Tips for the Beginning Archer

By Max Hoegh

Never shot a bow before? I used to work for a bow hunting store.   By far the best part of the job was watching beginning bowhunters experience the awe of their first shot with a hunting bow.  Most first time shooters describe it perfectly as, “Holy S***!”

For any first time shooter I should mention that the best way to learn is to simply ask another bow hunter to show you how. Everyone starts somewhere and most bow hunters will get a kick out of getting to be part of that “Holy S***!” first time shot with you.

This blog is for both more experienced shooters, explaining how not to overload a beginning shooter with information, and for, let’s face it, the do-it-yourself beginners who have emergency room punch cards.

If you are going to attempt a first shot alone at least do me the favor of typing “dry fired hunting bow” into Google images.  You’ve been warned.

This may sound too brief to many experienced shooters, but remember if you don’t do these your in trouble and introducing more than these 4 cues to a first time shooter runs the risk of a beginning shooter missing one of these crucial 4.

These are the four things I say to any first shot shooter to keep us both out of the hospital.

  1.     “Nock the arrow hard so that it makes a click sound.”

Make sure you hear the arrow click when you knock it on the string.  Many arrow nocks are stiff enough that to a beginning shooter it feel like it is on the string before it actually is.

  1.     “Keep the arrow pointed at the base of the target as you draw back.”  Draw so that if you misfired the arrow would hit your target or below your target.  If you feel a tendency to point the arrow any higher than your target then lower your draw weight.  This is for safety.  And to avoid awkward conversations with neighbors.
  2.     “Push on the back of the trigger as you draw.”

If you are using a trigger release.  Place your finger on the back of the trigger and push forward.  This is the opposite direction to make it fire. This is the same as the safety on your gun.  As you draw a bow for the first time you are firing many muscles for the first time.  If your finger is resting on the trigger it’s likely that you accidentally squeeze it and let off a half drawn or unaimed shot.

  1.     “Relax your front hand.” Remember the bruises you saw on google images when you searched “dry fired hunting bow”.  If you grip the bow it will cause the string to slap and bruise your arm.  Later on relaxing the front hand is crucial for accuracy, but for now it is just for avoiding pain.

If you’re an experienced shooter you’ll be able to encourage the shooter to bring the release closer to his or her face, but if you’re a first time shooter you just won’t have it close enough.  Squeeze the trigger.  Say “Holy S***” and welcome to the bane of all archers.  It is time to go comb through the grass behind your target. Everyone misses high.  Welcome to the sport!

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