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How to do an Archery Trick Shot

The trick shot I did yesterday for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation's #TakeYourShot campaign got me thinking about the nature of archery trick shots and how people can practice for them. Visit if you want to take part and do your own trick shot or donate to this great cause.

You can see the one I did yesterday in the video below, during which I shot two arrows at once at a target 20.5 yards (61.5 feet) away.

To accomplish the task I practiced shooting two arrows at once for half an hour prior to making the video, determining several things...

#1. Where to aim. #2. How much to be canting the bow. #3. How I should be nocking the arrows in order to get more consistency (mostly to prevent them from colliding midair and going awry).

Once I had those things figured out I was ready to film it and we managed to do it in one take. The two arrows were tight enough on the target I didn't feel the need to do it again. (It is basically impossible to get super tight clusters when shooting two at once anyway.)

Regardless, having done it, the experience got me thinking about the nature of trick shots and whether it is possible to teach someone how to do a trick shot.

Yes and no. I shall explain why.

You really need for the person to know how to shoot first. They should know all the basics and have good consistency when doing normal target practice. A complete amateur shouldn't really be attempting to do a trick shot, as their arrows will be super inconsistent even under normal circumstances.

Thus I feel I should break down this possible process into several steps, which are basically mandatory if someone is hoping to do a trick shot and do it well (without trying to do it and failing 10,000 times before they finally succeed).

Step #1. Learn how to shoot properly first. Whether you get archery lessons, learn from a book, or learn how to shoot based on years of practice. There is no point attempting a trick shot unless you are guaranteed to at least have a decent chance of succeeding.

Step #2. Know your limits. A good archer should have a decent idea of how far they can shoot accurately and try to stay well within those limits when trying to show off. Trying to shoot at a really long distance for example in an effort to display your skill, when you normally don't practice at that distance - well that is a great way to become discouraged, break/lose arrows, and eventually realize that maybe you picked something that is too difficult.

Step #3. Choose a Trick Shot that is within your range of Skill. Try to pick something relatively easy that you already know how to do, or is perhaps only slightly harder than something you normally do already. This way your chance of success will be way higher. To be a proper trick shot archer, you should be able to repeat the trick shot more than once - not just the one time when the camera was filming and you deleted all the other failed attempts.

Step #4. Practice the Trick Shot. This is really your chance to get good at it. So that you can repeat it on command. Years later, you might not have done the trick shot in a long time, but you should remember all the basics and in theory should be able to repeat the trick shot based on memory.

In my defense yesterday was not the first time I practiced shooting two arrows at once. I have been doing that for years now. Years earlier I did a series of trick shots for Rice Krispies and one shot included shooting two arrows through a bag of flour simultaneously. They wanted me to shoot a single arrow through it, and I suggested that it was a tad boring and what if I shoot two at once? They liked the idea and we went with it. Another shot involved shooting through a plastic milk jug and having it pour milk through the holes into two bowls of Rice Krispies cereal. Twas quite fun doing those.

Step #5. For best results, repeatedly practice the Trick Shot on multiple days. Self explanatory, practice makes perfect. By the time you decide to film it, you should be able to do the trick shot "most of the time" on command. 60% of the time or better would be good.

Step #6. Perform the Trick Shot on Camera. By this point you should be able to do the trick shot either on the first or second attempt.

One of the things I regret not doing yesterday is repeating the trick shot, thrice. To prove it was not a fluke. I should have shot two arrows at once, then another two arrows at once, and then maybe another two arrows at once. A nice cluster of arrows on the target.

Instead I did it on the first attempt and then didn't bother doing it over again. Oh well. Maybe next time I will up the ante.

I am also thinking of doing a whole series of archery trick shot videos. Moving targets, three arrows at once, shooting upside down, various ideas. We shall see.

For fun below is another trick shot video I made in 2015, during which my goal was to hit a tiny moving target - a bottle cap.

And below, a tight cluster on a bottle.

Happy shooting!

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