Archery is a fine-tuned sport that requires a lot of attention to detail. This article will look at the top 10 common archery mistakes that are made by kids and archery beginners and how to fix them and pick up on them early.
By identifying these common mistakes and bad habits early on, injury can be prevented, goals will be reached sooner, and more enjoyment will be had with archery. If mistakes and faults keep arising, it is likely that the motivation to train and practice will fall, resulting in a drop off of participating in archery.
Some mistakes may seem small but will implicate your shooting process and journey later on the line if not fixed in the beginning. Being aware of the most common mistakes that are made by other people, might be advantageous to your journey.
Your ArcheryUP instructor will be able to help you create proper form, technique and a consistent shot, but there is still the chance of mistakes creeping in.
1. The bow is too heavy
Having a bow that is too heavy can result in injury in new archers and kids, as well as experienced archers. The bow can be heavy in different ways, the physical mass weight of the bow and the poundage weight of the limbs. Reducing the risk of equipment being too heavy is key to the progression in archery for beginners and kids.
Having a bow that the physical mass is too heavy will cause the shot to become unstable and uncomfortable for the archer. Most commonly, the riser will be too heavy for the archery, meaning a lighter riser is needed. There is also potential that stabilizers or excess weight has been added too soon to the bow. The physical mass weight can be reduced by taking off the excess weights, and stabilizers.
How can you catch this common mistake before it’s too much of an issue? Watch for lack of control in the shot, check if the front arm (hand holding the bow) shaking to the point where aiming cannot take place. Being too tired in their bow arm to complete a full session is a big indication that their mass weight is too much.
With limb poundage being too high, the overall shot of the archer will break down very quickly. They will not be able to hold their shot for long enough to do a consistent shot, with aiming and a good technique. This will most likely result in a shoulder injury due to the repetitive movement and the strain on the muscles.
An easy way to assess if the draw weight (limb poundage) is too much is to draw the bow a few times without shooting, if it feels like it is too easy, it is probably too light, if it is too heavy, it will be too heavy. When drawing the bow if it is pulling upward then it is too heavy.
Being aware of these mistakes will avoid a loss of confidence in the archer, help reduce injury risk because of being over-bowed and will help keep the technique consistent through the correct weight. Your ArcheryUP instructor will be able to advise and assist with the correct poundage and bow weight.
2. Wrong draw length
The wrong draw length will affect each bow style in different ways. Draw lengths can be too long or too short, both resulting in inconsistent shots and results. Having the wrong measurements will cause comfort and accuracy to be dramatically reduced, whether it is too long or too short.
Draw length is measured by how far you pull back the bowstring to your anchor point. It is a very personalized piece of information, and ensuring you have the right length is essential.
Recurve bows and barebow differ from compound bows in that, they do not have a set draw length. For recurves and barebow, the draw length does affect the actual length of the bow. Longer draw lengths will require a longer bow and vice versa for shorter.
Compound bows require a set draw length, as cams and axel-to-axel length differs. If you are into bowhunting or competition bows, you will need to ensure you get the correct draw length before shooting your bow.
It is important to think about whether there is poor alignment, a high shoulder position or if the d-loop is the wrong length when thinking about measurements and if they are coming up too short. If they are too long, look at the anchor point? Can there be a more consistent anchor point? The head position and for compound, if there is a long release aid. These factors can all affect the draw length and measurements.
A safety issue with this common mistake is also the arrow length could be too small, resulting in injury and equipment damage. Your ArcheryUP instructor will be able to guide you and measure your full draw length and reduce the risk of injury and damage.
3. Not warming up or cooling down
It is very common in sport to participate in a warm-up and cool down before training sessions and competitions. So why wouldn’t you for archery? Any warm-up or cool-down activities should be adaptable to be able to do them at an archery range, in the home, wherever archery is taking place. Warming up and cooling down will help prevent injury in beginner archers and kids.
By warming up the muscles before shooting, they are prepared to be worked on and used during a session or competition. Although archery is a ‘static’ sport, the heart rate is still raised and the muscles that are used in a shot still need to get the blood flowing to them.
Warming up allows for a faster expansion and contraction of the muscles being worked. This is done by improving the speed of transmission of signals through the nerves. The movements done in a warm-up should be dynamic, increasing blood flow and temperature. Include all of the muscles that will be used during your session, arms, legs, core, back, neck and shoulders.
World Archery have a great video with five-time Olympian Naomi Folkard, that explains a simple, yet effective, archery specific warm-up. It can be done by all ages and ability of shooters
By implementing a warm-up like this into your training sessions, arms, shoulders and lower back will stay mobilized, help avoid injury and progress on the archery journey.
Doing a cool down after training or competition will help gradually reduce your heart rate and stretch out your used muscles. It does not need to take long, maximum 10 minutes, just to aid your body’s recovery after a session.
4. Holding the bow grip wrong
Beginner archers make this mistake very often and can be fixed very quickly and easily. Holding the bow wrong will create a bad shot sequence, inconsistent shots due to torque of the bow and result in struggling. Having a consistent grip on the grip will help with all aspects of a proper form.
