Getting your start in any new endeavor can be tough, but being a beginner in archery and bowhunting might be the most difficult pursuit out there. As someone who grew up in this world, I often take it for granted when tasked with teaching someone new. There’s a lot to learn, and even more mistakes to be made.

To help guide you on your path, we’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes that beginner archers will usually make. If you can do your best to avoid these ten mistakes, you will be well on your way to becoming a proficient bowhunter in no time!

1. Choosing the Wrong Equipment

If you don’t get started off on the right foot, you’re bound to make more errors down the road. This is why it’s crucial to select and use the right gear (including your beginner compound bow) from the start. Try to match the equipment to your personal skill level, strength, and intended use.

If you need help with this, don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions at the archery shop, e.g. how much should you spend on a bow. By starting with the right beginner bowhunting gear, you will not only start out better but avoid buying more gear once you realize it’s not what you need.

2. Incorrect Draw Length

While I don’t see this mistake as often as others here on our list, it’s still important to have a proper draw length. The wrong length can be uncomfortable, inaccurate, and potentially even dangerous in some cases. Ensure you have the right draw length for your body and this will help lead to more accurate shooting and equipment that fits you.

3. Poor Posture

Complete beginners to archery should spend a great deal of time focusing on their archery form. This includes things such as your stance, grip, and of course, your posture.

While it may not seem like a big deal, how you position your body and torso while shooting can have a giant effect on just how accurate your shooting will be. The right posture will also help you properly draw your bow and ensure that your shooting stays as consistent as possible.

4. Too Much Draw Weight

One of the most common mistakes I see is having an improper draw weight. For hunting, there are generally minimum restrictions on how little your draw weight can be but the real problem lies in people thinking they need more weight than they can comfortably handle.

Having too heavy of a draw weight will cause fatigue and bad habits to form. It is much better to start out with a lower, more manageable draw weight and slowly increase it (if you want to) as your skills and stamina allow.

5. Inconsistent Anchor Points

Another aspect of archery form, anchor points are specific points on your body that you use as a reference to ensure consistent shooting. For example, I bring my release aid to the corner of my mouth when I shoot. Other anchor points could be placing the string, fingers, or release along certain points of your nose, cheekbone, or chin. Without using the same anchor points every time, your shooting will be inconsistent and you will be left wondering why you can’t get your arrows to hit the same spot on your archery target.

6. Improper Grip

An easy way of sending arrows erratically down range is to grip your bow too tightly. This causes torque and can result in a decrease in accuracy and consistency. To combat this, simply try holding your bow with a loose grip and relaxed fingers. Keep the knuckles on your hand at a 45-degree angle and you should almost “cradle” the bow in between your thumb and index finger. Remember, less is more when holding the bow!

7. Shooting the Wrong Arrow

Your arrows, including other parts such as the nock, fletching, inserts, etc., should be matched to your bow. This means that the arrow you are shooting is specifically chosen to match your individual draw weight, length, and equipment. Arrows that are too long or too short will not be as accurate (and might even be dangerous). The same can be said for arrows that are too light or too heavy. To get the best results, talk with an expert to ensure your arrows match you and your gear.

8. Neglecting Tuning/Upkeep

Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than an old bow that has been neglected all year. Unlike a rifle, a bow needs a little more care for it to function properly. From something as simple as waxing the bowstring to paper tuning your arrows, all of the little tune-ups and upkeep tasks will help keep your bow performing as best as it possibly can.

9. Rushing the Shot

So you’ve got all of your archery equipment dialed in, and everything is working together as one cohesive unit. You might be extremely accurate out at the range and now it’s time to head out on the hunt. You must make a good shot on an animal to ensure a quick and humane kill, but by far the largest mistake I see new bowhunters make is rushing the shot. They may be extremely accurate while at the archery range, but while shooting at an animal they fall apart. As exciting as it is, remember to take deep breaths and not rush the shot. Take your time, and try to execute a good shot like you have practiced before.

10. Lack of Practice

Speaking of practice, make sure you get plenty of it! Bowhunting is much more difficult than hunting with a rifle and requires a higher skill level. With so many more things that can go wrong, don’t be the guy who only shoots his bow a week before hunting season and expects everything to go smoothly.

Plenty of practice before the season will not only keep your skills sharp but will highlight any potential gear problems that need to be addressed before the hunt ever begins. With enough practice, you’ll be more confident than ever when an opportunity does present itself to kill that big buck in front of you!