It was a typical day; after busting tail at work and then coming home to my “second shift” – wrestling with the kids, doing dinner, baths, bedtime stories, etc., I headed to the yard for a quick shooting session. This is my time to unwind.
I have found that there are good days of shooting, and of course there are bad days too. This was a good day. The arrows were falling right where I wanted them to and every step of the process was totally comfortable. If only every day were like that, right?
The single most important thing that I have learned in my time as an archer and bowhunter has been to use a shot sequence. Last week I introduced the idea of a shot sequence, and this week I fully explain what my shot sequence is and how I use it.
A shot sequence is good for the good days, but it is also good for the bad days. When something isn’t right in your shooting, you shot sequence can often diagnose the problem for you.
Opening day will soon be upon us, so now is the time to get to work developing, implementing, and practicing your shot sequence!
In Part I we discussed why a shot sequence is important; today I want to discuss what my shot sequence is and explain how I use it. The goal of this post it to show you, in detail, how I use a shot sequence – not so that you will copy it outright, but so that you can get an idea of how to make your own shot sequence that complements your shooting.
As I said last time, I don’t want to waste any shots. Each and every bad or lazy shot is a step in the wrong direction. Here is what I think through for each and every shot…
Yes, AGLAS. That is my shot sequence:
Anchor, Grip, Level, Aim, Squeeze
It all starts with your anchor point, which is truly the foundation of a successfully executed shot. The purpose of your anchor point is to ensure that you are setting up in proper form, and putting your sights in line the same way for each and every shot.
Your anchor point needs to be three things – identifiable, comfortable, and repeatable.
First, you need to be able to identify certain points at which your hand and face should make contact, as well as nose to string contact if possible.
Secondly, your anchor point also needs to be comfortable. You shouldn’t have to stretch, slump, or otherwise move in to position; your anchor position should come naturally.
Lastly, your anchor point needs to be repeatable. Each and every time your draw your bow back, your anchor needs to be exactly the same. If your anchor point is moving from shot to shot, or floating during your shot, there is no way that you can be consistently on target.
Before you get any further with your shot, check your anchor!
Grip used to be the first thing that I focused on in my shot sequence, before I drew the bow back to my anchor point. The reason that I have moved grip to the second item in my “checklist” is that I have found that sometimes we change our grip over the course of the draw cycle. You may have had a proper grip before you drew the bow back, but what does your grip look like after you have settled into to your anchor?
This isn’t an article on proper grip, although that is a very important subject, but I will quickly mention this – keep it light. You aren’t really looking to hold the bow; you just want to let it rest in your hand.
As my grip has improved, the need to level my bow at full draw has often become unnecessary, but I still check my level as a part of every shot sequence for one very important reason…
What may “feel” level isn’t always level.
It is amazing how a little change in elevation or terrain can throw off our internal “feeling” of level. There are countless times that I could have sworn I was level at full draw, but that little bubble was telling me otherwise. This happens most often when I am shooting across a hill, shooting at an elevated target, or shooting down from an elevated position.
Most treestand hunters know that you should bend at the waist when aiming down, but have you ever noticed how easy it is to torque the bow out of level when doing so? You may be surprised!
Check your level!
This is the “Duh!” moment of my shot sequence, right? I can hear you now, telling me in a sarcastic tone, “Don’t forget to aim!” Yeah, yeah, I hear you.
The reason that I included aiming as a part of my shot sequence is directly related to a bad habit that I had previously developed. Instead of letting the pins settle on the target, I would try to punch the trigger at the exact moment that my pin wandered over my intended point of impact. You can imagine how well that worked. (Not very well!)
To correct my bad habit I started practicing with the goal of releasing the shot only after I had settled my pin on the intended spot of impact, and held my pin there for a good two seconds. It is amazing how easy it is to hold your pin on target if you just give yourself a moment to settle and breathe.
Having “aim” in my shot sequence reminds me to settle the pin, hold steady, breathe and…
Up until this point I have made sure that my form is in order, and that I am on target correctly, now I just have one thing left to do…don’t jerk the shot!
The “squeeze” step is all about putting pressure on the trigger while continuing to breathe and aim. Squeeze is about letting the shot surprise you, and holding form and aim until the arrow reaches the target (follow through).
That is my shot sequence and it has helped me tremendously! I don’t think you have to copy my shot sequence, but I do think you should work on creating one for yourself.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you go about creating your own shot sequence.
Your shot sequence needs to be easy to remember. Try and come up with an acronym, or catchy way of remembering each step. Combine steps if necessary – you can see that in my last two steps, Aim and Squeeze, there is more going on than just those two things (breathing, settling, follow through, etc.). If I tried to remember each one individually I would probably forget them all.
Your shot sequence needs to be easy to work through, and as short as possible, while still including what is necessary. Don’t have a 10-point checklist to run through, it won’t work!
Remember, the goal is to use this sequence for each and every shot! Think of items that you need help with, and be sure to include them in your checklist.
How about you? Do you have a shot sequence, or are you going to starting working on one?