Archery Mistakes - My Archery Corner

Archery Mistakes

The Most Common Archery MistakesArchery Mistakes

There is a lot you can do wrong when you get started with archery. The problem is that when you make some of these mistakes too often and over a longer period, it will get very difficult to get rid of them.
On this page I will talk about the most common archery mistakes beginners make and how you can avoid them right from the start.

Shoot an unloaded bow

Never ever do that! Please! There are quite a few archer novices who do that to “test” the bow and ruin it before they even got started. When you draw a bow a lot of energy gets stored in the string. If you release this energy without an outlet, the arrow, the energy travels into the limbs of the bow which can’t withstand the power and the limbs can either deform or even break, depending on what bow you are using.
Imagine you do this with a wooden longbow and it splinters in your hand because you shot it without an arrow. Not only your bow is ruined you will have serious injuries in your hand and wherever the wooden pieces flew when the bow exploded.

Aim with one eye closed

Another mistake beginners might make is to close one of their eyes to aim “better”.
In fact, you rob yourself of the chance to become a successful archer when you do that. Keep both of your eyes open! You most likely know that you can’t measure distances with only one eye.
How can you hope to hit the target on a longer distance if you can’t estimate the distance to your target?
Aiming with a bow might seem difficult in the beginning, but you will get the hang of it when you practice regularly.

Archery Mistakes


Use a bow that is too “heavy”

You will hear the term “draw weight” very often when you start with archery. Draw weight is the measured force stored by an archery bow when fully drawn. If you are an adult with a normal build you shouldn’t start your first lesson with a bow much stronger than 30 pounds. You might be able to draw a bow like that, depending on your build, but it won’t help you to pick up archery quickly. Use and practice with a weaker bow until you start to get used to the science behind archery. I wrote a review for a very good recurve bow for beginners here.
If you are a bodybuilder or generally have a strong build you are free to use a stronger bow, but don’t overdo yourself in your first session, as you might get hurt, because archery depends on muscles many people don’t use intensely usually.

Only use the arm and hand to draw the bow

I see many beginners or fun fair archers doing this. They use their strength in arm and hand to draw and hold the bow. Most likely they will try to pull the string back as fast as possible in a sudden movement.
Don’t do this! Archery does not depend on the strength of your arms. You need to learn the right technique. The archer’s strength comes from his back. Of course, the archer needs his arm to pull the string but he uses his back muscles to actually hold the string when the bow is fully drawn. Only very little of the draw weight is held by the arm and hand.
When you draw the bow, do it in a slow and steady movement and transfer the load to your back muscles when the bow is drawn.

Of course, there are still many more things you can and should avoid and on the other hand there are things you should always do. I will cover this in later blogs and articles.



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(14) comments


Hi Moritz,
Nice to find your site here. I look forward to more archery stories and techniques.
It has been years since I actually did any target shooting. I am in my late fifties now but years ago my brother and I both got into our local archery club back in Canada. I was in my twenties when I bought my first bow. I don’t remember who advised me but I am sure the fellow at the local Archery Cave / store helped to fit me etc.
I ended up with a beautiful 27lb recurve. I love the few years of experience I had with it. I value those memories. Let’s talk about too small of arm guards.. or how about forgetting to put it on. Lol.. That is surely only going to happen once. I remember a dandy welt as a reminder.
Over the years I taught my daughters one summer how to hold, aim and release and they had success with their target shooting experience that summer.
My brother got into compound bow target shooting and hunted deer as well
I recently moved to Australia for the next adventure in my life and I packaged my bow nicely with all the accompaniments inside, and the long size of the package, I decided NOT to ship it with me to Australia and left it in Canada with my mom.
My daughter considers it a family heirloom to pass on one day. It really would have looked good over our mantel.
Instead I have a lovely picture of a country scene set somewhere in Great Britain with Victorian styled dressed women standing in line waiting their turn to shoot a recurve.
My recurve is packed away well protected waiting to be resurrected. I have a new bow string for it. The fletches on the arrows need to be replaced. They have gone brittle over the years.
Enjoy your site developing. I hope you add topic of how to redo your fletches. What kind of targets do you like to uses?


