A you a survivalist or prepper? If you are, you don't know exactly what you're going to be preparing for or what situation lies ahead. You want to be ready for as many eventualities as possible. I've blogged on several sites about the benefits of learning archery as a survivalist skill. If you really want to be prepared when the SHTF (google it!) you need a bow you can keep in your grab or bug-out bag. Something compact and powerful but easy to lug around. Checkout this piece of kit from the people at SAS (Survival Archery Systems). Their SAS Tactical Survival Bow is a great invention that fits exactly your profile.
Light, rugged, dependable, transportable, compact. This bow fits inside most day-packs and bug out bags. The useful storage for arrows (not usually supplied) inside the riser coupled with the camo accessory bag make this everything you need for survival archery inside one neat package that you can easily take anywhere.
This is an excellent survival bow. It isn't as polished as a modern recurve, but for the job it's been designed for this is an excellent well priced piece of kit. A smart addition to any prepper cache.
Draw weights (right hand) (lbs):
45, 50, 55
Brace height (inches):
AMO Length (inches):
Folded Size (inches):
Max Draw (inches):
Aerospace Grade T6 Aluminium, non-reflective coating
Can be used right and left handed
12 month manufacturer
A high quality overview review of the SAS Tactical that includes an in-depth look at assembly, shooting and the component parts of the bow.
The riser on this bow is made from aerospace grade T6 Aluminium. If you're wondering exactly what that means, well... T6 refers to Aluminium alloy 6061-T6 which is commonly used, wait for it... in the construction of aircraft. Sorry, I couldn't resist... You'll also find T6 in the construction or bicycle frames, some rifles and car parts. Anything that needs to be light and strong. They even sent it into space aboard the Pioneer. T6 has a tendency to oxidize if exposed to the elements so you'll generally find it anodized and in the case of this riser also given a surface treatment to make it non-reflective. That non-reflective coating is an obvious boon for staying concealed from your prey in any environment.
Although it comes in matte black the riser surface coating can be painted should you want to give it a camo look.
Let's not beat about the bush here, there isn't really a grip on this bow. You're basically holding a rectangular piece of aluminium. It isn't ergonomic, and you may not find it particularly comfortable. The only thing that the bow does to enhance your holding of it is the addition of 2 adhesive pads on either side of the riser. These have the feel of light sandpaper and they do help to enhance the grip on what is otherwise just a piece of metal. They also do a little to help shielding a bare hand from the coldness of the coated metal. Which in certain conditions won't be a nice thing to grip for any length of time. These pads are only adhered to the side of the bow and may well become unstuck and wear with heavy use, but I suspect they could be easily replaced or even enhanced by an enthusiast.
Because that grip isn't ergonomic, you probably aren't going to be able to hold it properly. Full hand grips are the order of the day with this. It doesn't snuggle into the fleshy part of your palm between your thumb and index finger like a modern recurve or compound grip would.
Because this riser is a hollow piece of strong metal to keep it light there is room inside for storage. Conveniently SAS also produce a range of 2 piece SAS take down arrows. These are made from aluminium and come with a 400 spine and are 31" long. The riser allows for storage of upto 3 full arrows inside (6 pieces). However if you are using the bow with the supplied camo bag you can store 5 rear arrow halves inside the riser and 5 front halves inside the camo bag giving you a greater total mobile arsenal. This may be a wise move as whilst aluminium arrows are heavier and more all weather friendly than carbon, they can bend.
When the bow is folded for storage there are 2 plastic end caps that fit over the end of the riser to secure the arrows. These when new may be a little stiff to insert and remove, and you can't assemble the bow without first removing them (and storing them somewhere).
Fold this bow down and it's 21" long. That's short enough to fit into most day-packs and bug-out bags. In fact that size was specifically targeted by the manufacturers for that reason.
The limbs of this bow are made using similar techniques to other modern bows on the market today. Sourced, no doubt, from the same manufacturing plants. Whilst SAS aren't forthcoming with exactly what that composition is you could probably take a guess at laminated wood and fiberglass.
The limbs of the tactical hinge from the riser and that hinge is attached using a retaining pin and screw. The retaining pin is made from 316 stainless. 316 is marine grade stainless that is specifically designed to resist corrosion. Whilst it isn't 100% corrosion resistant it is non-magnetic and in the case of this usage has again been specially treated with a non-reflective coating. The retaining pin bears the load but the screw that holds it in place doesn't and so it is made from black nylon. This helps to reduce weight and the nylon is less prone to vibrating than previous iterations of the bow that used a metal screw.
Remove the velcro retaining strap, remove the end caps on the riser, assemble some arrows (if you're using takedown arrows).
Then you need to remove a retaining pin, flip open one of the limbs. Remove the second limb and reverse the hinge, then re-attach with the retaining pin and screw. If that sounds a little lengthy the reason is because in the takedown position one of the limbs on the riser is reversed in order to keep the folded length as short as possible.
Once that's done, which all only takes a few minutes all you need do is string the bow. SAS themselves recommend the step-through stringing technique where you rest the bow against your foot/calf and bend it around the back of your thigh. Stringing this way you can be finished in a few seconds with a little practice.
Don't be fooled by the product images and some of the online reviews of this bow, it isn't simply a flip up and shoot bow. It takes several minutes and some practice to be able to assemble this correctly and be ready to shoot. That's not a bad thing, the process is quick, it just isn't instant!
Usually when you order this bow it will be supplied with:
No arrows are usually supplied with this bow. You can shoot anything you like, it is a bow after all. If you want the arrows recommended and manufactured by SAS specifically for this bow. The ones that split into 2 pieces, are made of aluminium and originally of Easton design. You need to purchase them separately.
They aren't the cheapest arrows so it may be worth getting something a little on the less expensive side if you're going to practice with the bow and save your takedown arrows for trips or real emergencies.
