It’s that magic time of year again: the snow is melting in the high country, but not enough to get into good bear hunting; turkey season is pretty much over; and the rivers are running too full and muddy to pursue cutthroats on a 5 weight with dry flies. That leaves one thing left to do…3D shoots.
During the winter I spend many hours shooting indoors at 20 yards at a fixed target. In the spring, 3D shoots are a great way to get outdoors and away from that spot-league format. I work on perfecting my form at unknown yardages and picking a spot that doesn’t have an X on it. If I’m lucky, I’m on the course with the two men who have coached me to shoot as well as I do now, Tim Geis and Ken Jarvis. Their words of encouragement and guidance: “Stay in the shot; Your form will always save you; Don’t be a flinger” help keep me focused.
One thing that plagues most archers–the best and the worst alike– is the lack of follow through after the shot. It doesn’t matter if you fancy yourself a pure instinctive guy who shoots swing arm and is at anchor for a split second, or a barebow robot who shoots set-arm and camps at anchor for a week before the arrow is on its way, we all need some work on our follow through. Most of the follow through routine is common sense: keep the bow arm up, pointed, and pushed out toward the target. However, the string hand often gets neglected. Watch an archer shoot twenty arrows and you might see the string hand in twenty different positions after the shot because the string wasn’t released the same way each time.
Improving consistency here is a lot easier than you’d think. As archers, we all know what an anchor is. I shoot split fingers, and have always used the middle finger to the corner of my mouth. In addition to that, my thumb is folded down which I feel along my jawbone. At the release of the arrow, my thumb is touching the back of my jawbone every time, just like my middle finger is touching the corner of my mouth. The additional contact with my thumb serves as a secondary anchor and keeps my string hand in line with the path of the arrow until it’s well on its way to the target, giving me a smooth “pull through” release. Whatever you wind up with for a follow through anchor, once you’ve done it 20,000 times or so, I promise it’ll improve your consistency.