    Hi Teresa.
    Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story. I hope you will return to archery one day, as it seems you really loved it.
    Are you having a great time in Australia? I lived there for one year and loved it.
    I have many articles in the pipeline and I will cover arrow maintenance/repairs, too.
    I usually shoot on either straw targets or 3d targets.
    See you around! It is great to have you here.
    All the best.


Very informative site with a sport I use to have fun with using the long bows then converting over to the compound bow. You have some really great tips and knowledge I think that I should dust off the old bow and follow your lead and start back up again.


    Hello Travis,
    I am happy that you are enjoying your stay on my site.
    You really should pick up archery again. When I have to take longer breaks I always can’t wait to start again. 😀
    See you around.


Hi Moritz,

This is a very good Archery 101 and hopefully sets out and breaks some of the myths that novice archers would hold to be true.

Years ago, I was a state champion. I was 14. Even though you obviously have to know what you are doing to get to that place, I can’t tell you how many times people looked at me like I was an alien when I would chastise them for drawing and then letting the string go without a load.

Correct form is another area that is widely confusing for many. They just don’t realize how it’s your back that maintains the draw until such time that you are ready to release. When your shoulders lock inplace it’s no longer your arm muscle that is doing the work. It’s similar to doing yoga. Sometimes you can only get into the correct position if you start out and work into it correctly.

I have been out of competition for years now, but have a son that would love the chance to draw and fire a bow. Unfortunately there are no places nearby that offer lessons or rentals. Without spending the money on a bow and straight arrows, he will never get that oppurtunity.

Are there any places that you know of that offer lessons or equipment rentals? Maybe I just haven’t looked far enough.


    Hello Debra.
    Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your experiences.

    I always get angry when I see people shooting an unloaded bow. It hurts me and makes me cringe.

    It would be great if your son could start with archery. Where do you guys live?
    Maybe I can find a place for you. 🙂

    I have a getting started guide on my site. Be sure to check it out!
    Since you are already an experienced archer, I am sure you would be a great trainer for you son.

    Wish you all the best.


Me and my boyfriend have been throwing around the idea of picking up archery. Decided to do some research and so happy to come across these important not-to-dos. This was a definite must read for me since the last time I tried archery was at camp in the 5th grade! Thanks so much and I will remember to keep both eyes open!


    Hi Nicole,
    glad you found my site and that it was helpful!
    When you avoid these mistakes you are off to a great start.

    Have a look at my archery training, too.
    I teach everything you need to know about basic archery techniques there.



Great article about the most common archery mistakes.
It’s good to know about them so it’s easier to avoid them.
I am amazed at how much there is to know about bows, arrows, targets, and technique. It’s been many years since I have even held a bow but it brings back pleasant memories of why I liked it then and thoughts of trying it once more.
I downloaded your handsome book which I look forward to reading.


    Hello Quincy,
    I am happy that you found my article about the common archery mistakes helpful and that you had a look around my site, too.
    Thanks for getting my book.
    I Would appreciate it if you’d let me know how you like it, once you have finished it.
    Have a great day!


Your blog is really inspiring and now I’m thinking to give it a try. I read the book “Zen in the Art of Archery” and liked it a lot. Did you read it?


    Hi Dirk,
    I haven`t read this book, but I would like to recommend you the book The Bullseye Masterpiece.
    The author should sound familiar. 😉

    Archery is such a great sport.
    You should give it a try!

Gregory Bennett

Hi, Moritz!

Thank you for this informative post. I am new to archery. Actually, I am just on the stage of looking for bows that would fit me as a newbie hunter. I was reading some bow reviews so that I would know what bow would be a nice pick. But when I saw your blog, I realized that there is more to consider aside from a great bow with great rigs. I really appreciate this blog post of yours! You really have a keen eye when it comes to archery. Congratulations to your book as well. I know it’s a very good book for archers.


    Hi Gregory.
    Welcome to My Archery Corner.
    There is a lot people new to archery need to learn.
    I try to make it as easy as possible for my visitors to understand all aspects of archery.
    I also have some reviews for great bows on my site.
    All the best.

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