How To Shoot And Aim A Bow A Beginners Guide

bow hunting beginners

How To Shoot, Draw And Aim A Bow For Beginners

Hunting with bows and arrows has been a part of the survival skills required for humans since the early days of our history. The techniques for aiming and shooting a bow are not as instinctual as you think. Aiming and shooting a bow is a learned skill that requires knowledge and practice.

Aiming and shooting a bow requires practice, but using the wrong techniques will build bad habits. Eye focus, hand focus, breathing, and mastering different aiming techniques will help you improve your archery accuracy and consistency. The type of site used on the bow will also influence your shot.

Aiming and shooting a bow correctly requires a few baseline techniques applicable to all types of bows, while other methods are specific to your equipment. Our guide details the techniques you need to know as a beginner to improve your technique and accuracy when aiming and shooting your bow.

Bow Hunting For Beginners: How To Shoot And Aim A Bow

bow hunting beginners target

Aiming and shooting a bow is the art an archer must learn to shoot accurately and consistently. The best place to start practicing your technique is at a shooting range before you take your bow out on a hunt.
Becoming familiar with your bow, the sighting equipment on the bow, and building the muscle memory required for the shot is crucial for becoming a successful bow hunter.

We have tips to improve your aiming technique, stability, and accuracy, as well as gear recommendations to give you the edge!

Control Your Breathing Before Aiming The Bow

Breathing control is an essential part of accuracy in archery. As you breathe, your body moves, which can draw your shot off target if the arrow release is not timed correctly.

Before you raise the bow, take a few deep breaths, exhaling each time. Focus on the target while you breathe.

After the last exhale, do not inhale again, but raise the bow, aim, and take the shot. This control of your breathing will help you to keep your sights on the target and prevent the arrow from being deflected by your body movement when taking a breath.

Aiming Starts Before You Lift The Bow

Aiming a bow to make the shot requires laser-focused vision. Before you even lift your bow, focus intently on the target.

Focusing on your target allows you to visualize the site picture and the shot before you raise the bow and draw back the arrow.

Focus on the spot on the target that you want to hit with the arrow rather than focusing on the target as a whole.

Don’t take your eyes off the target as you raise the bow. Bring the bow up while focusing on the target until your sighting mechanism comes into line with the target, and you can focus on the target through the sights.

Achieving this eye-focus on your target while raising the bow requires familiarity with your equipment.

Many beginners look down away from their target to see what their hands are doing on their bow before bringing it up to line up with the target.

It would be best to familiarize yourself with your bow so that raising the bow and drawing back becomes a fluid movement that does not break your focus from the target.

Hand Focus When Aiming Your Bow

Hand focus when raising the bow for the shot is as important as eye focus. When you raise the bow, you push out with your bow hand.

The focus of the tension in pushing out must align with where your eyes are focusing. Making this action as smooth and automatic as possible takes practice.

This aspect is essential because the bow will be lined up immediately for the shot, requiring minimal adjustment to bring the bow and arrow on target for the shot.

How Should You Hold The Bow When Shooting?

Person Holding a Compound Bow

Your bow hand is the hand that holds the bow, and your hand position and grip can affect the accuracy of your shot.

Your bow hand will determine the steadiness of the bow while aiming and affects the arrow’s flight until it clears the riser.

Your bow hand must be in the correct position during aiming and throughout the duration of the shot to ensure accuracy.

When you raise your bow hand to draw the bow, your hand should be relaxed, not rotated to the right or the left. It should not require any muscle tension to keep your hand in position.

Everyone has a crease in the palm of their hand, running from the center of the cradle of their hand between the thumb and forefinger to the center of their wrist, below the palm. This line is sometimes called the lifeline.

The grip on the bow must rest against the meat of your thumb, on the thumb side of the lifeline. This position keeps the bow in line with your wrist and forearm, giving the most control as you draw the string back, and allows you to keep the bow on target.

If the bow is held on the lifeline or in the center of your palm, it will cause your bow to cant left or right, affecting the cleanness and accuracy of your shot.

The fingers of your bow hand should not have a death grip on the bow but should remain relaxed without squeezing the grip on the bow.

Bow Hunting Aiming Methods

bow hunting

Several methods of aiming your bow and sight types can be used on your bow. Some aiming techniques are better for beginners, others for target shooting, and others for hunting.

Always use two eyes to aim your bow. It is optional to close one eye to aim; this action will affect your depth perception, which hinders judging the target range.

Passive Aiming In Archery

Passive aiming is where the eye focus remains on the target and does not shift to the sights on the bow.

In the sight picture, the target will be in focus in your vision, and the bow sight will be blurry. Don’t focus on the sight pin; focus on the target.

Even if the bow sight is not in focus, you can see when the sight lines up with the target, and you can release the shot.

This aiming method is recommended for beginners because it teaches the archer to focus on the target. This method is preferred for most recurve bow archers since these bows generally have basic sighting mechanisms.
Peep sights, which are open circles with no sight pin in the center, are standard on recurve bows. These sights work well using the passive aiming method.

Active Aiming In Archery

Active aiming is the opposite of passive aiming. Active aiming places the focus of your eyes on the sight rather than the target.

The sight mechanism will be in focus in your vision, while the target in the distance will be out of focus.

Compound bow shooters prefer the active aiming method mainly because the sighting mechanisms on these bows are more sophisticated and work better with this method.

This aiming method is best for experienced bow shooters or using specific sight types, such as dot sights, crosshairs, or sight pins.

Gap Shooting

Gap shooting is the aiming method used by archers using bows with no sighting mechanisms but allowing the archer to hit the target consistently and accurately.

Gap shooting requires more practice to master than shooting with sights and needs a consistent draw length to be consistent.

