Instruction from a Pro
Posted on May 13, 2015
Rod Jenkins is one of the best shooters and coaches on the scene. Here’s what he preaches to his students.
By Denny Sturgis Jr.
Rod Jenkins has been seriously coaching and directing shooting clinics for over five years now. He has traveled extensively across the United States and visited other countries including Australia, Norway, Canada, and Spain. Some of Rod’s students have accomplished top tournament wins including, IBO Triple Crown, IBO Shooter of the year and multiple ASA and IBO world championships. At the NFAA indoor national championships, several years ago, three of the top five shooters including the winner had received instruction from Rod. Hundreds of bowhunters have also benefited from Rod’s advice and use the knowledge to routinely take trophy animals.
I recently spent a week hunting Michigan whitetails with Rod. During the downtime, we discussed his clinics and coaching techniques. In this column, I’d like to share some of the pearls of wisdom I picked up.
“I appreciate all of my students and am especially proud of the ones who put in the sweat equity to get better,” Rod stated. “I try to give my pupils the tools to have sustainable success, not just a flash in the pan improvement that disappears shortly after the clinic ends. I can’t physically check on most of the students throughout the year, so I’ve developed my instruction around understanding what a good shot is and feels like, self diagnosis and how to train for strong, repeatable shots. We discuss some of the mental aspects and I offer encouragement; but in the end, it’s up to the students to put in the work and reap the rewards of shooting better.”
The following points are some of the subjects we discussed that I thought Bow & Arrow Hunting readers would enjoy.
In all of Rod’s clinics, he asks the same questions – “Where do you anchor and why?” Only one student has given the answer Rod was looking for.
Common answers are: “middle finger in the corner of the mouth,” “that’s where Uncle Bob told me,” “it’s comfortable,” “Fred Bear or Howard Hill anchored there,” “thought that’s where I was supposed to,” etc. The answer Rod is looking for is: “This anchor provides a perfect alignment and places the arrow under my eye.”
He says, “While similar, our bodies are different; some have longer forearms, for example. Shooting from good alignment – point-of-draw-elbow, in line with arrow shaft – lets the shooter use bone-on-bone support, making it easier to shoot straight and get rid of right/left misses.”
“Keeping the arrow under the dominate eye makes aiming easier for most archers,” said Rod. “Another consideration is where do you want your point-on-distance to be? Of course, the lower the arrow is, the farther the point-on distance becomes.”
“A large number of traditional archers have incorrect shoulder alignment,” said Rod. “Your bow shoulder should point toward the target. Many right-handed shooters have their bow-side shoulder pointing left of target.”
“To test your shoulder alignment,” continues Rod, “have someone lay a full-length arrow shaft across the back of your shoulder blades when you are at full draw. The arrow shaft should be pointed in the direction of the target, not off to the side. If the arrow is pointed to the side, your bow shoulder is supported by muscle. It’s common at release for the bow arm to blow left (RH shooter), bump the fletching, and cause the arrow to impact right of the intended mark.”
“Having the shoulders in line to the target allows bone structure to support the bow, provides easier draw-elbow alignment, and maximizes draw length. Incorrect shoulder alignment is one of the reasons you see so many big guys with a 26-inch draw. Many of my first-time students go home having to buy new arrows because everything they own is now too short.
“Correct shoulder alignment feels funny and isn’t as comfortable at first, but in a couple days it will become routine and improve your accuracy.”
“Many students start off set to fail just by the way they draw their bow,” said Rod. “First of all, when it’s time to draw your bow, you have nothing to do but get to anchor. Don’t mess around to get every detail just right. Go to a solid anchor. No need to aim, fiddle around or try to “sneak up” on it wasting time and energy.
“I’ve been spending more time in the clinics getting my students to draw the bow more mechanically efficient. This sets up the shot for success. Many students begin drawing with an angled/broken draw arm wrist close into the body. They are using unnecessary bicep and forearm muscle tension and then transferring the load to the back late in the draw. It’s difficult to relax the unnecessary muscle tension (especially for those with strong forearms). Many times these shooters open their fingers at release resulting in a mini collapse.
“I instruct the students to keep the drawing arm wrist straight,” said Rod. “This engages the back muscles earlier and requires less forearm and bicep muscles to engage. The draw elbow makes a parabolic arc when viewed from above and the draw hand comes easily into the side of the face anchor position. With the more relaxed forearm, it’s much easier for the students to expand and pull the fingers off the string with back tension. This also sets up a consistent “S” path of the string, so the arrow releases from the string the same every time. If the S path isn’t consistent, you build in left and right misses.
“Another thing to consider is breathing,” said Rod. “All top shots have a breathing pattern. You need to have enough oxygen to have plenty of time to aim and stay strong throughout the shot. Also, try coming to full draw with your bow and then inhale. You should feel your draw arm elbow move back and around a little. An expanded chest leaves more room for rhomboids (back muscles) to contract.”
Rod Jenkins is available for group clinics or one-on-one coaching. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 318-5278.