September 22, 2010
Does excessive sight pin movement bother you mentally and hinder your shooting accuracy? This is a common problem for many archers; however, it is one that can usually be corrected.
To identify what is causing the difficulty, place a large, plain piece of cardboard on a target butt. Then draw the bow and let the pin settle on the cardboard. Note if the pin movement is at an acceptable level. Next, put an orange dot in the middle of the cardboard and shoot an arrow at it. If you encounter too much pin movement, the problem is in the aiming process.
Many archers tighten muscles in their bow arm in an attempt to hold the pin on the desired location. This is an incorrect method of aiming. The extra-tight muscles used to steady the pin produce the excess movement. Instead of tightening the muscles in your bow arm, come to a full draw, anchor, and then wait a few seconds to relax the muscles in your arms and shoulders. At the same time, you must continue to maintain a constant pressure as you pull the bow apart. You should notice a difference as the pin no longer jumps around but rather begins to float softly on the target. When you reach that moment, you are ready for the shot execution.
ARE YOU OVER-AIMING?
Some archers find that they have a steady sight picture until they start to release the arrow. This usually occurs because they are over-aiming the shot. In an attempt to hold the pin on the target, they relax the bow arm and start and stop the release procedure. Instead of doing this, let the pin float on or around the target, add a little forward pressure to the bow arm, and finish the shot.
Years ago I remember when there was little or no movement in my sight pin. Now, with the grey hair invading my scalp, I experience a lot more movement. I reassure myself, "This is about as steady as the pin will get. Put pressure at the target and execute." The movement does not bother me, because I know if I shoot a strong shot, it will hit where I am aiming.
Once, an older gentleman came to me for lessons. As I watched him shoot five shots, his bow arm seemed to be shaking at about a 7.1 on the Richter scale. He said, "See the problem? I have an affliction and the bow arm won't quit shaking."
I replied, "That isn't the problem. The difficulty is that you are worrying about the sight movement and not putting pressure toward the target." Then he tried to ignore the pin movement and executed a strong shot. The arrows hit the mark. Aiming and trying to hold the pin on the bull's-eye is over-rated. This man learned to trust his form and shoot a strong shot. He went on to win a national championship.
TOO MUCH POUNDAGE?
Another common problem that produces a poor sight picture is when an archer attempts to hold more pounds of draw weight than he or she is capable of handling. You can check to see if this is a factor by reducing the draw weight 5 or 6 pounds and releasing a few arrows. If the pin movement subsides, you need to use the lower draw weight. My daughter Sally has taken over 30 deer with her 45-pound bow. She hits the mark at which she is aiming and the arrow passes through the deer. Accuracy is one of the most important attributes for a successful archery hunter.
A draw length that is too long can also cause sight movement. With too many inches, the archer will have to push his or her bow arm forward to such an extent that there is no room left to push forward and maintain pressure. The overextended bow arm will start shaking. Steady forward pressure is one of the key elements in having a good sight picture. Stand with your shoulders relaxed and in a down position. Now draw and anchor.
If you have to raise and extend your shoulder, the draw length is likely too long. Shorten it and note if the conditions improve. With a compound bow, over 90 percent of the misses can be attributed to the bow arm. If an archer cannot maintain steady forward pressure, a poor shot is apt to occur.
CONDITION THOSE MUSCLES!
Weak muscle tone can also produce a shaky sight picture. All archers, whether they are weekend warriors or championship competitors, need to practice at a blank bale in order to solidify their form and develop muscle tone. Blank-bale shooting can be done at home from a distance of five yards. The goal is to shoot every shot exactly the same and condition your muscles to the process of shooting. Pay special attention to determine if the bow arm finishes in the same position with every shot. If you can shoot every arrow in the same way, then each one should hit the identical spot. This practice of blank-bale shooting will help develop the muscles, which in turn will give you a calmer sight pin and a smooth shot.
A steady sight pin relaxes the mind of an archer when he or she is attempting a shot. Doing everything possible with equipment and form to calm down the sight pin will help with accuracy. When you're sitting in your stand and a big wall-hanger walks into your shooting lane in the woods, there will still be sight movement, but hopefully you will have reduced it to a manageable level. As you face that moment of truth, just trust your form and shoot a strong shot.