When it comes to archery, technique is definitely the king. One of the biggest parts of your technique is your posture and alignment of your muscles and bones. Without proper posture and alignment, you are fighting your bow and your body to stay still and pull through the shot correctly.
In previous articles, we have talked about vertical posture and alignment (check out the article on draw weight so you can see things like "sassy hip" and such), but today we want to focus on establishing the "barrel of the gun" and ensuring that our bow-drawing arm is in line with our arrow. The "barrel of the gun" is just a fancy (USA Archery) way of saying that we must line up the front arm straight behind the bow, lining up the shoulders, head, and spine. In the following images, this "barrel of the gun" is shown with a blue line. Setting your alignment in that way lets you hold steadier, draw further, and use back tension more effectively. The red lines will show the alignment of the arm that is drawing the bow, which should be directly behind or inside of the arrow line.
One thing you will notice in setting your posture this way is that you will engage more of your core and feel more pressure in your back as the muscles draw the weight of the bow. Additionally, you can see in the image that the angle between the red and blue lines is tighter in the second image, lending itself to accuracy. Here are a few more archers setting the barrel of the gun- see if you can determine which is the before and which is the after.
Finally, one of the benefits that this better posture gives you is an easier and more repeatable follow-through. Because the elbow is already in line with the arrow, archers have an easier time contracting their back to draw the elbow behind them, with their hand following behind the arrow, as they release from this improved posture. Check out the images of these archers below so you can see how good follow-through naturally comes from this positional improvement.
When was the last time you had one of your tall friends check your posture and alignment? If you haven't done so in a while, we strongly recommend stopping by the range so that we can help you to align your body properly and shoot even better than you are. See you on the range!
If you have been in Deer Creek Archery recently, you know that we teach a style of shooting that focuses on pulling with your back, not your fingers. Often times. our archers are surprised by what we teach since they learned a different style and have been seeing it for so long. However, there is a method to our madness! Here is why we teach the "surprise shot."
No matter what style of release you are shooting, there is always a question of how best to shoot it. For the archers shooting thumb buttons, the common misconception is that they slowly squeeze their thumb over the button, almost as if making a fist, For the wrist strap or index finger shooters, many archers like to pull the trigger with their finger as if shooting a gun. These ways of activation fall under the category of "command shooting," where the archer directly chooses to shoot....NOW!
The "command style" can work, but tends to produce a very specific set of issues. First, archers who use this style tend to have issues with target panic. Whether freezing high or low, jumping off the shot, or what have you, when you are trying to decide when to shoot, you require a much higher level of mental discipline to be effective. That is not to say that it cannot be done! Many famous, talented hunters like Cameron Hanes, or archers like Sarah Sonnichsen and Demir Elmaağaçlı use this style to great effect. However, 90% of archers will notice more issues with target panic shooting with a command style.
Secondly, command style archery produces certain misses that are difficult to get rid of. When punching the trigger, or command shooting, right handed archers will tend to miss to the left and have erratic high and low misses. These mistakes happen because archers are fixated on the target and not the feel of the shot, leading them to forget their follow through (for more on that, see this article).
But fear not, archers, there is another way! Shooting with a surprise shot style of shooting simply means that you stop trying to aim and choose when to shoot, and you simply pull through with your back muscles (specifically your rhomboids) to make your shot break consistently the same way. This video can show you an example of good back tension shooting and its benefits with one of the best archers in the world, Levi Morgan.
Shooting with a back tension style leads to the solution of these issues because you surrender your control. Instead of deciding that the shot will go off right now, you instead focus on pulling through the shot, creating better follow-through and more easily replicable movements because we are using large muscle groups. Additionally, because you don't decide when the shot will go off, you are put in a position to simply hold on the target and focus on how the shots feel as you slowly add tension with your back. For most archers, committing to this style of shooting drastically reduces the feeling of target panic and results in more 10s! To see this type of shot done, simply stop in to the shop and we will show you how it works!
While any style of archery can produce great results if you do it the same way every time, surprise shooting, or back tension shooting, will tend to create more consistency because the larger back muscles are easier to consistently activate. Come try some surprise shooting on the range and see if you like it!
Archers everywhere use stabilizers for both hunting and target archery, but many don't know what a stabilizer is for and what makes a good stabilizer.. In Deer Creek Archery's opinion, stabilizers are best used to reduce vibration and to increase rotational resistance so that the bow holds steadier during the execution of your shot.
First, stabilizers are about adding stability (who would have guessed?) to your shot. This is accomplished by adding weight to the end of a rod that points away from the middle of the bow. The basic rule of thumb is that the further the weight is away from the pivot point of your bow (your handle), and the more weight is on that stabilizer, the steadier your hold and the more accuracy you achieve. So, how long should your stabilizer be? The answer is that it should be as long as you are able to comfortably maneuver, control, and balance at full draw, given your application. By no means does that mean you need a 32" rod with 15oz. on the end. In fact, while you do hold steadier with more weight, you should never have so much weight that you sacrifice technique. If you can't hold your bow and maintain a perfect body alignment like a "T," then that bow is too heavy! But don't worry, even a few ounces just 6-8" from your riser can dramatically increase your performance. We would encourage you to test a stabilizer before you buy it to ensure that you are getting a good fit.
The second reason to use a stabilizer is to reduce the noise and vibration of your bow. The bow's resonance after a shot breaks can be largely eliminated use rubber or other sound and vibration dampening elements such as gel, sand, etc. This quieting effect makes your bow have that much sought after "dead in the hand" feel and reduces the sounds that animals might hear when your shot breaks, thus giving them less time to react and evade your shot.
Whether or not to use a rear bar is also a matter of preference. Many hunters use them, and just as many hate them. The trade off is about balance and maneuverability. The more weight you have on the bow makes it hold steadier, and adding weight to the rear of your bow to counteract the stabilizer in the front absolutely keeps the bow more balanced, but if you can't crawl toward an animal you're stalking or climb into your tree stand because your stabilizer is digging into things, it's worthless! What works for you may vary from your friends, so come on in to Deer Creek Archery and test some out. We have some of the best stabilizers on the market from Stixx to Axion, and a host of accessories for your convenience.
For a more detailed look at stabilizers from one of the most renowned coaches and instructors in the archery game, George "Griv" Ryals, we would send you to his website at this link to read his article on the topic
There are many different kinds of stabilizers out there, and which one you like best is a matter of personal feel. We hope that this Technical Tuesday article has given you some things to consider when buying a stabilizer.
It is well known that in the recurve or compound archery game, archers are looking for consistency. One of the best ways to establish a consistent and repeatable shot is to have the shot execute not by your command, but rather with a "surprise shot" using back tension. (We will be going more in-depth with what that really means and how it works on another post.) However, many target archers and bow-hunters don't properly position their releases in order to create this consistent style. So, today, we bring you John Dudley (@nockontv), one of compound archery's most renowned coaches and hunters, explaining the basics on how to shoot your release.
Stay tuned next week for another Technical Tuesday tip. See you on the range!
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Deer Creek Archery will use this to archive articles and videos with tips from our team and the professionals on how to shoot and set up your bow more effectively.