How’s Your Form?

By Mark V. Lonsdale

When we discuss form in archery, it is not about the scores on the target, but your body alignment and bio-mechanics in relation to the bow.

One point worth considering is that in precision shooting, the shooter or archer can have poor form, but if they execute the shot, albeit incorrectly, exactly the same every time, then they can still group and score well. “Accuracy is the product of uniformity” so even uniformly poor form can be accurate. This is a common problem with self taught shooters who have never had professional coaching.

This resultant problems with form become more apparent the more one progresses in competition. Eventually those bad habits will become a road block, which then must be unlearned to progress.

Even if you do not have a coach, there are numerous coaches online who will happily critique your form. But even an experienced competitor can be helpful in setting a novice on the right track.

At first glance you may say that these two pics are the same but an astute coach spotted the difference. The image on the left has quite good body alignment but on the right the draw hand elbow was beginning to creep forward. This is a common issue with holding too long, being over bowed, or collapsing prior to the shot.

Still images and video are both useful training tools, but video has an advantage in that it can be analyzed frame by frame to find any weaknesses in form or technique. The key points that you are looking for are skeletal alignment, as opposed to muscling the draw, and no creep or collapse during the anchor, transfer to holding, aiming, release, and follow-through. Yes, collapsing, even after release, or dropping the bow arm can result in some ugly low shots.

As with any precision shooting discipline, the goal is to arrive at a point where all the mechanics are done automatically and sub-consciously, but in the early days, self analysis is critical to developing the correct form. As an aid, the National Training System (NTS) is definitely worth studying. To this end, “Total Archery – Inside the Archer” by KiSik Lee & Tyler Benner is highly recommended.


Author: Mark V

Dedicated shooter, seeker, traveler, teacher, trainer, educator

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