun Barrel:
    • Extend front arm forward and down slightly, elbow bent
    • Lock your front arm to your Torso movement, at a 90 degree angle
    • Raise the entire arm, your torso, and your bow up towards target at the same time, everything locked into position, as if it were all a gun barrel
  6. Draw & Load:
    • Pull straight back on the string with your elbow even with the knock, directly behind the knock, while pushing forward with the palm line on the grip until the bow is fully loaded
    • Be sure you are still balanced equally on both feet and still standing upright and not leaning back or forward.
  7. Anchor:
    • Nestle your thumb knuckle to behind your jaw line up by your earlobe, securely nestled into place that you can easily return to every time.
    • Align the inside of your trigger finger to dig into a certain spot on your jar or cheek you can remember every time.
    • Put your Nose right up to the string, to a point on your nose that the string is directly in line with your eye. Don’t be afraid to smash your nose or push it to the side, you want your eye right above the knock and behind the string when pulled back comfortably. Remember this spot on your nose and to return to this spot every time.
    • Triangulating these 3 very precise Anchor points that you can easily return to for each shot is the most important aspect of aiming
  8. Transfer:
    • Transfer the weight-load from the arm & shoulder to the upper back muscle on the drawn side, by making a mental shift in the working muscle
    • Your mind guides your muscle in transferring the load from your arm & shoulder where it is initially, to your upper back muscle, through visualization engagement
  9. Breathe:
    • Breathe slowly and naturally, keeping your breath calm, steady, and even throughout.
  10. Aim:
    • Put your proper pin just above the Bullseye when you first draw the bow
    • Center the Round ring around your sites perfectly centered in your Peep that you are looking through in your string. Checking the Left, Right, Top, and Bottom sides of the pin-protecting site ring are all equally distributed on all sides through the peep hole.
    • Vertically Align the round glowing tips of your pin sites equally perfectly straight up and down, top to bottom, with the center ring of the target
    • Look deeper into the target, and picture the tiny “X” draw in the center of the middle ring
    • Slowly adjust your pin to the center of the X, seeing the X in your mind
    • Hold Everything Steady
    • Bring your Index Finger from behind the trigger to the top of the trigger, without putting any weight on the trigger, which is often a hair trigger.
  11. Expand:
    • When ready to release, expand your draw further back against the valley wall by expanding & your back, chest, and shoulders, opening them up wider
  12. Release:
    • Release the string precisely at the point of maximum Expansion
    • Use a gentle, relaxed & natural finger movement that continues through the release
    • The the point of maximum expansion itself should be just enough to set the trigger off without moving your index finger, making it a natural full-body pressure, which is the best way to release.
  13. Follow-through:
    • Continue expanding after release so that both arms come apart & are fully open
    • Allow the bow to move naturally in your palm & tilt freely
    • Let the weight of the bow hand on your finger sling or wrist sling
  14. Reflection:
    • Continue holding the bow out and forward with your drawing hand back
    • Think over each & every step above, reflecting on how well each was executed

Tips:

  • Bow Protection & Safety:
    • Never pull back a compound bow without an arrow in it. This is already considered a “dry fire”, even if you don’t let go of the string.
    • You should only ever draw the bow if you have an arrow knocked tightly, and are at a range with a clear target ahead and intend to shoot an arrow
    • There is never a reason to “Try Out” your compound bow by drawing the string at home. You will break your bow if it releases, and is also called a “Dry Fire”, and you’ll have to buy a new bow.
    • Never draw any modern compound bow without a release, when shooting.
    • Pulling a modern compound bow with just your fingers, even with an arrow knocked, is already considered a “Dry Fire” and your fingers can roll the string right off of the cams.
    • Never shoot when other people don’t know you are going to shoot
    • Be sure everyone is behind you when shooting, and before even knocking an arrow.
    • The only way to safely draw your bow without an arrow is with a special Safety Release which does not have any mechanical function or ability to fire. These are usually only found in Bow Tech Shops where a professional can assist you in finding the right arrow length or draw weight, or on a well-mounted bow scale
  • 3 Types of Dry Fires that can break your bow and seriously injure yourself or others:
    • Finger pulling or pulling any modern compound bow without a mechanical release, with or without an arrow present
    • Pulling a compound bow with a mechanical release, even slightly, without an arrow in it
    • Accidentally or Purposely releasing a fully-drawn or partly-drawn bow without an arrow in it
  • At Archery Ranges:
    • Do not pick up your bow or step up to the line until everyone is back behind the line, and you have called “Clear” or “All Clear”.
    • Pick up your bow and step up to the line only after other shooters at the other end of the lane have called “Clear” as well.
    • Take your time shooting, don’t feel rushed, people are happy to wait for you
    • After you are done shooting, hang your bow up and wait until all other shooters have finished and returned their Bows
    • Shout “Clear” or “All Clear” and wait for someone to repeat it before crossing the line to retrieve your arrows.
  • Select your Release before adjusting your Draw Length
  • Draw Length can be adjusted at any Bow Shop. Don’t attempt it yourself unless you have a high quality Compound Bow Press and know what you’re doing.
