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SKILLS

Become a Better Archer in Six Steps

Maybe you’ve never held a bow but bought one on impulse at the sporting goods store last month. Maybe you’ve had some fun with archery, but your skills are rusty. Whether you’re a bowhunter or a tournament archer, target success with these tips from TPWD community archery specialist Immanuel Salas.

Take a class or find a coach

An archery class or coaching session is essential to setting you up for success, teaching you the fundamentals of shooting and creating great archery habits. New to the sport? Focus on each step of shooting. Take notes or (even better) video your session. Self-taught? If you were taught by a noncertified instructor or “learned the hard way,” a formal training session can help you pinpoint inefficiencies in your shooting and make you a better archer. A good instructor should be experienced, but also open to new techniques, able to communicate clearly and willing to help you attain your stated goals.


Set your bow to the right draw weight

If your draw weight is too light, you won’t get the best performance out of your equipment; too heavy and you’ll risk bad shooting form, reduced practice time and physical injury. You should be able to fully draw smoothly, without excess movement and without compromising proper form. Hold that full draw for 5 seconds (or more, depending on your ability and activity) and lower the bowstring under control without jerky movements. Your goal is quality practice; proper draw weight allows you to perform the necessary steps with control.


Warm up, cool down

Begin every archery session with dynamic warmups or calisthenics that mobilize the shoulder, arm and back muscles. Conclude every session with stretches that help with flexibility, range of motion and recovery of those same muscles. Warm up and cool down your mind as well by visualizing success, the arrow in flight and the shot process while you set up the archery range and prepare your gear. These steps help prevent injury, set you up for a healthy archery career and mentally and physically prepare you for a productive shooting session.


Practice like it’s real

Train in environments, in situations and with equipment you’ll be using. For tournament archers, consider factors such as indoor and outdoor venues, natural or fluorescent lighting, crosswinds, distances and proximity to the audience or other shooters. If bowhunting, practice shooting at optimal distances for your proficiency, from seated and kneeling positions, from blinds or tree stands, all using your customary broadhead. Will you wear a hat, sunglasses or bulky jacket? Will you use shooting aids, a bow-mounted quiver or rangefinders? Incorporate those into your practice.


Make every shot count

Treat each shot as the one that will win the tournament or harvest your dream game animal. Work through the shooting steps you’ve learned and the set-up sequence you’ve created. Release the arrow only when everything is perfect. Build only successful habits. Recognize that archery is a lifelong pursuit, not a singular accomplishment. Relish the process.


Join a club, league or tournament

Competing hones your archery skills and provides access to a variety of ranges and shooting conditions. Participation in leagues and clubs expands your social circle and introduces you to like-minded individuals to trade knowledge and get involved in conservation. Testing yourself allows you to gauge your progress, improve in areas of your game and attain a sense of accomplishment earned through dedication, perseverance and discipline.


To find out more about TPWD’s archery programs and get connected with local resources visit the Community Archery Program, Texas-NASP or Bowhunter Education pages on the TPWD website.

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