We all realize that to shoot a bow, some form of pushing and pulling has to take place — but probably not as much as you’ve been told. My entire life, I was preached to on how I needed to push my bow arm at the target and pull on my release arm firing the shot using my back muscles. I quickly realized that doing that the same way each time was next to impossible.
Archery, like I’ve always said, is a game of repetition, and trying to rip the bow in half just wasn’t something I could repeat. One day I’d do great, the next I’d be pulling harder and hit to the right or push shots out to the left. The inconsistency was really frustrating.
Now, a lot of my struggles were from the equipment I was using combined with this push/pull method. But mainly, it was because this entire method is flawed, in my opinion. Back when this “back tension” method was introduced, bows had hardly any letoff and spongy back walls. Pushing and pulling really hard probably was the most consistent way to shoot that setup.
These days, however, bows are built with solid back walls and high letoff, and when you start pushing and pulling on something that doesn’t give, it just doesn’t work. Think about it — you’re shooting a bow with a solid wall, and when you pull, something has to give. In this case, that would be your bow arm. And when you push and the bow can’t give, then the movement is transferred to your release arm. I truly believe this is the reason so many people struggle with this technique. It’s not that they’re doing it wrong. It’s that the entire process is no longer necessary.
I understand that to keep the bow at full draw, some form of “back tension,” or pushing and pulling, has to take place. I also believe that’s about all you need, just enough to keep the bow at full draw. You have to look at your cam system, holding weight, bow weight and type of draw stop to come up with a consistent push/pull method that suits you. However, if you’re shooting a bow made in the last decade, more pushing and pulling probably isn’t the answer to making you a better shot.
If you are struggling with aiming or consistent groups and have been taught to push and pull on the bow, let’s try a different approach. Try to relax a little more in your shot. Pull just hard enough to keep the string against the stop and let the bow do the rest. After a while, you should find a comfortable, less stressful way to fire the shot. This will be way more repeatable for you, and you will be engaging fewer muscles than before.
Yes, the fewer muscles during the shot the better. When you’re nervous, that’s what causes tension and shaking, and that’s what gets us tired. So, the fewer muscles used the better. The days of ripping the bow apart are over. It’s time to relax and let these bows shoot themselves.