5 common mistakes that will keep you out of the X

In a perfect world, every arrow would find the bull’s-eye, 12-ring, vitals, etc., on every target you shoot. But in case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a perfect world.

Archers shoot arrows that don’t hit exactly where they want. A lot of arrows. There are many factors that can cause an arrow to hit wide of its mark. But participate in and observe this game long enough, and patterns begin to emerge. There are some errors that happen time and again, from archer to archer, regardless of whether they shoot with fingers or a release, with a compound or recurve.

Here are five of the most common shooting mistakes that send arrows off the mark.

1. BOW TORQUE – A lot of pressure is placed on your bow hand at full draw. It’s very easy to contort your hand to influence that pressure up, down, left or right. Do that, and you’re torquing the bow.

A common mistake among archers is to grab the bow handle like it’s a pistol grip and squeeze it tight during the shot. We call that the “death grip.” This almost assuredly will result in torquing the bow.

tight grip

You want your hand to be relaxed, and the only pressure you want to put on the bow should be to push it straight toward the target. Check out this article for an explanation of proper hand position.

2. DROPPED YOUR ARM – Blame this one on gravity. The whole time you’re holding your bow out as you aim at your target, gravity is pulling your arm down. As long as you’re holding your pin on your target, you’re fighting gravity.

Many archers forget about that fight the instant they release an arrow, and they drop their bow arm. The result? Low hit.

One way to combat this problem is to train yourself to keep that bow arm up until you hear the arrow hit the target.

3. YOU LOOKED – There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want to see a bad archery shot, look at it.”

What it means is, archers sometimes are in such a hurry to see where an arrow is going to hit the target, they don’t completely finish the shot process. Instead, they will pick their head up off the string, drop their bow arm or push or pull the bow at the release to get it out of the way of their line of sight.


Any of the above will cause your arrow to miss its mark. Finish the shot process correctly, and you won’t have to look for your arrow. You’ll know it will be in the bull’s-eye.

4. FLINCHED – In executing a good archery shot, your body should be relaxed. Your back muscles will squeeze your shoulder blades together; and your release arm will pull straight back, while your bow arm holds rock steady.

A flinch is when your muscles contract in anticipation of the shot. You might jerk your release hand or your bow arm might jump ‑ or both might happen simultaneously. In any event, your arrow usually sails wide of your aiming point.

5. PLUCKED THE STRING – Whether you draw and shoot with your fingers or a release, the basic principles of both are the same. You want your release hand to move straight back from the string at the shot.

Plucking is a common error, where your hand moves back but also out away from your face, like you just plucked a guitar string. Basically what you do when that happens is you pull the string off to the side as you release it, rather than send it forward in a straight line.

pluck fingers

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