How to Shoot a Compound Bow

January 11, 2021

Investing in a new compound bow is a thrill. But after you come away with your new hunting equipment, there’s still lots of work to be done. Compound bows take lots of fine-tuning and customization to personalize them to your skill level and strength.

From practicing your draw and determining the “valley” to adjusting your pin, there’s a lot to consider. So, pack a personal cooler and head out to the range for a day of practice and learn how to shoot a compound bow.

Never Dry Fire and Always Nock Your Arrow

When preparing for your first shot, always remember to nock an arrow. Dry firing is extremely harmful to your compound bow. Essentially, when you dry fire, pulling back into a full draw and releasing the string sans arrow, it can damage or even break the bow entirely. So, whenever you want to pull your bow back into a full draw — even as practice — you better nock an arrow!

As you can see, it’s important to protect your string. Keeping your bow secured in a bow case can keep it completely protected, but it can also carry extra equipment if a string were to break.

Create Two Points of Contact with Your Arrow

preparing for first shot

When you nock your arrow, make sure it always has two points of contact. One contact point will be the tip of the arrow, which sits on the rest. The second contact point will be the nock clips against the bow’s string in the gap between the D-loop knots. With your arrow situated along with these two points of contact, place the release on your dominant wrist. At this point, make sure you are standing 10 yards from your target.

Pull Back into a Full Draw

Now that you are in a proper stance and have aligned the arrow to its two points of contact, it’s time to pull back into a full draw. To start, clamp your release around the D-loop and pull back. Reaching a full draw, your arm should be holding the bow in a way that pushes out your elbow, which you should lock into place. At a full draw, your dominant hand will be pulled back toward your cheek. In this position, be mindful not to clamp the spring.

When you pull back into a full draw, you should notice the bow’s “valley.” The valley is basically how much you can creep forward before the bow tries to take off. When you first try to pull back, you’ll meet resistance. But it will become easier to hold the position once you pull back completely into a full draw — one of the many advantages of a compound bow.

Find Your Anchor and Adjust the Peep Sight

Next, you’ll need to find your anchor/kissing point, placing your hand with the release near your cheek. At this step, you will find the string might touch the tip of your nose, which also offers you another convenient anchor point. In this position, guide your hand and move it around until you can see through the peep sight, pressing it to your face.

Since the peep sight is a tiny hole in your string, it will take some adjusting to feel right and be able to see. Move and adjust your anchor points around until you can see through the peep sight clearly.

Release the Trigger

Looking at your target through the peep sight, place the top pin on your target, pulling the release trigger. Even once you release the trigger and the arrow hits the target, hold your stance. If you drop your arm prematurely, it can cause the arrow to wander. Veering off slightly can make you miss the mark.

Adjust Your Pin to “Follow Your Arrow"

If your mark is spot on, you can move farther back, about 20 yards. However, if you’re off, you need to adjust your pin again to “follow your arrow.” Take notice of where the arrow hits too. If it hits higher than the target’s bullseye, you’ll need to move up the pin. If the arrow hits below, you will need to lower your pin — likewise, with an arrow that veers right or left.

Essentially, you should only move back farther when your arrow and pin adjustment are right on the mark!

Practice Shooting a Compound Bow

Learning how to shoot a compound bow takes lots of practice. So, whether you practice at home or on an archery range, keep it on you for that last-minute drop-by. Store your equipment in a secure compound bow case in your vehicle so you never forget it!

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