A lot of beginners will grip the bow with their hand too far around the grip. This is very easy to identify and fix. Simply put your bow hand (the hand that will hold the bow) out in front of you. Hold your hand up and pretend to show someone the stop motion. Rotate your hand so that your thumb and forefinger create the letter V, then put the bow into the center of the V. This is how the bow should sit every shot.
Here is a quick video from Archery 360 to help you see where the bow should sit each shot.
Each time the bow is drawn back, the fleshy part of the thumb should be pushed against. This will help keep the bow arm steady, proper form and create less torque. Meaning there will be fewer left and right shots.
A quick way of checking if the hand position is correct or not is where the arrows go on the target. If they are consistently going left or right, the hand position should be checked. Is it too far round either way? When the hand position is in the V position, it is more likely that arrows will go in the middle, provided the rest of the form is on point.
To practice this away from the archery range, simply hold a pole, brush, anything of similar proportions in the V shaped hand. This will create repetition and help the subconscious mind remember the feeling of the bow placement.
5. Inconsistent training
Any beginner that is taking their chosen sport seriously, and looking to progress will know that good practice and good training is essential. A great archery tip to learn early on is, you need to train a lot to get really good. This goes for most things in life, but archery requires the muscles to keep being worked, building a stronger and more subconscious shot routine to progress.
A big risk with inconsistent training is the higher risk of injury to the shoulders. The muscles that are used in archery are different to pretty much every other sport. They, therefore, need to be worked consistently in order to stay fit and stable, whilst also growing and becoming stronger. If there is an issue with getting the range as much as desired, there are great exercise bands that can be bought from Amazon that will aid with training, whilst not physically shooting.
The goal of practicing and training is to create a shot that is comfortable, sustainable and will show progression over time and make that second nature. Shooting consistently and training well, utilizing the time well, will also help build confidence in the shot. This will help the archer grow in confidence, be able to go up in distance, poundage, all-round be a better archer.
There is also the risk of overtraining, however. This will cause the risk of injury in the beginner, especially if they are training to the point their shot breaks down and bad habits creep in. It is easy to see if the session should come to an end, the shot becomes shakey and the archer looks tired and worn out.
Archery is a very repetitive sport. It requires the same movements and shots to be created and executed on each arrow. By creating a consistent training programme, an archer will be able to see their progress, track it and improve with certainty.
6. Being pushed too much too soon
Each person is individual, their learning and progression are individual to them. The journey they take in archery should not be pushed too early to progress to the next level until they personally are ready.
Your ArcheryUP instructor will be able to guide when the beginner archer is ready to move up in distance, shoot higher poundage, get a better bow. It is important to remember that just because friends or kids of a similar age are shooting a further distance, isn’t a reason for change for your kid or yourself.
An easy way to assess it is if the majority of the arrows being shot are hitting the red inwards, move the target back a little, between 5-10 meters. To give the extra distance and challenge.
If, however, arrows are going everywhere, not hitting the target, falling short, the target should be brought forward. It does not mean anyone has failed or they cannot do it, it just means they need a little bit more time to get a consistent anchor point and proper form.
Once the target is moved too far too soon, the beginner will struggle to hit it, lose confidence, interest and faith in the instructor.
Parents also need to remember not to push their kids too much. This will also result in a lack of interest, confidence, probably causing arguments. Archery is a sport to be enjoyed by everyone. So causing friction and pushing them to achieve more, shoot further, shoot better scores will likely end in them resenting the sport and not wanting to participate.
Simply put, go with the journey. Trust that your ArcheryUP instructor knows when it’s best to progress the beginner. Pushing them too much too soon will only cause harm to their archery journey. It’s better to perfect and train at a level that’s comfortable than cause discomfort and lack of confidence.
7. Aiming too hard and over aiming
Getting a bull’s-eye or gold is the main goal in archery, obviously. Aiming is how you do it, but if you aim too hard, you are going to give the mind and body too much tension and result in not being able to hit the bulls-eye or gold.
After creating a proper form with a consistent anchor point and stance, aiming should be brought into the shot sequence. Using a bow sight at the beginning can cause an issue, however, called over aiming in recurve and compound archers.
A way of overcoming this common mistake is to focus on something else. For recurve archers, it could be focusing on the release, are they using back tension properly, is their finger position correct. By taking their focus away from using the bow sight and over aiming, they are focusing on another key part of their shot sequence.
For compound archers, over aiming could result in a poor release and end up punching their release aid and not using back tension properly. This will cause inconsistent shots and make arrows spread across the target. Compound bows are not meant to be 100% steady, a lot of new archers with compounds will assume they can get the pin to be perfectly still on the target. This is not the case and will result in over aiming.
The simple fix for this is to practice with a sight, practice using it subconsciously and not fixating on it. Normally the subconscious mind will line up the sight or sight pin with the middle of the target and keep it there or thereabouts while the shot continues to happen. This is because most bow sights are round, like the target and the subconscious can line them up without having to be at the forefront of the mind during the shot.
