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4 Ways to Improve Your Archery Form

Want to improve your archery form and accuracy? Pay attention to these 4 tips that will help to improve your form/accuracy.

1. Fix your Feet First

Regardless of whether you are on flat terrain or shooting on a steep slope / hill then you should always fix your feet first so that you are either doing relaxed stance or square stance. It is possible to shoot using other stances, but if you're a beginner trying to get more accuracy then you really want to improve your footing before doing anything else.

2. Brace the Bow / Center your Hand

If you're not holding the bow in your hand properly it is going to effect where the arrow is going to go, often randomly. To improve consistency (and accuracy) you want to brace the bow's handle on the meaty part of your palm closest to your wrist.

If you don't put enough meat on your handle you will often torque the bow to the side. Likewise if you put too much meat on the handle you can torque the bow in the other direction and the bowstring will hit you in the forearm between the elbow and roughly halfway down the forearm.

What you want is the "Goldilocks" amount of meat on the handle. Centered.

3. Relax your Hand

You want your bow hand to be relaxed, and positioned like you are giving a very limp handshake. Keeping your hand centered and relaxed improves your accuracy. There is no need to squeeze the bow with your hand. You aren't going to drop it. After you shoot you will immediately grip the bow so that you don't drop it. (Some archers add an archery wrist strap on their bow so they can leave their bow hand completely relaxed the whole time.)

4. Pre-Aim before Drawing

When you pre-aim at a target you align your forearm and elbow with the arrow, and thus when you pull back the bowstring the arrow and your forearm end up being better aligned.

If you skip this step and just draw the bow and then aim, your elbow will often be too high or too low, which means your forearm will be out of alignment, resulting in increased chances of plucking your release, and you will be more likely to be shaking a bit if you are straining your forearm to hold the bow steady.

Pre-aiming only takes an extra moment to do, but it makes a big difference to accuracy if it makes you steadier and reduces the chances of plucking.

Bonus Tip

Also doesn't hurt to get archery lessons. Get archery lessons in Toronto from Cardio Trek.


Should you cancel your gym membership during COVID?

Q

 "Should I cancel my gym membership during the Coronavirus Pandemic?"

 

A

Honestly, if you're not able to use your gym membership right now because all of the gyms in the city are shutdown, then absolutely you should consider canceling your gym membership.

I don't know when the lockdown is going to be over, and who knows when you will be working again / making money, so you might as well cancel your gym membership and find a different way to exercise that doesn't involve being around people.

The same thing goes with if you currently have a personal trainer (like myself). Right now is a good time to cancel (or indefinitely reschedule) those sessions with your personal trainer and ask about a refund.

I have already started issuing refunds to my archery students who signed up for archery lessons in April and May, or rescheduling them until "later". Hopefully when the pandemic has dwindled I can teach archery again, but in the meantime due to the lockdown that isn't going to be happening.

Let's consider the math...

If this lockdown goes on for months you could be out hundreds of dollars.

Back in 2008 I had a gym membership that was costing me $75 + HST per month. If you are paying a similar rate at your local gym and the lockdown goes on for 6 months that is going to cost you...

$75 x 6 + 13% HST = $508.50.

It could last less, it could last longer. We have no idea when this Coronavirus Pandemic is going to end.

And even if the pandemic was ending in September, and we had a confirmed date on when it would end, would you really want to be paying gym fees for April, May, June, July and August for a gym you cannot use (or are afraid to use) during the pandemic.

What happens when we eventually get a vaccine?

1. Not everyone is going to take the vaccine. Eg. Anti-vaxxers.

2. They need to test the vaccine properly, a process which normally takes 2 years. So it isn't going to be tested and ready by September or October anyway. Not this year. It might take until 2021 or 2022 to have a vaccine that works.

3. Even when they do make the vaccine the production of the vaccine might be quite slow. In the film "Contagion" (which was a very realistic film) it took months just to make and distribute the vaccine.

4. Assuming you get the vaccine early, are the gyms going to open up at the same time? Doubtful. Their staff might not yet have the vaccine. They need to make certain all their staff have been vaccinated. I foresee employers requiring all their employees to bring in a doctor's note confirming that they've been vaccinated.

So what should you do in the meantime?

