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Long Range Archery Tips

If you've taken archery up as a sport you are eventually going to get tired of shooting at the short range targets of only 20 to 30 yards away. You will want to try hitting the longer range targets, partially because you are curious as to whether you can actually shoot that far with a degree of accuracy.

And also partly because some of us just love to see an arrow arc its way towards a really far away target.

But if you expect to hit the target with a great degree of accuracy you are going to be severely disappointed. (Unless you have sheer dumb luck on your first try, which I have seen students sometimes do.)

Nevertheless, if you want to try shooting at the longer ranges there are some things you need to know.

#1. Strength Matters!

Getting an arrow to go extreme distances with accuracy comes down to a measurement of strength. This means you need to build up your back, arms and core muscles. You will want to do a variety of weightlifting routines that focus on upper body strength. Two of the most obvious exercises you can do is pushups and chin-ups.

#2. Balance and Breathing Matters!

I find that people who do yoga tend to do very well at archery. Partially because both yoga and archery require balance, but also because yoga and archery are both mental disciplines. Practice a variety of yoga techniques 3 times per week to improve your balance, posture and core strength.

If you aren't balanced your aim will be off, and if your aim is off then at the long range it will be WAY OFF.

Another thing to try is yogic breathing. You want to breathe into your stomach, not your shoulders. Breathing into your shoulders will throw off your aim by causing your arms to move. A simple yogic breathing exercise to learn is to breathe sharply in through the nose, breathe into your stomach, keep your shoulders still, and then exhale sharply through the mouth. Practice this for 5 minutes daily.

On the archery range breathe into the stomach as you pull back, aim and shoot, and then breathe out after you release.

#3. The Right Tools for the Right Job.

Take the range you want to shoot at and multiple that number by 0.8. The resulting number is the minimum number of lbs your draw torque should be for your bow if trying to shoot at that range accurately.

Examples

20 yards = 16 lb bow
30 yards = 24 lb bow
45 yards = 36 lb bow
60 yards = 48 lb bow
70 yards = 56 lb bow
90 yards = 72 lb bow

Note: At the 90 yard range I normally recommend a minimum of 75 lbs for the draw weight, just because that extra 3 lbs amounts to 4% more accuracy.

#4. Get a Bow you can PULL

You should get a bow that has a stronger pull and aim to purchase one that you can hold at full draw without your arms shaking. You will get stronger later, but if you want to improve your accuracy now then you need a bow you know you can pull and hold it steady while aiming.

Lets say for example you're in the archery store and you want to be shooting at the 90 yard range and you have a choice between a 75 lb, a 80 lb and a 85 lb bow. Same company who made them all, same quality, but different poundages for the draw weight. You can pull the 75 and the 80 okay, but when you try the 85 you discover your arm shakes too much. Your answer? Buy the 80. Use that bow for a year or two to build up your accuracy and strength. You may come back and buy a 90 lb bow next time, but for now the 80 will suit your needs perfectly.

#5. Arrows!

You will need to increase the quality of the arrows so that they can take the added pressure of a heavier torque bow. A flimsy cheap arrow will break too easily. When buying arrows many of them have a marking on them which shows their max weight capacity.

#6. Hone your Form and your Aim!

If you haven't perfected your form at the shorter ranges, you're going to have an even tougher time at the longer range. My advice? Go up the different ranges gradually. Perfect your form at the 20 and 30 yard ranges before "graduating" yourself to the 45, 60, 70 and 90.

You will need to learn how to adjust your aim at different ranges and there are a variety of different techniques for doing so, including adjusting your aiming point higher, moving your anchor lower to below the chin or even to the chest level, "walking the string" (a technique I will discuss sometime in the future), and various other techniques advanced archers use. The easiest of these is simply aiming higher. Moving your anchor point lower is trickier, but is definitely a move for an advanced archer who is experienced. If you want to learn more about "walking the string" shoot me an email and lets book a lesson.

#7. Type of Bow

The type of bow you shoot doesn't matter quite so much. What matters more is the poundage, the quality of the bow and the experience of the archer with that style of bow.

A Japanese archer using a 75 lb kyudo bow will have just as much quality shots as a Hungarian archer using a traditional 75 lb Hungarian bow. Assuming that both archers have the same level of experience.

Traditional bows, modern bows, compound bows, recurve, wooden, Olympic, longbow... all of it doesn't really matter as long as it has the necessary torque to propel the arrow with the same amount of pressure. Even a shortbow can be used if it can be built to have that much poundage to provide the same amount of torque.

There may be some minor differences in terms of gadgets or quality of the bow, but otherwise the type of bow you like to use is a matter of personal preference.

#8. Practice builds Experience

Ideally you should do archery 3 times per week and shoot 200 arrows each time. No more than that or your back muscles will hurt a lot, especially if its a heavier bow. If you are shooting and start to experience pain in your back muscles it is time to stop.

Some people like to shoot heavier bows that they can pull, but they lack the stamina to be able to shoot it 200 times in an outing to the archery range. This is a matter of building up endurance. My solution? Do 200 pushups every day.

Experience counts for a lot in archery and to build experience you need to practice regularly and get lots of shots in. If you lack the endurance to get 200 shots in with your favourite heavy bow then you need to pack a 2nd lighter bow with your gear and when your back starts to get tired take a break and then switch to the lighter bow for the rest of the outing.

#9. Stay Calm and Focused

Regardless at the range you are shooting at, maintaining a calm and serene frame of mind will help you to shoot more accurately. If you start feeling anxiety it will mess with your ability to aim, to concentrate and to shoot remotely accurately. Getting frustrated will make you feel worse and decrease your aim dramatically.

One way to calm down is to remember that archery is fun. Stop worrying about the quality of your shots and just enjoy yourself. So what if you miss? Just have fun missing!

Another source of frustration is losing arrows. If you are losing arrows in the grass (and arrows are expensive) you may want to invest in a metal detector to help find the arrows easily. Some online archery stores also sell LED nocks which blink and can be more easily spotted in the grass.

Remember to bring healthy snacks and water with you. Some people have difficulty maintaining their emotions if they are hungry and lack nutrients or are dehydrated. Best to keep both food and water with you.

#10. Don't Shoot Underwater!

Your arrows won't go very far underwater. This isn't so much useful advice as it is funny. I just thought the photo below was awesome!

Happy shooting!


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