8. Having too many coaches
With archery being a sport of consistency and accuracy, it is important for beginner archers to have one coach or instructor. This will keep confusion and conflict to a minimum.
Having just one coach or instructor will mean specific parts of the technique can be worked upon with consistency. Different coaches will have a view of what a ‘proper form’ looks like for each different type of bow and therefore could cause confusion mixing coaches.
An archer should have full trust in their coach, and listen and learn from them. If not, there is no point. Some coaches will have a different way of teaching, understand the kid or beginner archer more than others. But a great coach or instructor will be able to adapt and teach the way their archer learns.
However, as the archer grows and progresses with the sport, it could be advantageous to have two coaches that communicate well together to pick up on aspects and work together to find fixes. Having two points of view that can work together and create the best outcome for the archer will help progression go a long way.
It is easy enough to see if this is happening and having too many opinions and inputs are causing a detrimental effect on the archer. If they are having to remember too many different ways to shoot, create a shot process, or focus on shooting, odds are they have too many comments going around their head that they have been told to focus on.
While it may be hard to have a conversation like this, you will need to sit down and work out which coach works best for the shooting style of the archer. The end goal is to progress within the sport and enjoy it, so why cause too much confusion and upset just to avoid having a difficult conversation with a coach, who will understand where the comment is coming from.
9. Not anchoring consistently
As explained further up, consistency is key to the sport. It doesn’t matter if you are an elite level archer or a beginner, being consistent in your anchor point will help ensure the shot gets away cleanly.
An anchor point is where the string touches the face at full draw and fingers on the string. Having a weak or changeable anchor point will result in the string location being inconsistent, arrows flying left, right, high and low.
A consistent anchor point is essential to compound, recurve and barebow. If a compound archer shoots with the wrong anchor point, not only will it affect their arrow flight, it’ll also change where the peep sight is, changing the sight marks. Olympic recurve archers will have arrows flying everywhere on the target (watch out for this and check the anchor point if this is happening), also changing the sight marks and causing a lack of confidence in the shot. Barebow require a consistent anchor point as the index finger goes to the corner of your mouth to anchor and sim down the arrow. Changing the anchor point will change everything about the shot for a barebow.
Another anchor point issue to watch out for is a ‘floating anchor’. This is where the hand or finger is not touching the face and causing a ‘floating’ experience. This will obviously cause arrows to fly inconsistently and get poor results.
Make sure to talk to your ArcheryUP instructor if you think you are having anchor point issues and inconsistencies. Your instructor will be able to guide you as to which type of anchor point is best for you and your shooting, plus where to position your anchor point.
10. Focusing too much on equipment
As a beginner or young archer, focusing on equipment can cause the mind to play tricks thinking issues are occurring with the equipment and not the shot itself. This is a bad habit to get into. Sometimes there isn’t even an issue, it’s the mind saying the equipment is shooting badly that day when it shot perfectly well the previous day in training.
While knowing about the equipment that is being used, and how to fix it if there is a major problem, is good information, it can cause an obsession. Everything archer is responsible for their own equipment. They are the ones shooting it, training or competing with it, they should know their equipment.
However, issues can arise when changing things with equipment happens often, or mid-session when it’s not necessary. This will result in inconsistent training, not seeing the benefits of a technique change or listening to the ArcheryUP Instructor. It is very easy to blame equipment rather than look at the archer to see what problems are arising.
All good archery coaches and instructors will explain that form comes first, equipment comes second. The form needs to be repeatable before worrying about equipment issues or changes.
If you are at a stage of looking to purchase your own equipment, check out our blog about buying archery equipment new and used – the do’s and don’ts. This will help make sure you get the right equipment for your level of archery and where you need to be with your training and equipment.
Also, remember that ArcheryUP instructors can bring all of the equipment to your lessons, so you do not need to focus on getting all of the gear before starting your archery journey.
What should be done next?
The mistakes mentioned in this article are all very common in beginner archers, so it is not something to worry or panic about. The main thing to take away from this article is, archery is a very consistent and repetitive sport. Making sure the shot is consistent and attainable with each arrow is essential to progression and confidence. Your ArcheryUP instructor will be able to guide and assist with any issues that crop up during your archery journey.
Remember that some mistakes and issues can take longer than others, and that is absolutely fine. Do not push too quickly, lose faith in your instructor or the sport and keep positive. Mistakes are made and then turn into progress. All mistakes that are made, will help with learning, so see it as a positive rather than a negative when a mistake is made.
Correcting the issues and picking up on them sooner rather than later will make archery a lot more fun, comfortable and engaging.
If you do not already have a coach or instructor, get in touch with an ArcheryUP instructor today to make sure you are on the right archery journey with incredible knowledge and support. Having a coach or instructor that you can ask questions to, get guidance from and make sure you are creating a proper form that works for you is essential to your progression within archery.