“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
Before you can build any structure, whether it is a house or a skyscraper, you need to start with a good foundation to ensure that it will last you a lifetime.
In archery, the discrete steps that make up the shot process are often overlooked because they appear to be subconscious after learning how to load and fire your first few arrows. Very little attention comes back to the stance as the foundation of the shot.
We align our feet in either the traditional stance or the intermediate / advanced National Training System (NTS) open stance. Both have their pros and cons, but think about the fine details as to what you are doing each time you step up to the shooting line.
Are you moving your stance between shots? Is the angle of your toes the same? Do you remember the target line in relation to your actual position? How much body weight is on the front and back part of your feet? Are you wearing flat shoes to feel the ground? When you retrieve arrows and begin the next round of shooting, does everything feel the same?
These are all variables and questions that are often overlooked and easily forgotten. The archer should take his or her time setting up the shot by making sure the foundation is correct with effort to get comfortable, balanced and in the right position. USA Archery National Head Olympic Coach KiSik Lee dedicates an entire chapter in his work, Total Archery, to stance. Lee emphasizes in teaching that details matter as small as keeping all 10 toes spread out and engaged to grip and “feel” the ground through your shoes to help the archer maintain a connection that continues from the lower body upwards.
Key points to remember from the Stance are:
- Knees gently locked
- Feet shoulder width apart (measured at the heels)
- Traditional stance – imaginary line from bull’s eye (center of the target) across your toes
- Align an arrow across your toes for reference if shooting at an angle towards your target
- Intermediate / advanced –
- instep / ball of your draw side foot (back foot) intersects with the target line
- Draw side (back) foot is 15 degrees rotated towards the target
- Bow side (front) foot is 20 – 25 degrees rotated towards the target
- Hips stay open to the target to prepare for coiling motion
Stance should be set and noted with conscious attention to detail EACH and every time the archer is at the shooting line!