The archery contest in Rattay is IMO one of the most OP activities in the game you can do. Level bow skill while netting 140 groshen per master contest you win. I found even at level 1 bow skill with Hans’ bow I could win the Beginner contest and that nets you 20 G which at that level isn’t trivial either. In hardcore mode it’s the only way I’ve found to grind at low level effectively, since the other activities are so much more dangerous. Even unarmed training with Bernard sends me back to bed almost dead.
Winning the archery contests is not exactly easy at first, but it’s not that hard to get to a point where you’re at least breaking even on money, and in the meantime you’re leveling your bow skill!
For winning the archery contest, I’ve found a particular technique helpful. Bernard sort of talks about it in the ‘train hard’ quest, but it’s something that makes better intuitive sense than talking about it. I’ll try to describe it anyway. I use an Xbox exclusively, so I don’t know how different it is with other controller setups.
If you just start the archery contest, draw your bow, and start shooting, you will notice the drawing back of the bow brings your orientation into some sort of slow, swinging arc across the field of view. As the draw reaches its maximum, your stance, orientation, and maybe some other factors point your shot in a particular direction. Initially it won’t be on target at all. But if you were to stand in the exact same stance and orientation, and just to release your arrows at the same point in that ‘rhythm’ as the draw comes to its maximum, your arrows will be landing very close to the same spot each time you shoot. So if that spot happens to be the bulls eye, you are going to have good odds of continuing to hit the bulls eye.
The trick is - while shooting in this smooth rhythm, never stopping to aim - to coax the swing of the bow as it’s drawn back closer and closer to the bulls eye, and then to make minor adjustments to keep it on the bulls eye once it’s there. You can tell where to make your adjustments by keeping an eye on the target descriptor in the lower left corner, where your last shot shows how you may be drifting.
After probably dozens of hours doing this, I’ve even started to get a feel for exactly where (and whether) my shot was going to be on target as the bow drifts across that field of view. So you do develop better player skills with the bow as you’re doing this, even though I’ll fully admit I’m winning archery contests against NPCs who shoot waaaay better than I do.
The adjustments are all orientation adjustments, (right joystick), and they should be minor. You have to keep in the rhythm though, so you can’t stop to aim. Any shot you stop and bear down on takes you farther away from ‘dialing in’ to where you are just chaining one bullseye after another. I think that’s because bearing down at max draw with your bow sort of resets your stance, or maybe just sense of it. Whichever it is, if I do that I’m basically back to square one and have to start the whole ‘dialing in’ process again.
The game gives you this advantage, in that you will always get the bonus 3 points because (if you are using this technique) you will always finish first, and you win ties as well. In Master contests where it’s really a challenge, I keep my eye out for a ‘15/15’ arrows left/score. If I am ‘dialed in’ with 15 arrows left, and I have scored at least 15 points, I can’t lose unless I fumble and stop chaining bulls eyes. That’s because I have lost a maximum of 3 points off the perfect score, and because I will finish first, even if Berthold shoots a perfect round, all he can do is tie me.
So in two parts, it’s 1) Get dialed in and stay there - where it’s easy to chain bulls eyes (no aiming) and 2) Lose no more than 3 points off a perfect score while you are initially getting dialed in - and you can’t lose. If (1) isn’t happening maybe it’s time to take a break or go down a level in difficulty. But (2) is always interesting because it challenges your ability to predict where the draw arc is going to be. You have a chance before drawing back for the first shot to make an initial adjustment to your orientation. If you guess well, you might hit the bullseye and be dialed in from the first shot, and score a perfect round. If not, it may take you long enough to get ‘dialed in’ that you lose the contest.
Maybe more than you want to know about but it’s how I juice the archery contest.