I have been shooting archery in a traditional style for several years now. I have changed many things in my style to achieve that perfect shot. I have changed my equipment, my anchor point, my finger position and I have been back and forth between instinctive shooting and gap shooting. I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew what was supposed to happen. Even when I thought that I did everything right; I would still have those times when my arrow would fly crazy and I couldn’t figure out why. Finding the answer was a long and aggravating process, but I did it.
It started during the summer archery league at my local indoor archery range. My partner told me that I needed to settle into my shot before I released the arrow. That meant that I needed to hold my anchor point until the bow stopped moving around and locked steadily onto my point of aim. That helped, but it also caused fatigue. Due to this fatigue, I found myself collapse in my form before I took the shot. My shoulders would drop, just slightly, and I would end up holding the weight of the bow with my arms rather than my shoulders. This would cause three things.
1. I would fatigue even faster because I was using the wrong muscles to hold at my anchor.
2. I would not be able to settle into my shot because of the fatigue.
3. I would have no follow through or a forced follow through on the release, because I was using the wrong muscles to hold at my anchor.
As with most of my problems in life, I revert to my military days. Unconsciously, I found myself saying, “Attention!” before every shot. This forced me to stand erect. Because I was so familiar with this position, I could tell when I was not in the proper position to take my shot. It also forced me to use my back muscles to hold my anchor, rather than arms. This position helped me accomplish 3 things:
1. I wouldn’t fatigue so quickly because my back muscles are stronger than my arm muscles. This allowed for plenty of time to settle into my shot.
2. Due to my familiarity of this position, I could feel when it was wrong and let down on the string so that I may try again.
3. Because this position forced me to use my back muscles, my follow through was natural and fluent.
Many of us that shoot traditional archery are taught to tilt or lean our heads to get that better sight picture. Many of us are also taught that an open stance is better for us. I am not saying that these suggestions are wrong. In fact, I know many who use these postures with great accuracy. I am simply saying that they are not what is best for me. My closed stance and 90 degree hold on the bow provide me with the accuracy that I need. My posture pulled all those fundamentals together to make each and every shot I take be calculated.
It took a lot of time and a lot of broken arrows to figure this out for myself. I had to deviate from what so many others preached as the only way to shoot traditional archery. I still have a long way to go before I am Robin Hooding arrows on a regular basis, but this was a huge milestone on my traditional archery journey. I expect big results in the upcoming Winter League.