Archery | Do You Have to Let the Bow Drop?
Articles Blog

Archery | Do You Have to Let the Bow Drop?

August 12, 2019

Hi, everyone, this is NUSensei. Many of you have seen my recent video “Why do Olympic Archers drop their bows?” And by far the most common question is: “Do you have to drop your bow?” No you don’t. This is not a historical technique. People in the past would not have dropped their bows. And even today people who don’t shoot modern sports style archery don’t drop their bows and they shoot completely fine. So if that’s the case, why do the Olympians drop their bows in the first place? Remember, you have to consider the context in which these techniques are used. To explain this I’m going to refer to a different context: Firearms Most people are more familiar with the way firearms are used. Either through exposure in pop-culture or through practical experience in training. Even without any specific training most people understand the fundamentals of how to hold along weapon. You understand stance, you understand the idea of triangulation, the way your knees are slightly bent, you put the stock into your shoulder and you grip the front of the weapon with your hand like this and that’s basically how you use most weapons today. However, if you take a look at the way air rifle shooters stand in competition, or the ISSF events, or biathletes you see a very different technique. Instead of their stance based on triangulation what you get is something based on biomechanical stability. The pelvis is jutted out quite significantly out towards the target the shooter will lean back slightly and they will tuck their elbow in very closely into the ribcage, the stock is not pressed against the shoulder and the rifle is leaning very gently on top of the knuckles. So it looks more like this. This is very different to this. If you take a closer look at why the “normal method” is used, it is of course more practical. it is based on military context. That means you have to present a smaller target to your enemy. That means you have be ready to move around, and disengage and engage other targets. It may be room clearing, it may be urban fighting, you may have to switch positions the whole point is, that your weapon is at the ready and you can move your body to any position that is required. However, this sort of shooting is very intensive on your muscles it is based on your muscles to be primed and ready to take any action appropiate. The problem of using muscles is that muscles fatigue. Imagine doing this all day. That is going to make your thighs burn. And even if you’re a very fit person, it will still affect the way you shoot and how stable you are. The sport shooters understand this. This is why they take reliance off the muscles and onto the skeletal structure. And this is why the way they stand is so strange. And yet it is very stable and easy to do. Of course, if you’re in a combat situation, this is ridiculous. More to the point you should understand why different shooters hold the weapon differently. For most combat shooters this would be most natural grip. It’s done to contain the recoil and to retain the weapon. This can be achieved with things like assault grips or using the sling to control recoil. The problem with this sort of grip is that the tension in the hand, which might be caused by the forearm muscles or the tendons in the hands will make the muzzle move with each shot. Now, this might not be disastrous for someone engaging a man-sized target, a hundred metres away, but if you’re trying to hit a bulls eye the size of a penny, then any micro movements will cause a huge drop in the standard of your shot placements. That is why sport shooters adapt what is generally known as the artillery hold. Instead of gripping the barrel, they will use an open hand and allow the gun to sit in the palm like that. Or they might use the reverse palm grip like this, or they might use the knuckles like this. and along with a biomechanical stance this is surprinsingly stable. And that means the user has no interference with the way the gun operates. And this ensures that sport shooters have the highest possible accuracy. If we translate this to archery, than this is the equivalent of the artillery grip. There is nothing on the bow that would cause any unwanted tension. And when the bow is shot, the bow is allowed to act on its own and it drops away freely. Of course an archer in a combat situation will not drop the bow. the same way a soldier will not drop his weapon. Again, this is purely a sporting technique. A warrior or hunter will not need to do this to maintain their standard of accuracy. Remember: Context. The hunter is stalking prey and engaging a target no more than 30 or 50 meters away with a failry large kill zone. A warrior might be shooting in volleys or they might be shooting a man-sized target. Do they need to have a loose grip and do the swinging technique, to hit a man-sized target? No. Remember: They’re not aiming for an eyesocket, they’re aiming for the person. A target shooter is aiming for the eyesocket at a distance greater than what a military shooter will normally engage with precision. When you consider, that in a competition where centimeters and millimeters make the difference between a gold medal and fifth place then anything that you can do to remove human variables should be considered. If you have to bring down an enemy warrior, then you do what it takes to bring that warrior down. Another point raised in the Olympic Archery video was “Can’t you just catch the bow?” And you can. But remember, when you’re in a competition and stand at the shooting line, you will focus 100% on the shot process. All that matters is the execution. You should not be worried about what the bow does after you release. That is why the bow is allowed to drop. That is the natural consequence of your shot process if you don’t interfere. The reason why archers wear fingerslings is so that they don’t have to worry about the bow dropping. The bow does what is does. The archer focusses on the next shot, and the process repeats. The archer doesn’t care about the spin they do, or how it looks on TV they don’t even see that. All they focus on is the target and the shot they just did. There is absolutely nothing to gain from catching the bow before it drops. It adds nothing to the shot, but it builds something new into your process. If that becomes an automatic reflex, and you start preempting it then it can cause problems. Remember: The bow drops, because I’m doing nothing. It swings if I’m wearing a sling. I can grip it after it falls, but that’s an extra action, which adds nothing. And if you think that the follow-through looks silly to you hey, at least we’re not baseball batters who can literally hurt somebody by letting go. Anyway, I hope this enlightens you in some way. This is NUSensei. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. came looking for the explanation on bow drop and got Nusensei with a blunderbuss lokking like he's hunting vietcong 😀

