The Archery Shot Cycle

WHAT IS A SHOT CYCLE?

The archery shot cycle (sometimes called the “shot process”, “shot sequence” or “shot routine”) is simply the process an archer goes through during their shot. It’s a set of repeatable steps which you can follow whether you’re in training or under competition pressure. It is one of the key tools you can use to improve your shooting consistency.

Having a solid archery shot cycle which you can replicate is key to consistent recurve shooting. It will help you during training to make sure to include each stage of your shot in your daily practice. And it’s essential during competition to make sure you run through your whole shot. Under pressure, your shot cycle is your biggest asset.

The shot cycle consists of both the physical part and the mental part. The physical part is what you do when you shoot. The mental part is what you think about. They should both work together to make a robust routine. 

These points apply to the shot cycle which ever bow you shoot, whether it’s recurve, compound, barebow, longbow..etc. However, now let’s take a look at the shot cycle specific to recurve archery.

THE RECURVE SHOT CYCLE

STANCE & POSTURE

Your stance gives you a stable, solid base to allow consistent execution of the rest of your shot. Your posture allows you to have proper shoulder position and movement.

SET

You should consistently position the grip, hook and upper body in a way which helps execute the correct movement and direction through your shot.

SET-UP

You should achieve most of the alignment of the shoulders here. This helps you draw the bow efficiently and is crucial to allow smooth, consistent expansion in the correct direction. 

DRAW & FULL DRAW

You need a consistent method to draw the bow to full draw where you can reach your final alignment. This leaves only a small amount of arrow for you to expand through the clicker.

EXPANSION

You need a consistent, dependable method to smoothly expand the arrow through the clicker with minimal movement of the rest of the body. 

RELEASE & FOLLOW THROUGH

You need to maintain movement and direction from the expansion through to your release and follow through, and until long after the arrow hits the target. 

archery shot cycle release
Fig 1. The release/follow through is the final part of the shot cycle.

You should use the basic structure of the recurve shot cycle and make your own process which you repeat on every shot. This varies between individuals, but you can find your own process which works for you. Repeating the stages in this shot cycle gives you an archery routine which is dependable and consistent. If you practice this properly in training, you will be able to execute it more often in competition.

Each stage below has many parts to it. You can’t possibly think about everything all the time, so you have to choose what you focus on. Thinking of the shot cycle in terms of only a few stages greatly helps most archers to remember every stage and commit to replicating them.

Always remember the 6 stages of the shot when you use this website and when you train. This should help you keep sight of what is important whilst working on the finer details of your shot. You will learn on the next page, Recurve Archery Basics, that everything in your technique should be there to create consistent release execution. This is the end goal.

THE MENTAL SHOT CYCLE

The mental shot cycle is what you think about when you are shooting. This has dual purpose. Having a specific set of things you think about when shooting can help you practice more effectively. It also helps you perform more consistently and execute under pressure.

It is extremely common for archers to forget about a stage of their shot during training, or not follow their cycle properly in competition. How often have you had a great training session one day, only to go back the next day and forget what you thought you had learned? Reinforcing your shot cycle during training, writing it down and visualising it are all tools you can use to practice more consistently. 

Rehearsing and practising your shot cycle is the most versatile tool of all. You can do this anywhere, anytime. You can visualise your shot and the stages of your cycle throughout the day, wherever you are!

As we’ve said before, if you are working on a new technique area, make sure you are clear on where it fits in your shot cycle, both physically and mentally. Then you can make sure that you implement it properly, without losing any other key parts of your shot.