Learn How To Aim In Archery

By Moritz

Jul 06
Aiming With A Sight

Taking aim. Used under creative commons from: Jethrothompson~commonswiki

It is time to learn how to aim in archery!
This is the final step before you can let your arrow fly. I hope you are excited and a little bit proud that you made it this far!

Read on to learn how:

Two Different Ways Of Aiming

There are two different ways of aiming in archery. One, the traditional way, is without a sight, the other is with a sight.

Nowadays most professional archers actually use a sight to improve there accuracy, but there are still quite a few who don’t like to use them and prefer to rely on their instinct and experience.

There is one thing you have to do, no matter if you use a sight or not:

Aim with both eyes open!
You can’t measure or estimate the distance to your target if you close one of your eyes!

Keep your eyes open!

Keep your eyes open!

Let me explain you the main differences in detail:

How To Aim Without A Sight

You might have heard it before, or maybe you read about it on my homepage here:
When someone aims without a sight we speak of instinctive archery.
Instinctive archery means that you trust your senses and training to hit the target.
You don’t really aim, but will know from experience where your arrow will fly when you release it.
It is similar to throwing an object. A young child can’t really control where the ball will fly, but with enough practice it will be able to throw the ball to you, without even thinking about it.

So when you use this technique, you will need a lot of practice to become a great archer.
You have to start with short distances to your target. Once you are confident and hit bulls eye most of the time, you can move the target back.

A huge advantage of this technique is, that you don’t have to rely on technical equipment. All you need is your bow, arrow and your body.
You don’t need to care if your sight breaks, or if you don’t know exactly how far away your target is.
By learning instinctive archery, you have learned how to adapt and you can guess the distance to your target and will know how high/low you have to aim with your bow.

Other forms of aiming without a sight

There are actually different forms of aiming without a sight, but I am going to explain these in another article and will link to it when I have finished that one.

Some will use the diameter of the shaft to know how high they have to aim or will focus on an imaginary crossair, etc.

How To Aim With A Sight

Aiming down a simple sight.

Aiming down a simple sight.

There are different sights you can choose from.

Some are more adjustable, but usually more expensive, some are less adjustable but cheaper.

As a beginner you can get a simple pin sight to get a feeling for it. Later you might want to invest in a sight that can be easily set for the given distance.
Read more about sights in my post here.

Sights in archery work very similar to sights on guns and rifles.
In archery you will have to set your sight to a distance. We call this “sight in” your bow.
For example you sight in your bow for 50 meters (beginners start with shorter distances).
Then when your target is 50 meters away, you just hold the pin directly over the target and let the arrow fly.
If the target is closer you have to aim lower. If it is further away you have to aim higher.

There are, however, sights that have multiple pins in one sight.
Those pins can be sighted in for different ranges. So when you know the distance to your target, you can choose the pin that was sighted in for that target.

The best sights, in my opinion, are the single pin sights that can be adjusted to the distance to your target by simply turning an adjusting screw.
They have a “sight glider” which is marked with the distances.
Using this kind of sight, you never have to aim higher or lower, you just set it to the distance and can always aim directly at your target.

(I will review all of those sights shortly and give you the links to the reviews.)

Will I Be Better With A Sight Or Without?

I know people that are amazing archers without using a sight. They hit bulls eye consistently and are usually quicker than archers that use sights.

But to become that good, you will have to practice for a long time.

It can be a bit quicker with a sight, but it still will take practice before you can compete with olympic archers. 😉

Like the stances and anchors it comes down to what you want and what feels best for you.

You can become a great archery no matter which way you choose.
You can even switch between instinctive archery and archery with a sight and become good with both.

I like to use both my longbow without any technical equipment and my recurve bow with a single pin sight.

Let That Arrow Fly!

Yes, we made it!
The next lesson will finally be about how to release your arrow after you went through all the archery shooting techniques I taught you in my training.

After that there will be only one more thing you have to know and you are ready to go out there and practice the great sport of archery.

If I can be of any more help, please let me know in the comments below.
I am always happy when I can get in contact with you!

Cheers.

Moritz

>> Next Step: How To Let An Arrow Fly – Release Your Arrow

<< Previous Step: Transfer The Draw Weight To Your Back Muscles


About the Author

Hi, as a huge archery enthusiast I love sharing my knowledge about archery. Enjoy your stay and don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question.

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(18) comments

Mark July 9, 2015

Hi Moritz – How To Aim In archery is a great piece of work. Its funny how when you see people who are proficient in anything – how easy they make it look, yet when you try its so difficult.
My daughter is thinking about having a go at Archery, we’ve found a local club and just waiting for he to make the final decision.
I’ve bookmarked your site for future reference.
Thanks
Mark

Reply
    Moritz July 9, 2015

    Hello Mark,
    thank you very much.
    It is true that it always looks easier than it really is.
    But I am confident to say that everybody can become a real good archer with enough training and motivation.

    I am happy to hear that your daughter is thinking about starting with archery.
    It is a fantastic hobby.

    How old is your daughter?
    You can have a look at some great youth archery sets I recommend.

    See you soon.

