Archery Tips | String Slap (or “Ouch! Why Did I Hit Myself?”)
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Archery Tips | String Slap (or “Ouch! Why Did I Hit Myself?”)

August 10, 2019


Nearly everyone can relate to this experience. String slap. Happens to newbies and pro shooters alike. Fortunately it’s rarely serious and for most
people it’s a nice souvenir or a battle scar from your archery experience. Now, your first reaction might be Oh man, what am I doing wrong? In fact, there are several causes to string
slap. This video will look at some of the common
causes and how to fix them. When you’re looking up how to address this
problem you often hear the phrase “rotate the elbow”. Before I go onto string slap, let’s clarify
what this means. When you are holding the bow, there are a
couple of things you need to check. The first one is your bow grip. For target archers, what most of them will
do is to use a V shape and focus the pressure on the fleshy pad between
the thumb and the forefinger so right here So you place that grip onto the bow grip and you can feel, as you can see here, you
can feel that it’s nicely square on the fleshy part
of the hand. For the fingers, target archers will often
keep the fingers off the riser. If you’re not using a sling, what you need
to do is to put your fingers very loosely around the riser. Some people recommend just placing your forefinger
and thumb. You can use all your fingers around the riser
if you like to. The key is don’t hold the bow in a death grip. Keep the pressure nice and loose. Keep your fingers relaxed. Don’t overly grip
the bow. Also make sure that your fingers aren’t going
too far around the bow or the other way. This is actually quite important for reasons
I’ll discuss later. The second thing that’s really important and
very confusing for new archers is how to rotate your elbow. The correct position is to have your arm extended
and rotate your elbow outwards without rotating your shoulder or your wrist. When you’re holding the bow, it looks like
this. So I’ve got the bow, I’m in position and you
see I’m rotating my elbow slightly outwards. It’s really tricky, but with some practice,
you can get the hang of this. One of the exercises you can do to practice
this is to push against a wall and practice turning the elbow without turning
your shoulder or your wrist. Some people recommend putting a bend in the
elbow when you’re shooting. This isn’t a universally taught technique. It is common in some places more than others. The problem with doing this is that it’s hard
to be consistent with bending the elbow and keeping the same
draw length. And it’s also a bit less stable. The key is even though you might shoot with
a straight arm or bent arm is to make sure that the elbow joint is relaxed so you’re not feeling any pressure on the
joint itself. In learning this, there are a couple of things
you are trying to achieve. The first one is correct bone alignment. Your bones and your skeletal structure is
what takes the weight of the bow. It’s not your muscles that take the weight. Your muscles are not as strong as your skeletal
structure. So by correctly gripping the bow and correctly
aligning the elbow you are putting the weight along your bones
in your arm through your elbow, through your shoulder,
through your back. That is a stronger position that trying to
use your muscles to hold it in place. The second thing you are trying to achieve
is having a clear path for the string to come across your arm. Something else to keep in mind is that there
is a huge variation in elbows. Different people have different elbows. This varies based on race and gender and individuals. Some people have really awkward double-jointed
elbows. Others have naturally straight arms. Basically, some people are more inclined to
hit themselves than others. That’s a normal thing. Let’s go through some hit locations. The most common place to be hit by the string
is right across the forearm. Everyone does this. Beginners will often do this, and even experienced
shooters will occasionally tap their arm guard. As you can see from my arm guard, there are
streaks of black from the serving material on the string. It’s not abnormal to hit yourself on the forearm. If you’re not wearing an arm guard, you will
often see red marks on your arm. If it’s a particularly nice lash, it’ll pop
up like a jellyfish sting. If you hit yourself repeatedly, you might
see some bruising. Fortunately, it’s hardly ever serious and
it will heal over time as with any bruise. There are several causes for this particular
kind of string slap. For beginners, it’s often because of incorrect
bow grip. I’ve mentioned earlier that the bow should
be held in a way that the string doesn’t cut across the forearm. You see some people hold the bow with a very
weak grip. The fingertips are on the riser, you’re kind
of scared of the bow and the wrist is bent over here. So when they hold the bow, it looks like this. The fingers are out there. it’s a very fragile
grip. The thumb is actually very far across on the
left side as a right-handed archer. And that brings the string right onto the
forearm. Same if you hold it the other way. If you put the thumb too far across, you put
a break in the wrist and again, you hold the string right against your forearm. If you shoot this, it’s going to hit right
on the forearm. Of course, we mentioned before the incorrect
elbow rotation will bring the forearm closer to the string. So keeping the elbow turned outwards will
keep that clear. If you’re an experienced archer and this happening
to you it probably is because of the same reasons. Especially if you’re tired and fatigued and
you’re letting bad habits creep in you might find that your grip is slipping you might find your elbow slipping back in so check the same things: bow grip, elbow. Apart from rectifying these faults, another
way to improve your clearance is to open your stance. Most beginners are taught to shoot using a
square stance so they are perpendicular, lined up with the
target. What happens is that the string is very close
to the chest and to the arm. So it’s more likely for someone to accidentally
