Stance is one of the basic and most important parts of correct archery form. It is the first step to shooting an arrow, and so is one of the first things taught in archery lessons.
The importance of stance in archery comes from the fact that a correct stance allows the archer to both distribute their body weight better, and to end up with more consistent shots. The reason for this is that the foot placement can actually affect arrow flight. Your body has a natural centering point, and if your feet are not positioned correctly, the shot will be directed towards your centering point during the shot causing an inaccurate arrow path. When looking for archery tips to improve your accuracy, stance is one of the first steps to master before looking for more.
In general, there are 4 archery stances, each with their pros and cons. One thing to note is that all archery stances require the feet to be shoulder width apart, or at most a bit wider, with the weight evenly distributed on both legs.
Archery Even Stance
The even stance is also known as the square stance. In this position, the feet are in-line with each other and draw a line perpendicular to the target. The main advantage of this position is that it is a very natural one that can be easy to reproduce. It’s a good position for beginners to start with, but it also has several disadvantages. The stance provides but a small base of support in the front to back plane. This causes the body to be put in a non-sturdy position, so in situations with relatively strong winds, the body could be blow off balance. In addition, if the archer has a big or broad chest, then this stance will lower the area available for string clearance, possibly causing the string to hit the body or the archer’s bow arm.
Archery Close Stance
The next stance is the close stance. In this position, the front foot (i.e. closest to the target) is forward from the front of the body such that the heel of the front foot is aligned with the toes of the back foot (i.e. farthest from the target). It gives a stable support base and provides an excellent alignment of the arm and shoulder with the target. The stance isn’t without its drawbacks though. The close stance reduces the area available for string clearance, even more so than the even stance, which could cause the string to touch against the body. In addition, this stance tends to make the archer lean away from the target, causing the archer to often overdraw.
Archery Open Stance
The next stance is the open stance. In this position, the front foot is towards the archer’s backside, such that the heel of the back foot is aligned with the toes of the front foot. Similar to the close stance, the open stance provides a stable support base. The other advantage is that it fixes the leaning away problem of the close stance. Archers who use this stance are less likely to lean away from the target. Of course, there are disadvantages as well. This stance tends to make the upper body twist towards the target, and will make the archer use the much weaker arm muscles more than the back muscles during the draw, especially if the archer is opening up their shoulders too much. This last issue could possibly be minimized if the archer squares their shoulders to the target, enough to use the back muscles to draw.
Archery Oblique Stance
The fourth and last stance is called the oblique stance. In many ways, it is similar to the open stance, and some instructors do not make the distinction between them during their archery lessons. For our purposes, this stance is a bit different. The archer places the big toe of their front foot on a line and pivots it 45 degrees to the target. The heel of the back foot is then placed in line with the big toe of the front foot.
The oblique stance has many advantages; first, it provides the best amount of clearance for the bowstring when arrows are released. Second, it puts the body in total and complete equilibrium. Third, it allows you to see the target very clearly, allowing for better aim. The main disadvantage of this stance though is that it is hard to maintain, and so is mostly used by expert archers only.
These are the 4 stances available in archery. Experienced archers believe that small stance deviations can cause sighting and aiming problems. For this reason, marking the placement of the feet on the shooting line when you’re first starting out is recommended.
The best archery stances are widely believed to be the open and oblique stances. There is a wide array of opinions on which stance a beginner should start with though. Some start beginners with a closed stance, some with an even stance, and others with an open stance. It is up to you to experiment and find what works best for you.
Do not forget that stance is one of the first and most important steps in your archery lessons. Practice and figure out what works comfortably for you. Once you have your stance down, then you can focus more on the next major steps in shooting a bow and arrow.
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