March 30, 2021

Back on the archery range – at last!

Hurray! We are finally able to return to the range after such a long period of Covid lockdowns and it feels great to be back. Roy Samples of Burscough Archers looks at how to overcome potential shot issues as archers ease themselves back into the sport.

Now if only those pesky arrows would go where they should do or indeed, where you are aiming. This isn't just a problem for novice archers but for more experienced club archers, some of whom may not have shot an arrow in well over 12 months. At this point, it is very easy to get frustrated, which can lead to tension and a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles. This in turn can cause weakness and involuntary movements.

[caption id="attachment_26224" align="alignnone" width="200"] Arrows not going where you want them?[/caption]

So how can we overcome this? Getting back to basics is usually a good starting point to help get rid of any bad habits that have crept into your technique, and to remember the good points of your technique you may have forgotten about. A Covid-19 secure session with your club coach should do the trick, but if you haven't access to a coach you could try the following tips:

Warming up

A good warm up is essential in preventing any injuries, especially to your back, neck and shoulder muscles.  The last thing you need at this point is to pick up an injury to your muscles or tendons, which could put you out of shooting for a further period of time, and in the case of an injury to your rotator cuff muscles, this could be a significant amount of time.  A good warm up will also help alleviate any tension in your muscles.  There are several videos around warm up and muscle strengthening exercises on Archery GB's YouTube channel and some good, fairly vigorous, stretch band exercises usually do the trick. You can see Archery GB's Mobility Monday videos for more great exercises to help keep you supple.

A gentle build-up

On your first few visits to the range, I would suggest you only shoot three or four arrow ends to start with. This will help you to concentrate more on your technique, as you will find you can hold your bow at full draw longer for each arrow. After a long layoff, shooting six arrows can lead to some tension creeping into your fifth and sixth arrows until your archery muscle strength returns, meaning you possibly release the arrow before you have really steadied your shot. Hence a bigger gap on the target and, oh yes, frustration creeping in again.

You may also consider shooting with a lighter bow weight if you have the availably of a lighter set of limbs, or even borrow a lighter club bow if you can.  This way you can build up your strength gradually over a few sessions, hopefully giving you better results. Remember though, if you go down this route and still use the arrows which have been matched to your current bow weight, by reducing the poundage on your bow, your arrows will become stiffer and behave in a different way, usually shooting to the left with a right-handed bow.

Don't let this put you off as it will only become a problem if you are shooting different distances and need to keep changing your sight setting. Instead, adjust your sight, shoot at one shorter distance and accept larger groupings. Use the time to work purely on building up your bow fitness and technique, before returning to your normal bow weight. To help you concentrate on your technique, try shooting at a blank boss as this will stop you getting fixated on the gold.


The last, and probably most important tip I can give you, is to relax and enjoy your shooting and don't get fixated on hitting the gold with every shot. You won't become an Olympic archer overnight but with regular shooting and a little help from your club coach and fellow archers, you will get better. Promise!


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