Ok. That’s a bit extreme.
I saw a video posted by Jesse Broadwater, a compound archer well renowned these years for his routine winning performances. Here’s the video, which may or may not be available when you view this – links change….but his message is the same as mine to all recurve archers: keep your string hand relaxed.
What? If it’s relaxed, the string slips out and you can’t draw the bow! NO.
If the technique is correct, it is completely possible to separate the effects of the tendons which do the majority of holding the string by just the effort of the finger-tips, from the sheer muscle bulk that dominates the forearm, upper arm, and even hand in the untrained athlete.
It does not take 40 pounds of effort to hold a 40 pound bow. This is not a trick question – I used to ask such and respond: it only takes 40.25 pounds to hold 40 pounds if done properly, and that most archers wastefully use 50 or 60 pounds’ effort. Through proper leverage, it takes far less than 40.25 pounds of effort in the string fingers to maintain control of the bowstring.
The evolutionary design for gripping with fingertips is incredibly efficient. Efficiency in this case means that 1/x effort provides 2X effect. Most coaches never realize this, and therefore most coached athletes are never purposely taught to minimize their string hook efforts.
You MUST teach the athlete to use minimal muscle and maximal tendons in the finger hook technique.
Start at 5 feet from the bale. No clicker. Accept nothing but perfect finger-on-string placement – if either finger touches the arrow, PRUNE the gap of the tab, increase the spacer dimensions if appropriate, or correct the archer’s method. Remember that the string hand should approximate a right angle to the string at set and even set-up positions. Have archer draw 1/4 of draw, and let slip – loose the arrow while focusing on “relax”, not “let go”. There is no target and no aiming, and the archer can close eyes to enhance the awareness of the feeling in the fingers…
Do this until the archer learns how to set the resistance, and not change the amount of tension/resistance, and have the draw hook FAIL before the bow is fully drawn. Then, advance to touching the chin and loose, which does require a slight increase in the hook leverage/effort. Repeat ad nauseum! Then, as the string hand goes from the chin, to the anchor, ARCHER SHOULD NOT CHANGE THE HOOK EFFORT AT ALL.
This is remarkably similar to teaching the archer to set up within 2 or 3 mm of the tip of the arrow. If the archer never “blows through” the clicker, s/he is NOT training to the edge. When one trains to the edge, some error MUST happen on the “too far” side or else the athlete never knows where that is and cannot learn to accurately approach that edge. In downhill skiing, if the athlete never falls, that athlete is never pushing the edge. It is the same concept. Here, we are teach the archer the minimal effort to hold hook by failing to hold hook in the beginning, and get comfortable with that failing, and then gradually increase the hook hold effort until “just enough” is used. The archer will initially note a feeling of some slippage and if complains of this, you know s/he is very close to the perfect amount of effort. Never let the archer get away with less than perfect placement of the joints on the string as prescribed by Kisik Lee and the NTS, and the “flag in the wind” where the hand is like a flag waving from the bowstring at a perfect right-angle.
Once the archer understands this goal, she or he (s/he) can strive to minimalism, which is what Broadwater is trying to say, even though he’s talking mechanical releases/string hand interface. THERE IS NOT THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMPOUND RELEASES AND RECURVE HOOK-HOLD in terms of the athlete over-muscling the hook/holding.
99% of all archers never learn to minimize their hook. They OVERHOOK. Look. If you are an “untrained archer” drawing a 40 pound bow, chances are you use not only the minimal leveraged tendon tension needed, but also an extra 20 or 30 pounds of MUSCLE to be sure to “hold that sucker.” This is natural, and it is wrong.
Archers view the holding/hooking of the bowstring as a battle, an active fight! In the NTS method, all of that invested power should be (only) in the back, and the string arm from the elbow to the bow should be essentially stone cold steel chain links. Dead. Powerful, but actually relaxed.
TEACH them to find the minimal effort needed – this is your job, coach.
WHY? I keep using this artifice because I want you to be engaged and questioning me…
Archer GOOFUS: I have put 40.25 pounds of muscle effort to hold my string. I have recruited (a medical term) all of forearm and upper arm muscle bundles to help me achieve holding. I can hold forever (in my mind, at least) because I am hugely overdeveloped by lifting weights and cross-training in ways that are useless for the practice of efficient archery. But MY HOOK is so strong I have absolutely no fear of slippage.
Archer GALLANT: I leveraged the inherent, evolutionary ability of the last joints of my three fingertips to curl and hold position via minor muscle groups surrounding the ends of the tendons (UP in the elbow region as well as in the fingers!) with only the barest of actual effort which means I will not fatigue just to get to holding 144 times in a qualifier. The fewer muscles I actually use, the more JUDO I use, the less fatigue I create. The less lactic acid and other metabolites of the sodium-atp pump activity in muscle cells created, the longer those muscle cells can function.
Coaches: here is the money shot.
When the click occurs, the archer must REVERSE every effort s/he has invoked to hold the string, CANCEL all of those contracted muscles, as quickly as possible to make the shot while the “spot is on”. After viewing hundreds of archers with my 600fps and 1200 fps video camera, it is easy to tell the elite archer from the not-so-much. The clicker falls. In some cases, there are huge number of frames before the tip of the arrow ever accelerates (Goofus), and in others, an amazingly FEW frames. Gallant!
Which archer will be able to loose the arrow the most efficiently and fastest? To reverse the hook-involved muscle efforts? Gallant or Goofus?
Find ways to teach your archer to shoot as relaxed as possible with the string hand, simply because that will give the archer the best shot.
Last question: WHY do you think the elite archers all look so relaxed as they loose the arrow? Their coaches know to teach them not to OVER-HOOK or they intuitively taught themselves through hundreds of thousands of arrows. It does not take that many arrows if a coach is driving the change with wisdom. Try it yourself to teach yourself the best way to under-hook, over-leverage the tendons and eliminate all that muscular (girly-man) pump-you-up wastage. Then go coach it.