How to shoot a compound bow

Learning how to shoot a compound bow has more to do with your shooting habits and form – your techniques – than the limitations (mechanical release or lack thereof and nock) of the weapon. Whether you are deer hunting or on target practice, the way a compound bow fires doesn’t change. It’ll take a lot of practice and patience to achieve a perfect form but only if you’re doing it right. If you practice poor form, you risk developing poor shooting habits, which worsen as time goes. When you go outdoors to hunt game, the effects of poor shooting habits become more apparent.

That’s why before you learn how to use a compound bow, it’s important you understand and practice perfect form to reduce your likelihood of developing poor shooting habits, which you can carry on in hunting situations, resulting to bad experience. It’s what this article’s all about. Let’s take a look at how to set up a perfect shooting form before we delve into how to fire the compound bow.

Shooting Form

Practicing shooting form entails the following:

  • Holding compound bow in your hand
  • Positioning your elbows
  • Aligning your feet with the target

You want to achieve a perfect shot consistently, but that would largely depend on how you hone your shooting form. 

Archers have different techniques, and yours must be different, because your form largely depends on your physique – height, posture, muscle density, shoulder width, length of hand, and so on. And so, leverage your unique physique to produce perfect shots every time.

bow shooting form

How to Achieve a Perfect Shooting Form?

Aligning Your Feet with the Target: First, ensure the distance between your feet is equal to your shoulder length when you start. One foot should be ahead of the other as you face forward. Then, you can spread your feet further or closer as you search for the most comfortable posture. The more you spread your feet, the more firm or steady you’ll be.

But spreading your feet shoulder length apart can give you more stability if you’re hunting in a tight space, as you can confine your feet in a small platform of a tree stand.

The angle between the plane of your toes and the plane of the target should be 90 degrees when you face the target (toes and target should be perpendicular). In other words, you shoulder should aim at the target.

Holding Compound bow in Your Hand: How you place your hand would depend on your dominant hand. There’s a way to determine whether you’re left- or right-eye dominant, or both. If you’re right-eye dominant, choose a right-handed bow. If you’re left-eye dominant, choose a left-handed bow.

Hold the bow with your non-dominant hand. The idea is to reduce torque. The more the torque, the less accurate your shot. Therefore, reduce the point of contact of your non-dominant hand with the bow. To do that, you’ve to reduce the influence of other points of your hand.

A point where your thumb meets with the center of your palm is where bow grip should rest. This is the point where motion is minimum. It’s a point that interferes the least with the natural sequence of firing of the bow.

Avoid gripping the bow with your hand, as torque would arise. The bow should settle naturally at its most center point. Torque prevents that from happening.

Consider where you place your fingers and tension in muscles of your hand. Contact between your hand and bow should be minimum. The less the contact, the less the torque, and the higher the shot accuracy.

It’s worthy to note that the bow’s inconsistency has more to do with your interference than the bow. The way the weapon fires doesn’t change.

Positioning your Elbow: Where you place your elbow relates to where you place your non-dominant hand. Just be sure to place the elbow of your non-dominant hand in a stiff position, and bend it a bit. This technique reduces contact between your elbow and the string; hence, help you avoid painful string slaps.

On the other hand, you must position the elbow of your dominant hand such that the arrow and your forearm are directly parallel.

Now that you’ve understood how to achieve a perfect shooting form, let’s take a look at how to fire the compound bow.

Attach a Mechanical Release to Your Dominant Hand

A release ensures the arrow’s downrange flight is accurate. With the piece of equipment, you don’t have to pull a trigger using your finger. In a way, the release prevents your finger from making contact with the string; hence, minimizes torque, which your finger can place on the string.

Attach a mechanical release to your dominant hand by using Velcro straps. A piece of a strap has an area, which wraps around your hand and wrist. The strap also has an area – a crimp – that attaches to a bowstring.

Select from these types of mechanical release:

Pull the string toward the anchor point (corner of your mouth, cheek or jaw) such that your non-dominant hand holding the bow runs parallel to the earth’s surface.

Some archers may consider a mechanical releases as unnecessary. But pulling a trigger using fingers has several downsides. A manual trigger can release an arrow involuntarily. Furthermore, your finger can ache as a result of repeated triggering.

Without a release, you run the danger of dry firing, which can damage your compound bow. The risk of firing at your finger is higher if a release is absent. In addition, shots fired with fingers are inconsistent.

Nock an Arrow

Nocking ensures the arrow stays on course. When nocking, you must place the arrow between the rest and the string. The arrow mustn’t touch any other surface other than the string and the rest.

First, place the arrow on a rest, which is above the bow grip. But your arrow can fall off from the rest, which doesn’t have a whisker biscuit design. The latter has bristles, so placing and sliding an arrow should be natural.

Arrows have fins or vanes, which resemble fletchings. There are three vanes on an arrow. One vane is the most outstanding: a cock or a feather whose alignment to the nock is perpendicular.

You must nock the vane, so it doesn’t touch the bow when flying. That’s why the arrow rests 1/8-inches above the bow. If your arrows have four fletchings instead of the vanes, there’s no need to nock the fletchings. Ensure the vane with the brightest color points vertically.

Afterwards, you can align the bowstring with nock and the arrow. Press back the nock into the bowstring until you hear a click sound. If the mechanical release has a D-loop, center the nock on the string in alignment with the rear of the D-loop.

Place a Center Shot

The arrow’s position should align with the middle of the string’s power stroke. A power stroke is the distance a string has to cover from axle-to-axle when you cock the weapon.

The string moves forward along a straight line. And so, the bowstring must come behind the arrow. Therefore, there must be alignment between the bowstring and the bow. When the middle of the riser is aligned with the bowstring, a center shot has been achieved.

One More Thing…

It’s important you hone your firing form before you learn how to shoot a compound bow. Learning how to sight in a compound bow requires lots of patience and practice. It’s common to find archers having a bad hunting experience, simply because they’ve been practicing poor form all along. And so, they show poor shooting habits in the field. The same happens with rifles, crossbows, or any other kind of weapon. But things don’t work that way. Before you attach a mechanical release, nock an arrow and place a center shot, make sure your form is perfect.