  2. Worth mentioning that in the military they usually shoot from prone, too – at least, when they are concerned with marksmanship. In an actual firefight, cover is more important than formal stance, but when they're handing out awards to the best shooters with a rifle, it's prone; pistol is still standing/in stance, but it's also at much shorter distances, so less susceptible to small variations in stance. (obligatory – I'm former Canadian Forces, Army, and had my marksmanship awards for both rifle and pistol. I also shoot olympic recurve)

  3. It's worth pointing out that biathlon competitors use extremely well-balanced and fairly heavy (3.5kg empty) .22LR rifles that, for all practical intent, have no recoil, and many of their techniques only work because of this. Trying to do the knuckle or palm rest with even a 5.56mm is going to absolutely ruin any shot-to-shot consistency, and trying it with anything bigger is a good recipe for losing control of your rifle completely. Trying that stance with a full-power cartridge is going to send you staggering backwards every time you fire if it doesn't land you on your ass completely since you can't rely on your mass to help you control recoil.

  4. aaah i see now..

    but how about we make some glove with some strap that will make the bow stays in place?
    and add some support to the wrist to ease the wrist fatigue?
    its good is it?

  5. Youtube is demonetizing videos with firearms references, even historical, educational, or academic references. Watch your six.
    It's unfair, silly, and generally counterproductive.

  6. Saw few of your videos. I am not practicing, nor planning, but I will still subscribe. This channel is very insteresting, going beyond a simple knowledge for shooting a bow, plus your voice and dialect is pleasing to listen to.

    Five years of content, here I go!

  7. I have a question related to string grip. In James Camerons "Avatar", why do Neytiri and Jake have their hands upside down? Is this more or less confortable? is it easier or harder? Thanks.

  8. I am going to buy a 100lbs fiberglass bow, i thought of going heavier but that got a little expensive. Anyways what arrows do i need? how heavy in other words. The bow will be tillerd to 32 inches.

  9. Great and memorable explanation, thanks! I have a barebow recurve (27#) with a wrist sling. When I let the bow drop on arrow release, it jumps a bit to the left (I'm right-handed) and I get bad string slap even with a rotated out elbow. There is no string slap when I keep a light grip on the bow on release. Any idea why this happens?

  10. sorry but what u are talkign about in the 22 is the schuetzen stance but the prob is that the rifle tighly against the shoulder u have to hold it against the shoulder for balancing reason and its extra required the heavier the caliber is i shoot like that on cal 69 / 18.5 mm rifled musket if u woulnt do it ur shoulder where to get brused allot 🙂

  11. As you say that once the arrow has left the bow you can do what ever you want and it won't effect the shot. Why bother with the bow drop in the first place. There are a lot of world cup archers that are successful that hold onto the bow. Just because the Korean National Team drops the bow doesn't mean that everyone should drop the bow. Do what feels comfortable to you and provides you with the highest precision.

  12. "Anything you do to remove human variables should be considered" But is it not a competition to see which human is the best Archer? If you remove all "human variables" doesn't it just become a contest of who has the better bow? Or who got the luckiest? Also, I know that there were ancient Archery contests in like the Greek and Roman games thousands of years ago, and I wonder if they used slings and dropped the bow to hit the bullseye or not. It seems like it's becoming more of a contest between tools than between humans. Anyway, your videos are really good, I want to get into Archery and so far your stuff is very informative, so thank you! 🙂

  13. In my opinion, if your technique isn't practical in a combat or hunting situation when competing in an event with weapons then it might as well be pointless. I would propose multiple moving targets in events like these where long times between shots would penalise you. That would be a million times more entertaining to watch and a far better test of weapon proficiency.

