General Questions / Chat Zone

The word for today (well, last night) is "overbowed". Also "feck," and maybe "arse". So - how low to go?

Right - I admit that I MIGHT have bought a bow that is as yet little bit too high poundage. It's 35 lb.

So whilst I move up to that point ... is it best, in the meantime, to go down to 30 lb, or even lower to 25 lb? The 35 lb is OK for about five ends and then I have real trouble controlling it. I hit the curtain many times. And snapped an arrow.

Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
17th Jun 2014 12:30
I would soldier on! The problem is not in your strength [or apparent lack thereof] but in your technique. If you try and shoot it recurve style, whereby you just hold the bow steady in one hand and then draw back with the other it is inevitable that you will get tired because one arm is doing 90% of the work.

I therefore strongly suggest the bent arm technique, described here for a right handed archer [lefties just turn it around!]:
1. Nock and load the arrow as per usual.
2. Hold the arrow with your right hand as per usual [the book says two fingers under one over is best, but three under works just as well in my experience], but with your left arm bend your arm at the elbow at approx 90 degrees.
3. Then in a simultaneous, smooth motion, draw the arrow with your right arm and straighten your left. You should end up with using your back muscles more which will take a lot of the strain off your shoulders.
4. Pause for a beat, just long enough to check that your arrow is pointing in the right direction, and then release as normal.
5. If you are having trouble controlling your bow [and this is something I struggle with] don't forget to roll your shoulder in. You can either do it during the pause, or while you are straightening your bow arm.

The above is a bit tricky and requires a bit of practice but once you get the knack of it, you'll feel a lot less tired as you are using your muscles a lot more efficiently.

Hope that helps

Dan D
17th Jun 2014 14:14
PS the above is written on the assumption your talking about traditional bow? If it isn't then the problem will still be your technique, and you need to focus on your using your back muscles more - focus on keeping your drawing arm nice, straight and smooth in the "opening curtains" motion and don't forget to push with your bow arm. :)
Dan D
17th Jun 2014 14:29
Hi Dan, thanks for your reply! It would save me another £90 if I solider on; I may give your technique a go next Monday, then. It is my flatbow I'm talking about.

One query - what is "roll[ing] your shoulder in"?

Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
17th Jun 2014 14:48
Rolling your shoulder in is a technique which should be used by all archers, ancient and modern. Hold your arm out to the side, parallel with the floor, with your thumb pointing up at the ceiling. Now imagine a line that comes from the point of your elbow, through your arm and out through where the bicep joins the forearm. That line is currently pointing pretty much straight up, just the same as your thumb. Now, using the muscles in your chest, rotate your shoulder through 90 degrees so that your thumb is now point in front of you, and that line is also now pointing in front of you. What you need to be able to do is that exact same rotation except your hand -as indicated by your thumb - doesn't move, but your elbow and your shoulder both rotate round through 90 degrees. In order to practice, grab hold of a door frame with your hand and practice the shoulder rotation until you can do it without holding on.

The result of all this is that realign the bones and muscles in your in a nice straight line, which makes it a lot more stable.

Dan D
17th Jun 2014 15:08
PS make sure you warm before you try the above with a bow as otherwise you might pull something!
Dan D
17th Jun 2014 15:16
Corrinne, I disagree with everything Dan said! (I totally love Dan and he's the 2020 Archery posterboy at least on facebook!! but.. totally disagree) Utter disagreement often happens amongst archers - in my defence I've done a hell of a lot of coaching (giving and taking) over the years, I've been doing archery for 10 years, set the business up and got to Level 2 in my coaching. Doesn't mean that I'm right obviously but as you probably don't me thought I'd elucidate! I am also a girl! :o)

I used to shoot recurve and a 36lb longbow and I've had quite a bit of advanced coaching with both. The one thing I do agree with that Dan said is to lower the shoulder (I call it lowering not rolling as I think 'rolling' can imply collapsing in whereas what we mean is to make sure that the shoulder isn't raising it should be in a strong position sitting in the joint with the flat of your arm facing forward and hand in normal position on bow). Sorry Dan but the rest of that technique sounds HORRIBLE!

Overbowed is overbowed and girls don't have the reserves of 'HUHMPH' to draw on that boys do. Corrinne, the technique for shooting a longbow / flatbow is pretty much identical as for recurve with the possible exception of not holding at full draw for as long (although there have been some very successful traditional archers who have held for 8 seconds or more - just means you need a new more bow more often). All that instinctive nonsense is IMHO nonsense (pull back, don't aim and feel the arrow), you're going to hit the curtain a lot. The problem with a bent arm technique is that most of us can't ever find the same position twice when partially bending and then partially re-extending the arm. What you want is a lighter bow - something that just stretches you but that you can fully balance. Anything other than that leads to misery and quitting.

