Eight Steps to Better Accuracy

1. Get the equipment right – consistent accuracy is dependent on using the right equipment for you and ensuring that the equipment is properly tuned and working right each time you shoot. The brand new high-end bow just doesn’t shoot like one if it doesn’t fit you correctly or if it is out of tune.
2. Correct technique – once the bow fits and is working optimally, now the next wild card is the form of the shooter. With today’s technology the properly tuned and equipped bow is better than the shooter. If it could be shot by a robot, it would hit the bull’s eye all day long. It is only when we introduce form errors that the arrow group sizes begin to spread out. Have someone video you while you are shooting and then have a pro or coach review the video and make suggestions. Remember that your goal is to improve your technique so don’t take their responses too personally. We are all trying to be the perfect archer but none of us will ever achieve perfect status.
3. Create and use a draw/aim/fire routine – archery is like most other sports in that its actions can be broken down into a technique or series of techniques. Success is generally achieved when the athlete creates the technique, practices it repeatedly, builds muscle memory and mental focus, and finally executes the technique over and over in exactly the same manner. Imagine a pro’s golf swing or a guard’s free throw, both are very refined and repeatable. In archery, a routine can be developed that begins with pulling the arrow from the quiver and ends with seeing the arrow strike the bull’s eye. Many pro golfers “talk their way” through their routine, meaning that they say a phrase where each word corresponds to a specific action or movement. If they find that they are not at the right spot or doing the right action at the right time, they stop and start over. Creating a routine and sticking to it each time takes the draw/aim/fire sequence and turns it into an assembly line-like process where the actions are identical each time and the results are too.
4. Shoot from long range – one of the best ways to get good at 20 yards is to shoot from 30, 40 and 50 yards. It is amazing how we can struggle at 20 yards, then go shoot a few arrows at 50 yards, come back to the 20 and the shot seems like a layup. The confidence you build doing this will carry over to the next time you shoot the 20 yard targets.
5. Move your sight pin – one of my best friends gave me this tip and I believe it works great. Adjust your sight pin so that you hold it just under the bull’s eye for the arrow to hit the bull’s eye. This way you never lose sight of the bull’s eye while you are aiming. I was somewhat skeptical until I tried it and now I am a firm believer in this technique. Trap shooters have been doing this for years now with great success.
6. Don’t over practice – for most shooters, physical fatigue sets in rather quickly. After 20-30 arrows, the body is having trouble executing with correct form and sometimes mental fatigue is setting in. Each shooter needs to determine the appropriate stopping point and walk away at that point each practice session. I know great shooters who shoot 100 arrows per session and some that shoot only three arrows per session. They all have great accuracy so their specialized approach works well for them. I firmly believe that accuracy can be improved more by several short focused practice sessions instead of longer “marathon” sessions.
7. Shoot with family and friends – inviting others to join you makes it more fun and light-hearted. Without realizing it, the competitive juices will kick in and you will find yourself working harder to out-shoot the others. The result will be more fun and improvement for all of the shooters.
8. Learn from others – as a shooter, you are probably facing the same problems that most other shooters have faced. Work with a coach/pro or access great information sources like Archery Talk. The combined wealth of knowledge at AT is incredible and most users are very willing to help out. Don’t waste time recreating the wheel when you don’t have to.