Archery: Aiming Off-Center

why is my aim off in archery

There are many reasons why your aim might be off in archery. Here are some of the most common issues and potential solutions:

- Equipment issues: Arrows that are too long or too short, or using the wrong type of arrows for your bow, can affect accuracy. Using a sight can help with aiming, but it needs to be correctly adjusted for your bow and the distance to the target.

- Technique issues: Incorrect posture, grip, or release technique can impact the accuracy of your shots. Common issues include plucking or jerking the string, incorrect finger placement, or not following through correctly.

- Physical issues: Wearing glasses can affect your anchor point or head angle, impacting your aim. It's important to maintain a consistent head angle when wearing glasses to avoid this issue.

- Mental issues: Failing to relax and clear your mind before shooting can impact your accuracy. It's important to focus only on the target and let go of any extraneous thoughts.

Characteristics Values
Stance Feet shoulder-width apart, perpendicular to the target, with weight evenly distributed
Posture Stand up straight with a slight bend in the knees, engage core muscles, keep shoulders relaxed
Bow grip Relaxed, gentle touch, avoid clenching or tensing the hand
Anchor point Consistent spot where hand or string touches the face at full draw
Draw hand position Keep hand relaxed, straight wrist, fingers forming a comfortable hook around the bowstring
Release Smooth, maintain back tension, gradually relax fingers, avoid plucking or jerking the string
Glasses Keep a consistent head angle
Arrow tuning Arrow length, spine, weight, nock height, brace height
Distance Affects arrow drop, requiring adjustments to aim
Wind Affects arrow drift, requiring adjustments to aim


The importance of proper form and stance

The foundation of any successful archer's skillset lies in the establishment of proper form and stance. These critical components not only ensure a consistent shooting experience but also minimize the risk of injury and promote accuracy.


Proper body alignment is essential for consistent shooting. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, perpendicular to the target, with your weight evenly distributed. This stance, commonly known as the "square stance," provides stability and allows for efficient energy transfer from your body to the arrow.


Good posture is crucial for maintaining balance and control during the shot. Stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees, engage your core muscles, and keep your shoulders relaxed. This natural and comfortable position enables smooth and controlled movements, reducing muscle strain and fatigue.

Bow grip

A relaxed bow grip is key to preventing torque, which can affect arrow flight and accuracy. Hold the bow with a gentle touch, using only the necessary pressure to maintain control. Avoid clenching or tensing your hand, as this can introduce unwanted movement during the shot.

Anchor point

The anchor point is the consistent spot where your hand or string touches your face when you reach full draw. Establishing a reliable anchor point helps ensure a stable and repeatable reference, crucial for accurate shooting. Common anchor points include the corner of the mouth or the cheekbone.

Draw hand position

The position of your draw hand significantly impacts arrow flight and accuracy. Keep your hand relaxed and maintain a straight wrist, with your fingers forming a comfortable hook around the bowstring. This will reduce the chances of string torque and improve consistency.


A smooth release is vital for a clean shot. Focus on maintaining back tension and gradually relaxing your fingers as you release the string. Avoid plucking or jerking the string, as these actions can disrupt arrow flight and compromise accuracy.

By diligently practicing and refining your form and stance, you'll build a strong foundation for your archery skills. Remember that consistency is key to improvement, and maintaining proper form and stance will lead to greater accuracy and success.

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The impact of glasses on your aim

Wearing glasses can impact your aim in archery, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, glasses can cause a blurry sight, making it harder to aim accurately. This issue can be more prominent when using a sight that is very close to your face, as the optical focus on glasses is usually in the middle of the lens, causing a blurry image when looking to the side.

Additionally, the frames of your glasses can obstruct your view, especially if they are thick or have large rims. This can block your sight pin, making consistent shooting challenging.

Another factor to consider is the angle of your head. Glasses are designed for looking straight forward, and the edges of the lenses can distort your vision. Therefore, maintaining a consistent head angle when wearing glasses is critical for accurate aiming. Even slight movements of your head can affect where you are aiming, especially when viewing through the edges of the lenses.

To optimise your glasses for archery, consider the following:

  • Stable glasses: Ensure your glasses fit securely and don't move around. Nose pads or silicone rubber pads can help keep your glasses in place and prevent them from being pushed off by the bowstring.
  • Safety goggles: Consider wearing safety goggles over your glasses. They will protect your eyes from stray arrows and arrow fragments, and ensure your glasses don't move during shooting.
  • Straps: Use straps to keep your glasses securely on your head and prevent them from falling off, especially in windy conditions.
  • Anti-fog measures: Foggy glasses can hinder your vision, so use anti-fog wipes, sprays, or shaving cream to keep your lenses clear.
  • Separate shooting glasses: Consult an optometrist to get a separate pair of shooting glasses. They can adjust the optical focus centre on the lenses to match your aiming point, providing clear vision for archery.
  • Contact lenses or LASIK surgery: If possible, switch to contact lenses for archery, or consider LASIK surgery to correct your vision and eliminate the need for glasses altogether.

Remember, the key to improving your aim is consistency. Practise your form and shooting technique, and make any necessary adjustments to your glasses or vision correction methods to optimise your archery performance.

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Gap shooting

To start gap shooting, you can use any release method that you are comfortable with. When an arrow is released, it flies in an arc, climbing until it reaches its apex and then descending. Therefore, the rate of climb is more gradual over distance and more rapid after the apex. Understanding this arc is key to gap shooting.

To find your gaps, start at a close distance of 5 yards and put the tip of the arrow on the centre of the target. The arrow will probably land high. Measure the distance from the centre of the target to the point of impact—this is your gap at 5 yards. For instance, if the arrow lands 6 inches high, you need to aim 6 inches below the centre of the target to hit the bullseye. Repeat this process at 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards, and so on, until you find your apex, or the distance at which the arrow hits the point you are aiming at.