At the peak of my fitness / strength I was pulling 34lb on a recurve and 36lb on a longbow.. once I stopped practicing 4 or 5 times a week I dropped to 30lb.. and now that I don't get to shoot very often 26lb. I have some core strength that built up to allow to to pull 26lb pretty comfortably. I now struggle with the weight of my jazzed up recurve in my bow hand - the draw is fine.. but my arm tends to sag after a few shots. Other than that low is as low as feels good. Persevering and hurtiness is not the way to happiness. It's worth £90 to go back to control and accuracy. It sucks when you keep hitting the curtain. I know from experience. Best of luck. Heidi x
17th Jun 2014 17:59
Hi Heidi! Thanks for your advice (and 2020 has a Facebook posterboy? I did not know that :D).

I must admit I'm tempted to spend another £90 (and by spend I mean stick on the credit card for evermore, anyway) just in the hope that it will stop me swearing my way through the next few month's sessions. I definitely don't have a lot of HUHMPH yet. Can always hang on to the 35 lb-er for future use.

Thank you both; it's great that this forum is here for advice!


Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
17th Jun 2014 19:46
Hi Heidi :) no worries :) can you imagine how dull the world the would be if everyone agreed :)

The technique I describe above was taught to me at my medieval longbow tournament, whereby the aim [so to speak!] is to shoot an arrow powerfully rather than accurately. As such I've used it to draw bows I could never draw otherwise, and the guys shooting the 140lb warbows used it [although obviously they were much better at it than me!!!]. So yes you do sacrifice accuracy but you gain in being to draw heavier bows for longer - I can shoot my longbow all day :)

Yes I do hit the curtain a lot, but I have also taken out a spider or two :) it's great when it works :) [and utterly infuriating when it doesn't :D]

Dan D
17th Jun 2014 19:51
^ahem^ please discreetly ignore the misplaced apostrophe in my 19:46 post. And the dodgy comma in the original post.

I write for a living, me ...
Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
17th Jun 2014 19:53
140 lb bows? I need to go for a lie down just thinking about that. Also - how many points for a spider?
Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
17th Jun 2014 19:54
the spider is the little x in the middle - very satisfying when you hit it :)

The 140 lb warbows were quite a sight in action, passing planes were in peril!

PS nowt wrong with swearing at your bow, especially in a Father Ted stylee :) small..... far away.... :)
Dan D
17th Jun 2014 21:58
Hey Ccorinne. I'm a recurve shooter ... I like my gadgets and widgets on my bow (but not so much that I want to go compound) and have never shot a longbow, flatbow and their like. So I can't comment on technique. However, I would like to re-iterate a very important point that Heidi made regarding misery and quitting. If you are determined to stick with archery no matter what then persevere with your bow. If you keep the number of arrows down for the moment then continually pulling 35lbs will build up muscles and your own stamina. That's the upside. The downside is that you could damage your shoulder and take longer to progress your skills. And if it takes you longer to progress you won't enjoy it and might stop shooting altogether. Also, if you continue to pull 35lbs when you're too tired (in the hope of building up stamina) you might build up what some call 'training scars' and compromise good technique. As with all things archery related there is a mental part of the equation which cannot be ignored.
17th Jun 2014 22:54
"the spider is the little x in the middle - very satisfying when you hit it :)" You know, for a moment I thought you meant spiders of the eight-legged variety - I was very impressed (although the X is just as impressive).

Thanks Kim, too - I think I may hang on to the 35 lb for future use, but go down a few pounds in the meantime while I work on technique. I have a dodgy cubital tunnel from years ago which has been griping a bit lately so may be worth taking things a bit slowly. I definitely ain't quitting, though :)
Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
18th Jun 2014 7:38
Corrinne, It might be worthwhile investing in some training bands. I have some Cartel stretch bands which look just like jumbo sized rubber bands - I think they are available on Amazon. You can simply pick them up and give them a few pulls when you have free time and they will increase your strength at a greater rate than if you solely built strength with the bow.
18th Jun 2014 11:54
Hi Corrine,

I don't know how long ago you bought the bow or from where but if it was mail order then by law you have a cooling off period whereby you can return it for a full refund under the Distance Selling laws. So it may be worth returning it for a refund.

I completely agree with Heidi on the overbowed aspect. Shooting a bow that you can't comfortably hget back to full draw for a whole session is very frustrating. You're form will suffer a lot and so will your shooting and that all adds to the frustration even further.

On the point of instinctive archery I don't believe that that exists. However, 'intuitive archery' most definitely does exist and is the main method for shooting in Field Archery, where distances are unknown and elevations to the target can be high or low.

