We recently had an opportunity to interact with Fred Eichler, one of the best men behind a traditional bow in this neck of the woods.
Such a warm and passionate guy who always wears a bear smile on his face.
But with his bow in his hand, the guy transforms into a pariah.
He can consistently shoot arrows at a quarter sized target and yet, hit center spot.
No wonder that he’s harvested all 29 big-game species in North America with his rustic-looking bow.
Thoroughly impressed with his technique, we binge watched his TV shows in the next few days trying to analyze it and discover the reason behind his pin-point accuracy.
After much deliberation, we have come to the conclusion that it’s a mix of unwavering concentration, hand-eye co-ordination and an incredibly accurate anchor point.
These are the cornerstones of his success with the bow.
While the first two aspects have more to do with your mind and muscle memory, the third one is all about practice.
And it’s often the difference between a rookie archer and a professional.
Consistent anchor points that deliver results.
Today, we will talk about the best anchor points to draw your bow.
Irrespective of whether you are using classic bows or recurves or the best compound bows, these techniques will help you immensely at the range or in the field.
Understanding the Anchor Point
To the uninitiated, an anchor point is the farthest spot at which you stop drawing the bow, just before you release it.
Think of it like a spot on your face where the string or your fingers touch when you stop drawing the bow.
It can be on the chin, the nose or the corner of the mouth depending on the bow and your own sweet technique, which you will develop with practice.
The anchor point is used to anchor the bow and line up everything just before you shoot.
Many beginner archers don’t use an anchor point at all, relying on luck more than technique to hit their targets.
Others struggle at maintaining an anchor point which results in inaccurate shots and mishits.
One of the basic fundamentals of archery is being able to maintain a consistent anchor point shot after shot.
Even if you are woken up from deep slumber and asked to draw the bow, you should be able to hit the same anchor point.
Finding the Best Anchor Point for You
To a layman watching on TV, archery might seem as simple as drawing the bow and releasing it.
Very few notice that the archer lines everything up to perfection before releasing the bow.
The finger placement, the alignment of the peep, the draw length, the head position, the balance, the breathing, everything comes into synergy in a single fluid motion.
But there are a range of factors that come into play in determining the right anchor point.
The easiest way to find the best anchor point for you is to seek guidance from a skilled archery coach, who can help you determine the anchor point that works best for you.
If for some reason, you are looking to self-learn, then here are the two most commonly used anchor points for your reference.
- Under the jaw: This is an advanced anchor point method often used by professional archers. Not only does it increase accuracy, it also gives you more reference points to gauge the alignment. There’s the hand under the chin anchoring the bow, the string against the nose or the lips, the peep in front of the eye.
- Corner of the mouth: As a beginner, this is one of the easiest anchor points to get started with. It’s easy to recall and position. Just ensure that the index finger touches the corner of the mouth. Do this repeatedly and you will notice that your shots are hitting the target more often than not.
Experimenting to Find the Best Anchor Point
Self-leaners can also experiment with various anchor points to try and determine which one works best for them.
Always ensure that you use the best hunting bows only to practice. The last thing you need is a cheap gimcrack that snaps during practice.
You can divide the face into four imaginary quadrants by drawing a horizontal line and a vertical line.
The anchor points that are most commonly used will fall in the lower left quadrant near the chin.
Having said that, some archers use an anchor point much closer to the nose instead.
Like we mentioned earlier, it all boils down to what works for you.
Use a stationary target and start firing shots using any one anchor point.
Try to touch the same anchor point repeatedly during the entire day. While it is not guaranteed that you will be able to consistently draw to the same anchor point shot after shot, try your best to do it.
Concentrate. Jot down each shot. And at the end of the day, calculate the percentage of accuracy.
The next day, try another anchor point and repeat.
In a few days, you should have attempted multiple anchor points with varying success rates. By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what anchor point will work the best for you.
This method works even better if you have a spotter with you. Also, do not try random anchor points on your face. Stick to the ones that you are comfortable using.
Using an Anchor Point with a Compound Bow
If you shoot compounds, finding the anchor point can be little tricky.
Especially, if you use a mechanical release.
Try and draw the string to the same position repeatedly. If you are finding it difficult to ensure this, use a kisser button.
The kisser button can be a small plastic button or even a knot of thread that can be used as a reference for the anchor point.
It should typically be felt at the lips at full draw.
Kisser buttons are typically used by recurve archers.
But using them with compounds will significantly improve your head positioning. If your head is tilted forward or backwards even slightly, then the button will be felt incorrectly.
By the way, you do not need a peep if you are using a kisser button. That only amplifies the number of factors that you must consider before making a shot.
Bonus tip: How to aim your compound bow without a site.
More Tips to Find Your Perfect Anchor Spot
All said and done, here are a few drills and techniques that you can use to find your own sweet anchor spot.
- Practice: There’s no two ways around this. Just keep practicing until you learn how to anchor consistently. And while it looks easy, there are archers who have spent months, if not years trying to master this. And they still find it difficult to repeatedly find the same anchor point.
- The release: Before you try to find the right anchor point, try and fix the problems with the release in your draw hand. The release should be comfortably and repeatedly positioned in the same spot. If you use an index-styled release, the trigger should be positioned at a comfortable distance on the index finger. You can mark the release if you use a non-index style. Remember, consistency is the key.
- Points of the draw hand: Just like you find a specific anchor point on your face, you can find specific points on the draw hand and associate these with the points on your face. This can be bone-to-bone (knuckle to the jaw) or bone-to-skin (knuckle to the earlobe). With practice and consistency, this becomes a part of muscle memory and it makes it easier for you to achieve the same anchor point again and again.
- Using the bowstring: You can also use the bowstring as a reference to ensure that you have a consistent anchor point. Associate the bowstring at full draw to a specific part of your face. Like the corner of the mouth or your lips or the tip of your nose. When you do this repeatedly, you will start to notice a dramatic improvement in the consistency of your hits.
- Facial Pressure: While there’s a lot of onus on repeatability, comfort is an often overlooked factor. You should always be relaxed at full draw. Irrespective of whether you use your draw hand as a reference or the bowstring, there should be zero facial pressure. Unwanted pressure on the face will cause minute distortion of the facial muscle. When you release, the distorted muscles will rebound causing a slight deflection in the arrow and it will mostly veer off track.
- Multiple anchor points: You can have multiple anchor points. We know that this is a much-debated topic. But this is what’s worked for us. Once again, the only way to find out is practice in different terrain.
- Spine angle: When you shoot on flat terrain, you automatically create a 90-degree angle with your arm extended and your spine erect. If sighted from a distance, you are positioned like the alphabet T. What if you are field hunting and are positioned at an elevation? You need to try and maintain this same T-position. Never lower the arm while arching your back. Instead, use the hips to rotate while maintaining the 90-degree angle. This allows you to stick to the same reference points and maintain your anchor point.
That sums it up folks.
We hope that this article gives you a good idea of anchor points and how to find your own sweet spot.
You would have also noticed that we repeatedly hammered on the term ‘consistency’.
That’s because your success with a bow, (accuracy) depends on how consistently you can find a reliable anchor point.
If you have anything to add to this, then do write in.
Until next time, adios!