How to Shoot a Bow

Shooting stance

Position - when shooting a bow your feet are perpendicular or facing 90 degrees from the target and comfortably shoulder width apart.

archer drawing recurve bow anchor point at draw

Draw - for a right-handed shooter, the left arm is the bow arm and grasps the handle. The bow is extended out to the side, toward the target, the arm is held slightly bent and parallel to the ground. At the same time, the other hand, the shooting hand, draws back the string to an “anchor point.” The anchor point is where you hold the string at the end of your draw where you will release it for flight. This anchor point should be the same place every time you shoot to establish consistency and accuracy. Its location varies between shooters. Some prefer the corner of the mouth, others like the chin or the cheek.

Hold and Release

follow through

It’s best not to hold the bow drawn for too long as muscle fatigue can make you waiver. When releasing, all three fingers should let go smoothly and at the same time. It is also important to follow through after the shot. The bow arm should remain pointing at the target after the release and the draw hand poised at the anchor point as the arrow flies to its target.

When to draw the bow is one of the most critical decisions a bowhunter makes. Drawing the bow creates movement which can alert game to your presence. Also, the longer you hold the bow drawn, the more muscle fatigue you will endure. Excessive fatigue may cause your hold to jitter, destabilizing the arrow’s release.

Bowhunting Safety

  • Never wear or carry anything that is the same color as the animal you're hunting
  • Wear orange or another bright, unnatural color, while approaching and leaving your hunt area
  • Put some bright cloth or tape on your animal while field dressing it or carrying
  • Never make the call of the animal being hunted (tom turkey, buck deer) when there are other hunters in the area
  • When another hunter approaches, call out in a normal voice to let him or her know you are there. Don't shout or
    whistle, and never make an animal call.
  • Make sure you can see clearly in all directions so you can see approaching people or game, or make sure you are protected in any blind spots
  • Be sure of your shot, clearly identify your target and make sure the shot is clear and safe. Never shoot at a sound or target with an obscure background. Always be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. Never hunt from an elevated stand without using a safety harness. Always strap in, as soon as you get into the stand 
  • Never carry your hunting gear with you into an elevated stand- Always use a hauling line to hoist it up after you're safely strapped in (Watch a free Treestand Safety course)

Bowhunting Ethics

  • Know your effective range. Don’t take long shots.
  • If a deer runs off when hit, wait for at least an hour if possible before moving in to follow its trail.
  • Hits outside the heart/lung area require a longer wait - 4-6 hours is a good standard.
  • You have the responsibility to do your best to recover every animal you hit.


diagram of a crossbow

Crossbows are basically a small bow mounted horizontally on a stock. The string is pulled back and cocked behind a catch. A short arrow is placed in a groove in front of the cocked string. A lever or trigger releases the catch which holds the string and arrow. Cocking your crossbow can be done by hand or with a cocking mechanism. When shooting a crossbow you must account for trajectory as you do with conventional bows and arrows. As with bows, most shots when hunting are short range, between 20 and 40 yards. Practice setting and using your sights or scope, and know your safe range. Crossbows can be used for hunting in many states and provinces. Check the local state and provincial laws.

crossbow bolts Crossbow front

Arrows for crossbows are shorter than arrows for bows (15"-20") and have no bow string nock. They can also have a variety of different points. Remember all broadheads are razor sharp and should be handled with extreme care. They should be carried securely in a quiver with a hard shell that encloses the broadheads.

Archery in Schools

student drawing bow

Archery is a wonderful sport for boys and girls to learn. It teaches discipline and develops the ability to focus and achieve a goal.

row of young archers drawing bows

archery tournament

National Archery in the Schools Program is very active in Texas. It promotes student education and participation in the shooting sports. The program’s focus is to provide International-style target archery training in 4th-12th grade physical education classes.

Contact the TPWD Archery Coordinator to get the latest training information.

Watch a video on: the Texas Archery in Schools Program.

Other archery organizations include: USA Archery, National Field Archery Association,  Texas State Archery Association, and the Lone Star Bowhunter Association.