Archery | The Release
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Archery | The Release

August 7, 2019


Hey guys this is NUSensei and today we are going to cover another fundamental part of archery and that’s the release. Most of us know that archery has a lot in common with other sports, especially shooting sports. However, there are several unique things with archery including back tension, anchor position and of course the release. The release looks easy. But there are many complexities which are overlooked and as a result, many archers have problems with their release. For the purposes of this video, I won’t really be focussing on the hook, or the position of the string on the fingers. I’m generally talking about the release component of the shot process. Now, there are some variations in the way people hold the string. Some use split finger, others use three under but generally speaking, if you are using a finger release the release is more or less the same for most people. I want to start this discussion by looking at the primary fault that plagues beginners and that’s something called plucking the string. For some reason or another, a lot of people imagine that shooting a bow has to be strong and full of action. As a result, beginners tend to over emphasise the release, resulting in a lot of tension and a bit of flair. This is actually really bad. Instead, what you want to achieve, is a smooth flow. This is achieved by relaxing the fingers and letting the string come off by itself. Adding extra motions, would disturb the movement of the string and ruin your shot. This is the same, regardless of whether you are shooting traditional or modern recurve. The specific action of the release, looks like this. Yes, it’s very simple. In fact, one of the exercises you can do is to hook your fingers together and practice relaxing the fingers. Another practice tool you can use, is a bag. This could be a sand bag with a handle, a bucket with water, or an empty bow case. Hold the straps as you would hold a bowstring. Then, drop the bag. That’s it. It’s that simple. The action of relaxing your fingers and letting the bag go, is the same as letting the string go. You don’t have to force the bag to drop. You might be wondering, wait, that looks nothing like a bow release. A release is elegant and precise. This is just dropping a bag. What you are thinking of, is actually the follow through, not the release. However, because a smooth, clean release results in a natural follow through, I am going to mention it here. When drawing a bow, the weight of the bow will pull you forward. To pull the string back, you need to apply a greater force than the bow’s weight. This motion, should not stop once you reach your anchor. You should be continually expanding. The movement of the hand and the follow through is not a conscious action and it shouldn’t be. It is a natural motion that comes as a result of letting go. A clean follow through, reflects a clean shot process. Now, a good follow through doesn’t guarantee a good release. But mentally, it helps. Remember, that the shot process doesn’t finish at the release. It finishes at the follow through. If you mentally aim to complete the shot process past the release and actually aim for that point at the follow through, you may find that you will get a cleaner, more consistent releases. Instead of treating the release as the apex of the shot, treat it as part of the entire shot process. So, instead of going, haw, I’m done. Think of it like, going through the motions coming up, draw, anchor, release follow through and that is your cycle. That’s when you know you have finished the shot and if you can maintain this flow. That’s when you do get consistent shots. One of the common form faults, especially in modern archery, is having a static release. A static release, is when you come to your anchor and you relax. But, you don’t let your hand move past your neck in a natural follow through, so you keep it next to your anchor point. This isn’t always a form fault, in fact in traditional archery, this is a lot more common. Some of the best trad shooters, shoot with a static release. That said, 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. So when you come to your anchor, you should be continuing the expansion through your back muscles and when you release, you tend to follow through in a natural motion. A static release, especially in the hands of a beginner who doesn’t really know how to use it properly. They will come to their anchor and stop. The flow stops, the expansion stops and what would happen often, is that they will collapse. So, a static release mentally stops you from expanding. Now this isn’t always the case, if you know what you are doing, you can continue the shot process and do a static release. But, when you are teaching someone, it just adds a lot of complexity in your mind. What you should be doing is, come through, flow and relax. That static release is frowned upon in modern