The Three Stances
Before we get started here are a few basic points to a great stance:
- Standing up, ensuring that your feet are roughly positioned at the same width apart as your shoulder
- Distribute your weight evenly across both feet so that you don’t find yourself leaning in one direction
- Avoid locking or bending your knees and keep your legs relaxed
- Always keep your back straight with your shoulders relaxed
- Never lean forwards or backwards when shooting
The three main stances in archery are all fairly similar, the main differences are in your feet placement.
You may choose a different stance based on personal preference or dependant on your dominant hand.
The Square Stance
The square stance is the option most frequently used by archers and probably the first stance you will want to look to master.
In terms of movement, with this stance you will look to place both your feet either side of the shooting line.
Your feet should be just over shoulder-width apart to achieve maximum efficiency. Your hips should follow nicely in line with your planted feet.
There are many benefits to using this stance.
Some of these include less strain on your torso and abdomen as less rotation is required to pull off your shots.
Many people also find this stance easier for achieving correct shoulder alignment.
There are a couple of drawbacks (no pun intended) with this stance. The narrower base that comes with the feet placement of this stance can cause less stability in windy conditions.
Another issue with this stance is that many users don’t use their core and leg strength enough using this stance.
The Open Stance
The open stance involves a shift in foot placement to the more common square stance. With users adjusting their feet, legs, and hips so that they’re facing the target more.
With this stance your feet will still be either side of the shooting line, however, they won’t be completely parallel.
To initiate the stance, you will need to place your right foot on the shooting line, with the ball of your foot in line with the gold.
You will then be required to turn your foot slightly inwards to so that it doesn’t line up parallel with your left foot.
Look to keep your feet at shoulder-width apart, slightly closer than in square stance, but generally a fairly similar distance.
There are many benefits of selecting this particular stance, some of these include greater stability when shooting in windy conditions, as well as allowing you to place your weight more consistently along the toe-heel line.
As with any stance, there are a few issues with this one. This stance is more difficult for beginners to learn as finding the correct vertical posture can be difficult and takes plenty of time to master.
This stance also requires much more torso rotation which can place more stress on your spine and lower back over time.
The Closed Stance
The closed stance is essentially the opposite of the open stance, with the main difference being that it is usually utilized with a much smaller angle to the shooting line than the frequently used open stance.
When it comes to feet placement, your feet should be positioned a shoulders width, roughly the same distance as both the square and open stances mentioned previously.
Your hips will remain stationary for the complete duration of this stance during your shot.
On the ground, the ball of your foot should in line with the gold, and your right heel should be no more than 1 to 2 inches behind.
There are many benefits of using the closed stance, the similarity to the square stance makes it an easier transition to this stance compared to others.
Many archers also believe that this particular stance helps drive more power into shots.
However, with the bow being positioned closer to the chest and arms, you’re much more susceptible to receiving bruising from the bowstring.
What is the Best Stance for me?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question, it ultimately depends on your personal preference and where you feel you operate to the best of your ability.
The square stance is the go-to stance for most novices. Find a stance that best suits and you and then begin to work on your form and posture.
Nailing that Posture
While foot positioning is determined by your selected stance, there is still a great number of body posture elements that can be the key to achieve a solid shooting position.
The Torso position is arguably one of the most important elements of a successful archer. Maintaining a proper posture is key to both your consistency and accuracy.
To achieve proper posture, you will need to have your torso straight up, with your collar bone parallel with the arrow.
You should make sure that your hips don’t bend forwards or backwards when taking your shot.
Your torso should remain straight at all times and not bend to the left or right either.
Many archers have tendencies to lean forward into shots, while many beginners find themselves leaning back into shots.
Once you have properly positioned your torso, you will need to have your head up straight, with your chin nicely level with the ground. Look towards the target and begin.
When it comes to shoulder position, the shoulder on your release arm should fall into position naturally once your elbow and lower are properly positioned.
The bow’s arm shoulder or front shoulder should be a natural position, but a mistake that many people make is to shrug this shoulder back into the torso.
This is the wrong thing to do as it can lead to overextending, leading to a low shoulder.
Elbow/Lower Arm Position
Your elbow should point straight away from the target upon release, with your forearm remaining parallel to the ground.
The elbow on your bow arm should point in an outward and faintly downward angle away from the bow.
A sign of correct positioning will be seeing a slight bend in your bow’s arm. When correctly positioned you should also notice a 45-degree angle on your thumb.
One final positional aspect to help maximize your archery capabilities is by using the correct anchor point. The anchor point depends on what type of bow you’re using.
For example, a compound-bow archer may choose to position their bow just behind their jawline, while a recurve archer may choose to select a position closer to under their chin.
Tips for Improving?
So, what’s next? We have a few tips and tricks for you that will help you perfect your archery stance and form, check them out below.
Know your equipment
It really goes without saying that you should know your equipment before using it. You should always make sure you have the correct size bow for your height/reach.
You should also ensure that you’re using the correct arrows for the shooting you intend to partake in.
Get shooting them targets
Whether you plan to shoot indoors or outdoors, getting plenty of practice shooting at targets.
They will help you gain an insight into how accurate your shooting actually is rather than just achieving longer distances of flight.
Perfect your posture
Keeping your feet in the correct stance position is the easy part. Ensuring the rest of your body is correctly positioned can be challenging, especially for novices.
Make sure you follow our posture tips for success here.
Having a relaxed grip is key to your success here, make sure that your grip of the bow is both relaxed and comfortable. Having a tense and open hand will not help you shoot.
Breathing is very important, and rightly so, if you didn’t breathe you’d be dead. On a serious note, many people choose to hold their breath while shooting, while others will choose to just remain to breathe normally.
Some people also choose to take a depth breath and then slowly exhale while aiming. This one ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Practice makes perfect, right?
It’s no secret that constantly practicing anything in life will result in improvements. It just may take a rather long time to see the results.
When it comes to archery, make sure you practice consistently but also once your arm starts to ache you should stop.
Carrying on shooting with an aching arm will only result in weaker shots and a greater chance of injury.
Look in the mirror
Stand in front of a large mirror and take a look at your stance and body positioning with the bow and see where you can make improvements.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
As with any sport you’re new to, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are some of the more common mistakes which you should try and avoid when honing your archery technique.
Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about stance again. Many users make the mistake of adjusting their stance after each shot.
It is important to maintain the same stance at all times to maximize consistency and make sure your practice is beneficial.
Always remember that stance isn’t just about your feet positioning, that just provides the foundations for the rest of your body’s posture.
This rule is pretty straightforward, even novices shouldn’t have any problems securing the correct elbow rotation.
Always ensure your bow arm is rotated straight up and down while drawing the bow and firing the arrow.
It is important to do this correctly as if your bow arm’s elbow doesn’t rotate straight you sending arrows veering far from their original target, or even bruise your inner elbow in the process.
Finger positioning on the bowstring
Archery is a sport that really comes down to the finer details, and correctly positioning your fingers on the end of your bowstring is vital.
Before taking a shot, always make sure your fingers are correctly positioned.
Hooking the bowstring with too much tension can lead to missing targets or even developing finger blisters which can hinder your practice sessions.
Following these tips and choosing the best stance for you will ensure you have an excellent start in archery.
If you follow these steps and have the passion to practice consistently there’s no reason why you can’t push yourself further in the sport.
Undoubtedly, the very foundations of a successful archer begin in your stance, and by following this advice you are already one step ahead of your novice competitors.
We hope you have enjoyed this post; we wish you the best of luck in your archery endeavors!
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