As opening day gets closer we’ve all got our hunting bows out getting them dialed in and making sure we’re ready to go. Over the last few days I’ve tried to think of that one thing that is going to pull me through this year when I finally let an arrow go on a whitetail. There are so many things about our shot process that we need to think about, but the one thing I would definitely have in check are my anchor points. Yes, I said points…..multiple….meaning more than one. If you’ve dabbled around in traditional Archery at all you’re probably familiar with the concept however, lots of guys and gals refer to their “anchor” as a single point. I actually think of my anchor as a system that if I don’t focus on in practice, will certainly fail me under pressure. It’s not complicated and most of you already have a system in place however, it does require that you give it some specific attention in every practice session.
How many of you have ever shot over a deer, or under a deer, or behind, or in front? One of my most haunting memories of this was about 10 years ago on the first Saturday evening hunt of the season on a big old heavy 8 pointer that slipped in on me and got to probably 30 yards. He had no idea I was there so I wasn’t in a rush at all. I eased my bow off the hanger, slowly turned and drew, looked thru my sight and gave an Easton arrow one heck of a ride…..right through a cedar tree just behind that buck! Yup, clean missed him. I was so disappointed in myself when I played that shot back in my mind and realized I wasn’t anchored properly which ultimately led me to the conclusion that I wasn’t even looking through my peep…lesson learned.
If target archery has help me improve with any aspect of my shot it’s absolutely led me to make sure my anchor is consistent, and focused on within my process. When I’m in a tournament situation which can be very similar to a hunting situation, I tend to build tension in my release hand and forearm. Essentially as my heart rate and adrenaline levels rise, I tend to make a fist. When I do this my anchor changes which leads to arrows not hitting behind the pin. With a hunting bow it can as bad as I described above, you lose your anchor system momentarily and you’re not even looking through your peep. Here are a few tips that I use and that I’ve passed on to LaDonna and Garrett that have helped them as well.
1. Anchor off the tip of your nose.
This is what I consider my primary anchor. Funny little fact….I know God built me to be an archer because I have a groove right on the tip of my nose that fits a string perfectly. I look at it like this…no matter what angle or position my body is in when I’m in a hunting situation, I can always maintain my alignment and subsequently my anchor system if my string is touching the center of my nose. If I maintain this point my upper body has to bend at the waist and therefore my form is intact. If I lose that contact I know my form and my system has broken down and I can’t take that shot. I don’t place much pressure at all on my string, just enough to know it’s touching and enough to maintain consistency.
2. Know your anchor system.
My system consists of multiple points that I practice or check off the list every shot. Whether it’s hunting or target, my system is the same. Ok, here we go…pay close attention here! Once I get to full draw I settle the split between my index knuckle and my middle knuckle on the back of my jaw bone. Then I settle my nose on the string. Again, light pressure but enough to know it’s touching. Next, I can feel the center serving on my string touching the corner of my mouth. This is very light pressure but I can feel it every time and it’s on my checklist. The last thing for me is the flattening or relaxing of my release hand, specifically my knuckles behind my release and my wrist which creates my last anchor of the back of my hand touching my earlobe. Once I’m through my checklist I often close my eyes momentarily and when I re-open my eyes I’m still perfectly in my peep sight and line up with my sight housing. In case you weren’t counting, that’s 4 anchor points or 4 parts of my system that have to be accounted for before I will make the decision to execute a shot.
3. Practice with a purpose.
Your specific system may be different than mine and that’s what I love about Archery. We are all unique in some way so finding what works for you and what you can repeat is critical to your consistency. The point is this, identify the anchor points in your system and practice it during every shot. When that moment of truth comes in the field you’ll go to your system and there won’t be room in your brain for negative energy or what if’s to creep in and cause an undesirable outcome, such as a miss or even worse, a wounded animal.
Hopefully these few tips got you thinking about your anchor system and will help you be successful this season. Good Luck and stay safe!!