On this page you will learn about the first step of the shot sequence called the basic archery stance. This is a critical step that will enable you to properly set yourself up for stability and posture that will enable you to achieve proper upper body rotation and alignment.
Advanced technique for improving your stance and posture is explained later.
For beginning archers I recommend you start with the basic archery stance.
For the purpose of instructing we will assume that you are practicing on a safe range with a "Shooting Line". The Shooting Line is an important component on every archery range that provides a visual reference for both the instructor and the student. If your shooting range or lane does not have a shooting line then please assume an imaginary line that is placed parallel to the target face. Protective gear (armguard, finger tab or release mechanism) should be used at all times.
Let's get started...
Why should I start with a square stance if there is a better way?
The square stance is actually the best way to start off in archery because it is very easy to learn and simple enough to consistently reproduce.
The square stance facilitates good biomechanical alignment by placing the hips and shoulders "in line" with your direction of aim or perpendicular to the target face.
The "open stance" is much more difficult to perfect and if it is not properly executed you will experience misalignment of the hips and shoulders and uneven weight distributions that make you unstable.
Learning the square stance first will produce fewer variations in your shot execution and help you to realize tighter arrow groups and accuracy in a shorter time resulting in less frustration during the learning period.
To improve your archery stance I suggest that you dedicate a minimum of 2 or 3 practice sessions to this one topic alone before moving on.
When I am working with new archers I have found that one to 1-1/2 hours of shooting with a focus on stance is about all the student can handle in the beginning.
In large groups we only have time to shoot about 30 arrows in this time period.
The number of repetitions you choose to focus on your basic archery stance will make a difference in how fast and how well you progress in the learning cycle.
The more time you mentally and physically exercise this entire process the more "in-tune" and aware you will be of your overall posture, COG and stability.
Repetitions develop muscle memory, strength and endurance!
In the beginning, keep your number of repetitions and practice time to an easily manageable session.
Start with 30 repetitions on the first day of practice. On the second and third day of practicing your archery stance increase the repetitions and/or time period.
Advanced archers will shoot anywhere from 30 to 60 arrows in a single session while competitive archers will shoot 120 or more arrows per session.
If you do not remain mentally focused on the basic archery stance then the purpose of practicing these exercises is pointless.
With each arrow you shoot, mentally focus on each individual step of the basic archery stance.
This is the only way to develop proper archery shooting form and technique.
Make a point to do the same with each practice session until you become more in-tune with the process. As your endurance and resistance to fatigue lessens you can increase the time and repetitions.
If you are more focused with the results down range or whether or not you are hitting your target or you are focused on your score, then you ARE NOT focusing on the process and you WILL NOT improve your basic archery stance...you are simply slinging arrows down range with no particular goal in mind.
Shoot at a blank bale or target mat without a target face during your practice session. This will allow you to be less distracted by scores or where your arrows are hitting. The purpose and goal should be remaining mentally focused on developing your basic archery stance.
Practice at home or during your work break!
If you are not at the archery range or a place where you can shoot, practice this at home by mentally performing the steps without a bow.
Use something to form an imaginary shooting line on the floor so you have a visual point of reference.
Now mentally focus and perform each step of the process as its outlined above.
Repeat the entire process for at least 10 minutes.
The foot that is behind the shooting line must remain parallel to the shooting line or slightly rotated a couple of degrees toward "down range". If the foot is rotated away from the target or opposite of the direction of shooting you will apply excessive loads on the knee and prohibit proper hip alignment.
The foot that is forward or down range of the shooting line should be parallel to the line or slightly pointing in the direction of the target down range.
If your feet are spaced too close together or spaced too wide apart then you will become bilaterally unstable - meaning you will experience more swaying of the upper body and have less ability to hold your aim.
If your body weight is properly distributed, your feet should give you the sensation of being well planted firmly on the ground and you will experience less of a rocking sensation.
Lower Back and Hips
If the lower back is arched (hollow back - arched lower back often referred to as "sway back") your center of gravity will be placed forward of your knees making you unstable. You can improve your archery posture, stabilize your knee and hip joints and protect your lower back from injury all at the same time.
Shooting with a sway-back de-stabilizes the archer and leaves you vulnerable to lower back pain or injury.
You can flatten the lower back by engaging the muscles that form your gluteus muscle group.
Clinching or tightening the gluteus muscles will help you to roll your hips under your body where it should be and make you more stable.
Posture is among the critical aspects of archery form and execution.
Proper archery posture facilitates better power transmission from your core muscles which gives you the strength to perform the shot execution many times over while maintaining consistent results without excess fatigue.
Beginner archers (and some experienced) have a tendency to stand up tall with the chest thrust outward or slightly up. The head is usually rotated back and the hips thrust forward of the shooting line.
These are all common mistakes that put the center of gravity too high and your weight unequally distributed over one foot or the other...usually on the heel.
In order to shoot consistent and accurately placed arrows you must maintain proper alignment throughout the shot execution. Alignment of the body and the mass weight of the equipment will assure a shooting platform that is solid and stable.
Foot and leg position along with hip, shoulder and head alignment and lowering your center of gravity are just part of creating a solid foundation. If you cannot master this basic principle you remain unstable, be less consistent and your accuracy will suffer.
Try this on your own. Stand on one foot with your weight centered over your heel and pick your ribs or chest up high. Now rotate your head back over the foot that is supporting your body weight.
Do you feel balanced, stable and strong or do you feel like you can be knocked over by a one foot tall garden gnome?
At Learn Archery we do not discriminate against age, gender, race or religion - however, we do hold the truth that garden gnomes are inherently troubled and should be restricted from archery ranges, closets and hiding under beds at all times.
Center of Gravity
Beginner archers have a tendency to thrust the chest upward which raises your center of gravity making you less stable.
Lowering your chest or ribs moves your center of gravity (COG) stabilizes your upper torso and helps you to be more grounded.
After you have placed your feet so you are straddling the shooting line, rotate your hips so they are aligned over your legs and your upper torso is sitting directly above your hips.
Now relax the rib cage and chest downward.
Compressing the chest down helps prevent the lower back from arching and should make your back feel more relaxed.
Your shoulders should also be down and relaxed.
Lowering your COG facilitates better upper body alignment and improves balance and stability.
To learn more about how the hips, gluteus and hamstrings, knees and feet are affected and why it is important for competitive archers to develop the muscle groups go to the archery fitness section.
If you are a beginner or advanced archer and you are looking for a personal instructor, coach or trainer you can contact me directly.
What is the next basic archery step?Go to Basic Archery Step 2: Nocking the Arrow...
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