Archery Tips | Canting the Bow
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Archery Tips | Canting the Bow

August 16, 2019


One of the common questions asked, and a common habit in beginners is whether or not the bow should be canted. and by canting, I mean angling the bow with your bow hand. This is one of the most iconic techniques portrayed in archery. Mostly because of how heroic it looks. It’s normal for people to replicate a form they have seen in popular culture. Generally speaking, canting the bow is more commonly seen in traditional archery. And even then, it’s not universal. In the sport, target archery style, it’s generally not used. People who tilt the bow, mostly do it out of comfort. The key behind archery is consistency and many people find it easy to draw back to their anchor point with a specific head position and bow angle. Canting the bow also makes it less obstructive in acquiring your sight picture. However, it also changes the trajectory of the arrow due to the way the arrow now interacts with the bow. Normally, a vertical bow will result in an arrow going straight ahead. Tilting a bow to the left, will arc an arrow to the left. Tilting to the right, will arc it to the right. This interaction becomes more complicated if using an Olympic style bow with a rest and plunger button. This altered trajectory isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it is essential to note that the greater the distance, the greater the effect. It’s one thing to be constantly shooting one target at one distance, but if you are shooting at different targets at variable distances, such as a target round, or field event then not adjusting for your bow’s angle can cause inconsistency and missed shots. The reason why basic archery form is taught using a vertical bow is because it removes a variable. Assuming the bow is tuned and the arrows match, the only adjustment you need to do, is for elevation and this applies to modern and traditional archery. Whilst some people cant the bow in the shot process this is generally seen, in modern target archery as a form fault. The main reason behind this is that it is very hard for someone to replicate the same position for every shot. Remember, you are working with three different axes. This one… this one… and this one. Now, it’s fairly easy for most people to get the vertical and horizontal consistent. But, getting this angle consistent is very difficult. Having it off by a few degrees between each shot has a significant effect on the result. Most target shooters don’t intentionally cant their bow. Rather, it’s something that creeps into their form subconsciously and the effect becomes more pronounced as it becomes a more natural part of the shot process. It’s so subtle, that the archer probably doesn’t realise that the bow is slightly off centre. I’ve seen archers develop this as a bad habit both towards the right and the left. Myself included. This is one of those things, those really small things that can explain why your shooting is suddenly horrendous. And again, it’s not because the cant is the inherent cause it’s because you are not shooting the way you normally do. A related problem is the tendency to tilt the head. Now, like tilting the bow this inherently isn’t a problem. Many people do find it easier and comfortable to shoot like this. However, as with canting the bow this can cause problems because it is difficult to replicate the same position with each shot. The reason your coach may push your head back straight and push your bow to the vertical position is because this alignment eliminates variables that may be causing inconsistencies. Going back to the question. Should you cant the bow? If you are a target archer, the answer is generally no. The reason behind this, is because you are aiming for a precision grouping over a spread of different distances. and you want something that can be simple to use and easy to replicate. This is the reason why most Olympic style archers shoot with a vertical bow. Additionally, much of your equipment, if you are a freestyle shooter using stabilisers and sights and plunger buttons is reliant on you using a vertical bow. If you are not a target shooter then it depends on what you find more comfortable and easier to replicate. Remember, the key is consistency. If you are having trouble getting it right each time you may want to use the straight bow for easier reference. If you do choose to shoot with a canted bow, know that it takes a lot of practice to make it part of your muscle memory. This is NUSensei, I hope you have found this helpful thanks for watching and I will see you next time.

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  1. I've been told that canting a bow when shooting without a shelf can keep the fletching from cutting your the top of your bowhand, is this true or simply a myth?

  2. i sometimes tell archers to cant to negate the effect of to stiff arrows. then canting the bow results in an arrow not going left of the target, but going a tad higher, but straight toward the target. 
    also in bushes or below tree's(hunting, 3d courses) canting can give your limbs some more clearance, instead of smacking the limb against a branch

  3. Yea, the big reason I have seen newbies do this is because they torque on the string, and they try to compensate for the arrow being pulled off the shelf. Not a good habit, only makes since if you wanted to shoot from a sitting or crouching position like a hunter might need to do.

  4. Traditional bow hunting archers tend to cant the bow more often than not. The big trick to being consistent and canting your bow is pretty simple. Like all pieces of archery, it takes practice.

    I suspect the reason target archers have trouble when canting creeps into their form has to do with that they are not practicing and intentionally canting their bows. If they had been practicing with it, they would not have the trouble.

    *edit to add, I am not saying the target archers are wrong and should learn to cant the bow BTW. I understand hunting archer and target archery have different goals. I only suggest that it might be the unfamiliarity with the canting process that throws target archers off when they accidental start doing it.

  5. I shoot with a slight cant as I shoot off the shelf and so it makes it less likely that the arrow falls off the shelf.

  6. From my time shooting small bore rifle, where the rifle is fired canted, there is another problem with shooting a chanted weapon.

