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The next step of the basic archery series is learning how to properly release the bowstring and shooting the arrow at the target.
Many of those that are just beginning their archery journey, dont realise that the release is not simply letting go of the bowstring. A common mistake that many make is simply twanging the bowstring like a musical instrument, this will result in the arrow flying off to the side. It’s more about allowing the bowstring to leave your fingers and propel the arrow forwards.
All lessons before this you were able to stop or change your stance, grip etc. With the release you are committed to completely the stop, so unable to change anything as soon as the arrow is released.
Let down the bowstring if you feel that you are unbalanced or your stance is not correct. If you feel that your shoulders are not in the right position, your grip has changed or even your grip on the bowstring is not right now is the time to fix these before releasing the arrow.
There is nothing wrong with starting the process again…the key is to get the shot right, you don’t need to rush.
It’s really hard to change the above when you have the bow fully drawn, because of the draw weight. You will therefore want to lower the bow and move the bowstring back to the bow (obviously don’t just let go of the string!).
It’s important to remember, you want the release of the bowstring to be as smooth as possible.
Releasing The Bowstring Steps
Before releasing the string and you have just finished aiming, take a mental note of your form to ensure its correct. It’s very common for your drawing arm to move forward slightly and reduced tension on the back, both of these will impact the accuracy and strength.
- Widen your chest, this is similar to when you take a breath and your major pectoral muscles roll (Pushing your chest out and your shoulders slightly rolling back)
- Just before releasing of the bowstring, pull your drawing elbow out a little more for last bit of tension and push the bow hand our a little (Push and Pull) – this would just be a slight movement as the bowstring should already be fully drawn
- Allow the bowstring to leave your fingers, pushing them out of the way of the string. You are not plucking the bowstring but allowing the stored kinetic energy to push the bowstring away
As mentioned one of the things that many beginners do is snap their fingers one or pull on the bowstring as they let go of the string, resulting in the arrow not going in a straight line. Many also move their hand to the side when they release the bowstring, which can also cause the arrow to fly off course.
What is Dead-Release and How To Prevent It
Dead release is simply letting go of the bowstring, the fingers will remain at the side of the face and there is no additional movement in the drawing arm or any follow through. It is something that many archery students to at the start of their archery journey.
The problem with dead release is that it can cause people to start “punching” the bowstring. This is when you tend to move the drawing arm forward when releasing the bowstring, impacting accuracy and the power of the shot.
It’s important to think about the steps of releasing the bowstring to help reduce the chances of dead release. You want to try and focus on expanding the chest muscles, which should happen just before you let go of the bowstring.
You can practice doing this without holding the bow, simply place your hands on your major pectoral muscles. If you don’t know where these are, you can find them outside the chest wall. Take a long deep breath in and inhale slowly, now slowly exhale and push out the air. As you continue this you should feel the pectoral muscles roll outside of the chest as well as your shoulders roll backwards.
When you are releasing the bowstring, you should feel this same movement. As you do it, it slightly pulls the bowstring back a little more to give it that little extra tension. It is only the drawing arm that moves, as the hand holding the bow will remain still.
The next and final lesson in the Basic Archery series is going to show you how to follow through properly, ensuring you don’t accidently nock the arrow of its course.
Adam has been enjoying the sport of archery since 2010, intially getting the bug for it whilst on holiday and trying it out in an activity center. Since his very first eperiance of holding a bow and arrow, he fell in love with it and can now be found at the range or in the great outdoors as often as possible.
His main go to bow type is a recurve but he loves shooting from compounds as well. Adam created The Archery Guide as a way to help others get into this great activity and to share his knowledge/experiences.