Are your arrows drifting left or right when you are shooting at targets? This is because there are forces working on them from all sides, as well as gravity pulling down on them.
These other factors can cause an arrow to veer away from where you intend it to go.
There are numerous reasons for this, some of which will be more obvious than others depending on what’s going on with your shot.
In no particular order, let’s look at eleven different explanations for drifting arrows and how to prevent it.
11 Reasons Why Arrows Drift to the Left or Right While Bow Shooting
1. Bow Torque
Torquing refers to twisting the limbs of your bow about one axis while keeping the cams parallel to each other.
If you do not keep these two parameters aligned correctly, then you could torque your bow unintentionally, which would affect how accurately your shots land.
Using Too Much Force to Cock Your Bow When Releasing the String Causes Bow Torque
The most common cause of torque is using too much force to cock your bow when releasing the string.
When you pull back on the bowstring, the power comes primarily through your arms rather than your shoulders. A lot of people use their hands instead of wrists when drawing bows, but doing so makes it difficult to maintain control over how tightly they grip the handle.
When you hold your hand too tight, the muscles around your wrist begin to contract involuntarily. As soon as you relax your grip, those same muscles start relaxing again, causing your bow to twist further.
Once the bow has been twisted enough, the limb tips will point toward opposite corners of your target area. You need to learn how to properly position yourself before even attempting to shoot.
Improper Sighting Also Causes Bow Torque
The second reason why bow torque occurs during a shot is due to improper sighting. If you’re holding the sight pin pointing straight ahead, but your bow isn’t lined up directly behind the front sights, then you’ve made things worse by misaligning both axes simultaneously.
To fix this problem, make sure your bow points straight forward and aligns itself so that its centerline passes between the rear and front pins. Then line up the notch of the sight with the top edge of the grooves in the riser of your bow.
2. Out-Of-Tune Sight or Bow
Sighting refers to making any adjustments necessary to ensure everything lines up perfectly across the entire length of your weapon.
It includes adjusting the height of the bow and the distance the bow needs to travel to reach a given target. By tuning your equipment correctly, you’ll reduce the amount of error that may occur later on when you actually come into contact with the target.
If you aren’t able to adjust your sight properly, your bow might end up being “out of tune,” meaning that it shoots farther or closer than expected. For example, if you set your bow up to hit an object 10 feet away, but you’re looking at a 15-foot mark with your sight, then you should really be aiming at 12 feet.
In addition, you must also consider whether the way the sight was calibrated matches the actual situation. Some people simply see better distances than others, especially when dealing with long ranges. Others may require glasses just like people who wear contacts.
And still, others won’t appreciate the benefit until they get used to having a 20/20 vision. So, unless you know exactly how far away something is supposed to be, you shouldn’t rely on exact measurements alone to determine proper placement.
Instead, try taking close-range shots of objects that appear roughly the size of your desired target. That gives you a rough estimate of the ideal location without needing to measure every inch with precision.
3. Inadequate Anchoring
Anchors refer to anything you place under your bow to help stabilize it. Without anchors, the bow flexes unpredictably and can easily snap.
There are several ways to anchor a bow, including tying it securely onto tree branches, mounting it on stands, or attaching it to the ground with poles. However, improperly securing your bow can lead to problems such as your bow snapping in half.
To avoid losing your precious bow, always tie knots very loosely. Make sure to check it often after nocking your arrow. Also, keep your bow secured whenever possible, since it takes less energy to bend it slightly versus snapping it completely.
Ideally, mount it on a sturdy stand to prevent it from tipping over when resting. But if you own a compound bow, practice getting it ready in advance because it can be tricky to set up quickly once it starts raining.
4. Environmental Causes
Birds flying overhead can interfere with accurate archery. They create wind currents that send your arrows sailing off course. Or sometimes birds themselves fly into view as you prepare to launch an arrow, distracting you from focusing entirely on your target.
Even if you manage to miss one of these errant projectiles, you’ll probably still want to retrieve it. Otherwise, you risk damaging the feathers in case someone else decides to grab them first.
In general, try to hunt early in the morning or late at night when fewer animals are active. Avoid hunting near water features like lakes or rivers because winds tend to blow harder there. Don’t forget to account for crosswinds either.
If you plan on hunting below the treetops, make sure you understand how trees affect wind direction. Finally, remember that weather affects airspeed and, therefore, breeze strength. During periods of heavy rain, thick fog, or snowstorms, the breeze tends to slow down significantly.
5. The Effect of Wind
Wind describes the movement of gases in the atmosphere surrounding us. Winds originate from heat differences caused by sunlight striking Earth’s surface. Warm moist air rises upward and cool dry air falls downward. Air follows natural paths called thermal circulations, determined by temperature gradients.
The faster an object moves through the air, the stronger the current becomes. Therefore, veering the direction of travel. We typically encounter calm breezes at low speeds, moderate ones at medium levels, and strong gusty winds at higher velocities.
Also, there’s what we call the friction factor. The friction factor represents the wind resistance experienced by objects traveling horizontally through the air. High values indicate greater drag. Friction increases with increasing velocity and decreasing size. Thus, small objects like arrows experience higher rates of drag than larger ones.
6. Poor Grip
A firm grasp on your bow helps keep your fingers anchored firmly against the bowstring. With a good grip, you’ll minimize slippage, allowing you to focus fully on lining up your next shot.
Yet poor grips result in excessive finger motion and loss of control. Common mistakes include gripping the bow too hard, curving your index finger excessively, or placing your middle finger too far forward. Each of these errors leads to jerky motions that disrupt your accuracy.
