How To Keep Your Bow Arm Steady: Beginners Guide With Pictures


Fighting the pin affects every archer at some point. It’s so frustrating!!… but it can be fixed.

So, how do you keep your bow arm steady? Keeping your bow arm steady is essential for accuracy and consistency. The elements that affect bow arm movement the most include:

  • Arm strength
  • Weather
  • Stance
  • Draw length
  • Draw weight
  • Cam timing (Compound bow)
  • Stabiliser set up

Arm strength and stamina are the most common reasons for bow arm movement, but equipment mechanical faults are common too.

In this post, we’ll take a look at each of the more common causes and how to fix them.

Archer Building Arm Strength

Build Your Arm Strength – When I began target shooting, I could only shoot four ends with any consistency. I spent the rest of the session fighting the ten. The guys at my club knew what the problem was, “Bow Stamina.”

They were right. After few months of shooting every day, my scores improved and that’s the ultimate measure.

I noticed my arm was a lot stronger. Even on days when I couldn’t shoot, I’d do 30 reps of holding my bow in the shooting stance. The muscle will respond by growing, but it must be maintained. If I take a break for more than two weeks, I’m back fighting the ten.

Bad Weather Conditions

Crappy weather is probably too obvious, but I can’t list it as a cause of bow arm movement. I find shooting in the wind is OK, as long as the wind is constant. But gusting wind – It’s crazy, I shoot back tension, and when the wind is gusting, it can release the arrow, aimed or not. I’ve broken lots of arrows this way and lost matches too.

Use The Right Stance

Stance is one of the first disciplines an archer will learn. I’m not saying I always get it right, but I understand the principles. Your stance needs to be comfortable and easily replicated. Feet spread hip-width apart makes your frame more stable.

Chest in line with the bow and standing straight, all the little things do make your bow arm more stable.

Check Your Draw Length

I’m still growing, so I’m always checking my draw length. Last summer, in two weeks, my shooting fell off a cliff. It was driving me crazy. I couldn’t hit a barn door.

My coach spotted the problem straight away, I’d grown a whole inch, and so my bow strings needed to be adjusted.

So how do you know if your draw length is wrong? My coach does it by eye. It’s pretty easy. Have a helper take a side profile, a full-length photo of you at full draw.

Now look at the photo and visualize an imaginary vertical line. How is your back aligned compared to that imaginary line? Your back should be as vertically straight as possible.

Leaning back at full draw is a sure sign that your draw length is too long, and that causes you to transfer your weight off-center, which makes you less stable.

Hunched forward with the bow arm bent at the elbow causes the arm to be less stable – a straight arm is way more stable than a bent arm.

Trial and error is the way to go. You’ll get a real feeling for your bow and how it works. I love making small changes and testing how it performs.

If you only need small adjustments, try a bigger or smaller D-loop, or borrow a different style release. The small differences in size can make the difference.

Adjusting the bow may require a bow press. It depends on your bow type and model. I shoot a PSE compound bow, and they’re pretty easy to adjust. I don’t need a bow press.

Adjust Your Draw Weight

If your draw weight is too great, you’re going to struggle and possibly injure yourself. Fatigue followed by bow arm movement is normal. And if the draw weight is too light, the bow may not be secure in your frame.

I adjust my draw weight only by about 3 lbs at a time, which gives my muscles time to adjust and adapt.

Sure, a bow that pulls more weight is likely going to be more accurate and consistent, but only if the archer can handle the fatigue. I know my arm feels it when I turn the pounds up, it causes me to tire more quickly, but after a few days, I’m acclimatized.

Compound Bow Cams

Check Your Compound Bow Cam Timing – Cams at either end of the bow limbs are what make a compound bow unique. The strings wrap around the cams, and the function of the cams is to carry most of the draw weight when the bow is at full draw.

It’s called let-off and is usually given a value like 75%. This basically means the archer holds just 25% of the weight at full draw. Let-off allows an archer to control the power and reduces fatigue.

So what’s cam timing? It’s the simultaneous movement or proportional movement of the cams, which is essential if they’re to work. Most compound bows will have cam timing marks that allow the archer to quickly check cam coordination.

Adjusting cam timing will require a bow press. It’s not difficult to adjust, you can easily take care of this yourself.

Archers Target

Adjust Your Stabiliser Set Up – A Stabiliser is a rod fitted to the front and sides of the compound and recurve bows. Their job is to make the bow more stable at full draw, and therefore easier to aim.

Adding more weight to the front rod will create more mass, and greater mass is harder to move, which means your bow arm is more stable.

But it’s a trade-off, and adding too much extra weight way out on the tip of the rod is going to cause fatigue, like a lot of adjustments in archery – it’s trial and error.

Why Does My Bow Arm Shake?

A shaking bow arm is pretty common and easy to fix. It’s caused by too much bow. What do I mean? Your bow arm is not quite strong enough for the bow draw weight.

I had the same problem, but you can build muscle strength by holding the bow out straight for as long as possible. If you do 20 to 30 reps per day after a couple of weeks, your arm will be a lot stronger.

The problem snowballs because your arm is shaking, you can’t find the target, so you fight the bow, which causes even more fatigue.

I had this problem, too, holding the shot for too long. Try dropping your draw weight poundage by 3-5 lbs. It will help you find the target quicker.

Related Questions

Archery bow arm position? Most coaches will likely prefer a straight bow arm since a straight arm is more stable than a bent. What is more important is that the archer is comfortable and can replicate the stance consistently.

Arrows shooting left? Most aiming issues are caused by the archer’s technique, but if all your arrows are shooting left, adjust your sight to the left to correct it.

You may find the following posts useful:

How to grip compound bow

How to be good at field archery

How to adjust PSE draw length

Rogan Cunningham

Rogan Cunningham is an archer and writer for shootingcabin.com. He's a proud member of the National Archery Squad. He writes about his archery training, archery shooting, travelling with the national archery team, he also reviews all kinds of archery kit. He only writes about archery, what can I tell you?..... He's an Archer!

Recent Posts