This is an excerpt from Archery Fundamentals-2nd Edition by Teresa Johnson.
Shooting a Recurve Bow
You can actually practice the following shooting steps without using a bow. Raising your bow arm up and down while keeping your shoulders down and relaxed and pretending to draw your bow back until your forefinger reaches your smile while standing straight and tall--all of this helps create body-form memory. When you are learning to shoot your first arrows, you don’t even need an actual target bullseye. Just shoot at a blank target mat or at stacked bales of hay. The target should be as close to you as possible without interfering with your form--as close as 5 to 10 yards (approximately 4.5 to 9 meters) to start. At this point, all you’re doing is learning the correct form and shooting sequence.
An excellent beginner’s shooting sequence, called Nine Steps to the 10-Ring, was created by the Coaches Development Committee of the National Archery Association and is discussed next. Follow this sequence, and you’ll soon be shooting just like an Olympic archer. Have the sequence memorized before you actually shoot with a bow, or have a partner read it aloud to you as you proceed through the shot. In addition, always follow the standard range-whistle commands--two blasts signal you should go to the shooting line, one blast signals it’s safe to shoot, and three blasts signal it’s time to retrieve your arrows.
Recurve Bow: Nine Steps to the 10-Ring Sequence
Stances, grips, anchors, and releases are discussed in greater detail in chapter 5. For the purposes of understanding this sequence, however, please read on:
Nine Steps to the 10-Ring Sequence
- Nock the arrow
- Set your grip
- Predraw your bow
- Draw your bow
1. Stance. Place one foot on each side of the shooting line. Place your feet shoulder-width apart; you should feel well balanced. Stand straight and tall, and keep your head up and your shoulders straight and relaxed.
2. Nock the arrow. Pull an arrow from your quiver holding it by its nock. Place the arrow on the arrow rest of your bow, and position the arrow so the index vane (the odd-colored one) faces you and is perpendicular to the bowstring. Fit the nock onto the string directly below your nock locator. You should hear the nock click into place on the string.
3. Set your grip. Keep your shoulders down and loose, and set your bow hand into position on the bow grip nice and relaxed. Only the meaty part of your palm and thumb should grip the bow. Your fingers should remain relaxed and loose. Place your first three fingers, protected by the finger tab, directly under the arrow. The bowstring should be in the first groove of your finger joints. If you’re new to archery, it’s best to start with three fingers under the arrow. This placement is simpler to learn, and it helps keep the arrow on the arrow rest by limiting the torque on the bowstring.
4. Predraw your bow. Raise the bow toward the target while keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Put a slight tension on the bowstring by extending your bow arm toward the target and pulling back slightly with your drawing hand. Look at the target through your front sight (if you have one installed) or down the shaft of the arrow. If your bow arm seems to be sticking out and is in the way of the bowstring, rotate it down and out of the way. The elbow of your drawing arm should be at the same level as your nose.
5. Draw your bow. Slowly draw your bow back by rotating your drawing-arm shoulder around until your elbow is directly behind the arrow. Keep your drawing hand relaxed, your bow shoulder down, and your body erect. Make your drawing motion continuous all through the shot.
6. Anchor. Draw the string to the front of your face, and anchor with your forefinger on the corner of your smile. Continue to minutely draw back the bow by moving the back muscles of your drawing arm. Keep your drawing hand relaxed.
7. Aim. Focus your eyes and your concentration on the center of the target. Keep the string lined up with the center of the bow limbs and continue your gradual draw.
8. Release. Simply release any tension in your fingers, and allow the string to let loose while you continue to draw back smoothly. Continue to extend your bow arm toward the target as you concentrate on it.
9. Follow-through. Every great release has a great follow-through. Allow your relaxed drawing hand to continue back until it stops near your shoulder naturally. Your bow arm continues its extension toward the target. Maintain your follow-through until your arrow hits the target.
Pulling and carrying arrows. Although not generally considered to be part of the actual shooting sequence, pulling and carrying your arrows properly is equally important in finishing your shot. Approach your target from one side. Place your outspread hand onto the target face and around the arrow. Grasp the arrow with your other hand as close to the target as possible, and gently pull the arrow straight out of the target. Rotate the arrow carefully if it sticks.
Once you have removed the arrow, place it into your side quiver (or place the arrow on the ground if you have no side quiver), and continue pulling arrows out of the target and placing them either in your quiver or on the ground until you are finished. Walk back to the shooting line, and place the arrows into your ground quiver. Arrows should be carried using both hands. One hand holds the arrows upright covering their points, and the other hand holds the group of arrows firmly near the crest.
Adjusting Center Shot
When you reach step seven, the aiming step, of the Nine Steps to the 10-Ring Sequence, you may find you need to adjust your center shot alignment. During proper center shot alignment, the bowstring will appear to bisect the bow limbs, and the arrow’s tip will appear to be slightly outside the bowstring alignment. The arrow is held in this slight outside alignment to account for the inside rolling action that takes place when a recurve’s bowstring is released with the fingers.
A straight bow or recurve bow shot with the fingers tends to release an arrow with a slight sideways rolling motion. Many beginner recurve bows that have a stick-on plastic arrow rest have a slight angled leaf spring molded into the plastic arrow rest. The leaf spring helps center the arrow in position and provides some cushion on the side of the arrow as it’s released. For more advanced contest bows where accuracy is more critical, an adjustable accessory called a plunger can be added that helps to center the arrow perfectly in this line of sight. The plunger screws into the side of the bow handle and then typically extends through a hole that is often molded into the arrow rest.
This is an excerpt from Archery Fundamentals.