Virtually every man, woman, or child who picks up a bow for the first time and decides to try out the sport, contrives his/her own methods of how to shoot an arrow. I would say that the most common principles adopted by a “self-learner” are these:
- Load the arrow perpendicular to the string.
- Hold the bow with a straight, locked arm and pull back the string with the other arm’s hand.
- Draw back the arrow to the side of your eyes so you can aim down the shaft easily.
- When you’re ready to shoot, open up your string fingers as quickly as possible.
- Keep every part of your body absolute still so as not to disturb your aim. Except for the fingers that release the string, you should be like statue.
Every single one of the above points are not just flawed. They are dead wrong.
The fact is, every self-taught archer is at a disadvantage, because there are aspects to the proper form that do not come naturally. In fact, they are hardly conceivable. I’ve never met any autodidactic archer who came up with a shooting form that results in consistently accurate shots. Here’s the truth: There are two facets of archery form that must be taught to a nascent archer (or to an old veteran of the sport). It’s like a legacy of secret information that is passed down by generations. You simply won’t stumble upon it by yourself.
I am one who travelled that path. I self-taught myself and shot for a decade before a kind gentleman shared the “secret” information with me. He was a bow maker. He took me in the back of his factory and spent 5 minutes explaining to me and demonstrating what I did not know . . . what I would never have known!
I took the lesson to heart and worked at it for months before I “felt” it and understood its value. The reason it took so long is because the muscle memory of my flawed form did not want to die without a fight. It’s difficult to erase so many years of using bad habits, but it can be done. These lessons were a giant boost to my shooting skills. Now they are a part of me, and they make the act of shooting so much more satisfying than before.
The secrets involve the release (letting go of the string) and the follow-through (the movement of both arms at the moment of release).
The Art of Archery class taught at Medicine Bow is dedicated to teaching you these secrets. If you are brand new to archery, you have the advantage of a clean slate. You are the ideal student. If you are a veteran of archery, I will help you reprogram your muscle memory. It takes patience and perseverance on the student’s part.
My advice for new students: Don’t shoot before you come for a lesson.
I look forward to introducing you to a beautiful form of shooting which balances strength with grace.
You can check out my class schedule here. I also recommend volume four of my Secrets of the Forest book series which provides the detailed steps of my archery teaching method.