How to Shoot a Compound Bow (like a pro)

For many of us, a compound bow is magical.

But you won’t have much luck with your targets if you don’t know how to shoot it.

Fortunately, though it has a bit of a learning curve, many shooters can successfully shoot this wonderful bow so long as they put their mind to learning it.

I will be teaching you how to shoot a compound bow like a pro in this article.

Let’s get down to business.

Prepare for the shot

Before you start, make sure that you have installed a good target. You can opt for the money-saving DIY targets or commercial targets.

Besides, install something behind your target to help stop the arrows. Many shooters find hay bales excellent since they don’t damage your arrow tips.

You can also try using bags of mulch to stop stray arrows if bales of straw are not locally available.

Stage 1: Basics steps

A very important part of the whole shooting process is forming the correct posture and getting the correct grip for your arrow.

We will start by forming the right body pose and the angle to maintain..

Step 1: Pose and establishing the perfect angle

Stand, directly facing your target. For balance, your feet should be about shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other. Also, one of your feet will be positioned a bit farther forward than the other. Then, to enhance your chances of hitting the bull’s eye, aim to attain a 45 degree angle to whatever target you have in sight (your chin should also be parallel to the surface).

There should also be adequate clearance along your chest and compound bow arm.

Have you gotten your pose right? If so, let’s turn our attention to how you’re supposed to hold your bow.

Step 2: Form the recommended grip

Using your bow-holding hand, grip the bow in a relaxed manner. The idea is to have the weights balancing perfectly in the opening between your other fingers and the thumb.

In terms of position, the grip should rest centrally in your palm. This helps you spread the weight uniformly across your entire arm.

Don’t be afraid to make the necessary positioning adjustments to ensure that your grip is as comfortable as possible.

That’s because it’s difficult to shoot accurately or become consistent if you’re straining.

And I should add that becoming a legendary compound bow shooter starts with understanding the technicalities of the grip so take your sweet time.

Step 3: Nock the arrow

The third preliminary step involves getting your arrow in place. We call this step nocking and you do as follows:

Grab an arrow and place it in the rest (it’s the tip to sit on the rest).

Then ensure that the nock clips nicely onto the string (grab the back of the arrow and pull it into the string till it clips into place) alongside the nocking point.

The “click” sound signals that it’s correctly nocked.

By now you will notice the D-loop (small semi-circle which shaped like a D) forming on the string. Be thankful as you will need it shortly.

Step 4: Fixing the release aid

You might have been advised by the archery shop attendant about using a mechanical release when shooting. 

Do you recall? This is a good time to see how it’s done.

But I need to clear the air about using a release tool before I take you through…

Now, as you might have noted out there, some shooters still use plain fingers and there’s nothing wrong with this.

I, however, recommend a release aid as it allows you to draw the bow using your arm muscles rather than stress your bare fingers when shooting.

My reasons?

To begin with, this helps you improve the accuracy of your arrow’s trajectory.

In addition, a release lowers your risk of accidentally dry firing- an occurrence that might damage your equipment or cause you a bad injury.

Can I now show you how to attach your release aid to your equipment?

It’s pretty simple:

Just attach it to your wrist and then clamp its jaws around the D-loop (That’s why I had mentioned that you’ll need the D shaped loop).

Beware that your trigger can accidentally release at this point so ensure that your index finger remains behind the trigger as you do this.

Something else:

You should be extremely relaxed when fixing the release in your hands.

In fact, look for the most comfortable way (with little tension) to hold it as you’re supposed to maintain it in the same position from this step onwards.

Congratulations on reaching this step. You’re now ready to fire and we will soon learn how.

Stage 2: Pulling the trigger

Here again we have a couple of steps.

Step 1: Establish the center-shot

You should first pinpoint the center-shot and ensure that the arrow is positioned there.

If you’re wondering what the hell a center shot is, it’s the point where limbs, riser, and string line up straight together when you’re using the arrow’s exact perpendicular line as a datum.

Simply eyeball the center-shot and put your arrow precisely down the shelf. You can then yoke tune as required from there.

For starters, the closer the arrow sits to the bow’s centerline, the nearer it is to the center shot.

This is again crucial since arrows fly sideways if launched away from the center of the string’s power stroke.

You can consider using a center-shoot multi-tool in future if you’re having problems finding the true center-shot.

Step 2: Draw the bow string

Pull the bowstring back towards your face. Your extended arm will be holding the bow up and guiding it.

