Training for Accuracy, Part 1: Aiming

Accuracy denotes your ability to hit a target. An accurate shooter will aim at a point in space and the arrow will land there, or at least very close to it. Keep in mind that accuracy says nothing about precision, and comes mainly from a good aiming and shooting technique. This post concerns only the aiming, part 2 will cover shooting technique.

When training for accuracy, we can split our objectives into two sections: aiming technique, and shooting technique. For a well placed arrow, these two aspects need to be well trained, and most importantly they have to work in combination.

First comes aiming:

There are many different ways to aim a shot. A lot of it depends on the equipment and shooting style we have chosen, however after that there is still a lot of room for personal preference.

There are as many ways to aim a bow as there are archers, therefore I will not attempt to write a correct “recipe” for aiming. Instead I will draw attention to the most important things to take into account:

1. Are you using an aiming sight? In that case a lot will depend on the equipment.

  • It is extremely important to have a sight that fits with our preferences. In the fortunate case that we shoot at a club with some community equipment, it is a good idea to experiment around. In my case, I find that a sight with crosshairs or even a single pin obstructs the target, so I prefer a sight that has only a small circle.
  • It is also a good idea to understand the principle of how the sight works. After that you can set your sights correctly.
  • Where are you focusing? On the target? On the sight? I focus on the target, but many do the opposite. None of these is “wrong” , so be sure to try both methods and see which is better for you.
  • Aiming is not everything! What happens very often is archers *aiming too much*. As a result, instincts and muscle memory are suppressed.

For those without aiming sights: decide how you will aim.

  • Traditional instinctive archers who are “not aiming”: Yes you are, you are just delegating the task to the subconscious mind and muscle memory. Practicing to aim consciously from time to time will improve your instinctive aim too.
  • If you are consciously aiming, decide what to use as a reference. The arrow tip is a very clear reference, or you can also use various parts of your bow. You can also use the angle of your bow arm to the horizontal as a reference for the vertical component.
  • It is completely possible to shoot a traditional bow and aim just as well as with an aiming sight. Many traditional archers seem yo be resigned to the fact that they will “always be less accurate”. Actually if you make sure to stick to your references, you are doing exactly the same thing as the aiming sight people.

It is possible to aim without any visuals at all! In that case you rely on muscle memory, and the position of your body with relation to the desired arrow trajectory. (This can be difficul, but learnt with practice.)

For all archers, regardless of bow type: watch the alignmentThe most important part of any aiming technique is to line up your line of sight with the direction of the arrow and the orientation of the bow. This way what you look at will be what you shoot at. This is the most important point that must always be taken into account.

It is possible to aim without any visuals at all! In that case you rely on muscle memory, and the position of your body with relation to the desired arrow trajectory. (This can be difficul, but learnt with practice.) This is not to be underestimated. For *practical archery* style outdoor 3D it may not be so useful, but for target shooting where the distance is always the same, it can improve accuracy (and therefore competition scores) a lot. If your arrow always needs to fly the same trajectory, then obviously we will always need to have the same position. To learn to aim using only our own body, it is reccommended to train shooting with closed eyes from fixed distances. After we have mastered various distances and can predict our position based on distance, we can go on to train shooting in darkness at illuminated targets. As a bonus this also helps a lot to train precision.

happy shooting to all archers!

kitty hugs to all~


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