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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!

Archery Lesson Plan + How many lessons should you do?

Good Afternoon,

I am interested in signing up for archery lessons. I was hoping to get some additional information about the lessons. From the site, I see that they are packages for 1,3,5 and 10 lessons. I was wondering if the multiple lessons have a sort of lesson plan, for example the first lesson deals with X and Lessons 2 and 3 deal with Y. Or if you have a recommendation of how many lessons a beginner like myself should start off with.

Thank you,


Note - Lesson Plan Updated in 2018.


Yes, I do follow a lesson plan - although it does sometimes vary from client to client. eg. Some clients want to learn how to shoot longbow, shortbow, compound or have specific goals in mind, which changes how lessons unfold. Depending on wind conditions some lessons will also deal with how to adjust for the wind.

Below is a typical lesson plan.

Lesson 1 - Safety Lecture, Eye Dominance Test, Aiming Lecture, Form Lecture + Field Archery Practice (various distances), with a focus on form.

Lesson 2 - Target Practice at 60 feet. Focus is on developing quality form and getting rid of bad habits, may include learning how to adjust for the wind depending on wind conditions. The lesson includes a lecture on arrowheads.

Lesson 3 - Long Distance Field Archery Practice at multiple distances. The goal of this lesson is to get more consistent power in order to increase accuracy. Because of the distance being shot, learning how to adjust for the wind conditions is also an important factor. The lesson includes a lecture on arrow spine.

Lesson 4 - Moving Targets and Gap Shooting. This lesson teaches the student a different style of aiming that is easier for shooting at moving targets. Archers who know both the traditional method of aiming and the gap shooting method of aiming are more versatile and able to shoot at both moving targets, stationary targets, and long distance targets with more accuracy, because they can choose the aiming method which works best for that situation. The lesson may include a demonstration on how to wax a bowstring.

Additional lessons beyond that can vary dramatically, but typical topics include:
  • Aiming Exercises, geared towards teaching the student to be able to adjust their aim correctly.
  • Adjusting for Wind at Longer Distances. Up to 375 feet.
  • Perfecting Form / Getting rid of any remaining bad habits, how to recognize bad habits.
  • Precision Marksmanship at 60 feet - requires the student to have developed good form first.
  • How to shoot while Kneeling + Alternative Stances.
  • Varying Distances, Adjusting Aim based on minor Distance changes.
  • Instinctive Archery - only if the student requests to learn that style.
  • Horsebow Archery - only if the student requests to learn that style.
  • Olympic Archery - only if the student requests to learn that style.
  • Howard Hill Style - only if the student requests to learn that style.
Some lessons may also include a mini lecture and/or demonstrations on a topic such as arrow spine, arrowhead grain, how to wax a bowstring, how to string a bow using a bowstringer, how to string a longbow, etc. Mini lectures typically occur during the middle of a lesson, to give the student a bit of a brief break from shooting.

Note - The above lesson plan does not cover compound archery. Sometime in the future I should post a separate lesson plan for learning how to shoot compound bows.

See also:

Sample Lesson Plan for Horseback Archery
Sample Lesson Plan for Olympic Archery

As to how many lessons, most people choose based on the following:
  • 1 lesson for people who want to just try archery.
  • 3 lessons for people who are thinking about getting their own equipment.
  • 5 lessons for people who definitely want to get into archery, and possibly are already shopping for equipment.
  • 10 lessons for people who want to get better at archery in a hurry and are definitely planning to purchase equipment.
If you have additional questions feel free to ask. Have a great day!

Charles Moffat

Statue of Archer

#TakeYourShot for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Earlier today I performed a trick shot on behalf of, which is raising money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, located in Toronto.

#TakeYourShot is a social media campaign to raise money/awareness and they are encouraging athletes and sports enthusiasts to use whatever skills they have - football, basketball, darts, archery, bowling, javelin, axe throwing, etc to show off their skills and raise awareness/money for the PMCF.

The trick shot I chose to perform was "Two Arrows at Once", which I recorded at 120 frames per second on my cellphone and then slowed it down to 30 frames per second to show it in slow motion.

The video was made today (July 11th 2016) at the Toronto Archery Range. I spent half an hour before the filming practicing shooting two arrows at once, then handed my cellphone to a friend and we recorded the trick shot in one attempt. That first attempt was so good we didn't bother doing it over again.

The bow used was a three piece Samick Red Stag, which I have named "Ulmaster", draw weight 35 lbs. The arrows were Easton Power Flight 400s. The distance I was shooting at was approx. 20.5 yards (61.5 feet or 18.5 meters).

To donate to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation you can visit either: or is also looking for people to submit links to YouTube videos of archery trick shots for the campaign so that people can get inspired and take part / donate.

Want to see more archery trick shots? Leave a comment below and a suggestion for another archery trick shot and I will see if it can be done.

Six Rules of Success - Motivational Tips from Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an inspiration to many. Including myself.

Among the many speeches he has given in the past, is the video below during which he explains Six Rules of Success - which are excellent tips for people who are exercising and seeking to accomplish a specific goal.

The Six Tips are:

#1. Trust yourself. Follow your own instincts.

#2. Break the rules. Be a Maverick. Don't break the law, but don't be afraid to break the rules and try something new.

#3. Don't be afraid to fail. Failing is okay. It is quitting that is wrong.

#4. Don't listen to naysayers. Because if you only ever listen to negative ideas, you will never accomplish anything.

#5. Work your butt off. Because nobody ever accomplished anything by being lazy / doing nothing.

#6. Find time to give something back. To your community, to society, to your chosen sport or activity.

Swimming Vs Drowning

This child is only pretending to be drowning. During a real drowning
you would probably only see his hands.
Every year thousands of Canadians die from drowning. The average number of drownings in Canada per year is currently 3,551.16. It kills 10.1 out of every 100,000 Canadians per year.

For comparison purposes, the murder rate in Canada is a mere 1.45 for every 100,000 Canadians per year. Drowning kills 6.9 times more people than murderers do.

Want to know what the leading cause of drowning is?

It is:
Not knowing how to swim.

Globally, approx. 400,000 people die every year from drowning.

20% of all drownings are children and youth under the age of 14, largely because they don't know how to swim.

And even those people who are resuscitated using CPR don't necessarily go back to their normal lives. Over 50% of non-fatal drownings result in hospitalization due to nonfatal drowning injuries, some of which can lead to long term health problems such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (aka, permanent vegetative state).

Another big factor is gender: 80% of drowning victims are males. Male pride and a refusal to take seriously the risk of drowning leads many men to drown because they "think" they are strong swimmers, when in reality they are poor swimmers and have bitten off more than they can chew.

Impoverished minorities are also more likely to drown with numbers ranging from twice as likely to drown to five times more likely to drown, depending on the ethnic group. This is because they are also the least likely to have received swimming lessons. The numbers are largely tied to economic factors, as poor parents are the least likely to be able to afford swimming lessons for their children.

Having access to a local swimming pool, having access to swimming lessons, having the desire to learn how to swim, having access to water related sports and activities.

Ignoring age, gender, economic factors, etc, there are a number of key areas that cause drownings. They are the following:

#1. Lack of Swimming Ability - This includes no knowledge of how to swim or simply being a poor swimmer.

#2. Lack of Proper Fencing - Having a fence surrounding all sides of a pool lowers the chances of a child drowning in a pool by 83%, compared to a fence where only 3 sides of the pool have barriers preventing entry.

#3. Lack of Supervision - One of the biggest statistics for drownings is children under the age of 4 who are left unattended, sometimes in a bathtub, near a pool, river or lake. It can happen quickly, even with the presence of lifeguards.

#4. Location - Most drownings for children under the age of 14 happen in pools. Over the age of 15 and most drownings happen in wilderness areas such as rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.

#5. Boating Accidents + No Lifejacket - 72% of boating accident deaths are the result of drowning, with 88% of drowning victims wearing no lifejacket.

#6. Alcohol Consumption - This statistic skyrockets for teenagers and adults. 20% of boating accident deaths involve alcohol, and 70% of water recreation drownings also involve alcohol. Alcohol effects balance, coordination, and judgment, and the effects of alcohol are worsened by sun exposure and heat, making swimming and drinking exceptionally dangerous.

#7. Seizures and Narcolepsy - For people with a seizure disorder drowning is the leading cause of accidental death, which occurs most often in bathtubs. For people with narcolepsy falling asleep without warning can be very dangerous during many activities. Knowing how to swim won't help them during a seizure, but they should certainly consider switching to showers.

So how do we prevent people from drowning?

Well, for starters children should start swimming lessons from a young age. The rest is mostly common sense things: Pools should have proper fencing. All swimming and swimming lessons should be supervised, and young children should be supervised while taking baths. Always wear a lifejacket when boating. No alcohol before or during swimming. People with a history of seizures or narcolepsy should stick to showers and even consider wearing a lifejacket when swimming.

The key parts of this is swimming lessons + common sense. Think of getting swimming lessons like getting a vaccine against drowning. It isn't a guarantee that a person won't drown, as accidents can still occur, but the chances of a person drowning is significantly reduced if they know how to swim.

As someone who was raised with parents who had a pool, I didn't really have a choice. I had to take swimming lessons, my parents saw to that. I wasn't even allowed near the pool unsupervised until I had reached level Red at the local pool that provided swimming lessons. As I got older I even got into snorkeling, an activity I now find to be quite enjoyable and only enhances my love of swimming. To any parents reading this, I strongly recommend you do the same. Get your kids swimming lessons. Don't take chances with their lives.

Happy Swimming!
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