In this lesson you will learn the first step in shooting an arrow from the bow and is the most important thing to learn, the stance. Your Archery stance is important as it is needed to keep you stable which will help you get the rotation and alignment needed, without proper form you will also struggle to get the power needed.
When you stand towards the target, you will be standing at the “shooting line”. This lesson will therefore assume you are at a safe distance from your target and are using something to dictate your shooting line. The shooting line should be parallel to the face of the target and is usually shown as a coloured line or rope.
Basics To A Good Stance
In order to develop a good archery stance, you should;
- Stand up straight with your feet the same width apart as your shoulders
- Distribute your weight evenly on both feet (so you are not leaning one way or another)
- Don’t lock or bend your knees, keep your legs relaxed
- Straighten your back, with relaxed shoulders
- Ensure you do not lean forward or backwards (many feel the bow is heavier so compensate - don’t do this)
The 4 Stances
When you initially start practicing archery, you will want to stick to one stance. More often than not this will be the square stance, this is important as it will help to improve your overall technique and just changing your stance can completely alter your shot.
The 4 stances are;
This archery stance is the most common and the first you will want to get familiar with. That doesn't mean it's one that you want to stop using as you will often see professional archers using this stance.
Stand side on to the target with your bow arm side closest to the target. If you are holding your bow with your left hand then you left leg will be closer, if you are holding it with your right hand then you will be facing the other way with your right leg closest to the target.
Your feet will be pointing perpendicular to the target, whilst your hips and shoulders will be side on to it.
This is very similar to the square stance, however the foot that is closest to the target (front-foot) is pointing outwards a little towards the target. The amount the foot is turned does depend on the individual, normally 25-30 degrees. By doing this you will find that your shoulders and hips open more to the target.
If you struggle with pulling your shoulders back on the square stance, using the open stance might make it easier. This is because the bow is further away from the chest and helps to improve the use of the back muscles.
This archery stance tends to be very popular, as it feels more natural when standing. If you plan to shoot outdoors a lot, this might be the stance to adapt as it improves stability.
If you feel comfortable with the open stance but want to be facing the target a little more, the Natural stance might be ideal. This stance is an evolution on the open version and as well as the front-foot facing the target, the back-foot is also turned slightly to the target.
With this additional movement of the back foot, your hips and shoulders are rotated a little more which opens the gap between your chest and arms against the bow.
This stance is the opposite of the open stance, your front-foot is side on to the target but your back-foot is positioned away from the target. If you feel that you need a little more draw length, this might be a good stance to try. This is because your shoulders and hips are pointing away from the target, resulting in extra extension of the arm to fully draw the bow.
Some believe that this stance can produce more strength to the shot, however with it being closer to the chest and arms you do open yourself up to additional bruises from the bowstring.
Which Stance Should You Do?
This is really down to you and what you feel is more comfortable and ultimately going to give you the best shot. I would recommend starting off first with the square stance and stick with this until you feel comfortable with your form. We are all different so what I might find comfortable, you might not and visa versa.
Tips To Improve Your Archery Stance
As already mentioned, getting the right stance is key to being able to fully draw the bow. This impacts the strength in your shot as well as the accuracy. Ideally you want to spend a couple of lessons focusing on your stance, keeping note as to where your feet are and how it feels. Below are 3 tips to help improve it.
Tip #1 - Repeat, Repeat and Repeat
Typically during your first couple of sessions you will probably manage to shoot around 30 arrows, after this you will find your arm starts to ache. When you stand up against the target think about where your feet are, think about your positioning and your posture. Doing this for 1-2 hours and you will soon find that your muscle memory kicks in and you start to do it without even thinking about it.
Tip #2 - Focus
It’s important to remain focused when doing archery, getting all of the steps correct. If you simply go up to the line and shoot the arrows, you will find your form slipping and gradually see your stance not being correct.
Tip #3 - Practice As Often As Possible Off The Range
You don’t need to be in front of a target in order to practice how to stand correctly, it can easily be done at home without a bow in your hand. All you need is something to act as the shooting line, whether a physical object or an imaginary line. Simply set yourself up as though you was standing with a bow, doing this for 5 minutes a day and you will see dramatic improvements.
I would also recommend doing this in front of a tall mirror, as it will allow you to see any issues in your own stance.
I hope this lesson on Archery Stance has helped teach you how to shoot with proper form. If you have any questions please feel free to post in the comments below..