How To Shoot A Compound Bow: Beginner To Advanced

“How to shoot a compound bow?” is a question that crosses everyone’s mind before learning compound bowhunting

Well, the answer should be simple; aim, draw and shoot, right? The good news is, if you learn properly and put your time and effort into it, the process of shooting a compound bow will be that easy. 

However, what is the correct way to shoot a compound bow? If you don’t know the answer, then you’re at the right place. In this guide, we’ll show you how to shoot a compound bow in a beginner-friendly way. So, let’s get into it.

Ultimate Guide To Compound Archery

You first need to know that there is more than one proper way to shoot a compound bow. Some are easier than others, and some are more effective than others. Yet the thing is, you can learn whichever way you want if you properly practice the fundamentals. So, let’s start there.

A quick demonstration of compound archery published by World Archery in partnership with Archery 360

Firstly, we’ll assume that you are using a fairly decent modern bow with a peep and a D-loop along with decent accessories. For instance, a $400 beginner compound bow or a $1,100 flagship model. Anyways, it doesn’t matter as long as you have proper draw weight and height. We’ll also take it for granted that you have arrows with broadheads and all.

If you’re new to archery, We recommend you pair up with a pro or go to a store to shoot at close range. Because the first thing you’ll have to do is get used to archery and get comfortable with your bow. Then you need to establish your peep height and anchor points with the help of your pro buddy. Once you get the feel of archery, it’s time to buckle up to get ready for the real journey.

How To Shoot A Compound Bow With Accuracy

Proper Archery Form

You may hear professional archers like Levi Morgan talk a lot about archery form, especially when teaching how to shoot a bow and arrow. That’s because it’s important. It’s not so complicated either. It’s just a bunch of simple things you need to keep in mind before you release the string of your bow. But the difficult part is to pull those things off for every shot. But don’t worry, if you want to learn how to shoot a compound bow, practice will be your best friend.

Here are some simple archery forms:

Archery Stance

Standing steady is the most important archery form helping you hit your target consistently. The trick to standing in a proper stance is to set your feet perpendicular to the target with a shoulder-width gap. To do this consistently, you have to use cardboard, stand on it the perfect way, and have someone trace your footprints.

Then every time you practice, have the cardboard under you and stand on the traced footprints. After about a month of getting used to it, you can ditch cardboard because your feet will automatically be placed in the same place.

Developing Proper Grip

Let’s talk about the next important factor, which is how to hold a bow and arrow. Please don’t hold the grip too hard or put too much pressure on it, which will cause unwanted torque. Keep it loose. You want to rest the bow on the center of your palm. Likewise, we recommend you not to hold it too far back nor too far forward that’ll cause discomfort. You have to lower your fingers under the safety shelf and keep your hand relaxed.

Notch The Arrow

To notch the arrow properly, pull it back into the string until it clicks into the nocking point. The string will create a semi-circle because of the extra string looping on it. The semi-circle is called the D-Loop. The D-Loop is formed so that you can pull the string back.

Hooking The Mechanical Release To The Bowstring

First of all, if you like to use your compound bow without mechanical release, you can skip this part. However, most archers do use the release. After notching your arrow, attach the release to your wrist and then snap the jaws into the D-Loop.

P.S: Keep your index finger behind the trigger to prevent accidental releases.

Draw The Bowstring To Proper Anchor Point

Developing an appropriate anchor point is very important while learning how to shoot a compound bow. Keeping it consistent is critical.

drw the bowstring

Anchor point where you have the bow fully drawn against your chin. Every archer has a personal anchor point. The thing is to keep it consistent and place the hand in the same place every time.

Keeping It Straight

Keep a straight line from your grip hand and your head. When I say keep it straight. Keep the line as straight as possible. Keep your shoulder extended and low. Don’t lock your draw arm nor bend it too much; either one of these will affect you negatively. Keep your posture strong and chin parallel to the ground. Strong posture is one of the key steps to aim properly.

Understanding The Bow Sight

The scope of your compound bow has either a line of vertical dots or a horizontal line. They may seem a bit confusing at first when learning how to shoot a compound bow, but they help you. The dot indicates shooting distance. The top dot shows 20 yards, and it’s applicable for every single compound bows out there. The rest of the dots can vary the distance depending on the bow you are using. They usually indicate 30, 40, 50 yards, and so on. But if you’re confused, check out your bow sight manual.

How To Aim A Compound Bow

Hold your bow parallel to the ground and keep the grip loose so that you don’t hurt your wrist. Add a subtle bend to your extended arm. It’s not only more comfortable, but also it keeps you from hurting your arm after the release.

Let’s see a video of Reo Wilde describing how to use a peep sight and scope to aim a compound bow with the top tip for aiming successfully.


How To Shoot A Compound Bow Using Command Style Method (AKA Punching Trigger)

Most archers use the Punching trigger method, also known as the Command Style method. Many peoples say that punching the trigger is a negative method to use. But trust me, it isn’t. Don’t trust me? Then trust Gold Tip’s multiple-time IBO 3D Archery World Champion, Tim Gillingham. He says, “Don’t let anyone tell you punching is negative. It’s very effective in competition, and I think it is the only way to shoot for hunting.” If you don’t want to call it punching, you can call it the way Tim does, “Command Style.” Hence, the next time anyone tells you that you’re punching the trigger, bring out this term and show them how it’s done. But to show them you have to learn for yourself first. Therefore, here’s how to shoot a compound bow with the ‘Command Style’ method. Here we go:

1. Calm Down

Imagine this: you’re shooting at a small deer from about 10 to 20 yards on the practice range. Now draw the bow and aim. Tim says, “It’s impossible to align the pin with the target perfectly. Thus, try and slow down the pin.” Put your finger lightly on the trigger and focus on the middle of the dot. They pull the trigger the moment the pin passes over the center. The key to slowing down the pin is to keep the tension on the rear of the shot- 30% push and 70% pull. But do not take this for granted. Experiment by yourself until you get this just right. 

