Tighter Groups

Eight ways for an archer to achieve ultra-accuracy with his bow.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

That buck you've been hunting all season finally presents itself 27 yards out. Or you find yourself standing in front of the last 3-D target needing to sink your arrow perfectly inside the 10 ring to clinch the tournament. In either case, accuracy is paramount. When you release your arrow, will you know with confidence precisely where it will hit? Here are eight factors every archer must consider to achieve ultimate accuracy.

1. Grip: How you grip the bow handle has the greatest effect on shot consistency. A death grip adds torque, or twist, to the bow when you release the arrow, resulting in inconsistent flight. A relaxed grip reduces torque and improves accuracy. Using an inexpensive wrist sling will help steady shots and keep your grip relaxed.

2. Anchor Point: Your anchor point is where your draw hand comes to rest. Most archers draw back between the side of their face and the back of their neck, with the string touching their nose. Practice until you find a comfortable anchor point that allows you to hit your target consistently. A kisser button, which ensures that the string touches the same place along your face each draw, can make consistent anchoring a cinch.

3. Follow-Through: Just as a good golfer doesn't stop his swing when he hits the ball, an archer should never freeze with the release of an arrow. Think of a drawn bow as a stretched rubber band. At release, your bow hand and release hand should continue gently forward and backward, respectively, with the natural motion of the shot.

**4. Release: **Don't "punch" the release as you let a shot fly. Once you've settled into your anchor point, gently squeeze the release. Contrary to popular belief, a stiff trigger is actually tougher to punch than a hair trigger. Also, position the trigger farther back along your finger. Using your fingertip can lead to punching. [pagebreak]

**5. Stance: **An unbalanced stance is a quick way to forfeit accuracy. Place your feet a comfortable distance apart (typically shoulder width), and make a conscious effort to distribute your weight evenly on both feet. Avoid leaning on your back leg as this will put you in a wobbly, one-foot balancing act.

**6. Arrow Spine: **Spine refers to the amount of stiffness an arrow shaft has. Under- and over-spined arrows will leave you with scattered groups from arrows that consistently fly to the left or right. Arrows should be properly matched to your bow's draw weight. Have the local pro shop check a spine chart and hook you up with the right size arrow for your setup.

**7. Bow Tuning: **An improperly tuned bow will leave you splashing arrows across the target. Shooting an arrow through paper is the quickest method of diagnosing these mechanical ills. Properly launched arrows should punch near-perfect holes in the target. If the paper tears where the arrow strikes it instead of leaving a clean hole, you may have problems with cam timing, the rest, the spine, torque, the nock or other tuning-related troubles. Unless you have your own setup and the know-how to tune bows, it's best to let a pro shop handle this.

8. Draw Weight: Many beginning archers make the mistake of trying to draw too much weight. This quickly leads to trembling muscles, shaky sights and hurried shots. Today's ultraefficient compounds send arrows downrange at impressive speeds without having to resort to ridiculous draw weights. Find a draw weight that will allow you to pull back the string comfortably and hold it until it's time to release the shot.