Archery is a sport that requires proper technique and form in order for participants to get the most out of their practice. Whether you’re a beginner to the sport or looking to take your skills to the next level, it essentially goes without saying that consistent training is the best way for you to improve your shot.
Practicing with the bow can seem cumbersome or impractical, though. Don’t fear; it’s entirely possible to make massive improvements to your shot without working with a coach or being part of a team (though both of these do help massively!). Having a consistent practice routine is a huge part of getting better at the sport, and you’d be amazed by what a difference consistent bow practice can make to your archery.
Our guide covers some of the ways you can get the most out of your bow practice for both competitive archery and bowhunting. From training at home to special exercises for the range, we outline what you need to do in order to develop the perfect shot.
How do I Practice Archery at Home?
You don’t need to be at the range to work on your archery skills. In fact, many archers have a rigorous home training protocol that they follow when they’re unable to go to the range. If you put in the time to setting up a decent home training environment, then this can make it far more convenient for you to work on your shot.
If you are planning on shooting archery at home, then it’s important to make sure it’s safe for you to do so. Ensure that you have enough space to properly shoot your bow, as well as keeping your possessions out of harm’s way.
The following is one example of a home archery range, belonging to archery world champion Reo Wilde:
Bowhunters will likely benefit most from setting up an outdoor range with 3D targets. With the right preparation, it’s more than possible to build an effective range with different hunting scenarios on your property. If you’re planning on doing so, ensure that you have ample space and that you are able to build an appropriate training environment. We also strongly recommend that you set your range up in a fenced-in area.
Where possible, you will likely want to set up backstops with padding behind your targets to minimise any damage to your property. Backstops can also dull the noise your arrows make on impact, so they make an effective way to mitigate any noise disturbance that your archery practice might otherwise cause.
It’s also crucial to touch on the importance of learning proper shooting form before attempting to practice archery at home. If you’re new to archery, we would strongly encourage that you take some lessons with a professional coach in order to learn proper shooting form. Shooting with improper form can expose you to injury, especially if you do so repeatedly.
How to Practice Archery without a Bow
Believe it or not, it’s not only possible but often advantageous to practice archery without actually shooting your bow. There are various kinds of strength and conditioning exercises that you can work on, many of which can help you build up your endurance and potentially increase your draw weight.
One way to do this is by drawing the bow to your regular anchor point and then holding. If you’re aiming to work on your endurance, try holding the draw of the bow for between 30 seconds to a minute, and aim to hit at least 7 reps of the exercise. If you want to work on your strength instead, you can aim for a greater number of reps while only holding the draw for five to 7 seconds per rep.
Not only can training exercises like these be a great way to become better conditioned for archery, but they also offer a great opportunity to work on your form. While drawing the bow, try to ensure that you have the best possible form, and maintain this throughout the exercise. If you’re newer to archery, this is a very efficient way to really commit proper shooting form to muscle memory.
A Guide to Bow Training Exercises
It probably goes without saying that the best way to get better at shooting archery is by actually practicing with the bow!
If you’re looking for exercises you can do without a bow, then checkout this list of archery specific strength and conditioning exercises.
One of our favourite exercises for training strength when shooting uses the clicker. Try drawing your bow to full draw and then until the clicker clicks. Then, try to draw your bow even further, approximately one centimetre beyond the clicker. Release the draw slightly so that it is back in line with the clicker, and then draw back beyond the clicker. Repeat a few times before finally releasing the shot.
Another exercise to try is one that helps you improve your shooting rhythm. Using a timer, try timing each shot so that it lasts exactly 7 or 14 seconds. This is a great way to get a feel for the timing of your shot and can help you make your shooting much more consistent and rhythmic.
A great way to improve the accuracy of your shooting is by being mindful of each shot and setting a deliberate goal or target for the proceeding one. For example, if your shot lands too low on the target, then you can aim for your next shot to land higher and consider any technical errors that may have resulted in your shot landing too low. This may sound simple but is actually a powerful way for you to develop a better understanding of archery technique and shot placement, as well as better consistency in your shooting.
In archery, as in all sports, practice truly makes perfect. The exercises and advice outlined in this article should hopefully be of some assistance if you are hoping on improving your technique or strength and conditioning through bow practice, be it at home or on the range.