By intuitive I mean that your subconscious makes calculations based on the picture of the target and your relationship to the target. The method usually involves a split (mediterranean) hook on the string (not three under) and you draw to the side of your face, corner of you mouth. The idea is to get your eye looking straight down the shaft of the arrow towards the target. At one specific instance your arrow point will be bang on the center of the target and at others it will be either above or below the center as the trajectory needs to change to make the distance. This is the basics of gap shooting. It becomes intuitive when you are no longer consciously aware of the gap and your sub-conscious starts to do the calculations and you do actually feel the shot.

As another example, I also shoot Korean Horsebow with a thumb release method. With this method the arrow sits on the opposite side of the bow and neither the bow nor the shaft actually point directly at the target. With repetition at different distances your sub-conscious builds a list of 'gaps' that it will use for various distances. In intuitive archery you just stare intensely at the gold and allow your eyes to 'flatten' the distance (very similar to what a painter does when sketching from life). You then trust your sub-conscious by believing you will hit that point. When you miss, you don't scold yourself, you just try again and trust and believe. After practice you will hit the center repeatedly and it will feel literally magical because your conscious mind wasn't arguing with itself. The rewards of this method are incredible compared to sighted or conscious gap methods in my experience. Of all the styles of archery I shoot (sighted recurve, barebow recurve, flatbow, horsebow, english longbow, indoor and outdoor target, field archery and horeback archery) this is by far the most enjoyable method I've found (when it works :P).
18th Jun 2014 13:14
Lots of good points to think about in the thread. Next time a I have a few minutes spare i'll show you some methods draw with less stress on body and muscles. As Heidi says this is the same stuff as i would teach for sighted recurve as all forms of archery really are the same basic form.
just to expand on bryns point about intuitive archery. the way you end up using intuitive archery is by learning how to gap shoot and practicing it until your body and mind work out the gaps automatically. But this usually takes between 6 months to several years and is prone to mistakes if you come across deceptive terrain. Thusly effective gap shooting is what you want to learn and you eventually get fast at it.

Bryn: - did you sell your light falco?
18th Jun 2014 15:49
Hi Roger, yeah I sold it about a week ago unfortunately. It would have probably been a good option as it was 70 inch instead of their usual 68 inch and was rated at 30lb at 28". I know Devon went up to a heavier Falco but am not sure if he still has his lighter weight one.
18th Jun 2014 16:01
Thanks Bryn and Roger; I'd heard of "instinctive" and "intuitive" archery, but assumed they were pretty much the same thing. Will have to look into that (and the idea of gap shooting. A friend of mine told me to look this up: Zen in the Art of Archery ( but then this friend is a philosopher, not an archer, so who knows!

Tim, I think I've seen Roger using those bands - are they long rubber loop things?

Have ordered a 25 lb-er in the meantime. Thanks for all your input.
Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
19th Jun 2014 12:49
I wouldn't get Zen in the Art of Archery unless you're particularly interested in how to shoot a bag of straw from 4 feet. I found it very dull and not in the least bit "enlightening". I can strongly receommend Become the Arrow by Byron Ferguson though which is excellent and available from amazon :) If you're interested in Zen Buddhism and the application in the martial sphere you can't go far wrong with the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi - it's aimed at how to kill people with a sword but can be applied to all forms of weaponry [and indeed a wide variety of non-martial activities!!!]
Dan D
19th Jun 2014 13:18
Hi Corrine, intuitive and instinctive archery are the same thing. I simply refuse to use the term instinctive as I can't accept that anyone is born knowing how to shoot a bow, although it certainly does come easier to some than others. In either case it refers to making those gapping judgments a sub-conscious action rather than a conscious one as Roger said.
19th Jun 2014 13:20
Re: the warbow conversation above.. one of my friends shot a distance record using a 180lb warbow. He pulled it back to about 33" so it was knocking 200lb or so (he is a big big man) and, "when I let go I just wanted to collapse onto my knees. I nearly did myself a dis-service towards the end of the pull as well. It was honestly everything I had in me and I just wanted to cry and fall to the ground... but... y'know.... everyone was watching so I just kind of shook my shoulders a bit and pretended everything was fine. I couldn't dress myself for about a week afterwards because I couldn't move my arms." HA.
19th Jun 2014 18:59
I drew [but didn't shoot] a 100lb warbow :) at full draw i felt like I was being folded in half! Soooooooooooooo tempted to get one :)

I can't imagine what it would be like to draw a 200lb beast like that. It would essentially be like picking up me with 3 fingers... Extraordinarily impressive :)
Dan D
20th Jun 2014 10:34
Update - my new 25 lb Eagle RULES:

[takes a bow, and refuses to answer any questions as to where the other 59 arrows ended up]
Corrinne B (2020 Instructor)
1st Jul 2014 14:27