hit themselves. By opening your stance, not only do you create
a more stable shooting platform you increase the space in which the string
can pass. The second most common hit location is the
inside of the elbow right on that bony part. It’s actually a more serious hit to most people
because it does bruise very heavily as you’re hitting the bone rather than the flesh. If you keep on hitting yourself, you may find
light lacerations. Again, nothing too serious but because it
looks really bad, especially with all the bruising, a lot of people may call it quits
after getting hit a few times. A lot of beginners are most worried about
this kind of hit because the arm guard doesn’t cover this particular area. Again, cheap bow grip and elbow rotation. But there is a more sophisticated cause for
this. It’s probably for this reason: doing this. As you can see, the shoulder pops up and the
arm turns inwards. If you shoot like this, you are guaranteed
to hit yourself almost every single shot. For beginners, this happens usually because
your body isn’t used to holding the weight of the bow. It is a bit of an effort to pull the bow back
and because your body’s not used to it, it will use different muscles to try to compensate
for the extra weight. This is actually a really really bad thing. By contorting your body and using different
muscles to pull it back, you’re using weaker muscles that can’t handle the weight and thus
you’re increasing your chances of injury. And of course, string slap. Remember, the key is to put the weight on
your skeletal structure. Use your bones to hold the weight, not your
muscles. By using your bones, you can hold the weight
far easier than by trying to use your whole body. Unfortunately, it’s not a natural motion for
most people. And you’re more likely to fall back into this
as you become more fatigued. Another cause for this problem is your bow
weight. Some people simply lack the upper body strength
to handle drawing the bow back. Now don’t laugh. I’ve seen plenty of people
with the skin and bones body structure. Noodle arms. Adults, not kids, but adults who can barely
handle 20 pound bows. That’s a very light beginner draw weight. This is especially a problem if you’re nervous
and tense and you’re really twitchy. You’re not holding the bow correctly and that can
be a big problem. If you have your own bow, and this is a problem,
you either need to increase your upper body strength or use a lighter bow. Again, it’s critical that you shoot from the
correct position. So you’re standing straight, your head’s above
the middle of your body. Your shoulders are level and relaxed. Your arm is correctly rotated. By doing this, you load the weight of the
bow on the correct muscles in your body. If you shoot like this, it will cause injury. The third common hit location is on the wrist
between the forearm and base of the thumb. The incorrect grip can also cause this. But more often than not, this is caused because
of a low brace height. The brace height is the distance between the
base or the throat of the grip and the string. Every bow has a slightly different brace height. People will twist the string or adjust the
tiller to suit their particular bow. But for most bows, it looks something like
this. If it’s less than this, it’s likely that your
bow is understrung. Apart from causing problems such as having
to pull back more and having different velocities when you release the arrow, for you as the
archer, it actually causes problems because the string is much closer to your wrist. So when you let go of the string, it will
snap back to this position and hit you right here. Also remember that the path of the string
also carries forward. So even if it’s not on your wrist itself,
when it releases, it snaps forward, it will strike you right on the hand. If you’re hitting yourself there, it’s almost
a certainty that your brace height is the cause. If this is the case, you can change the brace
height by adding twists to the string. Twisting the string will make the string shorter. But if you can’t add more than an inch by
twisting the string twenty or so times, then you need a shorter string. If you’re using one of these Olympic style
target recurves, you can adjust the brace height by adjusting these tiller bolts on
the limb pocket. Apart from arm alignment, there are a couple
of ways people address the problem of string slap. One of them is to buy an extra large arm guard. Most arm guards only cover the forearm. In fact, many target archers prefer the smallest
possible arm guard like this Beiter arm guard because all you need is to cover the most
common hit zone. You can buy arm guards that cover the entire
arm, which go from the forearm to the upper arm, but I personally believe that if you
need the arm guard to cover yourself in case you get hit, you’re doing something wrong
with your form. If you’re not doing the right thing in your
form, you’re also not shooting very well. So I would say avoid putting armour plats
on your arm and correct your posture and your form. The other extreme is to shoot without an arm
guard. Some people have this mentality of “If I hit
myself, I’m going to learn from my mistakes”. There is some merit to that but remember that
not all string slaps are due to what you did. It can be an equipment problem, it can be
a release problem, and it’s not always the idea of “my arm has to be rotated”. That is important, but it’s not the only cause
of string slaps. I don’t suggest removing your arm guard. It is a piece of safety equipment. It is required
in many venues. Unless you have a particular pleasure you
get from receiving pain, I suggest keeping your arm guard on. Anyway, hope you found these tips helpful. Safe shooting. This is NUSensei, and I’ll see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Thank you for the tips! I knew I had the elbow problem and the leaning problem but I never knew that leaning back could cause sting slap too! Always frustrated me because I focus a lot on the elbow problem and it still hit me sometimes. I'll take this into consideration next time I go shooting!

