October 28, 2010
When studying top athletes in other sports, (I'm counting archery as a sport and archery hunters as athletes) you will notice that the top participants all have very sound fundamentals. When each of these top performers begins their execution, they share common weight distribution, posture, and basic body angles. They start in much the same fashion, because that particular style or form has been discovered to be the route to best results.
The way you place your hand into the grip, and the degree of relaxation you maintain in that hand during and after the shot will ultimately help determine how well you shoot.
In archery, the way you start the shot, the basic fundamentals you use when setting up and drawing your bow, are just as important as what you do to release the string. Two of the most overlooked of these fundamentals is the placement of your hand into the grip and then what you do with it after you begin to draw the bow.
The Cause Of Bow Torque
If the bow tends to turn in your hand when you are drawing it, you have not properly placed your hand into the grip. The act of drawing the bow will create a twisting force in your hand until the string is released. At the release the bow will rotate in the opposite direction. This phenomenon is known as bow torque. Unless you eliminate the problem permanently, you will fight left and right misses your entire archery career.
How To Fix It
To eliminate bow torque, you must place your hand into the grip correctly, and you must do it in exactly the same way every time. Most archery hunters place the bow into their hand too far out toward their fingers, rather than in the cradle of their thumb along the lifeline. Imagine a rod running from the tip of your elbow, parallel to and between the two long bones of the forearm and then out through your palm. The point where it comes out of your palm is the ideal pressure point for your grip. You should apply this small spot to the exact center (side to side) of the back of the grip as you set your hand in place before drawing the bow.
I know what you are thinking, "I can't control the bow when I hold it like that." Exactly. You shouldn't try to control the bow with your hand. You should control the bow with your upper torso, rotating and bending at the waist, not with your bow arm. Do you remember back in high school when you learned about vestigial organs? Well for the purposes of archery, your bow hand and bow arm are vestigial organs, useless implements--merely passive extensions of your body. I like to think of my arm as a post that I have no control over.
The Art Of Passivity
Obviously, for your bow hand to remain passive, you must position it correctly and then never move it, nor apply tension with it, throughout the draw and release. You will probably need to practice this carefully before it starts to feel natural. It is common for archery hunters to adjust their wrist angle or hand position once they start the draw to gain a little advantage on the bow. Fight this urge.
In addition, you must keep your bow hand completely relaxed from the time you start drawing until the arrow is in the target. Don't squeeze the grip, and just as importantly, don't force the fingers outward.
Use A Wrist Sling
If you release the string correctly, the shot will take you by surprise. If your bow hand is relaxed, the bow may fly out of your hand before you have time to grab it, use a wrist sling to eliminate any fear of dropping it. I will never shoot a practice arrow without a snug bow sling attached.
I found out just how well this training worked one day when a whitetail buck came in fast and I did not have time to slip my hand through the bow sling. I made the shot and my bow fell from my hand and clattered to the ground. That moment proved to me that you can eliminate the instinct to grab the bow after the shot, if you will religiously wear a bow sling during practice.
When properly adjusted, the sling should catch the bow firmly at the release. If it doesn't, you'll still subconsciously grab the grip during the shot and that can quickly lead to anticipating the shot.
If you grip the bow correctly, the bow will jump straight toward the target when you release. If it rotates left or right, you know you are not gripping the bow properly. Your follow-through is a good acid test for the quality of your grip.
The way you place your hand into the grip, and the degree of relaxation you maintain during and after the shot will ultimately help determine how well you shoot.