The three basic shooting techniques are the point-of-aim system, the sight system, and the instinctive system. They have many variations and are named according to the aiming procedure employed.
In this system, the archer aims at a small object, such as an icepick, which is stuck in the ground just below the target or in the target itself, depending upon the distance at which the archer is shooting. The object, called the point-of-aim, acts as the front sight; the pile, or tip, of the arrow when fully drawn is the rear sight.
To shoot, a right-handed archer stands erect with the left side of his body toward the target. The bow is grasped in the center with the left hand and held vertically, with the arm pointing toward the target. The head is turned to face the target. The hips and shoulders are at right angles to the target. The nocked end of the arrow is fitted onto the bowstring at the nocking point. The string is then gripped by three fingertips of the right hand, with the index finger above the arrow and two fingers below.
Before aiming and releasing, bowstring and arrow are drawn back to the anchor point. For most archers, this position is reached when the bowstring snugly touches against the chin and the tip of the nose, and the top of the index finger rests under and against the lower surface of the jawbone. Having anchored the arrow, the archer raises or lowers his bow until the point-of-aim is seen just above the pile of the arrow. The arrow is then released by simultaneously extending all three fingers. The release position should be held briefly, with the bow arm up and the right hand near the chin, for a follow-through.
In this system a bowsight is fastened to the surface of the bow above the handle. Horizontal elevation marks for distances from 10 to 100 yards (9-91 meters) are often printed on the bow as guides for placing the sight. These marks must be established for each bow and set of arrows by practice at known distances from the target.
The shooting technique used in the sight system is the same as that used in the point-of-aim system. Final adjustments of the sight at a given distance are made according to hits made by the first arrows.
This system differs from other systems in the position of the bow, the type of anchor, and sighting. The bow, instead of being held vertical, is tilted to the right about 30°. The full-drawn arrow is anchored higher, closer to the right eye, so that the nock of the arrow is usually just above the right corner of the mouth, with the tip of the right index finger resting snugly against the lower ridge of the cheekbone. Sighting is done with both eyes open, concentrating on the smallest observable spot in the center of the target or game, with no thought of sights. However, the same fundamentals of full draw, consistent anchor, release, and follow-through are essential for good shooting.