1. Go for walks. Do some outdoor photography. Take the dog or kids with you.

2. Find a sport or exercise activity you can do indoors. Eg. Put on some music and dance. Dancing costs you basically nothing so it ends up being very frugal. Yoga? Body weight exercises? Lots of options.

3. Buy a treadmill, a home weightlifting gym or something similar. You don't have to get something expensive. Start small, say $25 to $40 per month on exercise equipment, and you will still be spending way less on exercise equipment for your home than you would be paying for a gym membership.

4. Go bicycling. Spring is here already and Summer will be here soon enough. Either fix up your old bicycle or buy a new bicycle. Totally worth it. You could even bring your camera with you and do photography as you cycle around Toronto (or whatever city you are in).

5. Swimming, specifically in lakes or rivers, but if you know of a place with a pool where you feel safe and COVID free go ahead.

6. Go for long hikes. Again, take your dog, kids and/or camera with you.

7. Take up jogging.

Seriously there is a long list of activities you can do instead of going to the gym. Going to the gym was never mandatory. You should never have to feel obligated to exercise just because you are paying money to a gym, you should feel MOTIVATED to exercise because you've found something that you love doing which just happens to be exercise.

That is why I teach archery, boxing, swimming and ice skating. Mostly archery these days. I love those activities. They're highly enjoyable and I feel very motivated to go out to the archery range, the ice rink or the swimming pool to do such activities because they're FUN.

Eg. Until the COVID shutdown started I was a regular at my local indoor pool and my toddler son (he's 2 years old) was learning how to swim. I was taking him there twice per week to do 1 hour of swim time so he can learn how to swim and enjoy the water.

And when he is older I will get him a bicycle and we will be out there cycling together so that he learns how, but also because he will enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with having a bicycle.

And if you're trapped indoors because of COVID during the next few months then having the freedom to hop on your bicycle and just go places, that feeling of freedom could be very therapeutic.



Temporarily Closed For Business

Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak my archery lessons are temporarily unavailable.

I am going to be using this break to spend time with family, work on some writing, read a few books (currently I am reading the Witcher series and also a series of books by British writer Anthony Ryan, which I totally recommend people check out), and perhaps do some woodworking/bowmaking.

I will also be working on writing a new magazine article for Archery Focus magazine.

Whenever the virus outbreak gets sorted out I will be resuming my normal routine of archery lessons, but for now I suppose I am on an "extended vacation".

So for now my bows are just going to hang for a bit until they are ready to be used again. (Asides from me getting some personal practice, of course.)

7+ Frequently Asked Archery Questions

Where can I do archery? Is it safe and legal to do it in my backyard?  Is there a designated place to do archery in my city?

In Toronto the best place to do archery is at the Toronto Archery Range, located in E. T. Seton Park (near the Ontario Science Centre).

Visit archerytoronto.ca/Toronto-Archery-Range.html to see maps and parking info.
The legality of doing archery in your backyard depends upon how safe you are doing it. If a neighbour complains about your lack of safety precautions and police investigate they could charge you with reckless endangerment with a firearm. Since Toronto has a public archery range however it is generally accepted that you should really be practicing archery at the archery range.

What is the cost of equipment?  Do I have to shell out big bucks or can I do it on a budget?

Either. Nobody is forcing you to spend a lot of money. A typical beginners budget for equipment is about $350 CDN to buy bow, arrows, arrowheads, arrowrest, shooting glove or tab, bowstringer, etc. Alternatively you could just make your own equipment if you are skilled at woodworking and want to try your hand at bowmaking / fletching arrows.

What kind of equipment do I need to start out?  Should I just get a bow and some arrows or is there anything else I need?

Yes. You will want:


  • Arrowheads
  • Arrowrest
  • Shooting glove or tab
  • Bowstringer
  • A bag or box for carrying your equipment to and from the archery range.
  • Various optional items like a quiver, arm guard/bracer, arrow nock bead, paper targets, portable targets, 3D targets, and a variety of other accessories.

Do I need archery lessons?  Can I just go and shoot or do I need to be instructed on technique, safety, best practices, etc...?

No, you absolutely do not need lessons, but it is definitely helpful to have archery lessons and you should definitely pay attention and abide by all the safety bylaws as they are for your own protection and to protect others.

What types of bows are there?  I have seen some complicated contraptions and more Robin Hood looking bows, but what is the difference and which should I choose?