  • After you’ve found the right Draw Length for your Triangulation in Step 7 above, then can you have your Peepsite adjusted to suit your triangulation
  • Your Arrows can be cut just and inch or two ahead of the rest, I recommend an inch or two ahead of the riser. Also, the potential for additional movement in the rear valley when pulled furthest back against the wall, must be taken into account when measuring & cutting arrows.
  • With a Sharpie, mark the notch on your release that felt the most comfortable. A good tightness for your release is where it can pull down a little around your hand without risking coming off at all. Keep that notch marked so that each time you’re sure to shoot exactly the same
  • With a Sharpie, Number your Arrows 1-6 on the Guide Fletching so you know which arrow you are shooting
    • Look at the number each time you shoot. During the reflection stage, think back on everything you did, and which arrow it was that you shot with for that shot. When you walk up to retrieve your arrow, look carefully at the number and its location, so you can associate tiny difference in technique with each arrow’s location.
    • If you have one arrow that keeps going off from the group, numbering them will help you identify the arrow that might need to be looked at. It could be cracked, split, have a loose knock, tip or insert, or even manufacturers defects.
    • You don’t have to shoot them in order, the numbers are just there so you know which was which
  • Shoot Only 3 Arrows at a time while you are trying to site in, to rule out Fatigue from your grouping.
  • Take a break every few rounds, to let your muscles relax & recover
  • Keep Hydrated
  • Pull your Arrows out by gripping as close to the target as possible and pulling straight back, without putting any sideways pressure on them
  • Don’t worry about where you hit on your target.
    • DON’T adjust how you shoot to try and get the arrow closer to the bullseye.
    • Instead, Keep trying to perform all of the steps perfectly, with your pin directly in the center X of the bullseye.
    • If that means all of your arrows miss the target, that’s perfectly fine.
    • You want a tight group, with all of your arrows hitting the exact same spot, regardless of how far off the bullseye they are.
    • Once you get a Tight group, with all of your arrows very close together, consistently over several different rounds of shooting, its time to adjust your site.
    • Do not bother adjusting your site until you get a tight group over and over again, wherever it is, otherwise you’ll always be adjusting your sites and likely never find the right spot.
  • To adjust your site:
    • Use the Proper Allen Wrenches for your site.
    • Follow your Arrow. So if you are shooting low and to the left, move your site down and to the left. If you shoot low, move your site down, if shooting high, move the site pin up, if shooting left, move the pin left, and if shooting right, move the pin right.
    • Its a good idea to do this on a bench.
    • Its a good idea to mark your site’s current location with some white-out, so you can easily find your place in case you accidentally move it very far while loosening the site and trying to get it to move. You can remove the white-out with a Q-tip.
    • Make small Adjustments, a little goes a long way.
  • If you hit one arrow with another Arrow:
    • Check both arrows by bending them slightly in all directions and look for any splinters.
    • Twist the arrow side to side and check for splinters and listen for any cracks
    • Inspect the Knock isn’t cracked or chipped
    • Inspect where the Knock and Tip insert attach to the Shaft for any signs of splitting or cracking
    • Any Signs of Splintering or Splitting or Cracking and you’ll have to replace the Arrow
    • If a Fletching was damaged or punctured:
      • Take some scissors and cut out the part that was shot, so there’s no more side drag.
      • You can safely remove a damaged fletching and keep shooting, even with only 1 fletching left. But get it glued back on as soon as possible
    • Once you get really good, you’ll start purposefully aiming to the side of your other arrows, so you don’t damage them
  • When transporting your bow, always keep the Site side facing up, so it doesn’t get bumped and throw off your aim.
  • To Wax your Bow Strings
    • Wax about once a month if not in use, and Wax every 1-3 times you go out shooting
    • Use some Compound Bow String Wax and a tiny Piece of heavy material that just folds between the tips of your thumb and index finger.
    • Run the Wax stick ONLY on all non-wound string on your bow. NOTHING that has any horizontal winding. Only where you can see a group of individual strings exposed running from Cam to Cam. DO NOT wax the wound string around your knock or any wound strings that are going to your cams, or that are not attached to your cams but are at the ends of the bow, etc. Again, None of the Shiny fancy string, only the raw string gets waxed.
    • After putting some wax on all the unwound string, take your little piece of material and squeeze the string between your fingers with it, rubbing up and down rapidly to generate heat and melt the wax into the center of the string.
    • Repeat on all the string which you put wax on.
  • Keep your bow and cams etc wiped clean with a lint-free terry cloth. Be extra sure no dust and dirt gets in or around the Cams
  • String Silencers are important for vibration control as well as sound
  • A Stabilizer should be selected based on its weight and length. The further away from the bow it is, the better, but consider your environment.
  • Decide Early-on if you prefer a Wrist Sling or a Finger Sling. I, personally, favor the Finger Sling, as it really lets the bow fall freely while keeping the pivot point tight against your sling, letting your hand open completely. I don’t like hunting and only shoot for sport, So I’m not worried about trying to kill animals before they run away, so I use a finger sling because I think its the best. I make mine from a simple Shoe-string. Here’s a How-To Video. Basically, we just keep the sling around our index finger all day, and just put it around our thumb each time the bow is in our hands.
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