How to Use Your Bow in The correct way

If you have decided to take up archery, or even if you have been shooting at targets for a while, you may be wondering what the correct way to use a bow is.  Whether hunting or shooting at stationary targets, all archers have the same goal – to hit a target.

As with anything in archery, there are many things to consider.  If you are using a standard recurve or compound bow, you will use a different technique to shooting a crossbow.  Below are some tips for using them correctly.

How to Shoot a Recurve/Compound Bow

Check Your Stance

You should be standing upright, with your back straight and your feet shoulder width apart.  Make sure you are stood with your feet pointing at 90 degrees from the target.  Be sure to relax, for tension can alter your shot accuracy.

If you need help in keeping your stance consistent, try marking the floor with something like decorator’s tape where you practice.  This will allow you to keep your foot alignment consistent for each and every shot and you will soon become accustomed to how to stand to achieve this.

This is essential for an accurate shot, for if you stand differently each time, your balance and center of gravity will be affected.

Place Your Arrow

Hold your bow horizontally, with the arrow rest facing upwards. Place your arrow on the arrow rest shelf and press the nock in between the two nocking points on the string. Look at your arrow to find the cock fletch, which is the odd coloured one, and ensure it is pointing upward. Then, and only then, you can bring your bow back up into a vertical position. Keep a relaxed grip on your bow’s handle while you do this.

Archery Finger Position

Next, place your fingers on the bow string. You must place your index finger above the arrow and your middle and third finger below, with the string sitting in the top crease of your fingers. This is to allow you to draw the string correctly, using your finger joints.

Draw the Bow String

To draw the bow string correctly, you should be careful not to focus on leading with your fingers. Use your back muscles to draw back the bow string, really focussing on them as you pull it back towards a spot behind you. You could choose to focus on a wall or a tree directly behind you to do this.

Be sure to have no tension in your fingers, for this will lead to an inaccurate shot and even blisters on your fingers, and keep your archery finger position the same.

Draw the bow string back as far as your face, with your index finger settling underneath your chin. The bow string will touch your nose and lips. Where you come to rest is known as your anchor point and you should ensure this is the same for every shot.

Be sure to keep the elbow on your bow arm rotated straight up and down, for this will help you to achieve a straight shot. If you do not rotate your elbow straight, your arrow could veer off to one side. This could cause you to not only miss the target but you could hit something else instead.

Aim Your Arrow

It is now time to aim at your target, whether this is a foam or paper target or a living animal. Making sure you use your dominant eye, look straight down the arrow shaft and ensure it is aligned with your target. Try not to take too long on this stage, as you will end up feeling anxious and start to wobble, making it more difficult to aim accurately. You could also lose focus on the correct muscle movements.

If you are not sure which eye is your dominant one, point your finger at a distant object and close one eye. Then open that eye and without moving at all, close the other eye. If your finger appears to move, the eye which is now closed is your dominant one.

Release Your Arrow

Keeping a relaxed grip, slip your fingers backwards off the string to release the arrow.  Do not move your body position until the arrow is on its flight path, to ensure you do not move your aim before it has left the bow.

Be sure to finish your shot with enough strength to hit the target.  If you aim too quickly, you may find it results in a weak shot.  A weak shot can be fixed easily, by simply changing your focus.  By ensuring you are focussing on your back muscles to draw the bow string, you will deliver a stronger shot and achieve much better grouping.

How to Shoot a Bow with a Release

This is done in very much the same way but when you have nocked your arrow, you then attach the release aid. Be sure that the release mechanism wrist support is comfortable and then clip the release mechanism onto the thin loop of rope on the bow string.

Once your bow is in the firing position, you are then ready to pull the bow string back with the help of the release mechanism. Once you are ready, use either the thumb or finger trigger to release the arrow.

How to Shoot a Crossbow

A crossbow is much simpler to use, with less to think about in the way of stance and muscle movements. Its ease of use is one reason it has become so popular with hunters in recent years.

Cock the Bow

To do this manually, you will need to place your foot in the stirrup and pull the string back. Be sure to do this evenly. You can use a rope cocking tool to make this easier, which is simply a very effective pulley system.

Load the Bow

You must then place your arrow or bolt into the barrel of your crossbow, ensuring the cock vane is aligned. Make sure this is secured into place.

Aim the Bow

If you are using a hunting crossbow, you will have either a mount scope, or a sight pin arrangement of some sort, to help you with your aim. Be sure to use this and then get ready to shoot.

Make sure you do not get your thumb in the way of the crossbow forearm and ensure there is nothing in the way of the limbs as they snap forward. This could cause you a nasty little injury.

Shoot Your Arrow

Last, but not least, you can shoot your arrow. Squeeze the trigger in the same way as you would a rifle, ensuring you keep the target aligned. The trigger release will make a popping sound as the bow fires the arrow or bolt towards your target.

You should now know the proper way to draw a bow and the correct way to shoot a bow, ensuring you use the best archery finger position for a more accurate shot. You will also know how to shoot a bow with a release and how to successfully shoot a crossbow.

Be sure to practice a lot, for practice makes perfect!


My name is Austin. I built this website to be a place where outdoor enthusiasts from everywhere come to share what they know! I love with the intense feelings of freedom and adrenaline that only the outdoors gives me. I hope you find the content on this site to be helpful in your search.

Recent Posts