  2. Also if you don't wear a guard at all.. you might have bad form from trying overly hard to avoid the contact.. and that's shit in the long run.
    Plus if it hits your arm guard.. you would then work to fix it regardless of receiving pain. So it's pretty redundant and can fuck up your form. Also as the video said, it's not always your form.

  3. I ain't an expert, but why not just make a string that won't hurt you? Like, back then when Natives were using Archery, how did they not hurt themselves? Unless wearing a jacket keeps you from hurting your skin. I would want Archery to take over instead of idiot guns. Guns have no skill. Anyone can pick up a gun and shoot. It takes skill to aim correctly to even hit the target ๐ŸŽฏ. I hope tho that I can make my own modern Archery. Guns taught me two things:

    1) Anyone can aim and shoot.

    2) A little goes a long way.

    Maybe we can have darts, but you could load into an armband and shoot that way. Like Tony Stark, but the wristband part would have small tunnels where you could load dart like arrows. Or, you could put it into a container that you could hook up to your wristband. Then you could fire. And you could fire with a button that would be hooked up to your palm and only your fingerprint can fire it. It takes a little less skill than Archers, but still more than a gun.

  4. I have only been out to shoot with a proper bow once. I noticed that my elbow turns inwards as soon as I straighten my arm, which made me take one or two hits on my elbow, which wasn't too painful, but still hurt a bit. Adjusting that will take a little bit of time I guess Is that what you call double jointed?
    When I in a month or so buy my first bow, I'm probably gonna have to buy an armguard, whic at least will help with taking care of the hits I will (probably) take on the lower part of my arm. Which also happened a couple of times during this session.

  5. Okay it seems I was toooo in-line. Opening my stance should help. I can see why that makes sense when I simulate holding the bow, my wrist is right in the path of the string.

  6. Went for the first time to a real range today…
    I hit my elbow, aft forearm, wrist forearm, and wrist.
    …I kept moving the tiny guard to the new spot where I'd get hit only to adjust my posture more or less each time finding a new place to get hurt. Great advice. Hopefully I can remember most of it for next time.

  7. I shoot a 70lb compound bow and rarely hit my arm with it. My dad has a 45 pound recurve and every time I try to shoot it I get string slapped pretty bad. Not really sure why because I'm fine when shooting my compound bow.