    With the bow canted, when you elevate your sights you must also change the sight in the horizontal axis to compensate for cant.  Same for changes in the horizontal axis, which will require a change in elevation.

    A non-canted weapon avoids two axis changes and the guess-work that goes into them.

  7. Instinctive archery bare bow and not gap shooting or string walking, a canted bow allows clear view of the target. Instinctive shooting is more common with traditional bare bow and hunting/combative style shooting.

  8. For canting is it possible how some people anchor causes the bow to cant, speaking in a olympic style anchor point of view

  9. Nu sensei you must for sure work as a teacher. If not i strongly recommend you to change your profession into one. You describe all kinds of problems in a visible and understandable way. Keep up your good work. Your channel is actually one of my 3 only subscriptions. Could you make a vid on how to get a proper release with shooting gloves and also recommend some? Fredrik from Sweden

  10. I cant the bow because as a hunter (shooting traditional archery and with no sights) you need both eyes to see your target clearly, judge distance, and keep watch for what else may be happening near the target, such as another deer that might be near the deer you are focusing on. Deer often travel in pairs. Two sets of eyes/ears and two noses detect predators better. BTW if you cant your bow you won't (generally) need an arm guard. Twisting your arm to the right pushes your elbow outward and of course your forearm moves with your elbow, giving you more string clearance. One last thing -"replicating" the angle you cant your bow isn't necessary as long as you cant your head/body as a unit along with the bow consistently. Sometimes you may have to bend at the waist with your bow almost parallel to the ground. As long as everything moves at the same angle it doesn't take that long to learn/maintain consistency.

  11. To cant is usefull to avoid the archer paradox. You olympic ones got a rest and a plumber button, instrinctive shooter can cant or also to put the index feather against the riser

  12. Using bow sights, one needn't cant.
    Shooting barebow is another story, because you probably want to keep both eyes open for better target range estimation and acquisition, and by canting, you're able to get your bowhand out of your line of sight when shooting with the GAP or INSTINCTIVE method.'
    So – with sights, straight bow; without sights, can't the bow.

  13. I have borrowed a bow from a range, but I cannot see the sight now. It is too high (I had to feel where the arrow goes cuz of it), and the riser obscures it when I draw. Do I need to change my anchor point, form, or the equipment itself?

  14. So long as you are consistently doing the same shot it maters not what you do, the key is repeatedly releasing the arrow in exactly the same way. Once your shooting is consistent then you can worry about aiming.

  15. Canting the bow does not change the trajectory. The string always want's to throw the arrow in front of it, not to the side. You can cant left/right or even 90 degrees like a crossbow and it will still shoot straight as long as your technique and everything else is spot on.

    Canting helps so much because it locks the arrow onto the shelf, and allows you to set your eyes right above the arrow so that you are now looking right down your target line.

    If you try shooting sightless without canting a lot of the times your grouping will be to the left or to the right and either too high or too low because your arrow is off to the right of your eyes instead of right below your eyes.

  16. When using an olympic style bow i shoot with a straight bow, the arrow has an arrow rest and the bow is made so the arrow can go straight for the target .

    But when i use my traditional horsebow i dont have a arrowrest and the arrow needs to go around the bow and that gives a bit of sideways movement to the left. canting the bow about 15-20 degrees to the right makes the sideways movement of the arrow become an uppward movement instead. that way the arrow goes straight for the target and not to the side.

  17. Target archery coaches will tell you to keep the bow vertical for good reason. Compound shooters will also suffer worse scores if they cant the bow. Fine if you shoot a "sputnik" with all those counter-balances and sights. However, instinctive shooters will laugh at this video because their whole approach is different. A completely different bow setup, stance, form and natural anchor points, as well as using both eyes to aim, canting the bow has many advantages. PS. My freezer is full of venison.

  18. Canting helps me have better, fast and allways same ancor point in corner of my mouth with my middle fingre. It feels right when hand and string is in line with side of face. That helps with instingtive and trad style archer being consistant.

  19. Another point on this subject is the difference between shooting off the self or with a rest. If you're shooting of the shelf the cant of the bow makes less of an impact on the trajectory of the arrow, as the arrow is sitting much closer to your hand. However, if you're using an arrow rest the point of contact may be an inch or so away from your hand, which is the pivot point for the cant of the bow. So an arrow rest will magnify the effect of the cant angle by a heap. I think that's the technical term, but maybe a butt-load is more accurate. 🙂

  20. Hey there nusensei!

    I'm Zac and I shoot a traditional bow and had a question about canting when it comes to gripping the bow.

    I've heard that's it's difficult to grip the bow with your full hand (lightly, of course) while also keeping the bow level. It seems gripping this way makes canting the bow more natural and aligns the bones of your forearm and shoulder correctly. Unfortunately for me, what's natural is to keep the bow level and grip the bow with a full hand (rather than just the webbing between thumb and forefinger).

