One of the most common and annoying things that a beginner archer experiences when shooting a bow is having the string slash the bow arm. This article will provide you with the necessary archery tips to help you solve the problem.
The issue comes from the string not going straight back to its original position. What happens is that when the bowstring is released, the pressure of the fingers makes the string vibrate from side to side. This causes the string to go back and hit your arm, causing minor to serious pain.
Even if it’s not a big issue, archery is not about pain. This can get annoying and you want to make your experience as painless as possible.
The first thing you can try is to look at the fingers with which you grip the bow. Make sure your hand is fairly close to the inside but not too close. You can do this by checking that there is a straight line going down from the grip across the hand. If this is not the case, and there’s a large portion of your hand that is within that line, then adjustments need to be made. This type of grip puts too much of an angle from your wrist on to the bow, causing the arm to push into the string’s plane of motion. Otherwise, if your hand is too far out, the grip puts additional pressure on the thumb and the hand could slip out of the grip, causing the same backlash as when the hand is too far in. The correct hand position is in-between the 2 cases. This grip will feel natural and will flow right.
The next thing you can try is to position of your bow arm. In order to stop the backlash, it is important to position your elbow right. The best position that gets you a clear release is when you rotate the elbow inward and slightly downward. This gets your arm away from the string, and should allow your arm to avoid contact with it. It is important to not over-rotate and to keep the position of the hand steady.
These are the main 2 things you can do to stop the bowstring from hitting your arm. If they don’t fully stop this, then there are a couple of more things you can attempt.
The next thing to try in this case is to attempt switching your archery stance to an open one if you haven’t already. Opening up the stance will give you more space between the bow arm and the string, creating a larger triangle between the anchor, bow shoulder, and bow hand.
In a lot of archery lessons, the open stance is usually recommended for more advanced people who have already learned how to shoot with a closed stance, so it’s recommended to do the first 2 steps correctly before attempting the stance switch. With this out of the way, the way to obtain an open stance is to start out with a closed even stance, and then move the back foot (i.e. farthest from the target) a bit forward, so you end up with a wider stance. If you are a female archer, then you have most likely been already recommended this open stance to avoid the string hitting your chest.
If you have tried all previous steps and they are still not working, the last thing to check is if you are anticipating the shot. This is a common mistake among beginner to intermediate archers who extend their arm before the arrow is let go from the bow, causing them to throw their bow arm directly in the path of the string. This also usually causes the arrow to fall short of the target. The solution to this is to simply not anticipate the shot and to let the release be as natural as possible.
Correcting this takes practice. Practicing correct form is as important as anything, and no one good got there by just reading on correct form without practicing. These archery tips should help you avoid the string hitting your arm, and will allow you to put those burns, minor or serious, behind you.
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