When I was new to archery, I heavily invested my efforts trying to perfect my bow grip and release, so much that I completely forgot about stance. I was just standing comfortably, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I quickly started to see inconsistencies in my shots, so I started learning about the topic. In this guide, I’ll walk through proper stance and what helped me improve my accuracy and consistency. These tips work for both compound, recurve and longbow archery.
General archery stance guidelines
A good stance is the foundation for becoming a great archer. Stand upright and perpendicular to your target. Feet shoulder width apart. Don’t lean towards one foot or the other. Knees should be slightly bent and relaxed. Now, look at your target without leaning your head forward or backward. Before bow release, your bow arm should be 90 at a degree angle, and your stance before release will look like the capital T from a side view. These are the key pointers to a good stance, whether you use an open stance, square stance or any other stance.
If your right hand is your bow hand, then your left foot will be closer to the target, and vice versa.
Why you need a good stance for 3d archery
Archery is all about improving your skills and eliminating mistakes. A good stance eliminates mistakes and gives you a consistent, repeatable, and accurate way to shoot. It’ll make you engage your core- and back muscles more, and it’ll be easier to shoot accurately regardless of distance and target.
The 3 main stances
There are 3 types of Archery stances. The open stance, the square stance, and the closed stance. First. I’ll explain each of them in depth and then we’ll figure out which one is best for you.
The square stance is the most common stance when learning archery, and is taught at most archery clubs for beginners. The square stance is a stable and very repeatable stance and makes aiming easy. Although it’s taught to beginners, many competitors use this stance in both 3D archery, target archery, and field archery.
How it works
Point your feet perpendicular to the target face, with your feet perpendicular to each other. Feet should be about shoulder width apart and can be rotated outwards for increased stability. Slightly bend your knees while keeping them relaxed. Your feet, hips, and shoulders should be in a straight line. The bow will be close to your body and face, which can cause problems for some archers with string clearance, where the bowstring hits your face and body. A square stance will allow for a particular set of anchor points due to the bow being close to your body.
Benefits of a square stance: Simple to learn, easily replicable, and makes it effortless to align with your target.
The open stance is what most people eventually transition to, or even start with. It has a natural feel and allows for the most stability.
How it works
Instead of having your feet perpendicular to each other, have the foot that is farther away from the target step forward slightly in the same direction your toes are pointing, and point the front foot more towards the target. Keep the knees bent and relaxed. Most people find this feet stance more stable than the perpendicular feet placement of a square stance. The bow will not be as close to your body as in the square stance, so you have more string clearance. This is great if you feel like the bow is to close to your chest and face when using the square stance. This stance will look and feel like a typical MMA stance.
Try to vary the angle of your feet, but a good starting point is 30 degrees from a square stance, towards the target. An open stance can allow for different anchor points since the bow will be at varying distances from your chest and face depending on your feet positioning.
Benefits of an open stance: Stable, comfortable and, enables you to recruit the maximum amount of muscles for a powerful shot. Gives you more string clearance.
Closed stance – Not recommended!
The closed stance is the opposite of the open stance. Put the foot that is farther away from the target back, in the direction opposite from your toes. This gives you less a stable ground for shooting and puts the bow very close to your body. Most people recommend staying away from the closed stance for these reasons.
Benefits of a closed stance: Some people actually prefer this stance, so it’s not completely negligible. I guess it makes you look like a savage.
The best stance for you
Some archers prefer a square stance, but most people tend to use an open stance. But even an open stance have variabilities between different archers, mainly when it comes to feet placement. So how do you know what the best feet placement is for you? Well, there is a really clever trick I found on youtube for determining your optimal stance. This is how it works:
- Position yourself in front of the target with 30 feet distance, in a square stance. The longer you are from the target, the more obvious it’ll be if your stance is incorrect.
- Turn your body away from the target and close your eyes.
- With your eyes remaining closed, turn your body back to your shooting position, draw an arrow, aim and shoot.
- See where the arrow hit.
4.1 – If you hit the target, good. This is your preferred stance.
4.2 – If you miss the target, adjust your stance according to where the arrow hit. If the arrow hit to the right side of the target, try an open stance and see where the arrow hits. Keep repeating step 1-4 until you’re satisfied with the accuracy. That is how you find a stance that is the most natural and accurate for you.
This is what I did to find my optimal stance. Super easy.
Important! Make sure to keep safety in mind when using this method. It’s a good idea to have someone else helping you out on this exercise, to make sure you don’t shoot completely off target. This trick can be revisited as you change equipment and improve on your draw.
Practice your stance
In the beginning, be very conscious of your stance. With enough repetition, you’ll start to be less aware of your stance because it’ll come naturally to you. Your muscle memory will start to take over. Muscle memory is how your body responds when you’ve done something so many times that it no longer is necessary for you to waste energy on thinking about. This will allow you to focus completely on aiming instead, and this is also where you’ll start to reap the most benefit out of perfecting your stance.
For a more complete overview on how to improve your archery accuracy, you can read this article here.