By Patrick Meitin
When I see someone in camp applying Allen wrenches to a bow, I know they’re in trouble. Their arrows are suddenly hitting off center, and panic is setting in.
Arrows begin hitting right or left, high or low, and we automatically blame equipment. But what’s more likely, your $1,000 bowhunting setup suddenly gone wacky or a slight change in shooting form?
Besides, after investing in precise sighting and tuning, you’ve taken precautions to assure if anything moves it’s detected instantly, right? Mark rest and sight locations on the riser with permanent ink. Paint critical bolt heads and cam orientation in relation to the limbs with Wite-Out, and then scribe through with an ink pen.
Tightly serve and lock peeps in securely so they can’t shift. Add Loc-Tite to critical lockdowns and set screws. There should be no way anything could rattle lose, and if something moves, you know at a glance.
Your bow has been sighted and tuned for months. So why are arrows suddenly flying off the mark?
The problem likely involves changes in shooting form. This is common before big hunts or the season opener. You’re anxious and tense, and it’s affecting your shooting. Other times, shooting form established during summertime practice simply slips.
Learning to diagnose common symptoms and correcting them saves lots of anxiety.
Let’s say you’re suddenly shooting left-right. Torque is the obvious culprit. Sight-equipped compounds require plumb up-and-down attitude to shoot consistently. That’s why sights hold bubble levels. Even slight tilting at full draw results in left-right misses. For right-hand shooters, this most commonly means leftward impact. Gripping bows too aggressively or the side weight of accessories (especially loaded bow quivers) cocks the upper limb right. Your sight pin is centered, but the arrow rest has swung left, directing arrows in the same direction.
Rightward impact is rarer, requiring pulling against the weight of accessories and natural hand attitude, but it’s possible through improper grip. Left-right misses normally remain fairly consistent or are manifested in rainbow-like arrow groups.
First, bows should sit effortlessly level in your hand at rest and full draw. If yours doesn’t, add stabilizers to make it so — including side-mounted/offset (FUSE Sidekick, for example) or short models added behind the riser (Doinker 2-inch Chubby Hunter) as necessary. Second, install a wrist sling, and use a proper loose cradling of the bow grip. Create a relaxed V of your thumb and fingers, and slide your bow in, not gripping it at all. Resist the urge to snatch the bow handle upon release, letting the wrist sling do its job and eliminating the fear of dropping your bow.
Vertical impact variances are trickier, pointing again to improper grip or an anchoring issue. Snatching at the bow handle, “heeling” the grip or slight target-panic symptoms that make you to flinch on release can result in high-low misses. Returning to a proper loose grip cradling solves most of these issues.
Anchoring variations are more difficult to detect. Adopting sighting systems that provide instant torque detection or anchor shifts helps head off such problems. This includes using a round pin-guard sight with a bright alignment ring centered inside a larger peep; sights with a torque-detecting system (such as IQ Retina Lock); or a peep-less system with alignment mechanisms front and rear of the riser (Hind Sight, for example). Otherwise, intentionally vary your anchor attitude slightly until you re-establish dead-nuts impact. Make a mental note, and work to maintain that feel.
Sudden scattergun impact might seem disastrous, but it’s actually easy to solve. This is normally a function of improper follow-through or peeking (jerking the bow away on release to watch arrows fly — another form of shooting anxiety). In most cases, when observing someone’s shooting gone suddenly awry, a simple reminder to follow through solidly cures the problem almost instantly. Follow-through means concentrating mightily on one tiny spot where you want your arrow to arrive, allowing pins to find their own center, squeezing off the shot and continuing to aim steadily with all your being until the arrow sinks into target.
Trust in your abilities, but when shots go abruptly off, look to yourself first and your equipment last. You’ll normally solve your shooting problems without touching an Allen wrench.
Whether you are thinking of bow hunting for the first time or are a seasoned pro, you’ll discover the best tips on bowhunting in the pages of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. Learn how to get proven results every time with expert advice from the pros.