When deciding whether or not to nock your bow, keep in mind that arrows in a bow should be treated as carefully as the bullets in a gun. Carrying your arrows in the nocked position when you’re not ready to fire can damage your bow, and they can even be deadly. So when should you carry arrows in the nocked position? Be sure to keep these general rules in mind as you go out into the woods to catch that prize game.
Spot the Game Clearly
Spotting your game clearly is the first key when knowing when to draw your bow. Whether you're aiming at a game in a tree or on the ground, getting a clear view is vital. Be sure that your surroundings allow you to stand in the correct position.
- With your feet standing straight beneath the width of your hips, turn your body so that you are at a right angle from the spotted game.
- Where you place your feet has an enormous effect on your accuracy. Be sure that your stance is open and your front foot is set forward and pointed in the direction of the target. This opens your stance and allows for slight movement when drawing back while still maintaining your target.
- Then take a small backwards step with the front foot, as this will square your stance.
Don’t Nock Arrows with Bow Pointing Up
Never nock your arrows while your bow is pointing up. This can be deadly, as an arrow that is shot up while returning to the earth at its point has enough force to crack a skull.
- Grip your bow in a way that is comfortable so that you don’t move slightly to the left. This is the torque effect, which happens when you hold the grip of your bow in a way that isn’t suitable for your arms strength or the pressure you’re putting onto the bow grip.
- Practice gripping your bow so that you can avoid the torque effect that is common in even experienced archers. (Read more here about fixing torque effect: http://www.bowhuntingmag.com/ask-winke/how-do-i-fix-bow-torque/ )
- Be sure that your target is not so far above you that you’re aiming at a 90-degree angle above your stance. If your target is too high above you, be sure to move back enough to be able to lower your bow to a more comfortable target in front of you. Never shoot over the horizon. Always be sure to see where your arrow will stop in case you miss your intended target.
Nocking Your Arrow
Nock your arrow only when you have your target in sight. Never nock your arrow unless you are ready to draw your bow and shoot your target. Archery can be deadly; additionally nocking your bow before you have a target in sight can negatively affect your ability to shoot the target once you do have it in sight.
Walking through dense forest with a nocked arrow could tire your hand if you’re remaining in a grip position. It may also damage the bow.
- Stand at a 90-degree angle from your target in your open or squared stance. Be sure that you’re comfortable. You may even step forward with your front foot to open your stance more.
- Using the hand that you write with, place the arrow between your thumb and index finger.
- Using the string, align the nock and the slot. The arrows feathers should be pointed at an 180-degree angle. You should have your target at a 90-degree angle from your front foot.
Assess Your Target
Study your target and never rush a shot. Take your time, and be sure to aim and assess your target for at least ten seconds before each shot. It takes a time to assess your targets complexities, including its movements and next possible movements.
- Never drop your bow immediately after making a shot. Always pay close attention to your target after firing. Dropping your bow too soon may lead in the future to dropping it slightly during your shot.
- Make sure that the area surrounding your target is going to be able to stop your arrow effectively. Be sure not to nock your arrow before you’ve made sure that your target isn’t in an area with the possibility of people or other hunters in the area.
- Make sure that you’re relaxed. Your mood has a large impact on your posture. Have fun and enjoy archery.
While archery has many different moving parts from stance, to accessories of your bow and safety gear, to assessing your target and effective aiming and reducing torque-effect, remember that it is a fun sport.
Never be too hard on yourself. Every so often, invest in a professional lesson or use a camera to tape your stance and your shooting methods. This way you can assess your own performance against what you know to do or how you’d intended to shoot. Comment below if you have any questions or recommendations for when to nock your bow!