To avoid misfiring, it’s vital that the supporting arm remains parallel to the floor all the while and in line with the target.

Meanwhile, your dominant hand draws the string farther back until it’s full drawn to your cheek. Some achieve full draw near the jaw or the chin so it’s not fixed for everyone.

With that in mind, try to locate your ideal anchor point.

Regardless of whether it’s at the cheekbone, jaw, corner of your mouth, or chin, it should provide the most accurate shoot while remaining comfortable.

Remember that you will always be drawing to the same anchor point for consistency once you have decided it.

Still there, experts aim to have two anchor parts so if possible, try to bring your nose to also touch the bowstring.

This primarily helps to advance your accuracy.

Now, when you start, the tension traditionally feels a bit difficult to pull back. Don’t panic. It will soon relax as you approach full draw because of the mechanical advantage of compound bows.

Something else:

Before you release the trigger, make sure that your sight is aligned dead center to the target.

It doesn’t always happen automatically so you might have to adjust the position of the pin until you sight the target right through the center.

Step 3: Squeeze the trigger

Now what remains is for you to smoothly release the trigger of your mechanical release.

I insist- don’t forcefully pull the trigger because it will just hurt your accuracy and mess all your efforts thus far.

You have nailed it if you succeed to obtain a solid arrow pattern with repetitious shots.

Also note that dropping your arm immediately after release (in an attempt to see how your arrow is going) is unwise as it again makes the arrow to deviate from the aim.

Useful tips:

  • For unparalleled success, use top-quality strings in your bows. And remember to restring as soon as you notice the string wearing out.
  • Be sure to inspect your bow and make sure that all the parts are firmly attached ahead of any shooting practice.
  • Since the weather can be unpredictable, train how to shoot in various conditions including during poor visibility. You will eventually be enjoying the thrill of compound bar shooting come rain or shine.
  • Follow your compound bow’s maintenance routine religiously. You don’t want it to disappoint during your training session because you forgot to wax it.
  • While aiming, avoid movements (since it alters your angle) and always keep your eyes trained on the target. Otherwise, you will have yourself to blame if you end up having so many of your shots going astray.

How to improve your compound bow shooting accuracy

Deeply understanding your weapon helps unlock your full shooting potential with a compound bow.

Indeed, the more you learn it, the easier it becomes to shoot with regardless of the brand/model.


Because you will be able to make the requisite adjustments to upgrade your shot.

These include:

  1. Your draw weight (energy required to shoot)- an excess draw weight will throw you as well as your shots off-balance. On the other hand, though they are easier for the initial sessions, lighter draw weights are not effective.  Look for a sweet spot and have it adjusted as required.
  2. Cams timing– But for single cam weapons, bows with other types of cams sometimes lose their timing system causing the strings to feel weird when being shot. You should thus take it to a pro for synchronization (you can also do it if you have the skills).
  3. Center-shot alignment– You should keep an eye on persistent wayward arrow movement as they could indicate a disoriented center-shot alignment. The amount of tuning your bow needs will depend on how far off your bow is from the true center.
  4. Introduce sights and stabilizers– Another way of changing your performance is by adding stabilizers (These add some weight to the bow raising its stability during shots) and sights (they help you aim more precisely).
  5. Draw length –  An incorrect draw length may mess your precision and shooting form. Luckily, bows with adjustable cams allow you to adjust the draw length using an ordinary hexagonal wrench. You need to be certain of your recommended draw length before modifying your bow.

One simple way of doing this is to add 1 ¾ inches to the distance from the arrow’s nock point up to the grip’s pivot point.

Why you are missing

Some new shooters consistently fail to hit the bull’s eye despite seemingly shooting properly and have the best compound bow.

Now, whatever your skill, you won’t fell your target if:

  • You’re using an incorrect range of yardages.
  • Your sights and pins are loose.
  • You have problems with your arrows: This includes using mismatched your arrows, having dirt on your arrows or even torn fletching.
  • You haven’t allowed yourself enough time for practice yet you want to achieve the best shot.
  • You are holding your shot too long: Lingering too long with the shot causes more inconsistencies than when you pull it off quicker. 

Final words

That is precisely how to shoot a compound bar.

And while we are not promising that it’s going to be easy, it’s something you should be able to crack if you put your mind into it.

Having said that, you will need tons of practice to rise to the level of an expert compound bow shooter.

Most importantly, for your safety and best results, always make sure that your compound bow is in tip-top shape before any practice session.

Good luck in the woods!

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