The most common styles of bows are:

  • Recurve Bows
  • Longbows / Flatbows
  • Horsebows / Shortbows
  • Olympic Recurve Bows
  • Compound Bows

Recurve Bows are the easiest to learn how to use. Longbows/Flatbows and Horsebows/Shortbows are stylistically similar, but have a more difficult learning curve. Olympic Recurves are more specialized and use gadgets to help the archery increase archery. Compound Bows are typically decked out with every gadget you can find. The biggest difference between the styles is how much the individual archer wants to embrace specific traditions or whether they prefer to use gadgets to get extra accuracy.


How long will it take me to be good?  Is it a long process or will I pick it up quickly?

It varies significantly upon a number of factors.


  • Whether or not you get archery lessons.
  • How many archery lessons you get.
  • Whether or not you buy/read any archery books or read websites about improving your archery form.
  • How good is your posture.
  • How often your practice.
  • What your definition of "good" is.

It takes years to get really good at archery. It isn't something that happens overnight. Getting archery lessons / reading a good book on the subject really speeds up the process.

What types of arrows are there?  What do you call the feathers at the end?  What is the best arrow I can buy?

There are many types of arrows, usually made from wood, bamboo, carbon fibre, aluminum or fibreglass. The feathers are called fletching. The "best arrow" depends on what you are using it for. An expensive arrow doesn't necessarily mean it is better at a specific task. Eg. A lightweight arrow would be better for long distance (flight archery), but a heavier arrow can often be better for hunting purposes. So it really depends.

Historically "footed shaft" arrows were considered to be the best of both worlds because they were heavier on the front and lighter on the back, which improved accuracy.

More Frequently Asked Archery Questions

Competing Against Yourself and Records

ARCHERY LESSONS TORONTO

One of the things I have done over the years of teaching archery is that I have started keeping records of how well my students do.

For example during the first lesson, which involves Field Archery Practice at target balls, I keep track of which students have managed to hit the target ball at the furthest distance.

During the first lesson the student starts shooting at a target ball at a distance of 10 yards. If they hit the ball I move it back 1 pace (roughly 1 yard). If they hit it twice in the same round, I move it back 2 paces.

Five times? Clearly that distance is too easy. Move it back 5 paces.

By the end of the lesson most students are shooting at the target balls at a distance of 21 to 25 yards. However some students have been quite good at this and manage to hit the ball enough times to get the ball out to an impressive distance.

The record for a beginner student during their first lesson is 37 yards (111 feet).

Recently one of my archery students managed to tie that record, and I got it on video. So now there are two students who managed to hit the target ball at 37 yards during their first lesson.




Competing Against Yourself

Keeping track of your personal record at various distances is handy and fun to do. It lets you know how much you have improved. For example I know my personal record at 20 yards when shooting at a 40cm FITA archery target is a perfect 50 out of 50, but I also know I only managed to get that score on a day when:

  • I was well rested and well fed.
  • I was mentally focused and not distracted.
  • There was almost no wind.
  • I was using a particular bow I had been shooting with for years.
  • I was using brand new arrows.
  • I had been trying to get a perfect score for almost a month.
 Getting to that perfect score out of 50 was very hard. I got a lot of 47s, 48s and 49s. I could get four 10s fairly easily, but getting a fifth was proving to be extremely difficult.

Getting that perfect score basically required everything to be alignment (like the moon and stars, etc) and I only ever did it once.

Once I did do it however I moved on to other things, like seeing what was the best score I could get at 33 yards (30 meters / 99 feet), also on a 40cm FITA target. I don't think I will ever get a perfect 50 at that distance on a target that small. (The 10 point circle only has a diameter of roughly 4 cm.)


Competing Against The Record

Find a record set by someone else that you think you could potentially beat.

For example the most amazing shot I have ever seen done by any of my students was last year when I was teaching one of my older students Clout Archery.

Clout Archery involves shooting at a flag pole at very large distances. So far away you need something like a flagpole so you can see what you are trying to hit.

One of my students hit the flagpole, right on the flag where it was attached to the pole, the middle point of it - and hit it so hard the flagpole fell over.

The distance was 85 yards (77.7 meters). For reference Olympic archers shoot at 70 meters.

In the video below you can hear me grumbling about how I need to come up with more difficult challenges for this particular student, who after so many years of lessons continues to amaze me with his ability to beat a challenge.



Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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