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Learning to shoot a bow involves learning the proper techniques for taking the stance, nocking the arrow, drawing the bow, anchoring, aiming, releasing the arrow, and following through.
Stance. The archer's usual stance is with the body at right angles to
the target and the shoulder of the bow arm pointing toward the target.
The head looks over this shoulder, and the feet are placed about 12
inches apart. The bow is held with the heel of the bow hand resting on
the grip, wrist behind the grip, and forefinger loosely encircling the
handle and touching the thumb. Keeping the bow vertical, the archer
raises the bow arm until it is parallel to the ground. His wrist must
be straight, with the elbow slightly bent away from the string, and his
shoulders must be level and in line with the direction of the flight.
Nocking the Arrow. In nocking the arrow, or putting the arrow on the string, the archer first grasps the arrow behind the fletching with the string hand. He then places the shaft on the arrow rest and fits the notched end onto the string at the nocking point, making certain that the cock feather (or odd feather) is up and that the arrow is perpendicular to the string.
Drawing. In preparation for drawing the bow, the archer places the forefinger of the string hand above the arrow nock and the second and third fingers below it. The string should rest along the first joint of all three fingers. As the bow is raised toward the target, the string-drawing arm pulls the arrow backward to full draw (to the anchor point on the face). At full draw the string-drawing arm becomes in effect a continuation of the arrow.
Anchoring. Anchoring must be performed in a precisely similar manner for each arrow. A target archer anchors under the chin, keeping the second joint of the forefinger snugly under the tip of the chin as the string touches the center of the chin and nose. A field archer anchors higher. He draws the arrow back until the second joint of the thumb lodges under the jawbone beneath the ear; the second joint of the forefinger nestles into the hollow beneath the cheekbone, and the tip of the forefinger touches the mouth.
Aiming. Archers use three methods of aiming. Target archers ordinarily use a sight: few use a point of aim. Field archers aim either with a sight or by the bare bow, or instinctive, method. Regardless of method, the aiming point must be determined by trial and error.
With a bowsight the bead of the sight must be aligned with the center of the target. The sight, attached to the bow about 2 to 5 inches above the arrow rest, may have to be adjusted vertically or horizontally before the archer can aim properly.
In the point-of-aim method, archers sight the tip of their arrows in front of or beyond the target, depending on the distance from the target. Only at point-blank range can they aim directly for the gold.
In bare-bow shooting, archers usually tilt the bow to one side about 20 degrees, instead of holding it vertically. The arrow is anchored close to the corner of the mouth. Bare-bow archers focus on a spot on the target and aim the arrow at the mark, in a manner similar to that in aiming and throwing a stone.
Release and Follow-Through. Releasing the arrow is accomplished . by relaxing the fingertips and permitting the elbow and forearm to move slightly backward. With a smooth action the fingers slip off the string, and the arrow flies to the mark. In a proper follow-through the archer retains the stance and form he held at the release until the arrow lands.