One way to improve your grip is by practicing with gloves. Alternatively, you can wrap a tape around the base knuckle of your forefinger and attach it to your bow. Hold the tape tighter when you’re done firing so that it doesn’t loosen throughout the day.
7. Shooting Range
Distance determines how far you can realistically expect to project your arrows. Long-range shooters normally prefer longer bows because shorter models limit stability.
Shorter bows generally produce sharper trajectory curves, which allows for a smoother flight. But longer bows offer more flexibility and forgiveness for misshapen arrows. Overall, the best way to decide what type of bow you should buy is according to your personal preference and preferred style.
Regardless of your choice, you should pay attention to your shooting form. Good posture allows your body to function efficiently and effectively. Keep your elbows tucked in, knees bent, and weight evenly distributed.
Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. Maintain eye-to-bow alignment. While waiting for incoming targets, rest your palms lightly on the grip. Shooters should concentrate heavily on maintaining steady breathing and following along with the rhythm of their heartbeat.
8. Bad Arrows
Shooting bad arrows means wasting money on low-quality materials that won’t fulfill their primary purpose. Fortunately, breaking them in half requires little effort. Just break off the part containing the fletching and discard it.
Now you’re free to purchase new arrows. But if you happen to lose an arrow tip, you can glue on a replacement. Another option is to cut out a small piece of plastic and replace it.
Don’t overdo it when you’re using arrows. You don’t want to pull too hard or your bow will bend under its own weight. This makes the string more difficult to draw, lessens the bow’s ability to withstand the strain, and increases the risk of breaking an arrow shaft.
10. Low-Quality Rentals
Rentals are usually good for a few weeks, so plan accordingly. You may find yourself renting a new bow for every tournament you participate in.
But this is inefficient and costly. Instead, purchase the bow that suits your needs. Then practice with it and keep it as long as you want to avoid having to buy a new one.
11. Human Error
Most shooters make mistakes when shooting a bow. If you’re not careful, your arrows will strike the wrong target and break. So, be mindful of your target and aim carefully. Remember to keep a steady grip, aim at the center of the bull’s eye, and squeeze firmly.
Keep in mind that most shooters make mistakes. But you shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of poor shooting. Just make sure to practice your form and try not to over-extend your bow. You’ll be able to use your bow properly for a long time if you follow these simple tips.
How to Prevent Your Bow Shooting Arrows from Drifting to the Left or Right
1. Sight-in Your Archery Bow
Before your first shooting session, you should make sure to sight in your bow. Aiming at the center of the bull’s-eye will help you maintain consistency and improve your accuracy.
Once you’re familiar with your bow, start by holding it at arm’s length with both hands and slowly rotating it to adjust its sights. You can do this by adjusting the bow’s draw weight or by adjusting the arrow rest position on the grip. Then, you’ll have to adjust the bow’s elevation and aim.
2. Learn Proper Form
Once you have your bow set up properly, you should practice your form. This includes using a strong grip, maintaining good posture, and aiming at the center of the bull’s eye. You should hold your bow in both hands with your elbows tucked in to give yourself a stable base for stability.
Your knees should be bent and your weight evenly distributed on both feet. Your thumbs should be placed just behind the arrow rest. This will allow you to keep your hands still while aiming. Then you should aim at the center of the bull’s eye and hold your breath as you squeeze the grip.
3. Practice Shots
Practice your form and aim before shooting a target for the first time. You should try to practice several shots in succession before attempting a single shot. Aim at the center of the bull’s eye and keep track of how much of it you strike with each shot.
4. Perfect Your Form by Aiming Repeatedly
If you want to improve your archery skills, then you need to keep shooting regularly. The best way to accomplish this is to engage in regular practice sessions. This will help you keep your aim steady and improve your accuracy over time. With regular practice, you’ll be able to use your bow with greater confidence and accuracy over time.
After you’ve perfected your form and aim, it’s time to practice your accuracy. You should aim at the center of the bull’s eye and shoot as many arrows as possible.
When you’re trying to improve your accuracy, try aiming at various targets around your shooting area, such as tree branches or a window frame. This will help you become familiar with a variety of targets.
5. Keep Your Bow Clean
A dirty bow can reduce your accuracy. If you don’t keep your bow clean, you’ll have to spend more time and effort cleaning it. To keep it clean, wipe off any dust that accumulates on it.
Then wash the bow with warm water and soap. You can also use a mild detergent to get rid of stains or dirt on the grip or string. Keep your bow dry after washing by hanging it up and letting it air dry.
6 . Use High-Quality Bows
A good quality bow will last you for many years. You should look for a sturdy bow that has a comfortable grip, good balance, and is easy to hold. When you’re shopping for an archery bow, make sure to pay attention to how much weight the bow can hold.
You want to be able to use it easily without straining your arms or back. Look for a lightweight bow that can withstand some recoil when you shoot. This will help your accuracy.
7. Practice Proper Shot Selection
Before you start shooting targets, you should practice selecting the best shot. If you have a broadside target, then you’ll want to shoot at the center of the bull’s eye and hit as much of it as possible with each shot.
If you have a flying target, then shoot at its center. Then, just try to hit as much of the bull’s eye as possible with each shot. This will help your accuracy and improve your overall score.
We have discussed why bow shooting arrows may drift left or right and how to prevent this from happening. You should practice diligently to improve your accuracy, form, and overall performance with a bow.
Start out with a simple beginner’s bow and slowly build up your skill level. After a while, you’ll find yourself searching for better equipment as your skills grow.
Keep in mind, though, that even if you’re a very skilled archer, it’s never too late to learn how to shoot properly. Just remember to practice your form and keep your bow aligned with the rest of your body.
If you’ve been following along, then you should now be prepared to shoot your own arrows in the correct direction without drifting!