10 Beginner Archer Mistakes…And How To Avoid Them!

by | Nov 25, 2022

Getting started in archery can be a daunting challenge for some. When learning any new skill, it can take some time for people’s bodies to adapt to new movement patterns. But don’t worry, even the pros can be just as guilty of making some of these beginner archer mistakes from time to time.

Whatever it is that you struggle with as a beginner archer, these are common mistakes that almost everybody will encounter (and conquer) at some point.

  1. Being Scared of The String
  2. Aiming Too High
  3. Too Many Fingers On The String
  4. Not letting Go
  5. Aiming Too Much
  6. Moving Your Feet
  7. Only Remembering One Thing
  8. Flinching
  9. Knocking The Arrow Off The Rest
  10. Bullseye Selfies

In this article, we’ll look at 10 of the most common mistakes that beginner archers make, and some advice on how to avoid them.

10 Beginner Archer Mistakes…And How To Fix Them!

1. Being Scared of The String

For some reason, beginners seem to think that the bow string is about to carve off a slice of their cheek when they let go of it.

This is simply not true. A requirement of the drawing process is to bring the string to your face and anchor it there at the corner of your mouth.

Quite often you’ll see that as beginners pull the string back, they will lean away from the string, or shift their head to one side and do whatever they can to avoid the string as if it were an elastic band about to snap back into their face.

This is quite a dangerous thing to do as it can cause the archer to contort their body into a position that could cause the string to inflict some damage on release.

If you’ve ever seen an Olympic archer draw the string back you’ll notice that they are compressing the string right into their noses. So don’t be afraid of the string!

*Tip – Remember that the string moves forwards and back in a straight line and has no chance of rebounding back to contact your face

2. Aiming Too High

Beginners always aim too high. This happens because the logical thing to do is to place the arrow over the centre of the target when you’re aiming. You want the arrow to go where you’re aiming it.

But the beginner quickly finds that the arrow always lands way above where they were aiming.

So why does this happen?

What beginners tend to forget is that there is a gap between your eye and the arrow. When you compensate for this by dropping your aim to below the target, you’ll find that the arrows are now landing where you want them to.

*Tip – For more advice on aiming in traditional archery, then you might be interested in checking out this article right here.

3. Too Many Fingers On The String

Among the most common beginner archer mistakes to make is grabbing the string with all the fingers of their drawing hand, or sometimes using too few fingers.

These issues should be addressed right away as they will directly affect the arrow’s release and give the archer more control over the draw.

Unless you’re learning an alternative type of archery, you’re always going to have three fingers on the bowstring.

Beginner Archer Mistakes

Depending on where you learn, you will either adopt a split-finger draw, with one finger above the arrow and two below or a three-under draw, with all three fingers under the arrow.

Either way, it will always be three fingers, which is enough to give you maximum control, power and efficiency.

*Tip – Extend your little finger away from the string as you draw back

4. Not Letting Go

To many archers and instructors, letting go of the string may seem like the easiest step. But to someone who has very little knowledge of how a bow works, this can be one of the hardest things to overcome.

There’s a little psychology involved here. There may be some inherent fear of what might happen if you just let go of the string.

‘Will it hit my arm? What if it hits my face? Will I drop the bow?’

All these thoughts can be racing through your mind at the point of release causing you to just keep holding on to the string.

A beginner needs to understand that they have complete control over the bow. There is no trigger to pull, nor will the bow shoot itself. There is no need to overthink this process.

It’s all part of the shot process that is taught from the beginning. Releasing the string is just one more step in that process.

*Tip – The moment you release the string should feel like you’re gradually letting it slip out of your fingers, or that you’re dropping something.

5. Aiming Too Much

The simple logic behind this is that the more you aim at something, the better chance you have of being accurate.

But this can actually be the opposite in archery. If you aim for too long, two things are going to start to happen.

Your bow arm will start to shake, and your muscles will start to fatigue. Holding anything for more than about 5 seconds and you will start to experience the pain and the collapse of the shot.

Spending more time aiming is coming at the cost of being able to execute the shot you want to make

Don’t overthink the aiming process in the beginning because any mistakes you make can be corrected in the next shot. Learning to trust yourself is the foundation of instinctive shooting.

*Tip – The moment you reach your anchor point, you are more than likely already on target. Releasing at that point will be perfectly ok.

6. Moving Your Feet

One of the first things you are taught is how to stand correctly, and most beginners find this quite easy.

The problems start to occur after the arrow has been shot because the new archer moves their feet. They start looking around for the next arrow, and they relax and shuffle their feet around which for some reason can involve stepping back.