There is no shelf on this bow, you need to stick an arrow rest to the side unless you want to shoot 'off the knuckle'. The Fred Bear arrow rest supplied is normally either left or right hand specific, and which you receive depends on what you specify when you order. But that is only an accessory and can be swapped out for anything you prefer, the bow itself is usable in either hand out of the box.
This is simply a velcro strap that is used to keep the hinged limbs in place when the bow is folded for storage. When the bow is assembled this can be kept strapped to the riser, so you don't lose it.
A neat little camo carry case that has an internal pouch for the bow and a second pouch in the flap for carrying accessories like a wrist guard, spare string, arrows etc. It fits the bow perfectly for transport and doubles as a quiver when in use. The case can be worn like a rucksack over both shoulders and when the bow is in your hand the long pouch in the case makes a perfect back quiver for assembled arrows.
As I've mentioned already, this bow has no shelf. It isn't cut to center or anything like that. There is approximately 12.5mm of offset between the path of the string and the path of the arrow past the riser. This will require you to compensate with your aim and perhaps will require a little practice for you to properly get to grips with aiming this bow.
This is a functional piece of kit. It looks functional. Styling wasn't the priority of the manufacturers when they made this. It's all black and square, hinges and angles. It certainly won't win any admiring glances at the archery range. You'll probably just get people asking you what it is. Not a bow to hang on the wall, but that's not why you need one right?
The Spectre II when broken down is 23" long, that's longer than this bow. Assembled however the Spectre is much shorter with a 50" AMO length. The Spectre II is much cheaper than the SAS and comes with 3x free arrows. Weight wise these bows are comparable, there isn't much in it. The real benefit of the SAS is in the compactness when folded and the slightly nicer accessories supplied. The Spectre also has no in-riser arrow storage like the SAS.
If you need something smaller and less expensive, the Nomad would be a better choice. That breaks down into a 17" package which is 4" shorter than this bow. The assembled Nomad however is a short bow with a 48" AMO which may not be suitable for some people with a long draw. The SAS has a much longer 60" AMO when assembled and consequently a longer draw. The Nomad usually comes with 3x free takedown arrows, again this is a bonus over the SAS which doesn't come with any arrows. No reflective coating or aerospace and marine grade metals in use with this one either. It also doesn't have that neat in-riser arrow storage.
Survival Archery Systems are a company with over 15 years of design and development experience. They are a spin of from a design house in the petrochemical and automotive industries and pride themselves in going the extra mile with each and every product that they develop to ensure a high level of quality and safety for the customer.
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.If you’ve never seen the “New Level of Archery” video by Lars Andersen then where have you been? This is the most watched archery video of all time on YouTube. Lars Andersen is a Danish painter (now famous archer) born in 1964. He’s spent years intensely practicing in order to become a master archer using the lost skills of yesteryear. He’s the holder of a couple of speed shooting records. In this video performs several incredible feats that really show his next level archery skills.
There’s an explanation of why the back quiver commonly seen in Hollywood films today is a pretty impractical choice for an archer who has to move at any sort of speed. Jump, roll, bend over and all your arrows just fall out. Modern archers and hunters don’t have to shoot on the move, so they’re okay. The life of a combat archer would be different.
How does he achieve the incredible shooting speeds shown, shooting 3 arrows in 0.6 seconds whilst in the air? After researching the subject his view was that the quickest way to fire an arrow is from the same side of the bow as your draw hand and to hold the arrows IN your draw hand. Lars demonstrates how he can hold 10 arrows in this hand and shoot them all in quick succession.
This technique also makes Lars ambidextrous with his bow, he can shoot using either hand from either side of the bow without difficulty. He also demonstrates how this technique allows him to be able to shoot in pretty much any situation. Hanging upside down, in motion on skates, riding pillion on a motorbike, yep he’s pretty much got all bases covered.
Arrow splitting is taken to the next level when Lars shoots an arrow at a static knife blade and splits it. He shoots a ping pong ball out of the air. Shooting one handed with your feet? Yes, he does that too. Throw a ball into the air, pick up your bow and shoot that ball out of the air, no problem, that’s demonstrated. One of the most impressive feats is when Lars jumps into the air, grabs an incoming arrow (whilst in flight) and shoots it back. Forget Robin Hood splitting an arrow in a target, Lars shows how he can split an incoming arrow with one of his own.
One thing Lars does divulge is that his bow and arrows are custom-made or home made and modified from anything you’ll find on the market today. He’s obviously spent a lot of time practicing how to perform these feats, but the result is pretty impressive. There’s no video trickery in this, everything he does he actually does. Many people have tried to debunk some of his theories and that’s why Lars hits back in his next video.
Byron Ferguson may well be better than Robin Hood. His accuracy with a bow is pretty astounding. Byron is a well-known exhibition shooter who you can book to show you his skills at your own event if you want to. But in this video, he demonstrates just how accurate he can be using a traditional bow without a sight.
Starting by smashing a 2.6″ diameter wooden disc thrown up into the air Byron moves on to perform the same feat with a Golf ball of 1.68″ diameter. Then a sweet with a hole (Polo in the UK, Lifesaver in the USA :)) which has a diameter of .956″. Finally, he demonstrates how he can shoot a moving Asprin tablet out of the air. He does take 2 goes to hit that one and isn’t happy about it, but I think that’s excusable, don’t you?
Safety first, Byron is obviously well practiced and well trained. What you see in the video where, I believe it’s his son, is throwing up targets for Byron to shoot is NOT something you should try yourself. You should never have anybody in your arc of fire or they risk serious injury. If you want to try to replicate these feats, use stationary targets or tie them to string and let them swing the wind. Byron is a showman and he’s been shooting for a very long time.
