It may look easy to hit a bullseye if your only point of reference is the Hunger Games or Avengers, but remember — they have CGI special effects to make it easy for them!
As anybody who’s fired a bow at camp can tell you, getting an arrow to fly through the air and hit a target is a whole lot easier said than done. Chances are it’ll take some serious practice before anything aside from chance gets your shots anywhere close to the mark.
…But that feeling when you land one directly on the bullseye? Priceless.
Here are some of our favorite strategies for going from zero to bullseye as quickly as possible.
Before you even shoot, proper stance is key to being able to shoot consistently. If you’re dancing around and shooting from different positions, trust me, it’ll take forever to get a feel for where to aim.
First step: make sure your body is completely parallel to the target. That means shoulders and hips pointed directly sideways to the target. This may seem obvious, but we see campers struggle to keep this pose going, especially since it feels more “natural” to point your toes at the target like when you’re throwing a baseball or football.
Keep your whole body from your toes to your shoulders pointed sideways, and you’ve already won half the battle!
Something campers often struggle with is figuring out where to aim.
Bows don’t come with crosshairs, so it’s a question of figuring out where the sweet spot is for your particular bow, at your particular height, at your particular distance from the target.
Sounds like a lot to think about, right? Well don’t worry; there’s an easy strategy that figures out the trajectories for you:
Firstly, never move your feet. If you keep your feet in the same place between arrows, you ensure that your position relative to the target doesn’t move. So resist that victory dance just for a minute!
Secondly, you have to miss on purpose. Yep, you heard me right: miss the target.
For your first arrow, shoot low on purpose. Low enough that you know it’ll hit the bottom of the board, or even the turf below the board. For your second arrow, aim high on purpose. Shoot so that you see where the “crosshair” is pointing when you’re going way overboard.
Finally, on the third arrow, shoot in the middle. Just like goldilocks, but instead of getting porridge, you get a bullseye!
Blame the wind
My personal favorite tactic: always blame the wind. Missed the target? Crossbreeze! Hit someone else’s target by accident? Another darned crossbreeze!
Enthusiasm is as important for archery as it is for all camp sports, and a little humor goes a long way. Don’t get too serious — and always blame the crossbreeze, never yourself!
The last thing that holds a lot of campers back from their bullseye victory dance is so simple it’s ridiculous: breathing.
It’s tempting to hold your breath or hyperventilate while you aim, simply because that’s the natural human reaction to being excited. Although archery feels like a precision exercise when you first start, the truth is that a lot of it is up to chance. Every arrow is a little different, every bow is a little different, and jokes about cross-breezes aside the wind absolutely plays a factor that can thwart even the most talented and practiced archery master.
The key to success in archery, as it is in many camp sports, is simply letting go. Bullseyes don’t really matter as much as having fun, and part of the game’s a gamble anyway.
Just relax, smile, breath, and give it your best shot. Chances are that’s all it’ll take for you to start hitting bullseyes left and right — in archery, and in your life.