  8. "boney part of the elbow" well shit, i have a hook esque elbow, eh, i broke my hand and continued to play games with a fucked hand

  9. I'm experienced and mine slaps my wrist almost every time. It's insanely painful because it's right on that bone. I have to wear a vambrace and a glove with a thick wrist cuff. I can alter my grip too make it not happen but it makes me very inaccurate.

  10. I keep hitting my elbow. Apparently my form is mostly fine, elbows up, string to my face, standing straight. Might I just have an abnormal elbow?

  11. you won't get it if your brace height is right. also both of my elbows and wrists are double jointed so I don't know if that makes a difference.

  12. 1st step make sure u had a fracture on ur shoulder and then there u have it u can now turn ur shoulder no not the shoulder but i dunno wat to call it tho lol XD

  13. I noticed being Southpaw (left-handed) holding the bow with my right slightly slanted ,and then pull back with my left hand. I know they have left hand side bows as well. But that's what I do on the standard right-handed bowm

  14. Shot for the time two days ago, The inside of my elbow is blue right now ahaha.
    Not quitting though! I'm trying to to fix my stance mostly my elbow position (really difficult to tilt it horizontally).
    Thanks for the advice !!

  15. Hi Sensei, only been shooting for a week now and my last session I had issues with my brace height. ( I figured this out thanks to this vid ) you mentioned that you can increase the brace hight by adjusting the tillar bolts. pardon my stupid question, but do I tighten or loosen them to increase the brace hight?

  16. He forgot to mention that there is a thing called curling round the bow.
    Usually caused by too high bow weight or when first steppingnup the poundage,
    The body tends to curve round the bow rather that being flat acroos the chest with the shoulders in line with one another, curling round the bow is just that , thevshoulder blades are by no means as closevtogether as they should be at the drawl, either reduce the bow weight or look at yourself in a mirror to see if the body is straight across the chest, comeing down in bow weightnis bybfar thevsafer.

  17. Ive shooting instinctive with Falco legend longbow (32.5# and 68") for a last few months (Also have with Samick Polaris 30# 70" for a last 7 years bear bow). Falco It is a very light bow – 0.600 kg, and my Samick is 1.250 kg. Another cause of getting hit by a string is moving your forearm in left during release or plucking the string on release. I had first problem on first training session with a new bow – it is a way lighter then Samick Polaris. But i ve used to it very fast ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. i used to have a bit of an issue with this, my left elbow is very flexible (i can probably extend it to a 190ยฐ or even 200ยฐ angle) so when i first tried archery, i would often "overflex" my arm which put it very close to the bowstring, at the end of my first few training sessions i had a small jellyish bubble almost on my left forearm…
    then i once hit my arm right behind the elbow joint… ( 6:40 that spot, fยตck did that hurt) i couldnt shoot for the rest of the evening… ever since then ive rarely again hit my arm (apart from the occasional screwup) i also never used an armguard, never even had one… i take off my watch whenever im shooting because it bothers me, armguards would probably do the same thing

  19. Nice video ๐Ÿ™‚ The only thing I am puzzled about is why you repeatedly slap your armguard when you shoot. Wouldn't it be better for the shot if you didn't hit your arm or arm guard at all?

  20. I actually lean forward, used to shhoting shotguns and thats how you position your body when you shoot a gun, i got used to it and thats how i shoot arrows i dont know never had a problem

  21. I was told by my middle school archery teacher that if you get string slap you are doing something wrong.

    don't know how accurate that is, but I never experienced string slap. Maybe I'm lucky?

  22. i death gripped my bow first time shooting and my elbow was parallel with the floor. I was hitting the target because i like to think i have good eyes. But because my technique and form was so bad i struck myself repeatedly and now i can't shoot for awhile because i have a gnarly bruise that needs to heal.

  23. Oh Iโ€™ve been here ! Was too impatient and didnโ€™t have the correct form !

    It left a LARGE bruise and blood spot (meaning it was way worst then a regular bruise)

  24. Wish I watched this before my first attempt at shooting anything. Recovering day 3 from having string slapped the crook of my elbow. The bruise is massive and boy did it hurt. I had some blood actually surface to the skin. Anyways huge lesson learned!

