By Bob Polanic
Last summer I worked at my local archery shop part-time for two months and during that time I helped countless bowhunters set up their bows and sight them in. Unfortunately, over those weeks I was shocked by how many costumers had trouble shooting tight groups at only 20 yards, even with a perfectly tuned bow. Now I’m certainly not the world’s foremost archery expert, but as an employee it was part of my job to identify and correct any shooting issues I saw. Through that process, I quickly found that there were a few very common mistakes being made by the majority of those poor shooters that are, fortunately, easy enough to fix.
Much of the below information is common knowledge to experienced bowhunters/archers, but still these four areas of error were the most commonly linked issues to the poor accuracy and arrow groupings that I experienced with our pro-shop shooters. If it was happening in my small Northern Michigan town, it’s likely happening in small-town archery shops all over the country and maybe to you too. Here are the four most common archery mistakes I saw, and that you, if you’re experiencing these, need to fix before hunting season
1. Not Having Identical Arrows: Every arrow must be exactly the same. Not just the same weight or length, but the same spine, grains per inch, field point, nock, and fletching. When you shoot a hodgepodge of different arrows you’re adding a lot of variables into the patterning process that will directly affect your grouping and accuracy. This is such a simple but important thing to do, don’t ignore it.
2. Peep Twist: This might have been the most common mistake I saw. While at full draw and once you’ve hit your anchor point, line your circular peep up with the circular housing that surrounds your pins. If your peep twists at all while at full draw, fix it. Eliminate any sort of peep twisting either by adding a peep tube or moving your peep up or down within the string. Both of these options are easy for your bow tech to handle. You can also twist your string but you’ll need a bow press for that.
3. Bow Tilt: Hopefully your sight came with a small level you can see somewhere near your pins while at full draw. If not, I recommend installing one. You need your bow to be level while shooting. Imagine your bow is on a perfectly vertical 90 degree axis; if you tilt off that axis to the left or right, your arrow flight will most likely do the same because your pins will now be aiming in the corresponding tilt direction. For example, in the photo below, you can see that when just looking at the pins and sight, it would appear that your bow is perfectly vertical, but the level reveals some torque might interfere with your ultimate arrow path.
4. Improper Grip: This one is pretty crucial and has been covered by many others. Still, it’s worth repeating. Do not tightly grip your bow – this will cause you to torque your bow one way or the other. Instead, cock your wrist out and get the base of the handle against the base of your palm. Once drawn, just the pressure of being at full draw should hold the bow firmly against your palm.
Final Thought: A lot of archery shops only have short indoor ranges where, of course, wind won’t affect your accuracy. To sight your bow in for longer yardages, make sure you pick a day with a very light wind. Once you have your bow dialed in I would encourage you to practice on windy days and record the effects of your arrow flight. After all, big bucks tend to move better during cold fronts, cold fronts usually have stronger winds as they come in, and you need to know your ethical shot distance when there’s a 20 mph crosswind.
Get out there and get shooting. Bow season will be here before you know it!
– Bob Polanic, Hybrid-Outdoors.com