Dude Perfect take archery tag to new levels in this YouTube video. I mean archery tag is fun enough anyway, shooting people in protective gear with a bow and arrow IS fun. How can you improve on that?
Looks like what you do is make yourself a crazy indoor course with a banana slide, giant beach ball, and some other craziness. Throw 4 golf carts into the mix, each with a driver and a bowman. How do you know if you’ve won? Well each cart has 4 balloons attached, one to each corner and when your opponents burst all your balloons you are out of the game.
I’m not sure if this will catch on, in fact, I’m pretty sure it won’t. But these guys have a lot of fun.
Once again the guys from Dude Perfect, who seem to have a lot of fun, give us a great compilation of archery trick shots. Using a combination of recurve and compound bows there are about 10-15 tricks in this YouTube video. Some aren’t the greatest feats of archery you’ll ever see, nothing like the Byron or Lars archery videos but they’re pretty good and must have taken more than a few takes to get right.
Basketball rope trick – A longshot splitting a rope holding a basketball over a hoop.
Pendulum – Hitting a swinging pendulum target.
The William Tell – If you didn’t know, this is shooting an apple off someone’s head!
Clout Dunk – A basketball arrow dunked at distance. Pretty similar to an accurate clout archery shot, but with a heavy arrow.
Lit Cande – A shot that puts out a lit candle.
Archery Skeet Shoot Off – The Dude Perfect skeet archery shoot off has several rounds, this looks like a fun one to try.
Bank Shot – Shooting an arrow through a tube, round a corner and hitting a target.
Underwater Pin Smasher – How accurate can you be shooting into the pool?
Thrown Ring – Shooting a target at the same time as a ring is passing over it is all about timing!
Balloon Buster – One for a kids party, shooting a line of 5 balloons and bursting them all.
Drive By – Drive by archery.
Longshot – A 300 yard target shot. I wonder how many takes this one took!
Since the posting of his incredible New Level of Archery video Lars Andersen has had many millions of viewers, some of whom aren’t happy with some of the things he covers. Lars has posted a second short video that hits back at some of his critics and explains his methods.
Well, in short, the answer is yes, but some of them are luck. He can grab an arrow out of the air pretty regularly, but not from a high draw weight bow. He can grab an arrow out of the air when his back it turned, but Lars admits that this is a lucky attempt.
How many tries did it take to split an arrow by shooting it into a blade? He does this again and you can clearly see it’s 2-3 or three attempts. Not something he can do every time. He’s also only shooting from short range, but he can still split an arrow from 10 feet and demonstrates this. It’s harder to do from close range because in order to split an arrow it has to be flying straight. Archers paradox kicks in more at shorter ranges which actually makes it slightly easier to split arrows from a distance.
Lars also admits that he’s yet to master the art of shooting an arrow through a ring after tossing the ring into the air. That’s one shot that eludes him.
Yeah, some archers will have used the back quiver. Hollywood didn’t invent it after all. The issue Lars is trying to portray is that due to impracticality it wouldn’t have been as popular as they seem to think.
Arab Archery and Saracen Archery are 2 of the sources Lars used when researching his original video.
He also reveals that he is himself inspired by other archers called Murat Ozveri, Cozmei Mihai and Lajos Kassai.
Lars doesn’t claim to have invented his method, he can’t be the first to have ever done these things. But what he does claim is to be one of the first to have learned how to do these things in recent history.
So here you go, this is our archery glossary, an ever growing collection of words related to archery that should, once read, make you something of an expert! If there's anything you feel we should add, let us know in the comments or get in touch! Oh, and don't forget we have a separate article specifically for archery slang which covers those less frequently heard and less frequently understood terms!
Similar to field archery, however the targets in 3D archery are normally 3D representations of animals (deer, elk etc).
The point to which an archer draws back the bowstring to aim, this point should be steady to allow the aim to steady and hence it is called the Anchor Point.
Someone who has no dominant eye.
The Archery Manufacturers Organisation, renamed in 2002 to the ATA (Archery Trade Association)
As an arrow leaves a bow, the force put into it causes it to flex (or wobble), this term relates to that flexing.
A fun archery game similar to paintball where participants are clothed in protective gear in a mocked up arena and combat each other using arrows with large foam heads and specialized bows.
Refers to a finger tab.
A casing for the forearm and sometimes upper arm of an archer to protect against the effects of the bowstring slapping against the clothing or flesh.
A shaft of wood, carbon or fibreglass sharpened at the front with feathers or vanes at the back, shot from a bow as a weapon or for sport.
The tip of the arrow, an arrowhead will be formed differently for different uses such as hunting or target archery.
The length of an arrow from the groove in the nock to the base of the point.
The part of the bow on which the arrow rests.
The Archery Trade Association a trade group representing manufacturers, retailers, distributors, sales representatives and others working in the archery industry.
The distance from the nock point on the bowstring to the pivot point on the grip of a drawn bow + 1.75 inches.BarebowNormally refers to a recurve bow with no modern aids such as stabilisers or sights.
A short heavy arrow shot from a crossbow.
A curved piece of wood or fibreglass whose ends are joined with a taut string used for shooting arrows.
The hand that holds the bow. The left hand of a right handed archer and the right hand of a left handed archer.
The act of spearing fish with an arrow or hunting fish with an arrow.
Using a bow and arrow to hunt live game.
The string which attaches to the ends of the bow and is used to propel arrows forwards.
The backing to a typical archery target which once the arrow has pierced the (normally paper) target stops the arrow, usually made of foam or straw.
An arrow that hits the target and then falls out.
A device that measures the draw-weight of a bow.
A device to measure the brace height and nock position of a bow.
Someone who makes bows!
A traditional name for an arm guard.
A hunting arrow point, shaped in a V with either 2 or 4 cutting edges.
