With the highly anticipated release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the ladies at the NRA headquarters requested I give a run-down of how to use a bow in the spirit of this archery-laden movie. If you know your archery equipment, you might notice that Katniss uses a longbow in her debuts (A little birdie told me it’s the Martin Savannah in this new movie). For the purpose of this article, though, I’ll explain with pictures of the most widely-used bow, the compound bow. Here are the most basic elements that you should be aware of:
The preeminent fundamental element of shooting is stance. Top-notch archers shoot with an open stance, with your hips “open” to the target and feet shoulder-width apart. If you fight your natural stance, the trajectory of your arrow will be directed towards your body’s centering point (away from your desired target). In other words, find the most comfortable stance to where you’re not fighting your body’s positioning.
How you grip the bow can affect arrow flight; grip it too tightly and you risk twisting the riser, which consequently changes your natural point of aim. For this reason, you want to place the the grip in between the meaty part of your index finger and thumb, and then loosely wrap your remaining 3 fingers around the grip. If you were to extend your thumb and index finger, think about having them be directed towards the target, not canted.
Anchor points are so important to archery because they ensure repeatability and consistent shooting. If you’re merely guessing where you should be drawing back to and you happen to make a perfect shot, how do you know what should be repeated? The anchor points I use every time are nose-to-string, string-to-mouth, and hand-to-jaw. What this means is at full draw, I ensure the string comes down the center of my nose, to the corner of my mouth and my closed hand makes full contact with my jaw. You’ll notice that Katniss uses an under-the-jaw anchor point, which is common for recurve/longbow shooters.
Posture is imperative to perfect in the beginning. Women have a tendency to sway their lower back when at full draw. You want to roll your hips under your torso and keep a tight middle. Your upper body should be completely relaxed and shoulders should not bunch up but should be kept down. Katniss’ posture is perfect--make note of this when watching the movie!
Finally, making the shot. You want to be tight on the back wall at all times. Think of this as pulling your scapulae together and pressing forward with your bow hand to create more tension on the string. Many new archers start riding the string forward while simultaneously releasing the arrow…this is a no-no. Remain completely stationary, relaxed, and tight on the back wall, and then slowly release the arrow. After the release, ensure you follow through on your shot! Don’t just drop your hand.
There you have it, the elementary steps to shooting! When you watch The Hunger Games movies, see if you can pick out these techniques as Katniss shoots. May the odds be ever in your favor.