I don’t think there is a single archer on this world who has not had, at some point during their life, a fantasy about being able to shoot just like Legolas/Robin Hood/Hawkeye/Katniss/Arrow/pick your favorite archer hero. One thing that these diverse screen archers seem to have in common that they can shoot insanely quickly.
Yeah yeah, its easy when you shoot CGI arrows. Then you can skip loading it altogether, and you can skip aiming too because the animating crew will make your arrow fly to the right place. We mortal archers cannot attain that speed…. *mope mope mope*
Fast shooting is a matter of technique and practice. I will try to cover the basics that are applicable to as many shooting styles as possible.
1. Decrease the time to load the arrow
The first way to decrease the time to fire an arrow, and thus increase our rate of fire, is to decrease the loading time. Several factors affect the loading time, which we can address in our training:
- Practice! New archers will increase their rate of fire over time simply by regular practice. The more we shoot, the more we get accustomed to the motions and the equipment, and we will reduce clumsyness and fumbling. If you know you are prone to fumbling when you try to shoot faster, practice slowly first until the motions are flawless.
- Practice… in the dark! Once we have the loading motions nailed, we can further improve by practicing in the dark. If we can load without looking, it means the motion has been completely drilled through our skull into our brain. Yay!
- Decrease the number of steps. There are multiple ways to load an arrow onto a bow, but some are more effective than others. By evaluating our loading process step by step, we can identifiy and eliminate redundant steps, or replace cumbersome steps with better ones. A big one for me that was very helpful: grab the arrow by the nock, not the shaft. This removes the need to reposition your hand afterwards, one less step and saves about half a second.
- Make sure your nocks are good. If your nocks are loose, the arrows are tedious to load and may even move during draw, resulting not only in slower shooting but also inaccuracy. If your nocks are too tight, it requires too much effort to load, the arrow loses more energy on release, and in bad cases it might even damage the bowstring. Choose nocks that *just* click onto the bowstring. That will allow us to load the arrow comfortably snd position our hand without having to desperately hold on to the arrow.
- No arrow rest? No problem. Although an arrow rest can be convenient for loading faster, it is not a compulsory feature. The bow hand is just as good. If you feel like the arrow is going to fall off, try curling your index finger outwards a little (you shouldnt be gripping your bow so hard anyway). Be sure to keep your bow hand steady during the shot, to maintain accuracy and to ensure yoi dont need to reposition your hand when reloading.
2. Decrease draw and aim time
By decreasing draw and aim time we can also increase our rate of fire, however care must be taken to avoid/minimise loss of accuracy. I recommend to concentrate mostly on the previous points at first before taking time away from this section of the shot.
- Keep your bow arm steady. By keeping the bow arm as steady as possible we reduce the need to reposition later.
- Again, practice! Make sure the draw and anchor is 100% consistent and embedded in muscle memory. Then the increase in speed will not destroy technique or result in fumbling.
- Learn to aim instinctively. To some archers this is second nature. To others it comes with practice. Instinctive aiming is a combination of muscle memory and a good spatial judgement. There is no recipe to learn it, other than practice. So its best to just try it by turning of the analytical aiming process for a few shots and see what happens when you just focus on the target. You may be surprised how well you body can already shoot without your help.
- Be as static as possible. The more static our body is during the loading and draw, the less we need to adjust our aim afterwards (provided we started with a good position to begin with).
The most important is not to be impatient. Through regular training our shooting speed will eventually increase. Meanwhile we should take utmost care not to sacrifice accuracy. Ultimately, shooting fast is most of the time only a parlor trick and will not score us extra points, so there is no need to put pressure on yourself for learning it!
Eventually when we have brought our quick, instinctive shooting skills to a usable level, we can combine it with properly aimed shooting to get impressive results: By aiming the first arrow with great care, then shooting the others after it in rapid succession we can achieve high precision clusters. This works both with and without aiming sights.
What about you readers? Share in the comments section any tips and tricks you recommend ^_^
kitty hugs to all~