You take the shot in hopes of hitting the target, but it seems like every shot has the arrows turning and hitting the target from an awkward angle. This problem can feel frustrating especially when you don’t understand why it keeps happening and giving you wildly inaccurate shots.
Why are my arrows hitting the target at an angle? Several things could cause your arrow to hit the target at an angle, and some of the reasons include alignment issues, fletching hitting the rest, target issues or weak spine on the arrows. Through the process of elimination, you can figure out why your arrows strike from an angle.
If you’d like to learn more about each of these issues on more specific terms, keep reading because I will explain these things in greater depth.
Alignment Issues and Your Arrows
Your arrows may drift to the left or right because of an alignment issue with your bow. You may need to tune your bow because if certain components remain out of alignment, it can cause the arrows to hit the target from awkward angles. Some adjustments you can tune yourself, but you may find it helpful to request the assistance of a trustworthy archery shop.
To begin the tuning, first, evaluate the string and cables. The strings and cables can deteriorate over time causing them to go out of alignment. You can use the Beiter Limb Line gauges. These small plastic clips can assess the alignment of your bow limbs.
You could also align your bow with a method called paper tuning. This method specifically examines whether you need to make an adjustment at the rest or nocking point. The marking that the arrow leaves will tell you where to adjust it.
Keep in mind, paper tuning will only work if you do everything correctly with the bow. You must remain consistent with a good grip for it to work.
Paper tuning lets you know where you went wrong with the shot. First, put a piece of paper in a frame. You can’t have any areas loose on the paper for it to work.
Next, you stand a few feet away, level your bow and take a shot at the paper. Check the results of the shot to see how it performed. A properly aligned bow will have a central point where the arrow went through and three snaking arms.
Paper that tears vertically requires adjusting the nock point or the rest height. Paper that has torn left or right will require an adjustment either to the right or the left. Move the rest toward the direction where you want the arrows to fly. You will know that you have adjusted it correctly once you don’t see long tears on the paper.
Fletching Hitting the Rest
In particular, pay attention to the type of fletching that you use for your arrow. Rubber fletching lacks the give that feather fletching has. Many times, rubber fletching causes the arrow to shoot off to the left. Feather fletching, on the other hand, will bend and reshape upon the release of the arrow.
This issue could be due to a stiff arrow spine or a weak arrow spine because the arrow doesn’t correct after shooting from the bow.
You can spot the fletching hitting the rest with a couple of techniques. For example, you could apply lipstick to the rest. Don’t apply it to the vanes, and if the vanes come out with lipstick, you will know how it was because of it hitting the rest.
Baby powder works the same way. The vane may also start to curl if it continues to hit the rest.
Certain types of targets can cause the arrow to strike from an awkward angle. For example, do you shoot at a bag of rags? It may not happen every time, but the target can cause the arrows to strike from strange angles.
Bag targets especially have this problem because as it hits the target, it causes them to turn at strange angles. This may have to do with the material used for the target and how the arrow hits the target causing it to glance off the target somewhat.
How far did you shoot from? Archers who shoot from 20 yards could say it’s the target causing this. If shooting from 15 yards, it may not be the target causing the strange angles. You could paper tune it to learn more.
Along with bags, hard targets can cause the arrow to strike from an angle as well. To see if it is the target, you could try another target to see if it happens again.
Also, the more wear on your targets, the more they will wobble once hit. Soft targets may prove a problem too because of how the arrow only penetrates at the head. This weak penetration appears as if the arrow struck at an awkward angle.
If you’d like to learn more about what archery targets are made of, check out my article here.
How you shoot will play a role in the arrow’s direction. You might ask someone to take a photo of you at full draw to study your posture. Ideally, you want your release arm in a straight line with the arrow to give it a straight shot that doesn’t strike the target from an angle.
In some cases, even the draw length can impact how it shoots, and it may shoot either too long or too short.
Try shortening your draw and lengthening it after if the arrow strikes at an angle due to the draw length being wrong. When the bow arm drops to the side or swings, you may need to shorten your draw length. The correct draw length matters as well for the accuracy of your shots.
You can visit an archery shop to have them measure your draw length with a draw check bow.
Weak or Stiff Spine on the Arrows
Whether too weak or too stiff of a spine, it will cause the arrow not to correct as soon as it should in flight, which will cause it to hit from strange angles or impact its accuracy.
Look for wobbling or fishtailing because this indicates that you may need to replace your arrow with a stronger spine. Be aware of arrows that vary in stiffness because this can hurt your accuracy since you never adjust to the shots taken.