A pulley found on the end of the limbs of a compound bow.
Material used to make arrows and bow parts.
Protective hear used to present strings catching on the clothes or body, usually covers one side of the chest.
A device that clicks when a bow is drawn to a specified draw length, letting an archer know the best time to release.
A discipline of archery where a large target is draw on the floor with a flat at the center at a large distance from the archer and the object is to shoot an arrow which wil land as close to the flag as possible. Think ‘golf’ for archers!
A type of bow with mechanical aids to ‘compound’ the drawn weight upon release allowing for a faster shot from a lower draw weight.
A mechanical, horizontal bow where the mechanism can be used to draw back the string and lock it in place, the crossbow is then held and fired much like a rifle.
When an archer has a dominant left eye and a dominant right hand and vice versa.
The act of pulling a bowstring back in readiness to shoot an arrow.
Refers to the distance an archer can draw back a bow.
The force which must be exerted in order to hold a bow in the drawn position.
Shooting an empty bow without using an arrow (don’t do this).
A specific number of arrows shot between scoring. An 'end' of arrows can be 3, 4, 6 or more depending on the competition rules.
Refers to the dominant eye of an archer
Target archery practised on an outdoor course with differing terrain and differing shot distances.Finger TabSmall leather or synthetic patch and protects fingers from the bowstring.
See finger tab.
Federation Internationale de Tir a L'Arc. The international target archery federation!
Traditional string with loops made with the same method as rope. Twisted and spliced rather than a continuous strand of looped material.
One of the feathers vanes of an arrow.
A discipline of archery where the object is to shoot an arrow for the furthest distance.
A specialised type of bow designed specifically for distance shooting.
An archery equipment manufacturer.
A Japanese discipline centered around the Yumi (or Kyudo bow) and the discipline of archery.
Similar to a longbow, a traditional one piece bow with rounded limbs that can be up to 2m in height, traditionally made from bamboo. Used in the practice of Kyudo.
A technique used in the manufacture of bows where by layers of material are fused together to make a new material with different properties.
Attached to a riser, the flexible part of a takedown bow to which the strings are attached.
A traditional one piece bow with rounded limbs, usually as tall as the archer.
An archer on horseback practised mounted archery.
The groove at the end of the arrow where it fits onto the bowstring.
The marked part of the bowstring where the arrow nock should be placed.
Someone trying to draw a bow with a draw weight that’s too heavy is ‘over bowed’, the bow is overpowering them.
Target archery shot using a recurve bow only at a range of 70m. Mens/Womens and Team disciplines currently appear in the olympic games.
Archery for wheelchair bound and physically impaired athletes.
A small ring attached to the bow string that you look through to locate the bow front sight and align both on an target.
An archery equipment manufacturer.
A (usually portable) case for holding arrows.
A style of bow which curves forwards at the ends, these curves straighten under tension and add to the power of the bow.
A bow whose limbs curve away from you when it is unstrung.
The central part of a bow containing the gripped handle and arrow rest.
An event where contestants run through a cross-country trail interspersed with rounds of target archery.
Southwestern Archery Supply, an archery equipment manufacturer.
An archery equipment manufacturer.
Refers to a bow made from a single piece of wood.
Protective wrapping around bowstring to prevent wear.
An event where contestants ski through a cross-country trail interspersed with rounds of target archery.
Sometimes referred to as the distance you missed the bullseye by.
When you overdraw a bow by pulling the string too far back there is a large increase in draw weight, this is referred to as stacking.
A device to aid in the stringing of a bow.
The hand that draw the string. The left hand of a left handed archer and the right hand of a right handed archer.
A bow which can be disassembled into pieces for transport, usually consists of a riser where the archer would hold the bow and rest the arrow and 2 limbs.
Archery with a basic modern bow but without modern aids such as stabilisers. Can also refer to archery with a traditional style of bow such as a longbow or flatbow.
The most popular style of archery, practised indoors and outdoors at distances of up to 70m this style of archery involves shooting at a target mounted on a boss which displays concentric circles of different colors denoting differing scoring zones, usually having a gold or yellow center circle.
Adjustments to a bow and arrow to price the most accurate shots.
Refers to a Kyudo bow.
Yep, there's even archery slang! Nowadays everything has it’s own language, you may encounter some of these terms whilst watching competitive archery or down the local archery club. This is a list of what they are and what (we think) they mean!
An arrow that lands in the gold of a target face but not in the inner gold ring.
An arrow striking the black scoring area of a target face.
An arrow striking the blue scoring area of a target face.
Some archers call their arrows or bolts bullets
An arrow in the inner red scoring area of a target face.
A bad shot.
Refers to a large diameter arrow used in target archery to maximise the archers chance of hitting a higher scoring ring.
Has many slang uses, normally a bad shot
When an arrow is deflected into a lower scoring zone by another arrow embedded in the target from a previous shot.
Same as Fat Shafting
An arrow striking the non scoring area (usually white) of a target
The act of aiming, anchoring then dropping the bow and anchor to look at the target again.
An incorrect string release where the hand does not follow-through correctly behind the neck.
The act of getting your arrows called and scored, comes from the olden days of archery when a prince was involved in scoring.
Refers to an archer’s setup, bow, arrows, sight, etc.
When you shoot one arrow and it splits and arrow already embedded in the target.
An arrow hitting the scoring white area of a target face.
Someone who is struggling to draw their bow because the draw weight is too high.
Slang for traditional archery
An arrow in the outer red scoring area of a target face.
An arrow on a target that strikes the line dividing a target zone but is mostly off the line.
Shooting an apple of someone's head.
If you’ve anything to add, please let us know in the comments below!
