Shooting in the Wind and Rain
Every archer at some point has shot in the wind or rain. Only a rare few will say that they like the wind or rain. The reason why most do not like the wind is really simple. It is because it effects our shots. Plain and simple. The wind is an enemy for most outdoor shooters. You eat sand, eyes burn, the shot isn’t steady, and your hair is a total mess! So how do you enjoy shooting in the wind or rain?
The answer is simple. Practice in it. It really is that simple.
I know, I know, you want to know the secrets of shooting in bad weather and how to make it work. First you have to use this formula A(B+S)/H+W x 0.5W/1.25fps. Got it down? Perfect! Now I don’t have to explain the math. Just kidding, but the science behind shooting in bad weather is amazing when you get down to it. In reality you don’t have to be a math major or a physics genius to know how to shoot in the wind. You just have apply some very simple things to your shot in order to get the outcome you want.
Let’s start with shooting in the rain. This one is simple. Very simple. Biggest rule is to keep as dry as you possibly can. Not easy to always do but by simply putting say an umbrella over your bow between shots will help keep water away from parts that really don’t like get wet. Parts like your adjustable sight, a plunger if you use one, and limb bolts. If these parts get wet and don’t dry out correctly you can have mechanical issues later and that will effect more than just your shot.
Rain isn’t a terrible thing to shoot in. It makes for a new challenge that will truly set apart the competition. It will affect your ability to aim well, your grip will not be as solid and can slip, your release will not feel as consistent, and amongst other issues you will notice arrow flight to be a tad off. The reason your arrows flight is hindered is because of the pressure a heavy rain can put on the arrow with gravity. That slight push will only affect the arrows ability to correct itself quicker, but not force the arrow from its original path like wind can.
If you don’t practice archery in the rain because you’re afraid of getting wet, then you can’t master it for that moment it comes. And it always comes at the wrong times. Practice shooting in the rain when you are able. Find a hat that keeps your eyes and face as dry as possible so that you don’t have any sight issues or release problems. Keep the bow dry as possible by covering when possible. Also make sure to keep leather finger tabs as dry as possible. I personally have a leather face tab just for those wet moments. If you live in a place where rain is scarce, not a problem at all. Get someone to hold a water hose with a mister over you while you shoot. Feels great on a hot summer day! Feel for any chances you might have to make if it rains. Does your clicker sound different when wet or does it feel different when it hits the riser? Is your release clean or slipping? Do you wear glasses and they fog up or you simply can’t see with them wet? These are things you need to think about and practice to overcome the problems before the big day comes.
Rain is simple overall to beat, but wind takes finesse. Wind is the single most deterrent for most archers or athletes in general. No one but a sailor actually likes the wind. What if I told you that the wind is actually a game changer for even intermediate archers. Mastering how to shoot in the wind can actually help you when the gusts start coming.
Now I grew up in the Texas panhandle and wind is a normal thing in life. It was easier to count the calm days than keep track of the days the wind blew. I learned that physics and basic math skills will help you win in the wind.
Start off with a solid stance and don’t be afraid to widen it a bit on windy days. Don’t change it enough that the base of your form is off, but just open it up a little to give you a more stable platform. Don’t tense up before or during the shot. Fighting the wind is the worst thing you can do. Relax. When you draw back you can feel the direction the wind is blowing on you. You know that if the wind is blowing from the left that the bow will drift right and the opposite if the wind is blowing from right. Try to gauge the push with steady light winds. If the bow is pushed to the right you will naturally pull the bow back to the left to center it on the target. The problem with this natural want is that if for any reason the wind stops as the arrow is shot, you will pull the bow past the center and you will miss your shot.
The easiest way to get around this with little thought is to aim off center, depending on the wind direction of course. Relax and let the wind push you back to the center. Some timing is needed to be able to shoot at the exact moment you need to while aiming, but with practice you will figure that part out quickly. By letting the wind push you back to your aiming point will allow you to do less work and keep your energy instead of fighting it all day and being tired.
Aiming in the wind is pretty easy as well. If the wind is strong enough to push you and the bow to one side, then it is strong enough to move the arrow while in flight. How much do you aim off center? The amount you aim off depends on many factors, but the quick and simple way is to just practice in different amounts of wind. Shoot an arrow dead center and see how much it drifts, if at all. Assuming that you are shooting toward the North, if the wind is blowing from the west then the arrow could be pushed to the right of the target. Start off with an arrow shot dead center while aiming and see how much it drifts to the right. Let’s say it drifts right to the 7 red ring. Aim off to the left of center in the 7 ring. The arrow should drift right into the center.
This same idea works for either direction of wind and also for wind from the back or in the front.
The hardest part to learn and practice is watching the wind using the flags. Pay close attention to how strong the flag is moving and in what direction. Again with practice you will be able to see how much the wind is blowing and in what direction to help you make your adjustments quickly. For the advanced wind shooter you can learn how to shoot in winds that vary in direction and speed from you to the target. Keep an eye out for a part 2 of this brief wind training guide to learn how to read the wind when it blows different all over the field.