Archery finger release technique

In Archery, Archery Tips, Longbows, Recurve Bows, Traditional Archery by Vineet Jain5 Comments

Proper release completes your shot process!

Release is fundamental part of the archery. The release looks easy, but there are many complexities which are overlooked. As a result, many archers have a problem with their archery finger release technique.

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Types of Archery Finger Release Techniques

Now there are variations in the way people hold string. Some use split finger, others use 3 under, but generally speaking, if you are using a finger release, the release is more or less same for most people.

Static release

Static release stops at the anchor point

Static release is when you release the string where you are anchored and not moving your hand at all.

Static release is when you come to your anchor, and you relax your fingers for release, but you don’t move your hand past your neck in a natural follow through. You keep it next to your anchor point even after the shot.

This isn’t always a form fault. In fact, in traditional archery this is lot more common. Some of the best traditional shooters shoot with a static release.

Dynamic release

Dynamic release follows through

Dynamic release is when you continue expanding even when anchored, thus when you take the shot your hand automatically flies back.

This flying action of your hand is also called follow-through in archery.

Follow through

When drawing the bow, the weight of the bow will pull you forward. To pull the string back, you need to apply greater force then the bow’s pull-weight.

This motion of pulling the arrow back shouldn’t stop when you reach the anchor. You should be continually expanding.

(I’ll be going into detail as to why you should continue expanding in the section below. )

The movement of hand of a follow through is not a conscious action, and it shouldn’t be. This is a natural motion that comes as a result of letting go of that weight.

Imagine you are playing tug-of-war with one of your friends. You are pulling the rope to counter the force your friend is trying to pull you with.

If your friend releases the rope, you’ll fall back because of the force you are applying to pull back the rope.

As soon as the counter force goes away, you fall back automatically.

This is what happens when you release the string as well.

As soon as the pull force of the bow is no longer in affect after releasing the string, the force that you are applying to counter it pulls your hand back in the same direction.

If you keep your hand relaxed at that moment, you will have a very clean and natural follow through.

Now, before we move onto discuss which approach to release is better, let’s look at another issue that is closely related to a proper release.

Read: Behind Every Great Shot Is An Even Better Follow Through

Plucking

Plucking is when a part of finger touches the string for a fraction of second

It is when you release the string too suddenly, or when an archer plays the string like a guitar while releasing it, hence the name, plucking.

This hinders with the smooth flow of the string release and disturbs the natural motion of the string hence ruining your shot, or giving you inconsistent results.

The way to go about releasing the string is to relax the fingers so that string comes off OR rolls off by itself. This is the same whether you are shooting any traditional bow or modern recurve bow.

If you open up your claw, the string will come off naturally, and that’s the action you want to have.

Exercises to replicate the motion of correct release:

  1. Lock the fingers you use for your release of both hands together (that is, index, middle, and ring fingers) and practice the release on your string releasing hand (relaxing the fingers). This will give you a good idea of what a good and clean release should feel like. If your other hand is getting disturbed while relaxing your string fingers, then it means the release is not that clean.
  2. Use your string releasing fingers to hold a bag or a bucket of water with its strap/handle like you hold the bow string (with a claw). Then drop it. You will realize when your fingers are not coming off that cleanly while dropping them. The action of relaxing the fingers and letting the bag go is the same as letting the string go. You don’t have to force the bag to drop.

This shall help you realize the correct motion to relaxing your fingers. The main principle is that all the fingers holding the string should release it together. Otherwise there will be uneven release, hence affecting the arrow flight.

Static vs Dynamic releases

In modern archery static release is sometimes considered a form fault by some groups. But that is incorrect.

Many traditional archers used static release, and some still use it till date.

Having said that, in modern target archery, this generally isn’t taught. The reason is, having a static release tends to breed bad habits. A shot should maintain flow and expansion.

Let’s look at various factors in a good release from the perspective of both the styles.

Continuous expansion

Continuous expansion!

A static release mentally stops you from expanding.

If you are not continually expanding, because of the pull-force of the bow, there is a tendency to collapse. Which messes up with the shot process.

A collapsed form leads to weaker shots. You will not be using the bow to its maximum potential thus transferring a lot less energy onto the arrow on its release.