Hunter or target archer. Beginner or experienced. Recurve or Compound shooter. This guide will help you develop proper archery form, and become a more accurate shooter. It covers all aspects of form from stance through to release. In each section we take you through the basics. Illustrate what you should and shouldn't be doing and offer helpful advice and tips.
The key to technique in most sports, especially target sports, is not only good form. It is consistent repeatable form . You need to be able to perform the same actions again and again. And to perform them without thinking too much about it.
You need to relaxed and be comfortable when you're shooting. Relaxed enough to allow you to enter 'your zone' or 'get your flow', whatever you want to call it. Getting to the place in your mind where everything comes together. No stress or unnecessary effort. Everything just works. That is where you want to be.
One of the essential components to this is making sure you have a bow that feels comfortable to shoot. It won't be comfortable if your draw weight is too high. This doesn't apply as much to a compound bow as the draw weight is drawn through and let-off rather than held. For both types you should be comfortable holding the draw weight to aim. As a beginner the bow should be easy to draw. You should only add more weight as your muscles have memorized proper form.
Are you shooting the correct handedness of bow? Left or right dominant people will easily know which is the correct handedness of bow for them. If you are cross-dominant, ambidextrous or ambi-ocular you need to try both ways. Then find the most comfortable and train to that side. If you are unsure, read our guide on the subject. We cover everything including the pros and cons of retraining eyes vs retraining muscles.
A good stance is the foundation to every shot. A stance should give you stability and allow you to repeat it consistently. There's more to stance than where you put your feet. Your shoulders, back, hips, head, knees, they all play a part. But foot position is normally what people are referring to when they talk about stance. Foot position determines where your hips and shoulders are naturally pointed.
There are several foot placements that have names in archery. For each there will be slight variances depending on the individual involved. In the example diagrams below the archer is right handed, and is standing side on to the target. His or her left shoulder is also pointing towards the target. The bow is being held in the left hand and the string drawn with the right.
Lets go through 4 foot positions and their pros and cons.
Standing side-on to the target, with your front foot nearest to it. Feet about shoulder width apart. Weight even, legs relaxed and feet both pointing perpendicular to the target face. This stance aligns your hips and shoulders side on to the target.
Even though this is the first stance you ever learn as a beginner it is acceptable for all skill levels. Archers at the highest professional levels of the sport use this stance.
If you have issues with string clearance past your elbow in the square stance. First make sure that your bow grip is correct, or you may want to try a more open stance.
The basic open stance turns your 'front-foot' outwards. The front foot is the foot closest to the target. The angle of turn is usually around 30 degrees outwards. 30 degrees isn't a standard, but a guide. Turning your foot like this also opens your hips and shoulders to the target. Try it out yourself. Stand in a square stance, then turn your front foot outwards to the target. You'll feel your hips and shoulders open outwards too.
This is a popular stance and you'll see it used everywhere. The hip and shoulder rotation introduced increases string clearance past the chest and arm. That's because the bow position is now further away from the chest. Increased outwards rotation also further draws on the back muscles. Helping with the feeling of engagement with the shot as you draw.
Stand ready to box. Ready to face an imaginary oncoming tackle. You'll find that this open stance is likely to be the stance that your feet adopt naturally. Open stances give you the best foot position for keeping stable in windy conditions. They are useful in outdoor target disciplines like field, 3D archery and hunting.
Another variant on the open stance is one that I'm going to call a 'natural' stance. This is where the back foot in an open stance is also slightly turned towards the target. It opens the hips and shoulders towards the target even more than the open stance. You may find that this is for you. Natural may be your preferred 'ready for anything' stance and you may feel more stable using it. This could be because of hip flexibility or just your bio-mechanics.
A natural stance will increase that feeling of engagement with the shot even further than an open stance. It will also increase the clearance between bow, chest and arm.
A closed stance is the mirror of the open stance. It turns your back foot away from the target. But keeps your front foot perpendicular to it. This places your shoulders and hips in a natural position pointing away. It forces you to twist your torso towards the target to aim. A closed stance will bring the bow and string closer to your body than an open stance. It will lessen any clearance between the string and your chest, elbow and forearm.
Some people find they feel they have more stability and strength using a closed stance. A closed stance may be useful to increase the draw length of an archer. This is because extra extension of the arms is required as you draw the bow around yourself.
The best way to select the foot position for you is to try each of the basic 4, square, open, natural and closed. Everyone is different and has a different bio-mechanical makeup. You must avoid incorrect stances altogether. Stances where your feet are too widely spread, or where both feet are too open or closed to the target. But don't let anyone tell you your foot position is 'wrong' simply because it doesn't conform exactly to one of the 4 examples shown.
Different eventualities will give rise to special situational stances. The feet may need to be close together in a hunters tree stand. You may need to crouch when hunting. As a 3D archer you may be taking a steep uphill or downhill shot and need to lower to one knee.
In all these positions your hip position is critical. Hip position will determine your natural shoulder position.
Keep your feet in position and try not to move the whole time your are loading, drawing and aiming the bow. If you can keep this position and are comfortable in it, you’ll find it helps when shooting. The more you are comfortable in your stance the easier it will be to aim and shoot with consistency. Time after time after time.
A good stance should be as relaxed and natural as possible. Think about it like this... The more adjustments you have to make to your body position by twisting, turning or bending, the more muscles you put under tension. More muscles under tension equals more inconsistency introduced into any shot. This is because you are giving your body more things to control. So keep it natural, and keep it relaxed.
We'll start this section with a how not to do it! You don’t grip a bow like you’d grip a bat or an axe. Hollywood actors and models holding bows will invariably grip a bow with their entire hand. This isn't how you do it.
It may feel like you should grip a bow like this but in fact in doing so you're making the shot harder. Think of all the muscles in your hand that are working when you grip a bow like this.
