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Traditional Flatbow

Instinctive Archery

In essence, look at the target, point and shoot.

But there is a little more to it than that. As with any style or form of archery, instinctive archery as a style has some basics that once learned and practices lead to better and better accuracy.

These basics can be summed up as Form.

The main thing about the form is consistency. The form can be broken down into its main elements to make practice a bit easier.

For instance and to begin with there is the stance, nocking, string grip, bow grip, draw, anchor point, release and follow through.

Becoming a proficient instinctive archer will include adopting a set standard in all of the above, which can seem daunting to begin with but as you continue to practice and as the various points of the form are mastered and become natural to you, your accuracy is sure to increase.

Instinctive shooting and traditional archery bows really go hand in hand. There is no use of sights etc. it is simple drilling in a consistent form that you are comfortable with and which works for you.

Lets take the stance first. There are a few loose rules to the stance. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart and roughly 90 degrees to the target. But as we are all built slightly differently you should treat these rules are guidelines. Try a few different foot positions based upon the above and then when you find what is comfortable for you stick with it. If you keep changing then your accuracy will not build over time. When you find a foot position which is comfortable, make a mental note of it and then simply check it off mentally as you prepare to shoot. Soon your stance will be instinctive, comfortable and unchanging. We want to apply this same ethos to each step of the form.

Nocking the arrow might not seem like much to learn, but the positioning of your quiver and how you hold the bow when nocking the arrow is a step which should be smooth and standard. If you get the idea of the form being one fluid and complex motion, nocking the arrow wants to fit right in with that and be a known and flowing action. Again when you are comfortable with the position of your quiver and the action flow of nocking the arrow, stick with it. The run of the form begins with the stance and then runs right the way through to the follow through as one smooth and precise action.

String grip is all important as it will affect the draw, the release and the follow through. If this is not definite and correct for you then the following stages of the form will suffer. Which part of the fingers you grip the string with is all important. Most instinctive archers say the pads of the fingers before the first joint is best. This allows for a clean release without twanging the string. The aim is to simply allow the string to release without influencing its direction left or right. Having said that, too close to the tips of the fingers could put too much strain on the fingers and in the crease of the joint will result in the string twisting as it is released. As I say these are guidelines to work with. How you grip the string will also depend upon the length and shape of your fingers. But as a starting point try the centre of the pads of the fingers and once you get the correct position for you then make another mental note and start building it into your form.

How you hold the bow is also very important.

The bow grip

is not really a grip, the neck of the bow handle should rest up upon the hand between the thumb and forefinger. The rest of the hand should be fairly relaxed, just enough to hold the bow, not too much of a grip. Experiment with the grip and find a point which feels balanced and natural.

The draw is a clean action which pulls the string back to your anchor point. There are three main styles of this. Drawing as you lift the bow up from the nocking position. Drawing after the bow is lifted to shoulder level. And drawing the bow as it is lowered from above shoulder level. Each of these styles are quite different and are worth experimenting with again it will come down to which feels most natural and instinctive to you. But which ever style you adopt, the draw should be one smooth action which ends up at your anchor point.

The anchor point is a point on your face, chin, neck etc which is a point which feels comfortable and natural and can be replicated again and again. The bow is at full draw now and ready to be released. The point where the string is released from is all important in the shot so it is worth spending some time and making slight variations until you get something which sticks in your mind. As an example, many people use the corner of their lip as an anchor point, which is okay but also note exactly what part of the finger is touching the corner of the lip. Small variation of the anchor point will make a big difference to the shot. Some people use a point on the jaw line, or the cheek. Where the point is is not the important thing. That it is identifiable and identical is the important thing


Just before the release of the string it is good to brace, i.e. lock your shoulders and back muscles as you breath in on the draw. Hold for a moment and let the breath out on the release.

The release from the anchor point it a matter of simple letting your fingers relax is a smooth definite motion. If you hand moves anywhere it should move slightly backwards to a secondary anchor point as you follow through the shot. The thing here is to release the string without twanging it. Any twang will affect the trajectory of the arrow. If you find any twang in your release, setting a secondary anchor point will help because it will put your attention on moving the hand back in a straight line and no from left to right.

The release is all important and you should try a few different techniques until you get it just right.

Aiming in instinctive archery really begins as you focus on the target. This is usually after the arrow is nocked and concentrated through the draw, anchor and release.


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