Once you have found your apex, continue stepping back and shooting until the arrow lands on the point you are aiming at. This is your 'point-on' distance. If you step back further, the arrow will now land low, and you will need to start 'stacking' by aiming above your point of impact.

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Arrow tuning

Choose the Right Arrow for Your Setup:

Start by selecting arrows that match your bow's specifications. Consult arrow charts or seek advice from a pro shop to determine the appropriate arrow spine, weight, and length for your bow. This ensures that your arrows are appropriately matched to your setup, promoting better arrow flight and accuracy.

Paper Tuning:

Paper tuning is a common method for fine-tuning your arrows. Attach a piece of paper to a frame, and shoot a fletched arrow through it from a distance of 6 feet. Observe the tears in the paper and make adjustments accordingly:

  • If the tear is nock-high, lower the nocking point by sliding the D-loop down.
  • If the tear is nock-low, raise the nocking point by sliding the D-loop up.
  • If the tear is to the left (for a right-handed shooter), your arrow spine is too weak. Try a heavier spine or reduce point weight.
  • If the tear is to the right, your arrow is too stiff. Opt for a weaker spine or add point weight.

Micro-Tune the Dynamic Spine:

After addressing the initial tears, fine-tune the dynamic spine of the arrow. Cut the shaft from the backend in small increments (half an inch at a time) until the paper tear resolves and the arrow shoots a clean hole. This process optimizes the arrow's stiffness and flexibility, ensuring it flies straight and true.

Cam Timing and Alignment:

Check the cam timing by drawing the bow and verifying that the draw stops on the cams hit simultaneously. If not, adjust the cable twists accordingly. For cam alignment, observe the cam lean at brace/rest and full draw. If the cam leans heavily to one side, adjust it using spacers or yoke tuning methods.

Bare Shaft Tuning:

Shoot bare shafts (arrows without fletching) at a target from a distance of 20-30 yards. Since bare shafts don't self-correct like fletched arrows, they provide valuable insights into the tuning of your bow. Observe the impact points and make adjustments as needed.

Broadhead Tuning:

Broadhead tuning is crucial, especially for hunting. Shoot bare shafts/broadhead-tipped arrows at a single spot on the target and compare their impact points with fletched arrows. Adjust your bow setup accordingly, ensuring that the broadheads fly accurately and deliver maximum energy to the target.

Nock Tuning:

If some arrows behave differently, nock tuning may be necessary. Twist the nock in the back of the arrow in small increments and observe the impact points. This fine-tuning ensures that each arrow is optimized for consistent performance.

Remember, arrow tuning is a personalized process, and you may need to make adjustments specific to your bow and shooting style. Always prioritize safety and consult experts or archery technicians if you're unsure about any adjustments.

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Different types of bow sights

There are several types of bow sights available on the market, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Fixed Pin Sights (Multiple Pin): These are probably the most common and well-known type of bow sights, especially for bow hunters. They typically come with 3, 4, or 5 pins, each set at a different distance. The top pin is for the closest target, usually around 10 yards, while the bottom pin is for the furthest distance, such as 50 yards. The pins can be arranged horizontally or vertically, with horizontal pins being more popular but potentially cluttering the field of view. Fixed pin sights offer versatility and are great for target shooting and hunting as they allow you to quickly adjust to different distances.
  • Single Pin Sights (Moveable Pin): Single-pin sights have a single adjustable pin that can be moved to match the exact distance of the target. This provides excellent accuracy but requires constant adjustment, especially for moving targets. They offer a clear field of view and are suitable for long-distance shots. Single-pin sights are often used by experienced hunters and target shooters.
  • Pendulum Sights (Treestand Sights): These are designed specifically for shooting from elevated positions, such as a tree stand or hunting tower. The sight housing swings forward or backward depending on the angle of your shot, automatically adjusting to keep your aim on target. Pendulum sights are useful for shooting at odd angles but are typically not needed for ground-level shots.
  • Olympic-Style Target Sights: These are commonly used with recurve bows and feature a single, easily adjustable pin. They are great for beginners as they allow for precise adjustments and learning how to sight in on a target. However, they are not suitable for hunting as they require manual adjustments for each new distance.
  • Digital Bow Sights: These are the newest type of bow sights and often feature LED lights, dots, or crosshairs instead of physical pins. Some digital sights also include built-in laser rangefinders to automatically measure distances. While they offer state-of-the-art technology, they tend to be more expensive and may be illegal for hunting in some states.

When choosing a bow sight, consider your budget, the type of shooting activity you'll be doing, and the specific features you need. Remember that personal preference plays a significant role, and it's essential to find a sight that matches your shooting style and skill level.

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Frequently asked questions

Glasses can affect your anchor point and head angle, which are both critical for accurate shooting. Keep your head at a consistent angle and ensure that your glasses are not interfering with your anchor point.

This is called "gap shooting" and is normal when shooting without a sight. The eye is higher than the arrow, so the arrow will appear to fly upward when released. As you increase the distance to the target, the arrow will drop more, reducing the gap.

This could be due to several factors such as arrow spine and centre point, arrow stiffness, or issues with form, such as plucking or collapsing. Adjust your technique or consider using stiffer or more flexible arrows.

Adjust your scope or sight accordingly. If your arrows are landing to the right, move your scope to the right, and vice versa. If they are landing above the target, raise your scope slightly.

Using your hand as a sight is not common but can be effective if it works for you. This technique is similar to gap shooting and can provide a reference point for aiming, especially if you anchor at the side of your face.

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