Shooting a compound bow requires patience, skill, and understanding of archery form and gear. It isn’t a simple act of nocking an arrow and shooting! Let’s help you out fly your arrows true with some quick and easy steps on how to properly draw a compound bow:
Factors on How to Properly Draw a Compound Bow
Let’s lay down the foundation on how you can maximize your compound bow. Do take note that aside from these steps, practice (lots of it) needs to be factored in. Don’t worry – you can do it!
It Begins with the Bow Set-Up!
Start it off by checking and prepping your gear. Check your bow for any cracks or visible damage. Make sure that the draw length (and weight) is at the optimum measurement. Also, double-check with manufacturer specifications. Each bow is built differently – which is why you need to know your gear in an intimate manner!
An Option to Consider: Attach a Mechanical Release
As an optional detail, compound bow users can make use of a mechanical release. This nifty piece of equipment will help improve and maintain your arrow’s trajectory. Built with a trigger, the mechanical release allows you to avoid using your fingers when releasing an arrow. Of course, archery purists will say no to this device. But if accurate shots are needed (especially out in the wild), then a mechanical release can be your best friend.
The Correct Shooting Stance Will Make a Big Difference
After checking your gear, you can now then focus on your shooting form. Having and maintaining the proper shooting chance will give you the desired results you’re aiming for.
The T-Form is Where It’s At!
Make it a habit to have the T-Form when drawing your compound bow. Also called as the T-Position, this form makes use of imaginary horizontal and vertical lines
- Vertical Line – with your shoulders squared, your body should be vertically straight (no slouching!).
- Horizontal Line – this is the line from the hand holding your bow towards the elbow of the hand that draws the string.
Make sure that both imaginary lines of the T-Form are straight. Also, the horizontal line should be at a comfortable level that isn’t too high or low when you are at full draw. A recommended position for this line would be just at the same height level of your ear. Doing so will not only help you aim properly. You will tend to make use of your back muscles as well (more on this below!).
Use Your Back Muscles!
Using your back muscles to shoot is essential – you will not only be capable of repeat shots, you’re saving yourself from potential injuries too! This is why, as early as setting the shooting form up, you should intentionally focus on getting back tension engaged.
A common mistake most shooters do is to use their arm muscles when shooting. Using these muscles will tire you out easily. You will also break the rule of keeping the horizontal line of the T-Form straight. Breaking this rule may result to inaccurate shots.
For compound bow users, a common issue on why the use of back muscles isn’t readily used is because of the bow’s design. Compound bows are have a let-off feature that tends to distribute weight evenly. This feature unintentionally makes some users hold the and shoot the bow using their arm muscles.
Now, being aware of this feature, a good practice is to know that you need to ingrain back tension when drawing. It starts with awareness to make your arrows fly right!
Check Your Elbow Position
Another key detail when it comes to a correct shooting form is how you position your elbow. Your elbow of the arm that holds the compound bow should be slightly flexed. This means that drawing the bow string, the elbow should only rotate up or down.
Ingraining this position into the form will prevent bow string slaps from happening. Even with an armguard, these slaps can be irritating (and may result to losing your form when shooting)!
How to Grip Your Bow the Proper Way
Let us know talk more about on how you should hold your compound bow. It’ll take practice to perfect this, but avoid gripping the bow too tight. A tight grip will only result in hand torque. Hand torque can lead to awkward positioning, with the bow unintentionally losing its right form when letting your arrow fly.
Consider these tips for a more relaxed grip on your compound bow:
- Nock an arrow and hold onto the bow string.
- On your gripping hand, form an “L” shape using your index finger and thumb. The three remaining fingers should be bent.
- Maintaining the shape, grip the bow.
- Apply some pressure on the gripping hand by pulling back on the bow string. You know you’re doing this right if you’re drawing the grip into your hand (and not the other way around by needing to close the gripping hand).
- Relax the fingers that are keeping the “L” shape.
Having a proper shooting form may seem easy. But identifying and putting into the practice all the steps mentioned above will train your body in making every single movement a seamless and smooth motion. Remember – the proper archery shooting form matters to make each shot count!
Choose an Anchor Point
With the shooting form ready, find an anchor point that will help you shoot your arrow. An anchor point is essentially a reference for you to maintain each draw cycle. You’d want to keep the entire flow running as smooth as possible. And that’s why an anchor point you are comfortable with will work wonders when drawing and shooting arrows.
There are several locations where you can set anchor points. But for convenience’s sake (and to stay in track with the main steps on how to draw a compound bow), we’ll be discussing some of these recommended anchor points later on in this article.
How to Release…
Now, let us find more on how to let those arrows fly. And since some compound bow users use mechanical releases, we’ll shed some light on both methods below.
Typically, finger shooters who use compound bows tend to shoot from the corner of the mouth. This is because you would need to pull back further when drawing your bow without a mechanical release. Be aware as well that some torque may be applied when using this release method.
Mechanical Release Shooters
Double check to see if the mechanical release’s trigger is wrapped between the first two knuckles of your index finger’. If it isn’t, then make some adjustments. For the actual release, lightly squeeze the trigger. Do not force it! You want to make this part of the entire process as clean and as smooth as possible to avoid injuries.
…and Follow Through
No matter which release method you chose to do, a proper follow through should also be considered when drawing and shooting your compound bow. Here are a few pointers you can note of to find out if you’ve done the motion right.
- After release, your compound bow’s sight should remain locked onto the target. You are basically checking that no movement (whether it’s big or small, intentional or not) has been made to alter your arrow’s flight!
