Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat, while in modern times, its main use is that of a recreational activity. A person who participates in archery is typically known as an “archer” or “bowman”, and one who is fond of or an expert at archery can be referred to as a “toxophilite”.
Shooting technique and form
To shoot an arrow, an archer first assumes the correct stance. The body should be at or nearly perpendicular to the target and the shooting line, with the feet placed shoulder-width apart. As an archer progresses from beginner to a more advanced level an “open stance” is often developed. Each archer will have a particular preference but mostly this term indicates that the leg furthest from the shooting line will be a half to a whole foot-length from the other foot, on the ground.
To load, the bow is pointed toward the ground, tipped slightly clockwise of vertical (for a right handed shooter) and the shaft of the arrow is placed on the arrow rest or shelf. The back of the arrow is attached to the bowstring with the nock (a small locking groove located at the proximal end of the arrow). This step is called “nocking the arrow”. Typical arrows with three vanes should be oriented such that a single vane, the “cock feather”, is pointing away from the bow, or, on a compound bow, that this feather is pointed upwards so as for the arrow to clear the arrow rest without any fletchings touching the arrow rest or pin at the moment of release of the arrow.
The bowstring and arrow are held with three fingers, or with a mechanical arrow release. Most commonly, for finger shooters, the index finger is placed above the arrow and the next two fingers below, although several other techniques have their adherents around the world, involving three fingers below the arrow, or an arrow pinching technique. Instinctive shooting is a technique eschewing sights and is often preferred by traditional archers (shooters of longbows and recurves). In either the split finger or three finger under case, the string is usually placed in either the first or second joint of the fingers.
The bow is then raised and drawn, with varying alignments used for vertical versus slightly canted bow positions. This is often one fluid motion for shooters of recurves and longbows which tends to vary from archer to archer, although for a compound shooter, there is often a slightly-jerky movement occurring during the drawback of the arrow at around midpoint where the draw weight is at its maximum, before relaxing into a comfortable stable full draw position. The string hand is drawn towards the face, where it should rest lightly at the chosen fixed anchor point. This point is consistent from shot to shot and is usually at the corner of the mouth, on the chin, to the cheek, or to the ear, depending upon one’s preferred shooting style. The bow arm is held outwards toward the target. The elbow of this arm should be rotated so that the inner elbow is perpendicular to the ground, though archers with hyper extendable elbows tend to angle the inner elbow toward the ground as exemplified by the Korean archer Jang Yong-Ho.
In modern form, the archer stands erect, forming a “T”. The archer’s lower trapezius muscles are used to pull the arrow to the anchor point. Some modern bows will be equipped with a mechanical device, called a clicker, which produces a clicking sound when the archer reaches the correct draw length. In contrast, traditional English Longbow shooters step “into the bow”, exerting force with both the bow arm and the string hand arm simultaneously, especially when using bows having draw weights from 100 lbs to over 175 lbs. Heavily-stacked traditional bows (recurves, long bows, and the like) are released immediately upon reaching full draw at maximum weight, whereas compound bows reach their maximum weight in or around mid-draw, dropping holding weight significantly at full draw. Compound bows are often held at full draw for a short time to achieve maximum accuracy.
The arrow is typically released by relaxing the fingers of the drawing hand (see Bow draw), or triggering the mechanical release aid. Usually the release aims to keep the drawing arm rigid, the bow hand relaxed, and the arrow is moved back using the back muscles, as opposed to using just arm motions. An archer should also pay attention to the recoil or follow through of his or her body, as it may indicate problems with form (technique) that affect accuracy.
Reference: Wikipedia Archery