2. Imagine Success

When you shoot at longer distances, imagination becomes critical. As you shoot, imagine the pin moving slower and slower and the pin touching the center, and then BOOM! Perfect shot. If you try to shoot consciously and anticipate the shot, it’s the kiss of death. You have to think that your body can perform what you’ve visualized. Try to master it, and you’ll see incredible improvement.

Shoot A Compound Bow Using The Surprise Release Technique

Unlike hunters, most 3D shooters use this technique. The concept of the surprise release is that you lock on the target and then slowly squeeze the trigger, so the shot comes as a surprise. It’s like many rifle shooters who aim at the target and then slowly squeeze the gun’s trigger. For many years archers considered back tension as the surprise release method. But many pros have moved away from it. Here are some key elements to perform the surprise release method:

1. Floating Pin

It is almost, if not totally impossible, to perfectly steady a bow to perfectly align the pin to the center while shooting on a distant target. The trick is to watch the pin float over the target while you concentrate on the center. You can get away with a lot of pin movement and still end up with a good shot by concentrating on the center of the target.

2. Relax And Concentrate

At this point, a back tension shooter would begin to pull the bow using shoulder and back muscle. But that’s not it. You have to try and relax as much you can and concentrate on aiming. But the thing is, you can’t focus on relaxing and aiming at the same time. So, what you can do is focus on aiming while thinking about the center of the target. Then you have to let the trigger slide almost automatically. But the most important thing is to practice, practice and practice.

3. Surprise, Surprise!

Archers typically use the thumb release, but the technique is the same for index style. Slowly squeeze the trigger or press the thumb button. If you’re a hunter who uses index trigger, please do yourself a favor and try out the thumb release at least once. It’s easier to perform repeatable surprise releases, in my opinion, and most others as well.  

Shoot A Compound Bow Using The Back Tension Method  

The Back Tension technique might be fading in the shadows nowadays, but it was a go-to method for serious hunters for decades. It was one of the most popular bow shooting methods used by basically every archer who stood on the podium. So if we doubted its efficiency, yeah, it works. 

A lot of 3D archers still use this method. The concept is basically to squeeze your shoulder and use your back muscles until the shot fires. It avoids the use of small muscles like the fingertip, wrist, or a trip to release. Instead, you use big muscles like your shoulder muscles and back muscles. It feels like you’re tearing the bow apart. Most hunters use a thumb button or back tension release for this method, but you can use an index release by making a fixed hook for your index finger.

Learning this method is not particularly easy. But as they say, “Practice makes a man perfect.” Accordingly, here’s a plan for you to learn the back tension method.

1. Get Used To Back Tension

During the first week of practice, stand a few yards away from your target. Close your eyes. Then begin squeezing your shoulder blades or back muscles together to draw your trigger elbow backward. This will trip the trigger automatically to make a surprise shot. This works on all sorts of triggers. Do this exercise at least 15 to 20 times a day to get used to it. It will feel very weird at first, but as we said, ‘Practice.’

2. Build Muscle Memory

For the entirety of week two, practice the routine above from 15 to 20 yards away, eyes open. Do it 20 or 30 times. Then do 10 to 15 closeup shots with your eyes closed. This practice will massively build muscle memory.

3. Focus

Now stand 20 to 30 yards away. Take a deep breath and relax your body and focus on the pin. Now let your muscle memory take over for the shot if you miss the target. Get to the same position and do a blank drill, eyes closed.


Which Shooting Method Is Best For You

Now at this point, maybe you’re wondering which method is best for you when learning how to use a compound bow. Well, there are some points you should look out for before choosing your favorite method.

If you want to compete at a high level, you should go for back tension. But if not, rule this out completely. Now, if you are a beginner preliminary hunter and do a few 3D sessions here and there, you can either go for command style or surprise release.

Perhaps, you’re thinking, “I will go with Surprise Release. Because most of the top-level archers use it, and many say that punching trigger is bad.” Please don’t do that. Try both because there’s a lot that can be said for command style in hunting games. Sometimes you only have a split second to take the shot. Moreover, surprise release might give target panic to some archers. So yeah, try both ways and see what’s best for you.

Proper Draw Weight Is Important

The proper draw weight is vital when shooting a compound bow or learning how to shoot a hunting bow! Using bows with draw weights that don’t suit your body and physicality can massively harm your body, health, and archery skills.

Here’s a rough estimate of draw weights depending on your physicality.

Child15 to 22lbs
Women and teens30 to 40lbs
Men40 to 55lbs
Hunters50 to 65lbs

3 Archery Tips For Beginners

  • Stay Calm and Focused: Don’t panic; that’s the last thing you want to do.
  • Keep your bow even with your target
  • Keep your bow in line with the target even after the shot: You’ll see a lot of beginners lower their bow immediately after the shot. Don’t even dare to do that. It will reduce your shot accuracy a lot.

So that’s it for this article on how to shoot a compound bow. Hope it helped you even a tiny bit. Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment sections. In fine, if you liked this article, check out other reviews and tutorials too. Thank you so much for reading our article and until next time.

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