  14. Hey thanks for the vidoes, I shoot for my university and following some of your habbits has been making me more consistent on my shots.

  15. hey just want to correct you on your use of the term "assault grip" the part I believe you are referring to is called a "forward grip" I have not watched the whole video yet because i have a bad memory issue and will not remember by the time the video is done. my apologies if you correct your self later in the video. so far its a great video though

  16. In all seriousness, this gets me thinking- when hunting it might be more advantageous to use sports shooting methods instead of military/combat form for maximum accuracy

  17. Do not forget that biathlon shooters uses low powered .22lr ammunition, recoil for them is not a problem. Try to shoot a proper assault rifle with sport technique and you will in best case drop your rifle after first shot.

  18. Very well explained, get my sub 🙂
    Just as a sidenote: in military they teached me to not grip the barrel but do it as you explained. And, if wearing body-armor we actually learned to fire while standing frontal and use the armor as a rest (instead of shoulder). That's cause armor is very weak on its sides.

  19. Question:
    Can a compound release (trigger release) be used with a recurve bow? From a physics perspective, it should give a straighter string path after release, and consistent release/pressure point.
    My (VERY limited) experience trying this has been in the range of great, but not perfect, to consistently frustrating, at worst. The compound release seems to exacerbate the archers paradox and the arrow fly more right (for my right hand shooting) than a finger tab or even bare finger shooting does.


  20. The stance for military, sometimes the body armor is taking into account, so the shooter may not have his side to the target but rather face it much more directly, simply because the bodyarmor is weaker in the sides.

  21. the rifles that olympic shooters use are usually heavier and have negligible recoil using air rifles or 22 caliber so the stance reflects this, try shooting a 300 mag out of a 5 pound rifle with that olympic stance you will fall on your butt and rifle will not be under control. as that stance is worst if you will have any real recoil.
    A little data, the olympic women's rifle is 22 cal and weighs 6.5kg that is about 14.3 pounds so no real felt recoil in comparison the WW2 american M1 garand weighs 12 pounds and fires a 30-06 much more recoil.
    In military at 500 meters with Iron sights I shot sub 5" groups with a poorly maintained issue rifle, with a bolt action 30-06 I can overlap the shots at 500 meters with a scope.
    Olympic Games – ISSF – International Shooting Sport Federation they are only shooting 50 meters extremely short range for a rifle in military shortest range distance for rifle was 200 meters.

  22. Grips of various kinds are not for "controlling recoil." It is to stabilize the weapon for accuracy of the shot. Fighting recoil in a firearm will lead to inaccuracy.

  23. They don't drop it because they are warriors. Not gripping them shows them that you're a weak warrior. WEAK. Ergo, athletes today compared to them are weaker. Nusensei knows his stuff, alright!!!

  24. So essentially a sportive technique is not applicable in real life.
    Just like Kendo or Judo is inferior to Kenjutsu or Jujutsu in real life application.

  25. I'm fairly certain that if you were to shoot a gunpowder weapon like that (3:34) you would either get knocked over, or more likely, lose your rifle for not gripping it. (its going to fly over your shoulder.)

    Makes enough sense for a sports shooting air (or a very low caliber) rifle context though.

  26. You also get more stability using the sling while shooting a rifle while standing or kneeling. Unless you're using a three point sling. Wrap in on your elbow and use your support hand to pull the sling tension and grip the forend.

  27. Lol this video is saying, “shut up idiots who claimed I was an idiot in the other video. I was clearly talking about target shooting not real combat.” But in a nice way

  28. Engage and disengage an enemy. With a flintlock muzzleloader. Just like twying to shoot that scwewy duck. Hahahaha!

  29. Also, recoil. Try to fire a modern rifle and/or shotgun of just about any caliber the way an air rifle shooter shoots their "rifle" it'll put you on your ass

  30. Everytime I shoot the bow it drops, and when I grip it at this last moment it changes the flightpath of the arrow.

  31. It's interesting that the U.S. Marine Corps teaches both methods of marksmanship. It first trains traditional marksmanship using skeletal support as you describe in basic training. Once that's been completed, then moves on to the more combat method of riflery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *