After knocking the arrow, place three fingers on the bowstring with the arrow nock between the index and second fingers. The string should lie in the groove of the first joint of the three fingers. The fingers should curl well around the string before starting the draw.
It is important to keep the back of the hand and wrist flat and not cupped. The thumb and little finger should curl toward the palm. As you apply tension to the bowstring, the force of the draw will tend to straighten the draw fingers slightly, keeping the arrow on the arrow rest.
If the arrow falls off the rest, check to see if the back of the hand is still lying flat and make sure it is not capped and that the fingers are still curled around the string at the start of the draw. Do not pinch the nock. It will remain on the string without any special support.
There are a number of variations of the bow hand position during the draw and all are acceptable to various coaches.
The important point to bear in mind is the need to hold the bow during the draw and release so the least amount of torque” is transmitted from the hand to the bow.
Torque is any pressure not in a direct line from the elbow of the draw arm to the center of the target. This should be done with maximum comfort and minimum strain.
The grip should never be tight in any condition you are perpetrating to shoot. The fingers of the bow hand may be closed loosely around the bow, but you should be careful not to tighten them.
A bow sling allows the archer to keep his fingers open during the shot. That will let you hit the target with proper position and direction.
The back of the hand should lie flat, in line with the forearm as nearly as possible. This position is the subject of some debate but it will help you to remember that the central idea is to prevent torque. A sharp break in the line of the wrist will cause torque, as well, a wrist has locked in an awkward position.
The bow arm should extend toward the target and a slight pressure should be exerted with the draw arm. Make sure to use the right arm guard for extra safety. This will permit you to seat the bow hand before the draw. Any attempt to position the bow hand during the draw will almost certainly result in torque.
The draw should be a very simple movement. Remember: It is important to keep everything in a straight line. The draw action should be slow and steady. The archer should feel that all forces are focused on the center of the target.
Putting It All Together Now we will apply the lessons we have learned about the stance, proper hand positions and nocking the arrow.
If you understand how to hold a bow rightly, the next thing you should about your body position and stance. To get it all right, you should keep your body, arm, and head in right position and then shoot for hitting the target properly.
Take the correct stance at the shooting line – slightly open position, erect posture and looking directly at the target. The head should be in the same fixed position for each shot; it should not move during the draw or while shooting.
While maintaining a slight tension on the bow string with the draw hand, raise the bow arm to the proper level for the shot. On level ground, this will be at about shoulder level.
At this point, you should check your bow hand for correct position and make sure the elbow of the bow arm is pointing to the nine o’clock position.
During the shot, the head must remain stationary. The eyes should be constantly on the target. This concentration is essential for consistency. The only time you should violate this rule is if you sense you are making a mistake in your form.
After you have nocked the arrow, have assumed a comfortable stance. Also, after the stance, you should prepare the draw position. There are three different methods to draw the bow.
The first two methods are almost identical.
Starting with bent arms. the archer pulls back his right arm while the bow arm is pushed outward to a locked position in the right sight; thus both arms share the work of the draw.
The only variation between the first two draws is that in one the archer starts with the bow in a low position and it is raised as he draws. This is an upward draw.
In the other draw, a downward draw, the bow is raised above the head and, as the arms extend, the bow is lowered into correct firing position
Both of these methods provide the archer with a smooth draw. Since both hands share the work of the draw, there is less tendency for the arms to weaken, making it easier to hold correct form and aim.
The downward draw may be better for an archer who keeps ending up in a hunched position when drawing upward and it may be easier to use with a heavy bow. This is another solution for typical bow problems in positioning.
Another type of draw is the “T”‘ draw. In this style, the archer raises: the bow to firing position, actually aiming at the target. From this position, the archer completes the draw entirely with the drawing arm. While this method offers the advantage of the constant sighting, it requires greater strength to ensure a clean, smooth motion throughout the draw.
Whichever draw you use; the archer should strive for consistency. During the pull of the string, only the arms and shoulders should move. The body should be erect and stationary.
At full draw, a line projecting backward from the line of flight should intersect a point at the lower part of the elbow.
In other words, the drawing arm should follow a plane very slightly above the line of the arrow
A flat, unbroken line should extend from the first joint of the drawing fingers along the back of the hand and wrist and along the outside of the forearm while the fingers remain comfortably curled around the string.
The fingers act as a hook and the wrist is merely the linkage between the forearm and the fingers. The draw is actually made from the elbow, with as little tension as possible between the elbow and fingers.
It’s important to hold the full draw long enough to perfect the aim and to reach the proper tension before releasing the arrow. When the archer concentrates on the target his aim should settle on the center, providing his form is correct.
During this aiming process, it will be necessary to hold the bow at full draw. Many beginning archers think they are holding at full draw only to discover they are creeping,” that is, releasing the tension ever so slightly, permitting the arrow to move forward on the rest.
The time required to hold will vary from archer to archer, but even two full seconds can seem like an eternity. Five seconds or longer is not unusual for a top tournament archer.
Bear in mind, however, that too long hold will result in fatigue and loss of control. Should this occur, it’s best to let down and begin again.
Many beginning archers make the mistake of failing to develop a proper hold. They draw back and release the arrow the moment the full draw is reached. From an accuracy standpoint, this will produce inconsistency
Even seasoned archers sometimes develop this condition, which is called “target shyness.” To correct this problem, you must remember to pause once you have a full draw.
Practice pulling to a full draw, aiming the bow, and then relaxing the draw without shooting. This exercise will force the archer to pause before firing. Again, the importance of a proper-sized bow cannot be overemphasized. If you cannot develop a proper hold, perhaps you should consider using a less powerful bow.
There is a joke that tells a story about a man who has a tiger by the tail but he needs help to let it go. A full drawn bow is not unlike the tiger. Once you have completed the draw and aim, and have assured yourself that your form and concentration are satisfactory, it would seem that the simplest thing to do would be to fire, or loose the arrow.
But actually, the release of the arrow is one of the most common trouble spots for most archers. Improper tension or finger action at the time of release causes the most difficulty.
The tension problem is called “creeping,” that is, allowing the arrow to move forward on the rest.
The way to cure creeping is to increase the drawing tension while keeping the drawing wrist, forearm and hand (excepting the three string fingers) relaxed.
Another common error is called “plucking” the string. This results from jerking the hand away from the face to release the string instead of the smooth release.
A third fault is tightening the drawing fingers before release. They should remain well-curled around the string, but no additional tension should be felt during the hold. Tightening them can push the arrow off the rest or result in a poor release, inaccuracy, or even sore fingers.
Remember All these errors in releasing the arrow reduce accuracy. You can improve technique and accuracy by being more relaxed, more natural in your shooting.
Rather than a definite action, the release is a reaction to the hold and aim. As the aim is perfected and the drawing tension is maintained, the archer need only relax the muscles controlling the fingers.
The string will pull itself out of the fingers smoothly and the drawing hand and forearm will react backward. Once you learn to release by relaxing the drawing fingers, the action will become smooth and almost subconscious.
The release must be a definite and controlled act of will so that everything is physically and psychologically ready for the shot. Don’t allow the release to become so automatic that it happens before all the elements of form and aim are ready.
As in all sports, the follow-through is critical. This means, simply, that the aim and form are maintained after the release, preferably until the arrow reaches the target.
This will assure that form and aim are not abandoned before completing the shot.
Failure to follow through can result in a breakdown of the aim-and-hold procedure before the arrow is released.
There is one final area that should be considered. Breathing is an element of accurate shooting that is often overlooked. In many finesses, sports breathing is very crucial. But in archery it is even more so because the anchor position is on the face and breathing motion may cause the facial muscles to move.
Though it can be argued that the movement will be slight, the distance between target rings is also very slight.
While every archer will find a method of breath control that suits him, one very common style has been copied from the U.S. Army rifleman’s manual.
In this method, the archer takes a deep breath and exhales, then follows with a half-breath which is held through the draw, aim, and release.
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