Archery Shooting Form: The Perfect Bow Grip


Do You Implement Good Archery Mechanics?

Do you practice your archery skills? (Realtree photo)

Torque is archery accuracy’s worst enemy. You can line up everything precisely while aiming, but twist the shot off axis at the moment of release and everything turns to garbage. Seventy-five percent of torque is created by the bow hand, the only point of contact with the bow following release. The remainder is caused by improper bow balance, a type of torque mitigated with balancing stabilizers. A bow should sit upright in the hand evenly and effortlessly while at rest and pointed at the target, and especially at full draw. If it doesn’t, work to make it so by adding long or short stabilizers where needed.

Gripping the bow handle is where problems start, even if you consciously begin the shot with a loose grip of the bow. At the moment you release the string, the natural inclination is to grab the bow for fear of dropping or losing control as it comes to rest. This is why you should install a wrist sling while assembling your new bow. Combined with proper grip, a wrist sling adjusted to support the bow should alleviate such apprehension.

To help instill proper bow grip, let’s drop the moniker “grip” and replace it with “cradle.” While sliding your hand into the wrist sling, create a V of your fingers (held together nearly vertically) and thumb. This isn’t a rigid V, but a relaxed slot to slide over your bow grip. No real side pressure is necessary. The pressure of the draw weight against the heel of your hand keeps the bow in place while aiming and releasing, with the wrist sling catching it after. The idea is to allow the bow to find its own balance, with your hand relaxed at the moment any string pressure is applied. On release, nothing moves. Your hand should remain open and relaxed until the arrow strikes the target. The bow might even tip forward slightly. If you find you’re simply unable to make yourself do this, try encircling the riser handle with your thumb and pointing finger, lightly touching them to create a capturing ring, otherwise exerting no actual pressure on the grip itself.

To maximize accuracy and repeatability, use the stronger bone structure of the all-important bow arm, instead of muscle, to bring the bow to bear. For me, this means cocking my bow-arm elbow slightly downward, pushing the heel of my hand into the back of the grip, with my hand rotating slightly inward and allowing the weight of the draw to push straight down the radius of my arm’s skeletal frame. Attempting to hold a bow rigidly with only muscle power leads to fatigue and eventually shaking while at full draw. Using the skeletal structure of your arm will allow you to keep muscles relaxed and settle in more steadily for the shot.

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Editor's Note: This was originally published February 23, 2012.

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