  25. I often get string slap but when the string has released the arrow and returns. So my string often ends up under my arm guard but towards my wrist. Any ideas?

  26. Great Video good Sir! Love the way of your explanations and your amazing contributions to Archery through Youtube. Great analysis into such a small matter of wrists slaps in Archery. Archery is an art whereby the tiniest details sometimes represent a profound meaning. Thank you and keep up the amazing work !

  27. Do you know how much it sucks to have been hitting your elbow with the string and having to keep shooting because someone is trying to hit you with a padded stick?

  28. Never happened to me but I've seen people being hit in the nipples, why does that happens? I'm guessing it's mostly women or posture maybe?

  29. great video, recently took up archery and string slap to the elbow is a big problem for me, left me with a golf ball size welt on my elbow joint at it was painful as hell๐Ÿ˜ฃ. the tips in here are really gonna help๐Ÿ™‚. thx nu ๐Ÿ‘.. oh and the table top t shirt was a bonus

  30. I hit myself with the string on Wednesday. My PE teacher is constantly telling us โ€œrotate your elbowโ€ and I didnโ€™t that one time but it didnโ€™t hurt that much. My friend hit herself and her arm got all red and purple, mine didnโ€™t

  31. when you have bad form and therefore hit yourself, you should nonetheless protect yourself until you correct your form. to avoid bruises. because even if not dangerous, they hurt and take away from the fun.

  32. Nice video, though i still dont understand how people can hit their arm more than once and not correct the positioning, Cmon pro's you guys dont need arm guards anyway.

  33. Hit your arm a few times with a fast compound & you'll either straighten up your form or develop a flinch. They can get nasty. I often don't use an arm guard during practice because it keeps me honest; a slap lets me know my form is breaking down. Slap can also affect accuracy especially with a release tuned compound. When I hunt, I always use a guard if only to keep my sleeve out of the string. I've never really had any formal training so I learned by watching others & trying different things & using what worked. Thanks to some of your videos I can see I'm mostly on the right track.

  34. Im not an archer and i dont have a bow muy if i extend my arm my natural elbow position is the rotated outward one LOL, if i rotate it inward i feel werid

  35. Thank you for this. I had one of those right on my elbow. Hit a vein and BOOM had an instant golf ball and scary bruise lol. That's how I knew I was gonna enjoy this….also that I was gonna start wearing my arm guard.

  36. I had an armguard that actually covered the forearm and the elbow. String slap on the elbow is far worse than the forearm, thats for sure.

  37. Just found this channel yesterday 6-25-19 and have learned more in the 2 videos I have watched then any thing else I have seen or read.

  38. Props for not getting caught up in the "I have to have a nice background" thing. More power to your messy room: people should be focussed on what you are saying…

  39. [3:47] "Different people have different elbows, and this varies based on race, and gender, and individuals"

    …varies based on race, and gender… based on race,… gender… RACE!!!! GENDER!!! oh boy, you are going to trigger a lot of Social Justice Warriors(tm). Remember that race and gender are social constructs!!!
    If you don't want the string to hit your arm just belive the string is not going to hit it. And force everybody else to think the same. That's all you need. Now go ahead and do it, thank me later.

  40. I'm an RN and was once made to take a piss test at work because I had bruises corresponding to a vein on my arm from stringslap.

    The tests were clean, but it was still enough of a humiliation than I went out and bought a leather protector.

  41. There is a chance of getting hit by the string, even if you are wearing an armguard….if you wear it the wrong way. https://youtu.be/75X76bEvPvM?t=842 Ouchhhhhhhh!

  42. There's one more cause, a second posture issue. Some people arch their back and raise their chest up, and that's practically a guaranteed arm-slap. The cure is to tuck the butt under, flatten the lower back, tighten the abdomen and pull the chest down, the way a boxer or wrestler does.

  43. Man this helped me a lot, I'd been using my palm to push the bow forward and was having issues rotating my elbow. Once I started using the web of my hand instead it changed my shot entirely, way better grouping now.

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