Beginner Archer Mistakes

The reason why it’s so important to get the stance correct is that the whole shot process depends on the correct alignment with the target.

That means that your feet, hips, shoulders and string need to be in the right place each time. All these things will change if you move your feet.

It’s essentially the same in golf, where the golfer aligns his body in the direction of the target. Any change in the feet, knee, hip and shoulder alignment, will change the outcome of the shot.

*Tip – Keep your feet rooted to the same spot for the same shot outcome each time.

7. Only Remembering One Thing

Remember when you were learning to drive? All the checks and sequences you had to learn until it became they became subconscious? Now you barely even think about them, because they’re so ingrained in your memory.

It’s the same in archery. Even though it takes time to learn an individual set of steps, the whole shot process needs to be one smooth subconscious action.

It’s not just a case of remembering to lift your elbow higher, drawing back to the anchor point, keeping your arm straight, or holding the bow correctly and touching the corner of your mouth. Then letting the shot go.

One. Smooth. Process.

*Tip – Rather than breaking down the shot process into individual steps, try to remember the first three steps of the sequence, then add another step until the action becomes smooth.

8. Flinching

So up to this point, you’ve managed to follow everything the instructor has told you, your stance is great, and your shot process is smooth, but now for some reason, the point of release produces a moment of sheer terror.

This can cause you to flinch, or pull away from the bow as you release the arrow, sending it off target and potentially causing injury to someone.

This can be quite dangerous and can be likened to shooting a gun with your eyes closed.

The most important thing to do here is to just relax. Trust that the string or the bow won’t hurt you and that you have control over the whole process.

*Tip – Try to focus on the target and exhale as you release the arrow

9. Bullseye Selfies

And finally, one of the biggest beginner archer mistakes that most of us have been guilty of at some point!

We get it. Hitting gold on your first few attempts can seem like a memorable moment that needs to be celebrated on Facebook and Instagram like what you had for breakfast yesterday.

In the world of archery, hitting the bullseye happens so frequently, that it’s not really a photo-worthy moment.

Beginner Archer Mistakes

That aside, the main reason that taking selfies at your first few bullseyes just isn’t cricket, is the fact that there may be a line of people waiting to shoot while you mug for the camera.

*Tip – be considerate to your fellow archers. If you see people waiting to shoot, then save the selfies for that glass of champagne you’re going to have to celebrate hitting the bullseye.

10. Knocking The Arrow Off The Rest!

This can be one of the most annoying things for a beginner. The arrow keeps falling off the rest when you draw back the string. Even if you put your finger over the arrow!

There are two main reasons why this happens:

Nock Pinch

When drawing back on the string the fingers of the draw hand will contact and squeeze the arrow. This can often be a result of anxiety, tension or nerves. This will make the arrow lift off the rest.

*Tip – Leave some space between your fingers and the arrow.

Draw Hand Set Incorrectly

When you draw the string back, the back of your hand should be flat. If you can see any knuckles on the back of your hand (or if someone else can), then you need to adjust your hand position.

If you are showing knuckles it means that you are curling your hand inwards, which will cause the string to twist as you draw it towards you. This is why the arrow is lifting off the string.

*Tip – keep a straight line from your elbow to the first knuckle of your index finger as you draw back.

How Can You Learn Archery Faster?

Learning any new skill can be challenging, especially if your brain is conditioned to learn in a specific way.

There are four main pathways of learning. In order to pick up and master archery faster and easier, you’ll need to identify which mode of learning you are best suited to.

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Reading/Writing
  • Kinesthetic

Visual

Visual learners absorb information quicker if they can see the information presented in clear graphs and charts, rather like a creative designer uses visual hierarchy.

Auditory

Auditory learners prefer to have information presented to them vocally. They tend to thrive better in group situations where there is lots of vocalisation present.

Reading/ Writing

Reading and writing learners like to have the information written down in a heavy text format such as presentations and worksheets where note-taking is a big factor.

Kinesthetic

Kinesthetic learners much prefer a hands-on approach to learning where they can get involved on a physical level and use all their senses to absorb the information.

Final Thoughts

Everybody has to start somewhere. Beginner archer mistakes are more common in experienced archers than you think. It’s part of the learning process. Think of it this way, if you do make a mistake, you’ve just learned how not to do something.

Finding the right coach to guide you will also be a crucial step on your journey towards becoming a more competent, confident archer. If you let them know how to best present the instruction to you, then you will be able to pick up these new skills easier, faster and with much more confidence.

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