Advanced beginner lesson: National Training System

NTS Advanced Lesson

After your beginner lesson you will shoot a few times and be ready for more advanced instruction. At least once a month we conduct an advanced beginner lesson where we teach you the 11 steps of the USA Archery National Training System (NTS). Look for this lesson on the calendar. You can peruse the steps below that we will review during this advanced beginner lesson.

Stretch Bands

Stretch bands are a great tool for practicing archery form and they are a critical component of the USA Archery National Training System, the system of archery instruction taught at the US Olympic Training Center.

We issue stretch bands to all Golden Gate JOAD students interested in improving their archery. The stretch bands allow archers to practice the NTS form at home in front of a mirror so they can check their alignment as they practice. However, it is easy to forget what the NTS form is supposed to look like, and practicing incorrectly can lock in bad habits instead of good ones. So, this post features Golden Gate JOAD Head Coach David Chan demonstrating the version of the NTS shot sequence we teach to new archers, and is posted with our beginning and intermediate archers in mind.

Basic Steps to Successful Archery

Below is Golden Gate JOAD Head Coach David Chan’s guide to an Olympic-Style shot sequence based on the USA Archery National Training System. (Note that this is a slightly simplified, foundational version we use for teaching purposes and is not meant as an exemplar for the more complicated, “long pre-draw” NTS model. GG JOAD beginning students will notice some steps we didn’t cover in the first time archer’s class, We discuss those later over time during practice sessions. Skip over any steps that aren’t clear to you and follow the photo illustrations of the basic form.):

  • Stance
    • Feet shoulder to hips width apart. Legs straight but not locked. Feet and hips open to target (30-45 degrees)
    • Little more weight on toes than heels.
    • Butt in “clench” or Pelvic tilt, Small of back NOT arched
    • Chest down (almost like a slight slouch) small of back NOT arched

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Step 02 - Set - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Set
    • Arrow on string, Check index feather or vane, nock below nock indicator.
    • Hook with 3 fingers (like a claw) with wrist slightly flexed. Pressure should be 40- 50-10
    • Set fingers on string. Check visually.
    • Set grip in bow, pressure on the meat of the palm. Knuckles at about 45 degrees fingers relaxed
    • Set eye focus

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Step 03 - Set Up - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Setup
    • Elbow level with arrow
    • Raise bow arm and drawing arm together (hinge up) slight half moon motion
    • View target between hands (like looking through a window) bow hand should be above and left of bullseye
    • “Barrel of the gun” should be straight here [“Barrel of the gun” is a metaphor used in NTS that is confusing because it is not actually analogous to guns. What it refers to is aligning your back in the same plane as your bow arm (the arm holding the bow) forming a straight line and making strong skeletal position to hold the draw weight of the bow. Unlike a gun, or the arrow and forearm of your drawing arm, the “barrel of the gun” doesn’t actually point directly at the target. -G]

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Step 04 - Draw - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Draw
    • Draw to about 1-1 ½ below anchor (under jaw or corner of mouth)
    • Drawing hand should stay hooked and unchanged
    • Angular motion of elbow/back of arm
    • Elbow should stay inside of the arrow line. (arrow and forearm stay in alignment)
    • Wrist of drawing hand should remain slightly bent (flexed or Flexion)

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Steps 05-06 Anchor and Transfer - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Anchor
    • Solid contact with face either under chin or corner of mouth. Bone against bone if possible
    • Maintain Hook in string hand with slight flexion of wrist
    • No aiming yet
  • Transfer
    • Load transfers or moves from fore arm to back and back of upper arm
    • Lan2 (area above elbow back of arm) pressed towards person behind them on shooting line)

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Steps 07-08 Hold/Aim and Expand - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Hold/Aim
    • Alignment should be at it’s best at this point.
    • Total commitment to the shot
    • Short time to AIM, 3 seconds max. any longer than that the focus is gone.
  • Expand
    • Chest expands a little

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Step 09 - Release - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Release
    • Relax fingers, Let the string pull through your hand (should look almost like string passes though fingers
    • Bow hand release, Bow arm stays strong.
    • Continue to expand, Tension and direction should continue moving the drawing hand back

Olympic-Style Archery Stretch Band Training - Step 10 - Follow Through - Golden Gate JOAD

  • Follow through (ends when the arrow hits the target)
    • Bow arm stays strong (maintain alignment) vertically as well as horizontally
    • Drawing arm continues to move towards back Expansion continues
    • Release hand returns to being hooked.
    • Eye focus stays on the target.
  • Recovery and repeat.
    • Reflect on shot, evaluate what happened, Relax, and return mindset to next shot.

Notes on the example video and photos:

An under the chin anchor is shown. Archers may also use the corner of the mouth or other side of the face anchors that we teach to new archers and Golden Gate JOAD. The under the chin anchor is the anchor we transition students to when they are moving to sights. Side of the face anchors are generally preferred by archers who aren’t shooting with sights.

Another point to note is that the exemplar shows a short “short pre-draw” version of NTS, the one we teach to our new archers. The long pre-draw version is too advanced to teach archers in a drop-in session.

We’ll provide more information on using stretch bands and on the details and nuances of the NTS system in upcoming posts.


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