Becoming a successful archer is not something that happens overnight. It takes dedication, training, and most of all, practice to become one of the best. It is, however, a skill that anybody can learn with the proper training techniques. There are four main components to archery: Technique, equipment, training, and psychology. Out of these four, equipment is arguably the least important, although basic equipment is definitely required. You can’t play tennis with a baseball bat, and you can’t shoot a bow without arrows.
First, you need to find a type of bow and stick with it. There are many different bow variations that are used commonly in both competition shooting and hunting, including the compound bow, recurve bow, and self-bow. Out of these, compound and recurve bows are the most commonly used. Once you know what kind of bow you will be using, you need to learn to tune the bow properly. An untuned bow will never shoot accurately. Knowing your equipment well is the first step in successful archery. Understand how the bow works before even trying to fire your first arrow. Ancient Mongolian cultures would make their warriors build their bow before they could even begin training, a process that often took months.
Every bow and different archery type has its own techniques. These are best learned one on one with an instructor or in a group class, and encompass how to hold the bow, how to draw the bow, how to stand, and how to release. Technique is the main deciding factor in how accurate your shots will be, and subsequently how successful you are as an archer.
Physical training for archery is sadly often overlooked. This is as much a physical sport as anything that involves running or jumping, and the muscles need to be trained accordingly. Ideally, your maximum strength should be about double the resistance of the bow. Bows with more tensile strength are more difficult to draw and hold steady, but the greater power leads to greater accuracy when properly handled. Don’t try to start with a bow that is too strong for you, because you’ll only get frustrated in the end. If the bow wobbles and shakes while you have it fully drawn you should find a bow with less tensile strength and work out your arms and shoulders a little bit more. Body weight exercises such as push-ups and chin-ups work well for archery by providing functional strength without excess muscle bulk.
Herein lies the ultimate weapon for any archer. Archery is, more than anything else, a mental game. The best professionals use visualization techniques that allow them to hit the target every single time. Mind clearing and thought stopping are other popular techniques, where you take several deep breaths and clear your mind of all thoughts. This can be enhanced through meditation practice at home. You need to be able to tune out all exterior distractions and hone your mind in one single thought: hitting the target.