- Your bow’s grip should always be relaxed – even after the arrow has been released. As such, be vigilant and avoid the temptation to squeeze the bow after a shot!
- Following the same analogy of having your bow’s sights locked on, your bow should also stay up after letting an arrow fly. Minuscule or split-moment changes in movement will alter your arrows. So if you can, you’d want to keep everything in control!
Important Reminder: Checking the Peep Sight
Additionally, we’d like to stress the importance of having your compound bow’s peep sight placement. You’d want this located in a spot that is comfortable with your stance!
If you do not have a peep sight yet, check the recommendations.
Archery is a State of Mind – Do Not Forget That!
Lastly, when it comes to drawing a compound bow, always do remember to have a clear and open mindset when shooting an arrow. Archery requires you to have a clear head. No matter how many steps are out there (well, just check out the details we’ve listed above!), everything will be pointless if you overthink and overcomplicate matters.
So, chill out! Take a deep breath and focus on the target. With practice, the motions we’ve mentioned earlier will play it out on muscle memory. And you can now then aim – and hit – your target.
What is the Best Anchor Point for Drawing a Bow?
We’ll be sharing some anchor points that you may want to try out!
Shooting From the Corner of the Mouth
As we’ve mentioned earlier, finger shooters opt to shoot from the corner of the mouth. A traditional way to draw a bow, this anchor point also makes a faster release possible.
Shooting from the Chin
Typically used in Olympic archery tournaments, this anchor point lets shooters pull the bow string towards their chin. For aiming purposes, the tip of the nose is used as a second point of contact.
Mechanical Release Shooting
If you opt to use a mechanical release, try out these suggested anchor points:
First Contact Point
Using a mechanical release, compound bow users normally have the anchor point just right below the jaw bone by the ear.
Second Contact Point
Depending if your compound bow is long enough, an anchor point worth trying out is the tip of your nose.
Third Contact Point
This anchor point requires the use of a “kisser button”. Attached on your bow string, and positioned to be where your lips are when at full draw, this position can offer a comfortable form when drawing your compound bow.
How to Compute Anchor Point Average
Practice makes perfect and repetition is key when looking for the best anchor point. To further help you out, compute to find which anchor point works!
Using ratio and proportion, you’d be able to find out if an anchor point is effective. So, let’s say you made 50 shots out of 100. This means that particular anchor point has a 50% success rate.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to practice. Yes, we are repeating ourselves – but you wouldn’t know unless you try it out, right?
Protips to Find the Best Anchor Point When Drawing Your Bow
Here are miscellaneous tips that deal with the recommended anchor points.
- Finding a comfortable anchor point does not guarantee a bullseye. You need to factor in other variables, such as shooting stance, as well. The anchor point is just one part of the entire shooting package!
- Never dry fire when experimenting or looking for an anchor point. This will only damage your gear!
- As much as possible, try looking for an anchor point in a controlled environment. This way, you’d be able to properly gauge the best anchor point that will work for you.
- Make sure to keep your head in the same position every time you’re trying out an anchor point. Positioning matters in archery, and small movements may result in big changes.
Bonus 1: A Snapshot on Different Bow Draw Methods
How to draw a bow – archery definitely has evolved through the years! We’d also like to quickly point out some of the different draw methods used by archers.
Probably the most common bow draw style, this three-finger draw is also suggested for beginners to use. This draw involves having the index finger just right above the arrow. The middle and ring fingers are then positioned just right below the arrow shaft.
Documented to be used by American Indians, this draw has thumb and index fingers squeezing the arrow itself.
Another traditional way of drawing a bow, this method was developed for shooters on horseback. Using only the thumb, shooters will simply pull on the bow string with the mentioned finger to shoot. The risk of injury is high with this method – consider wearing a thumb ring for protection!
Bonus 2: These Simple Exercises Will Help You Draw a Compound Bow
Need to build up strength when pulling your bow string? Consider doing these exercises (all you need is a resistance band)! You'll grasp these exercises simply by reading along, but youtube has a lot of these too, for example this video.
Replicate Bow Drawing
- Fold the resistance band in half.
- Both your hands should grab onto each end of the folded resistance band.
- Pull both of your shoulder blades towards the center of your back.
- Assuming you are right-handed, extend your left arm and pull your draw hand towards to your face. Make sure your right elbow is level with the pull.
- Reverse the motion by swapping draw hand positions.
Building Up Arm Muscle Strength
- Both your hands should grab onto each end of the resistance band.
- Position the band in front of your chest.
- Pulling outward, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Repeat the process.
How to Draw a Compound Bow Checklist
Before we cap things off, here’s a quick checklist to help you remind on how to draw a compound bow properly.
- Prep your gear
- Go for the T-Position
- Draw your bow string by engaging back tension
- Release softly
- Smoothly follow through
You can do this – practice makes perfect.
Proper Shooting Form = Proper Compound Bow Draw
Drawing a compound bow may be complicated if you point out and consider all the motions involved. Still, putting everything in memory and slowly transitioning it into a habit will make the entire sequence work it. Good luck!
Boost your archery knowledge. Here are some nice write-ups to read!
Musket Hunting – pinpointing some fine tips when finding the best anchor point!
Anchor That Point – breaking down the importance on why the correct shooting form matters.
My Archery Corner – a great reminder why mindset matters when drawing your compound bow.
The Archery Guide – citing specific anchor point locations to boost accuracy.