Friday, June 24, 2011

How's My Form? See Anything Wrong?
These are questions that have been posed to me or that I have found on some of the archery forums around. When I have answered the questions, or offered up what I am seeing, people are getting upset or defensive with me. Really? You pose a question, but don't really want the answer? Sounds like a difficult marriage. Here's my suggestion to you all that get defensive - don't ask the question if you are unwilling to listen to advice or unwilling to try to change. Let me state this fact - I am no expert. I have never claimed to be, but I have had my set-up adjusted over the years and also been given advice.

Here's one example of what I am talking about. Recently, I was sent a photo of a gentleman who was having issues with his groups. In his photo, he was leaning VERY far forward, his draw length was obviously too short and you could see that clearly. I recommended that he add 1/2" to his DL. I also recommended he raise his peep a bit so he didn't lower his head so much and lean so far forward in his stance. His response to me was that he spent a lot of money putting a different cam on his bow to shorten his DL and that wasn't an option. He also said he was comfortable where his peep was at, so that wouldn't change. Everyone I showed the photo to said the EXACT same thing I did. His DL was way too short and the peep was too low.  They also shared this with him and he still refused to change.

He sent another photo, after he said he made some adjustments, and said he had adjusted his grip and a few other things, but avoided the advice that was initially given to him. Again, he was offered up the same advice. Again, he got defensive and said he thought his set-up was comfortable and that was not about to change it. Well, comfortable and right is not always one and the same. Why can't some people just realize this?

Let me give you a personal example. Hopefully this will make you all aware that we ALL can change. I have been an archer for 27 years. That doesn't make me an expert. Hell, if anything it made me realize that while I have killed plenty of deer, I still may have been shooting, well, wrong! I got to talking with Tim Case a few weeks back and we hit it off. If you remember from my interview, Tim is an NASP Certified Instructor, NAA Certified Instructor and he founded and created Highlander Archery, the student archery club at Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA. He’s also responsible for getting a bow and arrow into the hands of 4,000 people for the first time, from toddlers up through senior citizens. 

On a whim, I asked him to take a look at some photos of me shooting and to get his opinion on my form. He said my form was perfect! Nothing to adjust. Ok, I am joking. My form was far from perfect. In fact, he actually had a few specific pointers for me. Sure, it stung at first because I didn't WANT to change, but I also want to be a better shooter and a better hunter. Improving my shooting needed to be first and foremost.

What did he recommend? Take a look at the two photos and see if you can guess what Tim said to me.

Video still #1 from the range.

Video still #2 from the range.
Figured it out yet? First off, he mentioned that my elbow should be raised a bit. He gave me a few reasons why, but the main reason being that it will give me a more solid anchor and improve back tension. Sure, it is an adjustment to my shooting, but it's a sound adjustment. One that I am trying and it is helping me remain consistent with each shot. At first I felt myself getting defensive, but soon realized that people usually get defensive when they are doing something wrong. Once I made the adjustment I found that coming to full draw, raising my elbow and seating my anchor I was able to find a rhythm quickly. I now focus on this each time I hit the range.

The next suggestion wasn't made directly, but hinted at during our discussion. If you look at image #1, you'll see that I am tipping my head over just a tad. Part of it is because of my glasses, but part of it is from bad form. My peep was set a little too low. I didn't care for that peep anymore, so I went back to my G5 peep. Let me just say that once I adjusted that to the right height I am shooting better than I have in a long time, my neck isn't craned and I feel good about my shot. Like Jason "The New Mexico Sportsman" Amaro says, 'Confidence is deadly.' He is so right! It only took a dozen shots or so to get comfortable with the new adjustment. I am well on my way to more consistent shooting, better form and my confidence level just jumped to a record high. Thanks, Tim!

It goes without saying that sometimes constructive criticism is tough to take. Still, if you are going to pose a question, I have a suggestion. Listen. It's as simple as that. Listen to what people are telling you. That doesn't mean you HAVE to do what they are recommending, but if you want to improve you should listen. Try out what they are saying. Maybe go to a pro shop and mention it to them, but whatever you do, don't get pissy with people. Put on your big boy shorts and be prepared to hear something you may not like. Have a great weekend and get out there and shoot. I know I will be!


  1. Hmmm, this gives me an idea. I would actually appreciate critique of my form. I will wear my big boy shorts, no worries! Photo on its way ;-)

  2. Haha, thanks, Brian. If you are serious, please send away. If not, that's a great joke. Cheers!

  3. Thought provoking. I appreciate the input.

  4. I am serious! I meant to get a good 'form pic' on Friday night when we shot on the Techno Hunt / DART thing but didn't. Expect it soon!

  5. Al,

    Good post, it is thought provoking, that is for sure. I can confess that I have had similar attitudes in the past, but not with archery - that is for sure. I want as much input as possible, and since I am self-taught, there are surely bugs to be worked out.

    Brian - how did you enjoy the techno hunt? I have been thinking of trying one.

  6. "Put on your big boy shorts"....

    or your big girl panties! lol! Great points Al.

    If we all give and receive advice with open minds knowing that most people tell us those things because they want us to succeed, we'll all be better archers.

    I, on the other hand, am not sending you any pics of me shooting because you'd have to write a book! lol!