Practice they say makes perfect. For all the flair and excitement that archery can bring, you need to put in a lot of long hours behind the scenes, working and perfecting your craft.
Today, there is no shortage of shooting exercises available for both beginner and experienced archers. These routines are as varied as they are effective, allowing you to work on different aspects of your shooting skills in your quest to become a better marksman.
However, what if you find yourself unable to go to a shooting range to work on your archery skills? One crucial factor when you’re trying to improve any skill is consistency. And with archery, the moment you break your streak with shooting exercises, it becomes quite difficult for you to get back into the groove. Hence, whether or not you have access to a shooting range, you need to find a way to keep up with practice and work on your shot.
In this article, we’ll go over several archery drills you can start working on while at home.
Simple Archery Drills You Can Practice At Home
There are several practice drills you can try out, each with its own purpose. Let’s go over some shooting exercises you can practice from the comfort of your home, how to get started and what archery skills they’ll help improve.
One of the most significant issues many archers tend to have is always wanting to release the arrow too quickly - as soon as the target lines up in the sights. For some, it’s because target faces, dots, and bull’s eyes induce target panic. This eagerness to release makes them end up leaving things to chance without perfecting their form and working on other factors that contribute to shot accuracy.
Blind shooting exercises can help fix this. They help reduce the urge to release, allowing you to practice your form and focus on important things like your stance, anchor point, posture, and breathing.
To perform blind shooting, follow these steps:
- Get a large target - you could make one or buy one online. They’re not so expensive.
- Stand about 8 feet from it. That’s pretty close, so it would be practically impossible to miss the target.
- Close your eyes, then draw your bow slowly. To make the drill more realistic, have an arrow as well.
- Go through the shooting process like you normally would, but slightly slower and more deliberately this time.
During this drill, focus primarily on these criteria:Your breathing
Ensure your breaths are controlled and deliberate. Breathe in deeply through your nostrils as you draw the bow and out through your mouth as soon as you release the shot.Your body
Maintain a good posture all through the process. Keeping your eyes closed the whole time, sense for any discomfort or tension in your body. Focus on the tension build up in your muscles as you bring the bow to full draw.
Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool utilized even by professional athletes in many sports. During this drill, focus on the target with your mind. Visualize the target before you as though your eyes were wide open. Often, this requires some practice as some people are better at visualization than others. But remember, practice makes perfect.The release process
Pay attention to changes in your body as you release the shot. Focus on how your body transitions from being tensed at full draw to being relaxed as you release the arrow and slowly exhale.
By closing your eyes all through this process, you get to avoid distractions that may be preventing you from working on your form and focus on the things that really matter. Feel for the same anchor point as you take each shot, run through a mental checklist of the things you need to remember, and ensure everything is in place before releasing your shot.
Small Target Drill
If you attend archery lessons or take a beginner’s course, you’d learn early on that confidence plays a critical role in your development as a marksman. Archery is just as mental as it is physical, and you need to be confident in yourself before you go ahead to fire a shot.
The small target drill is one of those archery drills that can help you build confidence with the bow and improve your shot accuracy. To do this:
- Gather some paper plates and draw a circle on each.
- Start with a circle similar in size to a grapefruit, then gradually reduce the circle sizes until you’re down to the size of a quarter.
- Begin shooting at a comfortable distance, starting with the larger circles.
- As you get better at shooting the larger circles, gradually step down in size.
- After you have mastered shooting the smaller circles, move your shooting distance about 10 yards back and start the shooting process afresh from the large circles.
Shooting smaller targets is a great way to practice precision and reduce anxiety about missing a target. The more comfortable you become with shooting small targets, the calmer and more confident you’ll be with the bow.
Before you eventually fire an arrow, you’ve got to aim. And as you become a more experienced archer, you tend to develop muscle memory - basically, a natural knack for aiming. As your muscle memory becomes stronger, it becomes easier for you to aim, and you tend to spend less time doing it.
This drill is one of the best ways to develop muscle memory and, by extension, your aiming skill. To practice with the aiming drill, all you have to do is:
- Nock your arrow
- Draw your bow
- Aim at a specific target
- Hold your aim directly at the middle of the target for as long as you possibly can
- When practicing this drill, your starting distance should be 15 yards
- After perfecting your aim at this distance, move back a few yards and aim your bow again
- Repeat the process until you get as far as you’re looking to shoot
It’s that straightforward. You won’t actually need to release an arrow. The entire point is for you to become a natural when it comes to aiming. This drill strengthens the main archery muscles and helps you develop muscle memory. Holding your aim on the target activates the muscles involved in lining up a good shot, making it easier to get into the exact position again.
By practicing this drill, you get much better at nocking your arrow and can find your anchor point much easier. From there, aiming itself becomes more of a breeze.
If you’re looking for archery drills you perform without necessarily having to use any archery accessories or equipment, stretch bands are more than an ideal option.
This routine allows you to practice shooting without actually holding a bow and arrow. As we’ve explained earlier, your archery muscles come into play whenever you draw a bow. Amongst other things, you need to work on your muscle memory and increase your draw weight if you hope to be better at the game. With stretch bands, you have a risk-free and easy approach. Plus, you can easily work with stretch bands at home.
To build your muscles using stretch bands:
- Get some resistance bands and hold them in the draw position
- Pull the stretch bands as far as you can but be careful, so they don’t snap
- Hold this position for long as you can, then release slowly to the start position
- Repeat the process
Remember that you can switch between stretch bands of different strengths. Also, you could decide to hold both ends of a band or tie one end to a pole while you tug on the other. The choice is yours!
Finally, we have the mirror form - another risk-free practice routine you can work on from the comfort of your home. You do not need targets or arrows to do this drill. All you need do is get in front of a mirror and practice drawing your bow.
As we’ve said earlier, your archery stance is critical to finding a solid foundation for your shot. With the mirror form, you get the opportunity to observe what your stance looks like while shooting, recognize and fix any flaws in your form.
To carry out this drill:
- Get a mirror and stand at a reasonable distance so you can clearly see yourself
- Observe yourself with your eyes without rotating your head to avoid throwing off your alignment
- Draw and hold your bow for as long as you possibly can
- While at full draw, observe your form in the mirror
- Take note of and correct any issues with your posture or alignment
Constantly drawing your bow this way will help improve your draw weight and ingrain proper posture into your muscle memory. For beginners, you can easily locate and perfect important things like your anchor point.
Remember, you don’t need an arrow here - just a bow and a keen sense of perfection. Also, while doing this drill, be careful not to dry-fire your bow, as this can cause significant damage to your equipment and even injure you.
Archery is a sport that requires consistent and conscious efforts to master. As you progress in your archery journey, your shooting game should constantly evolve. Bear in mind that stagnant practice does not foster growth. Be motivated to get out of your comfort zone and try your hands at something new.
Even while at home, several easy archery drills can help you get a solid practice. You can be sure of significant improvement in your shooting skills once you start challenging yourself with practice drills and remain consistent with them. So, get out there and let the practice begin!