Those muscles become involved in the aim of your shot. After you release the arrow, pressure disappears from the grip. The bow jumps forwards. Those muscles begin to act on the momentarily weightless bow. Before the arrow has left the string they may begin to twist the bow and change the trajectory of the arrow...
For a left handed archer your ‘bow hand’ will be the right hand and for a right handed archer this will be your ‘left hand’. The bow hand is the hand you use to pickup and hold the bow.
Make a gun with your bow hand by tucking your little finger, ring finger and middle finger into your palm. Extend your index finger and thumb. Use the finger and thumb of this gun shaped hand to pickup the bow and hold it out in front of you. As you draw, the bow will pull back into the flesh between your thumb and index finger. This piece of your hand is known as the thenar space. When you reach full draw you'll feel the bow pushing against the ball of your thumb. You won't, and shouldn't pickup a bow this way normally. You'd be in danger of dropping it. Usually you'd pick it up using all your fingers. Then reposition the little, ring and middle fingers in preparation to shoot.
After raising the bow to shoot your knuckles should be at a 45 degree angle to the floor. Y ou should be able to see all your knuckles. Positioning your knuckles like this means your hand will be naturally rotated outwards. This helps to automatically correctly position your elbow.
When you hold a bow in this way after the arrow release the bow will try to jump forwards. As there's nothing between it and freedom you need to do something about that! You can catch it between your index finger and thumb. Alternatively there is a simple aid available called a finger sling. This attaches to your thumb and wraps around the bow stopping it from falling.
Here's an example of a good grip from the 2016 Rio Olympic finals. The gold medalist in the 70m recurve holds his bow with proper form. You can see his knuckles make an almost perfect 45 degree line to the floor. His fingers are relaxed and he isn't gripping the riser, just resting his fingers against it.
Don’t ever shoot a bow with the fingers of your bow hand open even to practice. This is a bad habit and if you ever want to hunt with a bow and shoot a sharpened broadhead you may just shoot off the top of your finger. Secondly shooting with your fingers open is actually using more muscles than with them in a relaxed position. The more muscles you use in a shot the more variables you introduce into the aim and the more inconsistent your shooting will be.
The natural position for your fingers should be relaxed, they can be open and relaxe d, just don't splay them !
You may find it easier to get your knuckles to the correct 45 degree position if you tuck your little, ring and middle fingers into the side of the riser. This will push your knuckles up towards the correct angle.
Nock your arrow with the bow pointed down. Strings normally have either little brass rings or marks to show the nocking point (where an arrow should be nocked).
An arrow will normally have 3 fletches. As you nock make sure that one of those fletches is facing upwards. Sometimes this fletch will be color coded so you can easily distinguish it from the others.
A nocked arrow should just fit onto the string. Hold your bow down and nock the arrow. It should hang naturally from the string and the slightest tap should cause it to fall. This indicates that there is enough clearance to position the arrow on the string. But not enough to hold the arrow back and introduce deviation in the flight path then released.
Compound archers can use mechanical release aids when shooting. A string kitted out for use with a release aid will have a little extra loop attached called a d-loop.
There are a couple of well used placements for your fingers on a bowstring. Your ‘tab hand’ is the hand yo use to draw the string. You should have a finger tab or a plastic guard if you are going to shoot for any length of time. Otherwise your fingers may become a little sore, but more on that in a little while.
In the 3 under finger position your index finger, your middle and ring fingers are all below the arrow. Your your little finger and thumb again just relax. The 3 under position can make it easier for beginners to get to grips with aiming the bow than 1 over 2 under. This is because this position makes it easier to elevate the arrow closer to the eye. Giving a better sight line down it when sighting using the tip.
Of the string finger positions, the most commonly used by Olympic target archers is the one over and two under position. In this position your index finger is above the arrow and your middle and ring fingers are below it. The little finger and thumb do not hold the string. Your little finger and thumb should relax.
You should only hook your fingers around the string up-to the first joint on your finger. That joint is called the distal phalanx. Any more than this and you risk blisters and injury when releasing the string. You don’t want to be able to see the knuckles on your tab hand. If you can you have curled your fingers too far round the string. Some people prefer to hold the string with more of a fingertip grip using less of their finger. This can be beneficial to accuracy as there is less of your finger to get out of the way of the string upon release. It does mean you to hold more tension in your fingers which can be counter productive to that aim.
You can wear a special 3 fingered archery glove to protect your fingers and hand. There are also devices call finger guards or 'tabs'. These only cover the necessary parts of the finger. More professionals tend to use tabs than gloves. Your preference may be to use nothing at all. This may depend on your draw weight and the size of your fingers. It is something you need to work out for yourself.
Many compound bow shooters and hunters prefer a mechanical release to their fingers. This increases accuracy. A mechanical release attaches to your wrist and hooks onto a loop on the string the string before the draw. The d-loop. A trigger is then used to release both string and the arrow. Recurve shooters can use release aids too. They don’t do this often because they aren't allowed in their competition rules.
Don’t rush your finger placement. If you aren’t using a mechanical release look at your fingers each time as you place them on the string. This will help ensure you get it right and become part of your shot preparation routine.
If you are holding the string and not a release aid, there should be a small amount of space between your fingers and the arrow. You don't want your fingers interfering with the arrow trajectory. Tabs with finger separators are available to help with this.
You're standing correctly, gripping the bow correctly and it is pointed down to the floor. Your fingers are positioned correctly on the string, now you need to draw, aim and fire. Lets cover the draw in more detail but before we do...
Before we get into proper archery form and start discussing technique that may lead you to want to pick up and bow and try things out. Please, please NEVER shoot your bow without an arrow. You can damage the bow and it may injure you. If you have a bow, it's fine to pickup and draw, don't release unless you have an arrow on the rest. If you don't have a bow, use your arms and visualize, that in itself is a good practice drill!