Awkward Angles from Inconsistent Releases
Timing matters with your shots, and when you release the shot, it torques the bow to an angle. Your arrow flight becomes inaccurate and inconsistent at that point. Try not to move your bow arm during the release because of how it can cause the arrow to strike from a bad angle.
You may have an issue with your grip. Concentrate on how you grip the bow when you go to take the shot. Point your thumb in the direction of the target. While gripping the bow, you want to have a relaxed hand and slide the hand on the grip until it goes no further.
New archers will commonly death grip the bow because they believe that it controls the bow. Instead, this adds a huge amount of variance to your shots and causes the arrow to strike the target from an angle. Death grip will hurt accuracy.
You can choose to either grip the bow with an open hand or a closed hand. Neither position is incorrect, but you want to do it well. The bow should be able to fly forward during the release.
Be aware of how having a higher grip on the bow can cause difficulty with consistent releases that cause the arrows to hit awkwardly.
Why is My Arrow Fishtailing?
The most common reason for fishtailing is because of the archer’s release and how it impacts the string. To get a clean release on the bow, stop holding the string and relax the fingers. One of the ways to think of it is like, “Let the bow go through your fingers.” Many people find that this advice helps them.
You have other contributing factors to fishtailing like:
- Arrow spine match
- Center shot setting
- Rest not positioned right
- Idler lean
Any time where you have an archery program and bows were lent out, the arrow spine match will almost always be incorrect. Most professional bow shops will set a compound bow for center shot. When the center shot has been aligned poorly, the arrows will fishtail and hit your target from an angle.
In some cases, the reason your arrow fishtails has to do with the bow itself. You may need to fight with it to see if you can get it to shoot better. In some cases, you may have no choice but to buy a new bow. However, I would recommend taking it to an archery shop before you make that decision. In some cases, they may be able to straighten it out for you.
What Causes an Arrow to Porpoise?
Like with fishtailing, if your arrow porpoises, it can cause the arrow to hit the target from a weird angle. First, check to see your arrow specifications and how it matches with the bow. In some cases, even a professional bow shop can get this wrong.
You never want to depend too much on anyone. Check to see no matter the reputation of the bow shop. Even the pros get it wrong once in a while. Porpoising often happens because the nock is either too high or too low. Improper knock placement almost always accounts for this problem.
Porpoising may happen as well because you have an arrow too large for the bow. The kinetic energy doesn’t transfer well enough to shoot the arrow correctly. Learn more about the bow and its transfer of kinetic energy here.
Draw Length Causing the Arrows to Strike at an Angle
Want to solve the issue of the arrow hitting from an angle? Pay special attention to the draw length because this can cause hitting from an angle whether you have too short of a draw length or too long of a draw length. You can tell when you have too short of a draw length because you pull the arrow back and it doesn’t reach all the way to your head.
Too long of a draw length would mean that it goes back behind the jaw. Normally, you want the draw length right around the mouth.
Having too short of a draw length will make you feel crowded or uncomfortable. In general, shooting too short is better than too long, but if you see that it impacts how your arrows hit the target, you may want to try lengthening the draw length.
Too long of a draw length will make your arm feel overextended. This issue messes up our anchor point and can cause the arrow to fishtail as you shoot it. At the same time, accuracy takes a nosedive. Longer draw weight gives you a greater advantage in speed with at least 20 FPS more, but speed matters little in the hunting environment and even less in target practice.
Why Does My Arrow Kick to the Left?
Let’s say that your arrows seem to kick to the left. You will want to move your arrow rest slightly to the right. Pay attention to your grip as well, however, because this can cause it to drift left as well. An over spined arrow or too stiff of an arrow will never correct itself during the shot and cause this seemingly strange angle.
Be aware of how arrows used for target hunting will have a weaker spine than those used for hunting.
Why Does My Arrow Kick to the Right?
Arrows that seem to go to the right should have the rest moved slightly to the left. Keep close attention not to twist your hand when you take the shot because this can also cause it to move to the right and hit from an awkward angle. Again, be aware of the arrow because this can impact the direction that it shoots.
Your arrows may hit the target from an angle for a variety of reasons. To figure out the reason behind it, you may need to experience it for a while to figure out why this happens. Especially if it seems to happen after each shot, you may want to take the bow to a professional archery shop to see if they can pinpoint the problem if none of the above seemed to help.
If you enjoyed this article, maybe you would like to learn about what arrow point is used for target practice. I wrote about that here. Check it out!