The beginning of any hobby is an exciting experience and archery with a compound bow might be even more exciting than most. The ancient art modernized with current technology and ingenuity. What's there to dislike? But after getting your brand-new compound bow you might be lost where to go next. Don't worry, we got you covered.
After you finish reading this article you will be armed with the knowledge on how to shoot a compound bow. Or at least with the very basics for a safe and enjoyable start to your journey into the world of compound bow archery.
Your Guide on How to Shoot a Compound Bow:
At first, you will have no idea how to calibrate your bow. The elements can be quite tricky at first so your best option is to visit a shop which has a professional and knowledgeable staff.
Details such as how to install a D-loop, sights and everything else should be handled by a pro if you had no prior experience. Don’t worry, you will get a hang of it later on and be able to do it yourself.
The second thing you need to be aware of is the draw weight of your bow, otherwise referred to as poundage. For hunting, most people agree minimal draw weight should be around 45 lbs. and up to 70 lbs.
It’s important to check your local law regulations if there is a proscribed minimum for hunting game. It goes without saying that the higher draw weights require more strength. So be aware that your physical capabilities will count a lot.
In the beginning, the most crucial point would be release and tools and aids that help with it. Try and see what works for you. Caliper or hook? Wrist strapped or hand-held? It varies on preference and taste and each has pros and cons.
It’s up to you. We understand that at the beginning you might not have any concept of these tools or if they suit you or not. Don't worry, choose one and once you gained more experience you can settle for something different later.
Place for practice
Finally, choose a place for practice that is safe and devoid of hazards. It’s critical that errand shots don’t hit something important or in a worst-case scenario, someone. Basics of bow safety demand that you make sure there is nothing vulnerable between you and your target.
If your release aid malfunctions or D-loop snaps the arrow can fly in an unpredictable direction. So put something like haybales behind your target that can slow the arrow or even stop it.
After all that is said and done, it’s finally time to do some shooting. Which starts with nocking your arrow. A warning is warranted here. Never try to dry fire your bow. What does that imply is to not draw your bow as if you are firing an arrow just without an actual arrow being in place. It can cause a bow to break which is expensive and dangerous.
Once you have your arrow nocked, make sure the tip of the arrow touches the rest of your bow and the string firmly. For a shot to fly true, the arrow must contact those two spots. The release must always go on the wrist of your dominant hand. Stand nine to eleven meters from your target before you aim.
At this point, you must draw the bow at its full draw with the help of your release aid. Your dominant arm will bring the string to your cheek while the arm holding the bow will lock in the elbow. The nifty feature of the composite bows is that once you draw it’s easier to hold it there than traditional bows. Some call this sweet spot the 'valley’, a drawing will be much harder than holding it drawn.
With the string almost or even touching your nose, and release at your jaw, you should be able to make a stable, sustainable pose. Repositioning your hand will allow you to glance through your peep sight.
The most difficult part here is to adjust your position so you can actually see through a peep sight, which should be a hole in your string. Feel free to adjust so it’s more comfortable for you. But once you are looking through the peep sight without a problem you are all set.
Once you align the top pin with your target, release. This is a very important part of the entire process. It needs to be smooth and relaxed, otherwise, your aim can get ruined. Don’t drop your arm right after release either, it can cause the arrow to fly the wrong way very easily. So hold your finish for a bit.
In case you hit the target, move further away. Somewhere from nineteen to twenty meters should be fine. If the arrow didn’t hit the target you will have to tune your pin a bit. If the arrow flew lower than your designated bullseye you will need to move pin down, and vise versa.
Some would call this 'following the arrow’ which is essential if you actually want to hit a target you are aiming at. Repeat it again and again until all your pins are used.
So, what should your practice focus on?
Learn how to set up every detail of your bow. We suggested that for your first time you leave that to pros and more experienced people. Knowing how the weapon works are essential for later usage. Sure, the compound bow is easy to pick up but hard to master. Learn every little bit you can.
- Body Limits
Know the limits of your body. Humans are sturdy creatures, all things considered. But we have our limits. Our arms will get tired after a few shots which can cause mistakes down the line. Don’t overdo anything, take time to rest and understand that your body is a large part of the successful shooting.
But understand that improving your physical condition might drastically improve your archery.
angle, your feet 40cm apart, and parallel to each other with toes facing the target. Standing in such or similar way will make the entire process easier.
Try to hold your ground after letting the arrow fly. This is the easiest and maybe the hardest part to do. Most people have an urge to drop their hands and check if they hit the target, but it’s very important to resist that urge.
A slight nudge can alter the path of the arrow at the point of release and no one wants that. It’s a constant struggle with which even most experienced archers have trouble with.
Try to manage your flitching at the point of release. It’s a natural reaction and everyone will have trouble with it. Different people have different suggestions on how to train yourself out of the habit. In this case, there is no one cure that works for everyone.
But don’t think much about it at the beginning of your journey into compound bow archery. Once you see what works for you and what doesn’t, everything will fall in place.
- Equipment limits
Be aware that if you are struggling with something, it might not be your fault. There are many things that can go wrong, and shooting true consistently is a very difficult thing to manage. Your equipment might have a flaw or it’s of poor make.
Your sights do not align with your peep sights, the bow has some kind of material fatigue and doesn’t perform as it should, etc. The important thing is not to beat yourself up over failers. The road to success is paved by mistakes.
The final advice we can give you is about safety. Like we said before, many things can go wrong and you can’t keep track of absolutely everything. But don’t be scared by that fact, it’s the case with most sports after all. The thing you should always check is the state of your arrows.
Every arrow used can be potentially damaged under the stress. Before you use the arrow, you should flex test it. You can do this by firmly grasping each end and bringing it to your ear. By gently bending it listen to any sound of cracking.
If such sounds are heard you shouldn’t use that arrow further until someone with more experience checks it.
Congratulations, you learned the basics of handling your bow. That wasn’t so hard now, was it? With every shot, you will get better and better. In no time you will be the one giving tips to new enthusiasts. There is more to it than a few pointers presented here which you will discover on your own as you go deeper into the problems and challenges of the hobby.
The main thing is to not give up and be consistent in your practice. If the game you want to hunt will not be in season for the next few months, don’t throw your bow away. Set up a training regimen with target practice and don’t give up.