In a dynamic release on the other hand, you continuously keep on expanding even after reaching your anchor point.

This continuous expansion keeps your form in check and maintains the power of the shot.

When you are continually pulling back and expanding, it also engages more of your back muscles resulting in a better flow of your shot.

Read: Top Tips For Recurve Release

Flow and Motion

A good release, and a good shot has a flow. If you find that your motions are jerky and forceful then you are likely plucking the string.

Static release stops the shot process when you release the string. This results in a jerky and forced motion which breaks the flow.

That’s why guns have a recoil. Equal and opposite action and reaction.

Dynamic releases on the other hand encourages better flow and more natural motion which in turn results in cleaner releases.

However, you have to remember that with dynamic release the follow through is a natural result of what you have done. It’s not something you add on later.

If you mentally aim to complete the shot process past the release and actually aim for the point at the follow through, you may find that you get more cleaner, and consistent releases.

A clean follow through reflects a clean shot process. The shot process does not finish at the release, it finishes at the follow through.

Instead of treating release as the end of the shot, treat it as a part of the entire shot process.

Think of it like going through motions, pulling your bow up, coming to the shooting position, draw, anchor, release, and then follow through. That is your cycle for a complete shot process.

If you are able to maintain this flow, that’s when you get consistent shots.

Ease

A good clean release depends on the fingers opening up at the same time.

If you don’t open up the fingers at the same time, the string may touch a part of your finger for a split second before the release of the arrow, thus affecting the shot.

A dynamic release tends to release the string a bit cleaner. The string is able to roll off your fingers naturally in a dynamic release.

It is very hard to open up all your fingers together in a static release. You forcefully release the string in a static release thus making it sudden, jerky release.

Static release can be done and can work perfectly well. However, mastering it to that level is quite hard in comparison to a dynamic release.

To sum it up, static release, while it can be executed well, tends to be discouraged. It’s very easy to mess up the shot either by collapsing a bit, or by fingers coming off the string improperly. You tend to lose tension line while doing so.

How to develop a good clean archery finger release technique

There are 2 simple exercises you can do you hone your skill of good clean release.

1. Blind bow shooting:

Blind bow shooting helps with the form

Stand really close to the target where you can’t miss. Go through the shot process with your eyes closed.

The purpose behind this is that removes all visual distractions. People who are aiming at a target tend to lose concentration and their form breaks down.

Instead of going through a clean release and a clean follow through, they are fixated on the target and their release becomes stressed and jerky.

This can also be used as a form consolidation exercise in the middle of a session to keep your form in check.

2. Second anchor point for releases:

Designating second anchor for follow through helps guide the hand after the shot

Everyone understands about the proper anchor point. It is a point on your face or body where you bring your hand/fingers/palm etc while drawing the bow. It provides a frame of reference for you, as in, when you reach your anchor point and adjust your posture well, you know that you have taken the best stance you can to take a shot.

Second anchor point is the same, but for the follow through. Designating a dedicated point behind your neck or ear allows you to have a reference point as to where you should move your hand after the release.

So, the idea is to bring your hand to your second anchor point as part of your follow through.

Archers, generally beginners do not know where their hand should go. It flies all over the place. Second anchor gives a distinct target to your hand, and a direction where it can move to. It gives a consistent follow through.

After designating that anchor point, try shooting and bringing your hand to your second anchor point just after release. You will see a noticeable difference as soon as you’ll start doing that.

Of course, second anchor point can be argued as forcing your follow through, which should come naturally. But the point is not moving your hand deliberately. Your hand should fly back naturally, what second anchor point essentially does is gives your hand a direction to move to while it is flying back naturally.

Conclusion

Release is one of the most important and sensitive part of the entire stance.

Your shot process defines your shooting, and even a small error in your release can give you widely inconsistent results.

A dynamic release, with proper follow through, if done right gives you a very clean and consistent release.

Having said that, getting a good release relies on good practice and good muscle memory. Otherwise you’ll find yourself very stressed with your releases.

The end goal is to have your release become effortless and natural. Archery is about relaxation, and if you are stressed, whether it be physically or mentally, you won’t be able to shoot well.

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