target archery because it’s really hard to maintain good shot execution with a static release. If you are using a heavy bow, this is particularly problematic because when you come to your anchor, you will find that by clamping here and stopping your muscle expansion. You begin to shake and you begin to collapse and this very subtle collapse is a result of, again, not continuing the flow. By looking at a dynamic release, you will tend to maintain the flow a lot better. Whereas a static release when clamping it here, would tend to lead to weaker shots as your lose control of the draw. In contrast, the dynamic release in which the hand moves past the anchor point generally encourages better use of your back muscles and better flow and expansion. Instinctive shooters, tend to pick this up a lot better. People who use sights, or people who aim with the arrow, are often fixated on that sight and forget the shot process and in fact, by having that static release you can identify the form fault. If they are aiming too hard, they have lost the expansion, they are going to collapse forward or they are going to stay stuck here. Instinctive shooters will tend to go, up, back, release. Up, back, release. Up, back, release. In a very smooth natural motion. Which is one of the advantages of shooting instinctive. So, dynamic releases have a lot of advantages. Static releases also work. But, they tend to be very hard to do well. Additionally, a dynamic release tends to release the string a bit cleaner. A good clean release depends on the fingers opening up at the same time. If you don’t open at the same time, the string will catch on to a part of the finger in the split second before the string leaves the hand completely. So, with a static release. If you are not doing it consistently and you are doing a very jerky manner, you will find that the string won’t come out as cleanly. It’s very hard to get all your fingers to open up with that much consistency. It’s a very small thing, very subtle. But it can cause problems with your release. In contrast, a dynamic release allows the string to roll off the fingers. So, instead of having to rely on the string coming off neatly, it allows it to come off more cleanly because you actually are, allowing the string to roll off the finger tips, rather than forcing it off. This may sound confusing because it seems like there is more motion in a dynamic release. In fact, there isn’t. The motion involved, is re-directed towards your natural line of motion, so it rolls back behind you. Compared to a static release, what tends to happen is is more jerky, it’s more stress involved in getting a clean release. Now, people can, with practice, get it right without forcing the string off in the wrong direction. But, it’s simply much harder. By the way, if you are having trouble developing a good clean release, there is an exercise called blind bale shooting. What you do is stand really close to the target where you can’t miss and you go through the shot process with your eyes closed. Now, the purpose behind this, is that it removes all visual distractions. People who are aiming at a target have a tendency to lose concentration and their form breaks down. So rather than going through a clean release and a clean follow through, they are fixated on the target and their release becomes stressed and jerky. It’s normal for an archer in training to use blind bale shooting as a warm-up and a warm-down activity. This is because you want to start and finish with the right feeling. Additionally, an archer who is struggling in the middle of a training session, may use blind bale shooting as a tool to reset their form problems. So in short, a static release while it can be executed well tends to be discouraged. It’s very easy to foul a shot and you tend to lose your tension line. If you are getting instructions from a coach, or you are getting feedback from people online, people will generally point out that you should be using a dynamic release. That encourages better flow and a more natural motion which in turn results in cleaner releases. However, you have to remember that with a dynamic release, the follow through is a natural result of what you have done. It’s not something you add on as a flair. A good release and a good shot, has flow. If you find that your motions are jerky and forceful the you are likely plucking the string. Obtaining a good release is harder than it looks and it relies on good practice and good muscle memory. Otherwise you will find yourself being very stressed with your releases. The end goal is to have your release become effortless and natural and not stressed. Because, if you are stressed, you are not going to shoot well anyway. If you are mentally stressed and physically stressed the nothing will come out the way you want. Archery is about relaxation and that is seen especially in the release. Anyway, hope you find this helpful? This is NUSensei, thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time.

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  1. can someone help me when i shoot with my fingers the arrow goes straight but when i shoot with my tab it goes about a meter to the left from 20 meters

  2. I knew a lot of my shaking was due to taking too long to aim. I found that slowly dropping the bow to proper angle helped a bit, but leaves very a very small window for release. I don't have a proper glove yet and my arms are usually worn from work (warehouse), even for a light weight bow. I do enjoy the instinctive shooting though, it takes a while to get used to your particular bow. The persistent expansion and follow-through are what I really gotta work on. I'll have to give the blind-bow exercise a try.

  3. Happy I discovered you NUSensei. I just shot my first bow last week. I really enjoyed it and am hoping to set my own targets up at home once I purchase my first bow.

  4. To me, this is the most difficult aspect of shooting, because I want to release the shot when I am on target, but must do this by allowing the string to slip from my fingers. How does one ensure that the string slips from the fingers at the desired moment? I guess it's just practice.
    Regarding follow through, your string hand should move back because the force of the bow string is no longer there to hold your release hand in place. Hence, the hand moves back after the release as a reaction to the shot, not due to conscious effort. If your release hand is constantly drawing back, then you don't really have a true anchor point and will lose consistency in shot placement, unless you're somehow releasing at exactly the same point in a dynamic draw.

    It seems to me that with the proper draw weight and user strength, a static release would be more consistent, but the line between a dynamic and a static release seems pretty blurry. Your release arm is going to move backward from the bow in both cases due to the laws of physics.

  5. Awesome video man, I like how thorough you are on your videos. I had to figure this out the hard way. I switched from a static to dynamic release and I think it helped my form problems like plucking the string and not keeping proper back tension. Wish I would have watched some videos earlier when just beginning, it would have saved me a lot of time, and lost arrows in the grass! Lol

  6. Great video!! Thanks so much. As a beginner archer the release is the thing I find hardest to master but your video has helped me understand the right technique. Thanks!

  7. Nu sensei What do you think of wrist turn described in Arab Archery and Saracen Archery as the best release when using thumb draw ?

  8. Hi Nusensei, what do you call the action of upon releasing the bow strings and after the arrow has left the bow the forward wrist relaxes and the whole bow rotates? why do some people do that? thanks

  9. How do I minimize the… for lack of better words, rug burn that occurs on the wrist I use to hold my bow when i release the string? I've burst a few of my veins due to this.

  10. i'm an noob in archery,just start practice for 2 weeks or so. and i don't know wich: my RELEASE or my ARROW have problem.
    i can now put a tight 2cm group on a target from 7m. But strangely that when they dig into the target,my arrow ALWAYS TILT to the right,like a tree on a windy beach! and the way they tilt is kinda consistency too! I'm now use a 20lbs bow,the heavier the bow,the less tilt the arrow ist
    So i wonder if it is ok for them to tilt like that, if not, how should i check wether it is my release technique is wrong or because my arrow is too soft/hard?

    1 more small question: Anh có nói tiếng Việt không?

  11. I was thinking about the release follow through. Where should my arm go if my anchor point is beneath my chin? Where should my elbow point? Where should my hand be? Thanks!

  12. Dear NUSensei,

    I found out from a friend that my wrist twists every time I release, and that I flick the arrow. what should I do to improve?

  13. I've been watching your videos and they are very informative, thank you!
    Do you have any tips for making your own targets?

  14. could you do a video on mechanical releases? I've never seen you shoot a compound, but figured I'd ask anyways! 😀

  15. hai sensei, im rayhan from indonesia and im beginner in archery, i want to say thank you very much for you education about archery, it really helps me to practice, i have subscribed your channel and im still waiting your new videos 😀

  16. Have you ever used a mechanical release on a recurve bow? Any pros or cons? Besides being scorned by the traditionalists?
    I only hunt and use a compound but wouldn't mind trying a recurve and a release aid seems like it would be a lot easier

  17. I'm a total archery noob but I studied quite some release slow motion videos by now. To me it seems like (and as an engineer I'm quite sure it is) the sidewards kick of the bow string attached to the nock while slipping off your fingertips is the primary source of the so called "archers paradox" and thus shot dispersion.

    High speed footage of compound bows using release aid that eliminate that sidewards kick show SIGNIFICANTLY less arrow wobble. So why is it so uncommon using a release aid (on a recurve bow) to eliminate that?

  18. Thank you for your very fine tips👍 You do an excellent job of explaining everything in a manner that is easily applied.

  19. Sensei I am self- taught and had to learn the hard way, without your very articulate Videos, I would never have "got it", you are a great teacher, thank you very much, your videos are second to none.

  20. Please help me: I realised that for the meditarranean grip i have to rotate my wrist extremely outward. That movement now hurts. For the mongolian pull i wouldn't need to rotate my wrist much at all, it feels more natural (haven't tried it tough). It would even feel better if i rotated my wrist in the opposite directen of the mediterranean draw (inside of the hand facing outside). Does that draw exist and is it legit? What shall i do, the mediterranean draw appears so unnatural right now to me

  21. Cool, this was really interesting. I do kyudo but know nothing about western styles of archery, so it is interesting to hear that you do pretty much all the same things, despite the exact positions and so on looking quite different. For example here you talk about expanding through the release, which we call nobiai in Japanese, and the follow-through, which is zanshin in Japanese. The difference between the finger release VS the thumb release of kyudo is interesting too, it seems to me like maybe the kyudo thumb release is easier in terms of doing it in a relaxed way. In kyudo one uses a two fingered shooting glove with a thumb hook, and this allows the weight of the draw to be carried fully by the glove, you don't actually have to use any arm muscles to keep your hand "hooked" into the string. The glove just holds the weight by design, a bit like a modern mechanical release, and the release occurs naturally as you expand because the expansion causes the wrist to rotate a little, which releases the string from the thumb hook. Of course, similarly to what you mentioned, it takes quite a while before beginners learn to trust their glove and stop holding the string with their muscles. And until they learn to relax their hands they can't shoot straight and don't have a smooth release.

  22. I've read a guide that says the release should be sub-conscious and kind of surprise the archer. Apparently when we consciously release the arrow our body tries to compensate for it and ruins form. When I try to expand and relax my hand the string still seems to get caught on the tips of my finger. I still feel like i have to move my fingers out of the way to release the arrow. This results in me plucking the string and ruining the shot. Any suggestions?

  23. Hey NUsensei I like this video but one thing that helped my release exponentially is relaxing the forearm and not the fingers. If you haven’t tried this I’d recommend it to anyone having issues with release. Relaxing the forearm for some reason relaxes the fingers very equally

  24. I don’t know what did I do wrong. I tried one session I can do the proper release but recently I tug the string a lot

  25. I know this video is 2 years old, but I'm really stumped. I'm very new at archery and trying to learn from home. I can shoot with my thumb and pointing finger knuckle holding the arrow and string, and the arrow releases fine, hits the target, no string slap, but I'm trying to learn Mediterranean (1 over, 2 under) shooting and the arrow just twists a bit and falls off the string near my feet to the left (I hold the bow with my left hand). I tried and tried this afternoon after watching a couple of your videos, but all I ended up with was wicked string slap (my inner forearm is swollen and bruised). I assume this is because the bowstring was throwing the energy into my arm rather than the arrow, but I don't understand what I'm doing wrong! I held the bowstring above and below the arrow with my right hand and when it came time to let go, I tried both getting my fingers out of the way as fast as I could and simply letting the string go like I was dropping something, but the arrow fell anyway. This is really frustrating, as I have no idea what I'm doing wrong! I really want to learn how to shoot "properly" and it's obviously a problem with me and not with the bow or arrows, since they shoot perfectly when I use my knuckle and thumb. Any ideas of what I might be doing wrong?? I'd be grateful for any feedback. =)

  26. If you are using a clicker, then it is worth mentioning that you are pulling the arrow back at the point you release (rather than holding a particular draw length), so this is going to support the motion of a dynamic release.

  27. That electrical socket situation at 4:00 seems like a fire hazard. Pro Tip: youll never master the release if you burn up in an electrical fire.

  28. I've been trying to look through the comments and searching some of your other videos but haven't found an answer to my question yet (and if I just overlooked it, can someone link the comment or video please?) But I was wondering about your thoughts on using a d-loop with a release, or other release aids from the compound bow world and using them on a recurve style bow.

  29. Hey Nu,

    Love your videos and I have learnt heaps from watching them. I do have a question about the follow through though.

    I am using a compound bow with a release aid, what is the correct way to follow through when shooting with a release aid? I think I am learning bad habits as with the release aid I am shooting from a static position and it feels weird when I try to follow through the same way I would when shooting my recurve.

  30. Sensei, you mentioned the blind shooting, where you stand so close to the target, that you can't miss. What's the lower limit of distance? How close can I get without hurting myself or damaging either part of the equipment? A length of an arrow? A multiple of that?

  31. I just tried to understand proper release – very good video. if you look at anchor point – the real anchor point is about where you fix the arrow or the string, not the hand or your fingers. when you static release you move a little your anchor point because the arrow will go from string a little forward. when you dynamic release actually you keep the arrow or the string in the anchor point and you move your arm backwards uncurling the fingers until the arrow goes. the traditional release is without device, only from fingers, so is made by uncurling the fingers while the arrow stays on anchor point (more or less). you just draw the elbow while uncurling fingers until the arrow escape from hand – actually until the string escape from it. at first look seems that you draw while you release, but actually the arrow stays on anchor point, the arm moves back while uncurling the fingers.

  32. The release you're showing at 2:14 is more of an active release, where your fingers end up pretty straight (opening your fingers), which means that you actively used your muscles in your hand to release the string. On a correct release (passive release) you shouldn't use muscles in your hand to release, instead you should just relax the muscles that are already tensed. You can see this in Olympic archers when you watch them in SLO mo. Before they release and after they release (before the follow through) looks exactly the same, the only difference is that the string isn't in their fingers anymore, and the arrow is a few metres downrange. Your three string fingers should also be rubbing against your neck/jaw in the follow through if you do the release correctly.

  33. I started learning how to shoot a bow when I was 5 or 6 years old. I have never had any form of professional instruction nor any training nor advice from any archery instructor. My father bought a 45$ bow and some 29 cent arrows at K-Mart. He was an avid deer hunter but almost immediately lost interest in archery hunting. The Bow was a 45# Bear Kodiac. It was taller than I was then. The arrows were mass produced wooden shaft, capped target tipped. After some indeterminate time, I would aggravate him about giving it to me. He would say "Boy, when you're taller than the bow, then you can have it." Seemed like centuries later, I got the bow from the closet for which I had permission, walked into the kitchen up to Him and my Mother and her older sister sitting at the kitchen table, and to my Great amazement: Put the Bow on the floor as it seemed I had done for thousands and thousands of times before and tested it against my head, The tip of the bow didn't hit me in the forehead!!! They seemed to stop talking, looked at me, then I looked at my father and stated IT"S mine now, and walked out of the house to the pasture and the hay bails that I'd toted for more than 200 yards fot a target and back stop. As a youngman, Correction, "boy" this type language to an adult would get your ass whipped. In this event, by merit of their appreciation of my long perseverance, and admired development of significant skill, it was tolerated and smiled upon, ever so briefly, and before that changed, I was out the door and towards the barn. I remember that moment as if I were walking just above the ground!! I shot that bow until the string wore out and broke. That nice storebought string was substituted with bailing twine. it broke repeatedly! Eventually got a new storebought string by virtue of my Mother. A few years later, I subsequently won the class archery tournament at college with that same bow. The upper limb eventually broke and hit me in the face. Hard.!!! That's the history of IT. In 1992, I was in the 11th ACR, I bought and had shipped to Germany, a Bear Kodiac 55# 56". That Bow has gone with me for many years to the Usury Mountain Archery Course here in Arizona with the machine shooters, I mean compound bow shooters. Every time, I hear exclamations from them: I can't believe he just hit that, How can you do that? I have a fixed release, and completely intuitive aiming technique. I don't ask myself how, just, Make It Work!

    I may have overindulged this narrative, but I wanted to take a few minutes to convey something of importance! EVERYTHING, I've heard you say and describe in every one of your videos here is rightminded and correct and truthfully characterizes correctness in the archery endeavor as well as my humble learning experience. I started learning with that 45$ bow and those 29 cent arrows over 50 years ago. I have subsequently been a US Army Scout and a sniper since 1984 and a firearms instructor since 1986. Thats all I have to say about that.

    This is my imperfect effort to give back something to You in appreciation of all the hours and gifted verbal ability that you've developed and expressed here and the many other presentations that you have made.

    With highest regards, and appreciation,

    Thank You

  34. I have been shooting compounds with a release for the last 30 years. Just this year bought a recurve and started over with traditional archery. I was struggling until I found your videos. Your teaching is second to none. Well done. Keep it up.

  35. Question for you Nu;

    (total rookies here)
    What are you looking at after the release? it seems as if youre looking down and to the right? im thinking string vibration? final finger position? dog running across the target?

  36. Do you have a video showing how to initially fit and adjust a recurve sight. Should i adjust the pin to centre of the arrow?

  37. this is super helpful, as are all of your videos Sensei. In my town, we have archery clubs but no teachers. do you have any suggestions other than watching videos? I thought about asking one of the more advanced people at the club for help, but get too many different answers as there are many different style of bows there, including traditional Chinese bow. I feel lost…

  38. Seing as how you've started with "horse bows" does a thumb ring help with release, as opposed to leather protection? I can tell I'm plucking a lot because of this.

  39. Hello, you have high voltaje power lines over your house? or near to? Consider move out, for your health.

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