How to Shoot a Compound Bow and Arrow

Archery is the art of skillfully using a bow and arrow to shoot at a target. This can be for hunting, fun, or sport. This outdoor pastime activity was once primarily used for hunting and warfare in the empires of Mesopotamia.

Arrowheads dating back between 100 B.C to 150 A.D have been found in the United Arab Emirates. There are also legendary figures and drawings in the tombs in Thebes that point to archery lessons. The earliest form of evidence of archery, however, was found in South Africa and dates back 60,000 to 72,000 years ago.

Over time, this practice has gained popularity and is now a pastime activity that many participate in. The traditional bow and arrow have also evolved to help with better aiming and successful shooting targets.

We know it doesn’t hurt to have a few archery tips up your sleeves, whether you have been at it for a while or you’re a beginner.  So here are a few pointers on how to shoot a compound bow and arrow.

Types of Bows and Arrows

Before getting into the tips of how to shoot a compound bow and arrow, we think it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of bows and arrows. By understanding the difference between the two, you will be able to appreciate them better.

This will also help you to understand the different parts of the compound bow and arrow and how to best utilize them to improve your archery.

Generally, are two types of bows; a recurve bow and a compound bow.

Recurve Bow and Arrow

In terms of design, the recurve bow is simpler than the compound bow. Its limbs curve away from the archer at the tips, thus, delivering more power to the bow. As a result, energy is delivered more efficiently and the arrow is shot faster than with a traditional longbow.

Recurve bows are commonly used for target archery and are the only type of bows allowed at the Olympics. You can, however, use them for bow hunting if you’re an experienced hunter.

Compound Bow and Arrow

This type of bow is more complex than the recurve bow. Compound Bows were invented in 1966, and have a levering system with pulleys and cables. These enable the bow to increase the force used to propel the arrow forward.

Bowhunters prefer to use the compound bow and arrow due to their efficiency in force and speed.

Basic Parts of a Bow and Arrow

Riser: The riser is the handle of the bow that you hold when shooting. It has the arrow rest, which is where you place the arrow before drawing. Recurve bows have an elevated rest while compound bows have a containment rest.

Limbs: These form the actual bow and attach to the riser. The bowstrings connects the top limb to the bottom limb. Takedown bows are recurve bows with detachable limbs. You can, therefore, replace the older limbs with newer ones, if need be.

Takedown bows are recommended to beginners as they can change the limbs with time as they improve on their skills.

Bow Strings: This is the string that attaches the bottom and top limb of the bow, from which you shoot the arrows.

Nock Point: This is where you place the tail end of an arrow. To have a consistent aim and shot, keep the nock point the same.

Bow sight: This is a detachable device that is set onto the riser and helps you to aim at your target.

Arrowhead or Point: The front part of an arrow that comes into contact with the target. There are three types of arrowheads; the blunt point, the broadhead, and the bullet/field.

The bullet/field point is popularly used for archery practice at a range. They are adjustable metal tips that can be attached to the arrow shaft. The broadhead point is used for hunting large game while the blunt point is used to hunt small animals. Just like the name suggests, the blunt point is also blunt at the end instead of being pointed.

Arrow Shaft: This is the long cylindrical part that acts as the arrow’s backbone. The arrow shaft is often made of aluminum, carbon, or wood.

Arrow Fletching: This is the feather-like part of an arrow at the tail end.

Arrow Nock: This is the plastic V-shaped groove at the tail end of an arrow. The arrow nock is adjustable and you can remove it for repairs.

Now that you are well acquainted with two main types of bows and the parts of a bow and arrow, we can get into the tips on how to shoot a compound bow and arrow.

Posture and Stance

Having the proper posture or stance is the foundation for consistent shooting. You must be able to repeat your stance repeatedly. This will otherwise result in your arrow hitting the target at different points.

For starters, you should keep your feet and shoulders apart. This helps you to remain firmly planted on the ground and remain steady when shooting. You should also open your hips up to the target enough so you don’t have to keep turning your head perpendicularly to the target. This ensures you’re comfortable.

You can also choose to have an open or a closed stance. An open stance is requires yo to have your front foot slightly back. A closed stance on the other hand evenly lines up your toes.

The choice of stance is based on an archer’s personal preference. No matter what stance you choose, keep it consistent for every shot.

Ensure that you stand upright and avoid leaning backward or forward. You should also straighten your back by tightening your core. This way, your body looks like a ‘T’ at full draw.

Set the Right Draw Weight

Draw weight refers to the resistance a drawstring offers when pulling it back. It, therefore, defines the power of the bow and the force you need to apply to shoot. Draw weight is measured in pounds and is adjustable with every compound bow. You should, therefore, ensure that your compound bow is set to the right draw weight if you want to successfully shoot a compound bow and arrow.

Hunting compound bows require a draw weight of 50 to 60 pounds. This measurement is different for archery bows depending on sex and age.

For example, for archery sports, men require a draw weight of 40 to 55 pounds, while women require 30 to 40 pounds. Children’s draw weight is set between 15 to 20 pounds.

Master your Grip

There’s no correct way of gripping your compound bow. However, there are a few things you should repeat consistently to help you shoot a compound bow and arrow.

For instance, you ensure that you center your grip on your palm. This way you can distribute the weight of the bow evenly between your fingers and wrist. Avoid holding your compound bow too far back or forward as this will cause unnecessary strain.

You should also relax your grip if you want to shoot a compound bow and arrow successfully. This means you don’t grip your bow too hard as it will throw off your shot.

Your shooting hand should pull the arrow till it clicks into the bow’s nocking point. Ensure that the arrow is in the middle of the straight line.

Maintain Bow Balance

 Having and maintaining perfect bow balance is important as it enables you to attain the proper aim. You can achieve this by practicing using a front and rear stabilizer, a V-bar bracket, and weights.

Overcome Target Panic

Target panic refers to maintain your pin on the target long enough to slowly squeeze the release enough to cause surprise when shot. Most archers release the pin prematurely.

The primary cause of target panic is anxious aiming. This often occurs when you set the pin correctly and feel the need to release it immediately. Fortunately, you can change this with ear and aiming training.

All you need to do is commit about two weeks to improve this ear, mind, and eye coordination. For these two weeks, stand in front of a target with an arrow nocked and aim at the target. Draw the bowstring with your finger aiming at the trigger but don’t release.

Maintain that position until your aiming starts breaking down. Only then should you let down and reset. Repeat this during this period like you would with any practice but never fire the arrow.

This will help train your mind to slow down and acknowledge that it’s okay to settle the pin on the bullseye without firing the arrow. It will also help increase the time frame within which you can aim effectively without your shot breaking down.

Work on Your Aim and Anchor Point

Aiming and anchoring your bow is key if you want to shoot a compound bow and arrow. To attain proper aim, you should hold your bow perpendicularly to the ground with your elbow slightly bent. This position is comfortable and prevents overextension when releasing the arrow.

The bowing arm should remain aimed at the target as you draw the bowstring. Pull your shoulder back and slightly rotate your upper torso to help you draw the string. Use your upper back muscles for stability.

Once your set in this position, you should find your natural anchor point. This is where you bring your drawing hand and bowstring when shooting. A good anchor point should have three points of contact; the corner of your mouth, the tip of your nose, and the peep house aligning with the sight housing.

Having more contact points ensures a more consistent anchor. Point to note; ensure that one of your anchor points makes a bone-to-bone contact. For example, your thumb bone and your jaw bone.

Different archers prefer different anchoring methods and that is okay. What matters is that you try them out, pick one, and stick to it. This will ensure consistency.

Use Sights

A sight is an additional bow gear that will help you improve your shot when using a compound bow and arrow.

Recurve bows don’t usually have sights, but you can fit one on if you like. Compound bows on the other often have sights, but these are not permanent and you can adjust them to your liking. Here are a few things to take note of when using sights;

  1. The dots on your optical sight help you gauge the distance to the target. The topmost dot marks 20 yards. The rest of the dots progress in increments marking different lengths depending on the model.
  2. Some sights might have adjustable markers.
  3. Always align the right marker with your target.
  4. Keep your movements subtle when adjusting your aim.
  5. Aim with your hips.

Avoid Pushing and Pulling

Although you have to apply some form of push and pull, it shouldn’t be too much. This back tension method is no longer as applicable. This is because back then designs of bows were differently. Unlike the compound bow, the traditional bows lacked back walls and let-off.

Compound bows, however, have high let-off and sturdy back walls. As such, there’s no need to use too much force when pushing and pulling. Instead, pull the drawstring just enough to stay against the back wall.

Focus Before Releasing

It is important to perfect your aim before firing your arrow. Tensing up will reduce your accuracy. As such, you need to maintain smooth and subtle movements. 

Follow Through

It’s not enough to just shoot perfectly shoot at a target once. You need to perfect the art over time and this requires to follow through. One way to do this is by taking notes. Every time you achieve a perfect shot, take notes on your stance, anchor points, draw weight, sight marker, and grip technique.

Writing these down ensure that you can easily apply them in your next shot and thus improve how you shoot your compound bow and arrow.

You should also follow through by serving your bowstring and paper tuning your bow.

A Few Rules to Consider

Consider the following when using a compound bow and arrow;

  1. Practice improving your shot. Archery is a sport. As such, you will only master the skills through repetition. It is, therefore, important for you to practice regularly. This is the only way to build muscle and brain memory that’ll allow you to get better.
  2. Always have the appropriate gear. Make sure to include the necessary gear to your compound bow and arrow that will help improve your shot. This can include optical sights, bow releases, quivers, and arm guards.
  3. Dress appropriately. Make sure you’re in comfortable clothes that won’t interfere with your aim and stance.
  4. Do not use the damaged gear. This can be harmful to both you and anyone within the vicinity.
  5. Never dry fire your bow. This refers to pulling back your bowstring and firing it without an arrow or a target in mind. Doing so will damage your bow and make it less efficient.
  6. Only aim at a target. Always assume that you will hit whatever you aim at. As such, don’t aim at anything you don’t want to hit with your arrow.