This is the clicker. It clicks. The clicker is a strip of aluminium or carbon, that sticks out from the riser like this, and it goes over the arrow like this. Now, a lot of new guys ask, does this thing help keep the arrow in place? And the answer is, well, no it doesn’t. The arrow in fact should stay on by itself. So, the clicker has nothing to do with that. The purpose of the clicker is to provide a reference point for a consistent release. It’s an essential item for a target archer and a very important training tool for the Olympic style of archery. As far as technique goes, one of the hardest things to recognise is the correct consistent draw and tension. Now, as a barebow or traditional shooter, this is something which your body has to pick up. But a target archer has the advantage of using the clicker. When the arrow is pulled past the clicker, it clicks. When set up properly, this allows you to have audible reference to know when you have reached the consistent point for release. Now with training and practice, the clicker becomes the mental trigger. Prompting you to release, the moment you hear it. Setting up the clicker is easy. Clickers either screw into this hole on the riser, or they are stuck on. The clicker can be adjusted to suit your draw length and the arrow length as necessary. The tip of the arrow should be a few millimetres off from the clicker, when you are in the holding position. Most risers come with clicker extensions that attach off the riser. If the arrows are too long, you will need to cut them down, or get shorter arrows. If you are using a clicker, it’s critical that you use arrows of the correct length. If they are too long, or too short, or they are cut to different lengths, the clicker is unusable. Also, your bow might be set up in a way where the clicker doesn’t actually hit the riser cleanly. If you are using an aluminium clicker, you can bend the strip around the arrow so it makes better contact. Additionally, if you need more space you can get clickers which are mounted on to the sight bar, to give you more space to work with. To use the clicker; lift the clicker, nock the arrow and place it on to the rest and then place the clicker over the shaft. If the arrow slips, or the clicker goes off prematurely during the shot process, you can reset it by lifting it over the arrow again. Manipulating the clicker with your index finger becomes second nature fairly quickly. Draw the bow to your anchor point and look at the target. Then squeeze the back muscles and keep the expansion going. When the clicker goes off…..release. Using the clicker can be tricky. For such a simple piece of equipment, it can be an archer’s godsend… or, it can be a recurring source of chronic problems. First, you need correct, consistent form. It’s no good using the clicker if you can’t draw and anchor correctly. It does take some trial and error and some experience to build yourself to the point where you can draw to the same point on your face each time. There are differing opinions, on when to use the clicker. A lot of people recommend that you stay away from it, until you develop that consistent draw and anchor. But, some coaches will use the clicker as a tool, to teach you, when know you have reached that correct point. Exactly how you use the clicker depends greatly on your training and your level of skill. If you watch the pros, you see many of them, more Draw right on to the tip of the clicker…. hold for the perfect alignment… and then squeeze through for the perfect shot. Now, this can be done. But it does require a tremendous amount of fine muscle control. Which is built up through years of training. Just to show again one more time a close up… What you see some archers do, is to draw right to the tip of the arrow and then, with one very subtle movement they squeeze the back muscles and get through. If you are starting out using a clicker and it is really hard for you what you should do instead, is to think about it this way. Give yourself a bit of extra length. Your objective is to get through the clicker as cleanly and smoothly as possible. So, rather than go at the tip of the clicker, which is very fine control. Give yourself, maybe, half an inch more. So when you draw to the clicker, you are drawing to about…. there. Then, you complete the process smoothly, in one shot. Now your first few attempts may look a little crude, but this is a normal part of learning. You raise the bow, you draw as normal and when you reach the anchor point you squeeze a bit further… and the clicker goes. As a beginner, it can be very difficult to get that fine muscle control in your first few goes. Instead, focus on the process and the motion. Remember the expanding motion when you are doing your shot. Again, it’s going to look a little clumsy, if you are not used to using your back muscles. Over time, you will become better at drawing to the exact spot each time using the correct amount of tension and expansion and the clicker becomes an automatic reflex. It’s ok if you are lacking finesse to begin with that comes with practice. If you are just starting out, there are two immediate problems that people have when using the clicker. The first one, is when they draw, the arrow comes off the clicker before they are ready. In that case, what you should do is to move the clicker closer, towards you. That will give you more space to draw and you are less likely to trip the clicker before you are ready. If you are drawing back, and you can’t get through the clicker at all then push the clicker forward, away from you, so that you don’t have to draw as far. After some trial and error, you will find the most comfortable, consistent draw length and position for your clicker. There are a few things to watch out for, when using a clicker. Make sure your anchor is consistent. Because the clicker is set for a very specific length even a few millimetres, can make it very difficult to execute a good clean shot. If you are in the habit of touching a different part of your face each time you have to rectify that fault before you use the clicker. Not only that, if you over draw you will set the clicker off prematurely. If you under draw, then it’s going to be a lot tougher to get through that clicker. Remember to expand using your back muscles. Your anchor should be locked in and should not move. When you do the shot, you are finishing the expansion by squeezing your shoulder blades together. That’s the final part of that shot process. You shouldn’t try to get through the clicker by moving your hand backwards. The third thing to keep in mind, is to maintain the direction of the draw. Try to get your shot through in one clean motion. Try to avoid having the tip of the arrow moving back and forwards like this. If this happens, what that shows us, is that you are collapsing on your shot. So rather than coming through and being solid you are coming through here, and then you are collapsing forward. So, what you may see in some archers – especially pro archers – they will hold the shot right on the tip. Now you can do that. But it requires you to hold your back tension. If you are doing this and you are creeping forward, you have failed your shot. Not only does this make it really hard for you to get a good clean shot if you are moving backward and forward like this. But it also contributes significantly, to fatigue. Now, there will be times when the clicker goes off before you are ready. In this case, don’t let it go. It may sound a bit contradictory, but if you know that you are not locked in, your tension is wrong, you are not aiming in the right place, then don’t do the shot. It does take some discipline to recognize when your body is in the right alignment, in the right position and to actually not shoot. You have programmed your brain to shoot with the clicker but if you know you are not ready, don’t do the shot. Just let it down and reset it. Ironically, perhaps the best tip in using the clicker is to ignore it! If you start conditioning yourself to anticipate the clicker you are in for a really hard time. If you focus your mind on the clicker you will start developing clicker panic. That’s when your shot is controlled entirely by that clicker. What you should try to do, is to not anticipate the clicker but to continue the shot until it goes off. By the way, if you accidentally shoot through the clicker, before it goes off, you will probably tear off a vane. As a footnote, remember that clickers are only used in the open freestyle ‘Olympic’ classification. If you are shooting in the barebow classification, even though you may use a bow like this one you aren’t allowed to use a clicker. If you are shooting traditional, then of course, it is out of bounds. Anyway, this is NUSensei. I hope you have found this helpful and I will see you next time.