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Weigh your anchor.

professional archer I'd once coached returned to me for help because his groups had opened up. After I observed a few of his shots, the problem became obvious: He wasn't firmly anchoring his release hand.

When I called the problem to the shooter's attention, he concluded this bad habit must have started when he'd had a bad case of poison ivy on his face and changed the way he held the release. As soon as he adjusted his form, he once again began producing his customary tight groups and high scores.


Anchoring the release firmly to the face aligns and keeps the peep sight in the same place on every shot. That's obviously critical, because the peep in the bowstring serves the same purpose as the back sight of a rifle. Whether with gun or bow, these reference points have to be lined up the same way every time in order to achieve accuracy.

To ensure consistency, the sight pin also must be centered in the peep. If it moves just a little high, low, right or left, the impact point of the arrow obviously will change. Without a firm anchor point, the release hand's position can shift, altering alignment of the chosen pin inside the peep.


To guarantee your pins consistently line up, use a second aligning anchor point. For many shooters, having the bowstring touch the tip of the nose is one way to achieve this. If you wear eyeglasses you might need to anchor on the side of your nose, so you have clear visibility through the lens in front of your shooting eye. But with either method of anchoring, make sure it's exactly the same with every shot.

The release hand should be secured to the face with bone-to-bone contact. If the main point of contact is the side of the cheek, the soft tissue can easily move and alter peep alignment. Many variations of release hand placement can ensure a firm anchor. Much depends on the type of release you're using.


The most common release used by hunters is the wrist strap style, which is activated by the index finger. A solid and frequently used anchor for this type of release is the bottom side of the jawbone, having it rest in the gap between the thumb and index finger.

Another option is to turn the hand so the knuckles point toward the face and then place the jawbone between the first and second back knuckles ("back" meaning the knuckles on the forend end of the hand, not the first main finger joints). Both forms are solid and effective.

The other style of releases often used by bowhunters and most target archers is the hand-held release. For this, the most typical point of anchor is achieved by placing the jawbone in the gap between the first and second back knuckles. Another solid method used by some shooters is to place all back knuckles behind the jawbone.


Many bowhunters always wear a facemask in the field, while others use one only during cold weather. This article of clothing can create accuracy problems. Thick facemasks make it more difficult to achieve a firm anchor with the release hand and to produce a consistent string anchor against the nose.

For this reason, I prefer the thin, tight style of head covering. During a shot, if the string makes much contact with the mask moving forward, the arrow will have an erratic flight. It's a variation on what happens if the string touches clothing on your forearm later in the shot sequence.

Hooded sweatshirts and high-necked coat collars also can adversely affect the bowstring and, thus, arrow accuracy. If you use these kinds of outerwear, be sure to take them to the practice range before the season, to make sure they don't hinder your shot in any way.


Again, an archer must have a solid, consistent anchor to be successful. Once this is established, the bow can be set up to fit the individual.

To determine proper draw length, pull the bow and achieve your normal anchor point. If you have to anchor farther back or push your front shoulder out to maintain adequate pressure, the draw length is too long. Conversely, if you must put a bend in your elbow or move your anchor forward, draw length is too short. With proper draw length, the anchor should be in its normal location and the bow arm should have room to push forward.


Once a consistent anchor point is established, the height of the peep sight can be set. As I discovered one morning, the correct height of the peep is crucial to accuracy.

As I sat in my tree stand, a young doe approached. I wanted one for the freezer, and this looked to be my chance. In a matter of just a few seconds I drew and released the arrow--only to see it sail over the back of the deer. She was standing 20 yards away and broadside to me, so I'm sure I was more surprised at the miss than she was.

Feeling certain the sights had been bumped off, I went home to check the accuracy of my 20-yard pin. It was dead on. What could have caused that total miss?

Studying what had happened in the field, I tried to replay my quick shot at the doe. The arrow had flown way high. The peep sight was lower than I normally use, so on a quick shot I mistakenly had looked over the top of it, through the triangle of the separated strings instead of through the aperture. That of course had caused the arrow to fly way high.

To properly set the peep, draw and anchor the bow with eyes closed; then open your eyes. If you must move your, head up or down to see through the center of the peep, it's in the wrong place and you need to make a height adjustment until everything lines up correctly.


Consistent anchor points are part of the basic foundation of good form and accuracy. To help guarantee success in the field, check your anchor point and determine if it's doing the job for you.


For more shooting tips that have proved themselves in the deer woods, check out the author's new book. Archery: Think and Shoot Like a Champion is available at:

Individual shooting styles vary. But no matter how you anchor your release hand, its position can't change at all from one shot to the next. PHOTO BY RON SINFUL

Hooded sweatshirts and high-necked coat collars also can adversely affect the bowstring and, 'thus, arrow accuracy. If you use these kinds of outerwear, be sure to take them to the practice range before the season, to make sure they I don't hinder your shot in any way.
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Title Annotation:ON TARGET
Author:Wunderle, Terry
Publication:North American Whitetail
Date:Aug 1, 2014
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