    I hope that made sense and was wondering if you find the grip of your bow effects your ability to cant/keep the bow level!

    Thanks as always!

  21. i shoot my compound instinctive and am shooting much more accurately when I cant my bow. i think its because I have a much clearer line of sight.

  22. When you are canting the bow, isn't the string going out of the picture then?
    So when not canting it, isn't the string right in front of the eyes? Or would you look sideways the string somehow?

  23. I shoot a AFB American flatbow and I cant the bow all the time and I'm out shooting guys in my clubs who are 50+ who've shot since they were 10 I've been shooting traditional for a month canting my bow doesn't change the tragetery at all

  24. Another reason for beginners is because they don't want the arrow to fall off the rest.. so they tilt it to make sure the arrow stays in place to be shot. Which isn't needed and is often a problem with their grip on the string that needs fixing.

  25. Gotta say, as a traditional archer who doesn't use an arrow shelf, thank you for mentioning us. I know a fair number of my fellows who get tired of being talked over by Olympic style shooters at the range (until they try shooting one of our bows and the arrow keeps falling off of their hand or they lose their mind at the lack of a marked knock point) telling us how to do our thing. That being said it comes with the understanding that given the same time and dedication anyone shooting more modern will probably be more accurate. I'm ok with that, it isn't what I enjoy most anyway. If I want total precision I'll bring my rifle.

  26. I have been shooting both traditional and compounds with out sights for 47 years now and have shot the bow both straight up and down and canted. The talk between bare bow shooters agree that the reason we cant the bow is because it does seem to be more comfortable and natural to cant the bow plus we can see the target better. When being held straight up and down the string fingers do not torque the string and you get a better release so if you cant the bow the string will be torqued unless the shooter learns to bend the drawing hand and arm so as to keep the hand and fingers straight with the string. Now having said these things I also have to say that shooting the bow traditional style is a personal thing so therefore design a style for yourself that works for you. As far as the difference between using a glove or a tab I have used both and have settled on the tab because I get a better smoother release, again try both and use what works best for you. I could go on and on here about different things but will end this by saying get an instructor or a friend to get you started on the right path and start with a light weight bow so as to not develop bad habits. And remember what Howard Hill said, archery may not be the sport of kings but it is the King Of Sports…

  27. I know that many hunting sights, be they cheap or extravagant, have at least 1 bubble level to help you negate cant. I even got an anti-cant level for my crossbow so that when I zero the scope and set up the bipod, I know I won't have to worry about an uneven launch of the bolt from the flight tray, which, being a 200# compound crossbow, can make a significant difference with the friction/drag generated.

    As for my rather nice homemade PVC+fiberglass bow I made, I formed the grip in a way that I grip it the same way each time, which gets me the same cant, usually with about a 3 degree variation. As it's low powered (42#), I'm usually shooting pretty close, 30m or closer (usually 10m-15m). At such a close range, there's not much variation, and it's a fun plinker bow. My Samick Sage is set up with a level and a whisker biscuit, and that gets really consistent shots for the price point out to 50m. Beyond 50m, and the wind just becomes too much for a 61# draw, especially on days where the wind gusts now and then.

    I'd love to try one of those Olympic bows, but they're so dang expensive, the one guy at my range who uses one won't even let anyone hold it, much less shoot it. I think he said between the riser, limbs, and arrows, he paid a few thousand dollars for it, and his arrows are something like $50-$70 a piece. Seems like a waste if it's just for target shooting. Hunting would make sense, because you can sell the meat and eventually pay off the purchase. It's his money though, so I'm not gonna tell him how to spend it.

  28. Nusensie, i'd like to read some books on archery. Technique, history, etc. What are your top picks?

  29. It can make it easier to keep the arrow in place when shooting a primitive bow off the hand. But for any bow with a shelf, canting offers no real advantage, and as you've pointed out, can hurt your consistency.

  30. It is much easier to cant the bow and get accurate results sooner then to shoot straight up with all your shooting aids on. I have done both for many years and instinctive is proven to be much more fun and accurate a lot quicker. Which keeps a beginners interest in Archery much longer. Plus it,s more affordable to get started. So, I don,t agree with your final assessment. There are replies here that cover this in more and better detail. My thanks to them.

  31. I have a couple of bows I purchased 60 years ago. They have a flat arrow rest; if I don't cant the bow, the arrow falls off the rest — risk of dry-firing. I should probably grind these off; and, try shooting off the shelf. That's flat, too. Newer rests with a music wire holder, or the plastic holders would be the best answer.

  32. When I shoot recurve I generally don't cant. However with longbow Hybrid I've found myself canting more and more I don't know if it's due to my sticks weight being so freaking light or what but I've found comfort in it and my consistency is better than with my recurve I'm not sure if I should stay with what is more comfortable or push through the comfort of shooting without canting on the longbow. Love your videos enjoy hearing your thoughts on the subject!

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