By Crispin Duenas
A solid bow arm is fundamental to achieving good aim and proper follow-through. However, sometimes just telling yourself to keep your bow arm stationary or hold it up isn’t enough, and you still run into problems with a drifting sight pin or a bow arm that drops when the arrow is released.
So what’s the fix? You have a few options to consider.
One problematic issue is loading your stabilizers with too much weight. The current trend is to shoot a fairly heavy set-up, especially with compound bows. This can make it difficult to keep your bow arm up and directed toward the target on follow-through. A heavy bow might feel more stable while aiming, but archers need to choose a mass weight they can comfortably aim with while not easily becoming fatigued.
Another fix is adjusting your shooting technique. Directing your bow arm forward during and after the shot can help you avoid dropping your arm and greatly improve your follow-through. In general, keep your bow arm driven toward the target for a picture-perfect finish. To do this, think about pushing your bow forward while you’re at full draw, or “pressing” through your bow shoulder to direct your bow arm to the target.
In addition, keep your arm raised to increase the chances your arrow will not deviate from its flight. When an archer’s bow arm lowers just before the arrow is released, the arrow tends to hit the target lower. This habit could creep back into your shot to the point that you’re dropping your bow arm at the same time the arrow is released. And this can cause a great deal of inconsistency from shot to shot.
You can also do exercises on and off the archery range to help improve bow arm stability. Here’s one to try: While holding your entire setup, trace a figure-8 pattern with a straight arm to help activate the small-twitch muscles in your shoulder. This exercise will help with aiming, because these small muscle activations replicate the difficulties of shooting in the wind. In the gym, focus on creating shoulder stability. Simple exercises such as lateral raises (targeting lateral deltoids), a pec deck chest fly (targeting pectoral muscles), and extended-arm side planks can help strengthen the muscles you use to hold your bow arm stationary while shooting.
Finally, one key point to remember is that the sport of archery leads to uneven muscular development in individuals. Archers tend to be more developed on one side of their body, and unevenly developed front-to-back. An unstable bow arm could also be the result of this muscular imbalance. Archers should take steps to ensure a well-rounded physique. This is best done with the help and advice of archery and strength training coaches.
Try these tweaks the next time you shoot and see if you can improve your consistency!