    Moritz

    Reply
mark July 9, 2015

Hi Moritz – My daughter is 13years old. She is interested in Archery and keeps harping on about it. I have found her a local club to atatend. At the moment she is learning Ju-Jitsu – I own and coach at a club. She trains 4 nights a week there.
She will get around to it. Time is relative. There is plenty of time to do what you need to do
Thanks for responding so quickly
Mark

Reply
    Moritz July 9, 2015

    Hi Mark,
    your daughter seems to be a great girl and very interested in all kinds of sports!
    That’s really good.
    If you ever need help with archery, let me know.

    Moritz

    Reply
brandon July 10, 2015

great post, I’ll defiantly be back later to read more. I’ve gone hunting before with a bow and arrow and had a lot of fun. Archery has always been something I would be interested, just haven’t had the time. I have been fooling around with different incomes though and may have time soon so I can learn more and be an Olympic Archer(;

Reply
    Moritz July 11, 2015

    Hi Brandon,

    thank you. I am glad you enjoyed reading my post.
    I hope you will have more time soon to get back to archery. I wouldn’t want to miss it!
    And good luck with becoming an Olympic Archer. 😉

    Moritz

    Reply
Todd July 17, 2015

Very interesting article, as I always thought it was better to keep one eye shut. i have no idea why I thought that. Maybe I saw it on tv or something. But now that I think about it, why would you want to reduce your sight by half if you don’t have to? Pretty silly really….

Reply
    Moritz July 17, 2015

    Hi Todd.

    Yes, that’s how it is mostly shown in movies.
    No matter what you shoot, a bow, a crossbow or a gun, you should always keep your eyes open.

    Just close one of your eyes and let someone hold something in front of you. Try to grab it. Most likely you will reach too short or too far. 😉

    Cheers

    Moritz

    Reply
Mark July 24, 2015

Great post Moritz and you recommended something that cost me several deer before I figured out what was happening. I didn’t know it but for some reason when I practiced shooting I always kept both eyes open but when I was aiming at a live target, for some reason, I would close one eye. This caused me to always select the wrong pin when estimating distance. It was so frustrating. Excellent advise.

I remember when I first started using a compound bow I just had a knot on the string as a guild vise peep sites. Just lined up the knot with the pin and it worked fine. Have you ever tried that? Not sure why I started using the peep site, guess just because everyone else was.

Reply
    Moritz July 27, 2015

    Hi Mark!

    Yes, sometimes it is weird how our shooting changes when we suddenly go out there and don’t aim at our usual targets anymore.
    It’s good that you know now what went wrong! 🙂

    Peep sights are very common when shooting a compound bow. Thanks for reminding me of that!
    I will add it to my compound bow article.

    Cheers

    Moritz

    Reply
Igor July 26, 2015

Hello!

Wow, how interesting subject this is!? I never tried archery cause I never had the opportunity, but I would like to.

I also like the idea of aiming with both eyes. I got the tear canal stopped so the sight in my right is little distorted. This means that I would still be able to do it with that condition. I hope I will have the chance to try it, some day.

Thanks for the great article!

Reply
    Moritz July 27, 2015

    Hello Igor!

    Welcome to my archery corner.

    If you want to get started with archery, make sure to read my how to get started guide and my archery training.

    I also recommend some great bows for beginners. Don’t miss out on this great compound bow for example.

    Have a great day!

    Moritz

    Reply
NWTDennis August 15, 2015

Very engaging site.

I didn’t know exactly how archers would aim at their targets. Learned something new today!

Are there archery competitions that skilled archers can enter?

I didn’t find a page on Archery Safety. Have you ever thought about adding an Archery Safety page?

Thanks for your great post about how to aim in archery.

Dennis

Reply
    Moritz August 16, 2015

    Hello Dennis,

    thank you for your kind words.

    There are many competitions archers can enter. Those range from local competitions over national to international competitions.
    Archery is a part of the olympic games, too. So, depending on the skill, archers can join all sorts of competitions.

    I have two posts about archery safety on my website.

    Please check my posts What Kind Of Protective Archery Gear Do I Need? and Archery Safety Equipment to learn the most important aspects of archery safety.

    Have a great day and thank you for stopping by.

    Moritz

    Reply
Shannon October 30, 2015

I have some family friends who recently tried archery as a family day out and they said it was honestly one of the most fun things they’ve ever done. I’ve always wanted to try it and I consider myself to be somewhat athletic and tend to be good at aiming, so I really need to get out and try some archery. Thanks for the inspiration!

Reply
    Moritz November 2, 2015

    Hello Shannon.

    Sorry for my late reply but I didn’t have access to my computer for a few days.

    I agree that archery is so much fun! You really should try it.
    There are also quite a few heath benefits of archery!

    Let me know when you have any question.

    Cheers

    Moritz

    Reply
Eric January 17, 2016

This is something I have always thought to be not such a difficult skill but you bring up a lot of points here that I wouldn’t have thought about myself. I tried to get into archery a couple years back and I wish I saw this article before I did so because it was way harder than I had previously thought. Thanks for the interesting read!

Reply
    Moritz January 18, 2016

    Hi Eric,

    I agree that archery often looks easier than it really is.
    Especially when you are watching experienced archers.

    Like with all other sports you need a lot of practice before you really master it.

    Check out my archery training or my book The Bullseye Masterpiece to learn everything you need to know about how to shoot with a bow.

    Moritz

    Reply
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