This aiming method uses the point of the arrow at full draw as the reference point to aim. The arrow’s point is positioned above, below, or on the target area, you want to hit, depending on the distance from the target and your elevation in relation to the target.

Gap shooting is an advanced aiming method not recommended for beginners. It takes time and much practice to master. Gap shooting is often required in competition shooting using certain bow types, such as English longbow target shooting.

Instinctive or See-And-Shoot Aiming

Instinctive archery does not use sighting reference points to aim but rather the instincts of the shooter.
This method is not for beginners since it requires experience with the bow’s performance, judging distance and elevation, and a general “feel” for archery. Most of these attributes come with time, practice, and experience.

This type of aiming is historically how early archers aimed, and a recurve bow without sights is generally the bow used with this type of shooting.

When Do Bow Sights Work Best?

Bow sites help improve archery accuracy, but while it may sound counterintuitive, they are not recommended for beginner archers.
It is more important for a beginner to become comfortable with the bow and learn to judge distance and accuracy by feel rather than the guidance of sights.

Bow sights work best for intermediate, and advanced-level archers, competition archers, and bowhunters. These archers have mastered the other aspects of bow shooting and need the enhanced accuracy bow sights offer.

Sights For Bowhunters

Bowhunters prefer to use sights because it improves accuracy, which increases the chance of a clean shot to bring down the animal with minimal stress or injury.

There are several sight types that bowhunters use to achieve this goal. Most of the choices are personal preference, often stemming from sights the hunter is familiar with from hunting with a rifle.

Best Bow Sight For Hunting

The best bow sites for hunting will be the sights you are most familiar with and have practiced on the target range.

The bow sight choice for most hunters is a personal one, most commonly dictated by the type of bow they use and the sight type they feel most comfortable using.

We have detailed some of the sight types preferred by bow hunters, with some examples as references.

Single-Pin Bow Sight For Hunting

One-pin or single-pin sights for bow hunting are circular sights to focus on the target and a single sight pin in the center of the sight.

The sight pin extends from the circle’s circumference and provides a single reference point at the tip of the pin. The archer sights through the bow sight and positions the tip of the pin on the area of the target they want to hit.

These sights are typically used on compound bows. An example of a single-pin bow sight for hunting is the Viper Archery Sidewinder Compound Bow Sight. This bow-hunting sight is made in the USA and features a fiberoptic tip on the sight pin, making it easily visible, even in low-light conditions.

Best Peep Sight For Bow Hunting

Peep sights are open circle sights with no sight pin. The archer aims with this sight by positioning the target in the center of the sight circle.

Peep sights are often installed in the bowstrings themselves, requiring the archer to sight the target from behind the bowstring compared to in from of the bow with other sight mechanisms.

Peep sights can be used on a compound and recurve bows. The TRUGLO Glo-Brite Peep Sight is an example of an archery peep sight that mounts in the bowstring.

Laser Sight For Bow Hunting

Laser sights on bows are not a popular sight type for the simple reason that laser sights don’t work well on bows.

It is impossible to keep the laser on target with the amount of natural shake in the human body. Laser sights are only effective at 10 or 25 yards, and your target can see the laser, reducing the element of stealth. In a hunting situation, the light may scare off the animal and ruin the shot.
When archers talk of laser sights, they most likely mean sights with built-in laser range finders. These sights have an invisible range finder that measures the distance to the target.

Based on the range finder data, the sight places a dot in the sight optics, which you position on the target. This is similar to the red dot sight concept.

An example of a bow-hunting sight with a laser range finder is the Garmin Xero A1i PRO Bow Sight, which measures the distance to the target and accounts for elevation, placing an LED dot in the sight optics for sighting on the target.

Red Dot Sight For Bow Hunting

A red dot sight has a red dot in the sight optics. This is not a laser that is projected onto the target in the distance.

The red dot is only visible to the shooter and is only visible when looking through the sights. Red dot sights do not have the same drawbacks of limited range and a visible laser.

Red dot sights are usually used on compound bows. An example of this type of sight is the TRUGLO Range Rover PRO.

Does A Bow Hunting Stabilizer Help With Accuracy?

Stabilizers can be fitted to either side of a bow, directly in front of the bow, or on the inner curve of the rear of the bow. The purpose of the stabilizer is to balance the bow and reduce vibration once the arrow is released. Both these aspects of the stabilizer can increase shot accuracy.

Vibration in the bow after the arrow is released can negatively influence the arrow’s trajectory. The vibrations can affect the arrow’s flight before it clears the bow, causing the arrow to deviate from the intended flight path.

Bow stabilizers for hunting can significantly improve your accuracy, especially when taking shots in a hurry.

An example of a hunting bow stabilizer is the CBE Torx Hunting Stabilizer, which comes as a kit, allowing you to position the stabilizers on any side of the bow to improve accuracy.

Best Compound Bow Sight For Hunting

The best type of bow sight for hunting is the one you are most familiar with and have spent time on the shooting range.

If you are new to bow hunting, we recommend a 5-pin sight as the best option for your compound bow. These sights allow you to set the 5 pins for different target distances.

This advantage means you can adjust for longer or closer shots by targeting one of the 5 points in the sight without requiring manual adjustments.

The pins can be set at different intervals, with most hunters preferring to set the pins at 10-yard intervals.

Our selection for the best compound bow sight for bow hunting is the Trophy Ridge React H5 5-Pin Bow Sight.

Each of the 5 sight pins has an LED, which can be adjusted for brightness in different hunting conditions. Adjustments for windage and elevation are easy, fast, and do not require specialized tools.

If you are looking for an excellent compound bow hunting sight, the React H5 5-Pin sight is hard to beat!

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