Your bow arm (the arm holding the bow), should be straight and not bent and should remain so until after the release. You don't need to fully lock out your elbow, especially if you are someone with overly bendy joints. This may cause your elbow to stick out and may put it in the path of the bowstring. It hurts when you get hit by the bowstring! The bow arm needs to be straight, but not rigid or tense and certainly not bent. If you bend your bow arm you aren't going to be consistent. A bent arm isn't as strong as a straight arm and will give you an inconsistent draw length.
Grip the bow with your bow hand, making sure your knuckles are all visible to you and in a 40 to 45 degree line to the floor. This will help to position your elbow correctly. Your elbow should be positioned so that if you were to bend your arm it would bend to the side and not towards the floor.
Raise the bow and aim the arrow at the target before you pull the string back. Don’t draw with the bow pointed down at the ground or up into the sky. Make sure when you are drawing the elbow of your tab arm (the arm pulling the string) is high. Higher than the line line of the arrow. This will force you to use your upper back muscles to draw the string and not rely on pure arm strength. Your back is much stronger than your arm. As you draw the bow pull with your tab hand and push the bow towards the target with the whole of your bow arm. This will force your arm to be straight.
Getting elbow position correct during the draw is difficult. You may need to video yourself or just mock draw standing in front of a mirror a few times to check your form.
You have to push with your bow arm and pull with your tab hand. You should be able to both push and pull without overly focusing on one or the other. You may have pusher focus or puller focus. Which do you think? Try a few sessions at the range focusing on either the pulling or pushing aspect of your draw. Then switch your focus to the other aspect. A good archer has good push and pull but may only concentrate on one or the other during the process.
Your drawing motion should be smooth. You can speed up the initial part of the draw. Then slow it down when you near full draw, to allow you to anchor consistently.
Don't move your head or your body during the draw.
A compound bow will have a backstop meaning that it can be drawn back only to a fixed point. It then won’t allow any further draw. For a compound shot, draw to the full extent of the bow before finding your anchor point. For a recurve bow you should draw back naturally into your anchor point.
Competitive and experienced recurve archers may use a device called a clicker. This simply clicks when an arrow is drawn back to the best length for that bow. One of the dangers with a clicker is that you can become distracted. Possibly forcing yourself to shoot early just because you hear it click.
If you are using a mechanical release, make SURE you have your finger behind the trigger until you are ready to shoot. You don’t want the bow to shoot accidentally before you’ve aimed.
If you aren’t comfortably able to draw the bow back with the arrow pointed at the target, your draw weight is too high. Try lowering it.
Don't let your shoulder creep up towards your ear. Keep it down, but not too low. Place it in a natural position.
Practice pushing with your whole bow arm by placing your palm against a wall and pushing with your hand. Then your wrist. Now push with your forearm, your triceps and then your whole arm. Remember that whole arm feeling, that's how you want to be pushing.
Your anchor points are the points to which you pull back the string to anchor it in place ready to aim your shot. An anchor point is a point of reference, or a touch point on your face than you can feel. Somewhere that allows you to tell if the string is not aligned the way it needs to be. The way it always is. You need to have several of these touch points. Nose, cheek, lips, mouth, chin, neck they're all good candidates. More points of reference means more consistency.
Different people use different anchor points. There are normally differences between the anchor points of traditional or barebow, recurve and compound archers. This can be due to the size of the bow, length of the draw and mechanical aids that may or may not be in use.
One of the first anchor points you are taught when you go to an archery range will most likely be the side anchor.
This involves drawing back the tab hand to the side of the face and tucking the tip of the index finger into the corner of your mouth. Your top finger then rests under your cheekbone and your thumb can tuck at the back of your jawbone. This gives 3 points of reference.
The side anchor is useful when you are shooting a traditional bow or a recurve without a sight (barebow). This is because it gives you a better line of sight down the arrow than a low anchor.
A low anchor is the type of anchor you'll see in use by archers at the Olympic games. You may hear it referred to as the Olympic anchor.
With the index finger of your tab hand resting along your jawline, the string makes contact with your chin. It will most likely also make contact with your nose, giving 3 good reference points. String to chin and nose, and finger to jaw.
Whilst you may learn with a side anchor, there will come a time when you want to shoot long distance. Or shoot with a sight. When that happens a low anchor is preferable to the side anchor.
The compound bow is smaller than the recurve. When it is at full draw there is a greater angle between the string and the archers face. This makes it impossible for a compound archer to touch the string to both his chin AND his nose.
Compound archers, when using a mechanical release, may anchor against the corner of their mouth. They also sometimes use a kisser.
A kisser is a small addition to a string that pushes up against the lips at full draw. This increases the feeling of contact between the archer and the string.
Wherever you end up anchoring, the key thing to remember is that it is exactly the same place every time. This will help you build consistency.
It’s a good idea to have 2 (or more) points of contact between either the bowstring and your face OR your hand and your face. The more points of reference the more chances of a good repeatable anchor point.
If you aren't using a sight you'll need to use the tip of your arrow as a guide. If you are you'll have a pin in the sight to help you. Generally you need to aim an arrow slightly above where you want it to hit as arrows drop in flight.
Now this may seem like a silly concept, but I'd encourage you NOT to actively aim. Don't try to continually force your aim onto the target, doing that will cause your aim to jump all over the place. You know where you want the arrow to go so just encourage your body to gently move where you want the arrow to go.
If you've done this correctly you will see your sight float around the target. It will eventually align correctly. This is the point for arrow release.
Keep your head straight and resist the urge to tilt it forward to aim.
You’ll want to aim with your dominant eye, and close the other eye.
Don't stop pulling. Pull all the way through the aim. Don't put your muscles into a holding configuration this will tire them more quickly.
