While learning how to shoot a bow accurately, you need to understand that your hand-eye coordination has to be impeccable. While you are grasping the bow in one hand, the other hand helps in holding the arrow. The balance on the bow and the accuracy at which the arrow has to hit the target requires a lot of practice and dedication. Depending on whether you are a right-handed or left-handed person, the type of bow will change. However, the decision about whether you are a right-handed or left-handed archer depends on the dominance of your eye. If your right eye is predominant, then the bow has to be held in your left hand whereas the bowstring command falls in your right hand; and vice versa.
The techniques, rules, and important tips provided to you in those classes cannot be learned anywhere else. Plus, if there are any strong or weak points in your shooting technique, they will be more equipped to train you likewise. But keeping that matter aside for a while, we shall see how a bow and an arrow are shot accurately so that you have an idea as to what actually goes behind the whole process.
Shooting a Bow and an Arrow Accurately
Before we begin, I'd like to point out that there are different types of bows and arrows which can be used. As our civilization has evolved, so has the technology in archery; and to master the art, you need to be aware of all the types of bows and arrows, and how each of these are used correctly. Having said that, I'd like to again point out that a proper archery lesson will aid you tremendously.
Keep your back straight, relax your shoulders, and place both feet on either sides of the shooting line. This is called a square stance. Your feet need to be shoulder-width apart so that you can evenly distribute your weight on both the legs. Don't shift your weight on any leg while you're ready to shoot. Also, the square stance helps you in keeping your body steady throughout.
Another way you can stand is the open stance. Here, you will keep the right foot just ahead of the shooting line. This stance is used when there is an issue with the bowstring. When the alignment of the bowstring is not clear with your arm (which is pulling the string), the open stance comes in handy. Plus, when you use this stance, you can't change positions before, midway, or after the bow has been shot. So to sum it up, your stance has to be uniform till the very end.
Mount the Arrow
This has to be done by mounting the nock of the arrow (bottom of the arrow) on the string itself. The center of the bowstring has to face you while you place the nock of the arrow on it. Place the nock on the string properly, and make sure it doesn't slide. And finally, the shaft of the arrow (the middle section of the arrow) needs to be hooked on the bow itself. There will be a place to fix the arrow in place.
Pull the Bowstring
Use 3 fingers to hold the string properly, and then pull it closer to your face. Place the index finger above the nock of the arrow, the middle finger will go just underneath the nock, and the ring finger underneath the middle finger. You will grab the arrow with your index and middle fingers. Here, all 3 fingers will slightly curl on the bowstring. Also bring your little finger and thumb in as well as you curl them. The bowstring will go in the gap available between your thumb and index finger.
Once you have a good grip of the arrow on the bowstring, you will pull on the string with either left or right hand. The elbow of the arm which is pulling the string has to be raised slightly above the shooting line, whereas the other arm, that is holding the arrow will be kept straight. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, but steady and keep your back and legs straight at all times. As you pull on the bowstring, it will literally come closer to your face. Don't move the face to make more space for the bowstring. When you take this position, you will notice that the actual grasping of the bowstring is helping you balance your entire body.
While you have the bowstring pulled, you will bring it really close to your face, and slightly touch it. Yes, the bowstring will touch your jaw as it comes closer to your face. Now, when you do bring the bowstring on your jaw, the index finger has to be the one that touches it. Your thumb will be inside the palm as it will be placed against your neck. The bowstring is them on your chin properly. Make sure you grab the string tightly here or else it arrow might just release early and the string will hit you.
Once you have the bowstring in position, you need to take your aim. Again, the back stays straight as your back muscles are going to help us to shoot the arrow properly. We will hold the bow in the same alignment as your spine. This will help us center the bow and hit the target accurately. If you feel that even after this you can't hit the target properly, don't worry. With practice, you will definitely get it right. Also, if the alignment is not right and your arms begin to shake or hurt, release the position and begin again. You can start with the steps mentioned above and come back to this step and align the bow with your spine.
Release the Arrow
Now here is where the 3 fingers which are pulling the bowstring come in. You need to make sure that when you release the arrow, it slips off from the 3 fingers. Don't just remove your fingers and let the arrow go. If you do that, the arrow won't go anywhere. It might just stay in the bowstring or perhaps land right in front of you. Remember, the key here is to let the arrow slip from your fingers. When you do this, you will ensure that the arrow hits the target. If this step isn't followed accurately, your entire effort till now will have gone to waste.
In the end, you need to follow through the release for a moment and then relax your muscles. What I mean by following through the releasing of arrow is that till the time the arrow reaches and hits the target, your head and body's position won't change. You will keep them as steady as possible and bring your releasing hand back; all the way behind your ear. So the arm that was pulling the bowstring will be your releasing hand and that palm needs to come back, further than your ear. This is very important because then only the arrow will even reach and hit the target.
Once the follow through has been achieved, then only you can relax your back muscles. Also, you can relax your shoulders and arms. Take a 20-second break till you pick up the next arrow and follow all these steps again.
Placing the arrow on the bowstring, holding and releasing the arrow accurately, and hitting a bull's-eye will take some time, and a lot of practice and patience.