How to Shoot a Compound Bow

So, just because you’re good at using a traditional bow you believe you know how to shoot a compound bow? You could be wrong. Compound bows are very different from the traditional ones and just knowing how to pick it up or hold it is insufficient.

Shooting a compound bow takes up a lot of practice, but there are also a few things you should know.

In this guide, I aim to teach you the basics of shooting with a compound bow, to help you master the skills.

Step 1 - Prepare The Bow

Compound bows typically come with all needed for you to shoot right out from the box, but some may have very poor quality string or accessories.

The string is, in fact, a fundamental part of the compound bow. You have to make sure it is high-quality and in good conditions. Avoid using worn out or heavily used string as the results will more likely be unsatisfactory.

When choosing the string, also assess how much draw pressure you can handle.

This part is particularly important for the novice who could not be used to shooting a bow. If archery is new to you, get used to the bow first. Learn how to hold it and how to draw the string without the arrow.

For your first shooting attempts, I recommend using a compound bow you’re familiar with or that you’ve used before. Alternatively, ask an expert archer to pick the bow for you instead of buying it yourself; this will guarantee the bow is the size you need.

Then, pick your trainer with care. Make sure whoever is teaching you to shoot the bow has a host of experience in using compound bows, not another type.

Step 2 - Posture

Once you’ve prepared the bow, it’s time to learn how to keep the correct stance when shooting. Your posture is important as it helps you achieve the correct aim and hit the target, so this is an essential step.

From the angle you’re facing the target to how you keep your feet on the ground, everything matters.

You must keep a straight stance with your feet resting firmly on the ground with the toes facing the target and parallel to one another, positioned at least 17-25 inches apart. Like you could expect, you should face the target, but should look at it an angle of about 45 degrees.

When approximating the angle, have someone watch you or record a video of yourself. You’d be surprised to find how many people estimate a much larger or narrower angle is assuming it’s 45°.

Maintaining such a stance guarantees an easier drawing, a better aim, and a higher chance of hitting the target.

Step 3 – Grip

A mistake many novices do is assuming that holding the bow straight would help them in their quest. That’s a wrong assumption, though. By holding the bow too straight, you do nothing but compromise the weapon’s stability and your shooting accuracy.

Instead, you should keep the bow firm but relaxed.

I know that mastering bow gripping is harder than expected; luckily, there are wrist slings that can help you in your task of achieving a comfortable grip.

From an expert’s point of view, I can tell you there is no reason to be ashamed for using these slings. The point is achieving accuracy; shooting a compound bow is not the easiest task on earth and whatever you do to attain it is perfectly fine.

One thing to keep in mind is that you should never shoot with an open hand, as this could lead to fatal errors or severe injuries.

4. Notch The Arrow

One of the most important steps in shooting a bow is notching the arrow. There are two points in which the arrow contacts the bow: the rest and the string. You have to make sure the arrow touches no other points, or it may be sent off course.

Notch the arrow by placing its tip on the arrow rest, then attach the notch (end of the arrow) to the string.

5. Anchor

Anchoring or anchor position refers to the position you’re drawing the string. This is a simple movement that has to draw your hand holding the string against the side of your face as you’re aiming.

Depending on your dominant eye, you should shoot either with your left or with your right hand, drawing the string on the left or right side of your face, respectively.

If you want to achieve the highest level of archery, make sure to anchor the string at the corner of your mouth or under your chin.

6. Draw

One step closer to shooting the arrow, you have to draw the string.

First, extend your arm towards your target, gripping it firmly. Point the bow at the target and aim. Now, pull the string smoothly and extend the bow all the way as you’re achieving a full draw.

It is crucial to use a bow suited for you, as an inappropriate one will never allow you to draw accurately.

7. Release

And we’ve made it through the most exciting part, releasing the arrow. It would seem the easiest step, but in fact, it is the most complex.

The first thing to do is to aim again and make sure your bow is perfectly aligned with the target. Perhaps the easiest thing to do this as a novice is by using a laser sight. With time, you’ll learn how to aim even without one.

When the bow is aligned, just release the string smoothly by relaxing your fingers gradually until you completely release the string. A tensioned release can disrupt your aim and result in inaccuracy.

A mechanical release aid can help at first, but make sure your first attempts are assisted by an experienced archer.

And now that you know how to shoot a compound bow, all you have to do is get out there and start practicing.