AIm all the way through your draw. You should draw into your intended aim.
You only want to aim for between 3 and 6 seconds. This is especially true with a recurve as you hold more weight. After this time the stress on your muscles may begin to cause your aim to drift. If you aim for any longer than that you want to think about drawing down, pausing and re-drawing the shot.
Release the string by relaxing your fingers. Don’t jerk the string back, try to release smoothly by just releasing the string off your fingers gently. Any other action can send the arrow off target.
Don't allow your front arm to rise after you release.
Getting hit by the string can hurt, it can even make you fear the release. Ideally you need to wear an arm guard. There are many different types and styles available today. You'd do well to get one before you ever injure your arm.
Archers Paradox refers to the fact that you can't hit a target (with certain bows) by aiming directly at it. This is a subject for another article, but as you release the string it will move slightly around your fingers and then correct. The sheer weight of force imparted on the arrow will cause the arrow to flex. A release around the fingers only adds to the initial deflection of the arrow. Archers use mechanical aids for this reason. With a mechanical release aid there is no finger to overcome. This helps to mitigate the deflection introduction into the arrow flight.
You may find this difficult to achieve, but it is best to release at the same point in the breathing cycle each time. This makes sure your body is in exactly the same position each time you release.
After releasing the string your tab hand should finish behind your neck and not drop. Your bow will drop forwards if held correctly. Everything else should remain the same as if you were still aiming.
You should never stop the pulling and pushing action through your back and bow arm. Keep both in a push/pull configuration all through the shot, and have good arm position. Then at the point of release a good follow through will happen automatically. Your shoulders will close that last few inches. Then your hand will automatically raise and move behind your neck.
Follow through is critical. Try to remain in the aiming position and watch the arrow hit the target before you drop your bow arm or your tab hand.
Did you hit the spot?
No... well during practice how close you are to your intended target is not always the key. Your grouping is where you should be focusing. Can you hit or group your arrows close to the same spot consistently? If you can do that you have good repeatable and consistent form. The fact that the arrows may all be 3 meters to the left of the target doesn't matter so much. You can correct for that. You can aim 3 meters to the right. You can't correct so easily for inconsistency!
The average person can't concentrate hard on something for more than 3 seconds. After that other thoughts and distractions start to creep into their mind. To succeed in archery you need be able to increase that focus span. Make it last the entire length of your shot process. From draw to aim to release. A good way to do this is get yourself into a meditative state whilst you are taking your shot. Be mindful of what is happening around you at that second. Feel the bow in your hand, the air in your lungs, and don't over analyse what is going on.
If you've lost your mojo the best thing you can do is revert back to basics. Lower your draw weight and move the target closer to you. Take some time to just enjoy shooting for the fun of shooting. Remember what it feels like to make a good shot then begin to move back up the scale when you are ready.
Shoot arrows in your mind. See yourself hitting the target whilst sitting down at work or on your lunch break. If you can do this (and don't look odd), actually carry out the motions of the shot without a bow in your hands. Every action you perform comes from your mind first. If your mind is well practiced in good form and hitting the target you'll find your body follows.
When you talk to yourself, tell yourself you can and will. Never tell yourself you that you shouldn't or can't.
Take any group of archers and they will all have a slightly different form and style. There is no 'best style' that you absolutely have to adhere to. Hopefully in this article I've set out the basics and given you a good idea of what good archery form is.
It's key for you to develop your own style that is repeatable time and time again.
Draw, hold, follow through, draw, hold, follow through.
Practice and repeat your style over and over again.
Don't copy other people develop a style which is comfortable to you, get your flow and relax into your shot.
How does arrow length affect a shot? Shorter arrows are lighter and can generally be made to be stiffer than long arrows. A light arrow will fly further and faster than a heavier arrow. An arrow flexes as it flies through the air and a shorter and stiffer arrow will flex less and this also helps with additional speed and flight distance.
Arrows are generally sold and measured in inches in sizes anywhere from 20” to 32” so before ordering some you’ll need to know your correct arrow length.
So you know that the shorter and stiffer the arrow the better for speed and accuracy, the tradeoff against this is safety. If your arrow is too short you could be in danger of shooting yourself through the hand as when you draw it back, if you draw back too far the arrow may fall off the arrow rest onto your hand at the point of release….and then shoot you through the hand... Ouch!! (to say the least). This happens, it might sound far fetched at first, but if you've the stomach for it just google 'arrow through hand'. An injury like that may be the end of not just your archery career but could affect many aspects of your daily life, so don't risk it, especially if you’re just beginning in the sport, make sure you get the correct length arrows. At full draw the arrow needs to extend past (if only slightly) the end of the riser on your bow so there is no chance of this happening.
If you know your draw length, you can simply add either 1 or 2 inches to this to approximate your arrow length.
Stand up, and stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms together and your fingertips fully extended, you need to ask someone to measure from the centre of your chest to the tips of your fingers and then add 1 inch to this measurement. If you don’t have anyone available to measure for you, you can try holding a broom handle out between your outstretched palms and making sure the end of the broom is against your chest, when you lower the broom make a note of where you managed to reach upto and measure this distance. This will give you your arrow length.
The other way to measure arrow length requires a friend to assist and also requires you to have a bow available that you can hold with correct form, hold up and fully draw your bow then get someone to measure from the string or nock point all the way to the front of the riser on your bow and add half an inch. That distance will be your arrow length.
If you're a member of a club or have a coach, or are just fortunate enough to have lots of kit around you can make something called a 'draw arrow'. This is just an arrow which is longer than your usual arrow and which is marked with measurements all along the side. You can hold your bow, draw this arrow and take note of the measurement shown just past the end of the riser, this will be your arrow length.
Those are the 3 ways I've come across for doing this, if you happen to know any more, please let me know in the comments!