Kisser Buttons

QandA logoI had a coach I mentor ask me about kisser buttons and I did a Google search to find pictures I could refer him to. To my horror, a “kisser button” search came up with a large number of photos of compound archers using a kisser button with a peep sight. You do not want to use a kisser button with a peep sight! Let me explain.

A kisser button is either a tied-on plastic “button” or a large knot of thread (some even use a simple brass nockset) designed to be felt by the archer’s lips at full draw. Since the draw is determined in the back and the anchor position of the draw hand determined by the bones of the jaw or face, the kisser button helps to orient the archer’s head. If the archer’s head is not straight up and down (or at least consistently oriented), she will get left and right and even up and down errors, aka larger groups.Kisser Button

Kisser buttons are largely used by Olympic Recurve archers if at all.

Compound archers, using sights, are allowed a peep sight, which is a lozenge inserted into the string which has a hole in it that allows the archer to look right through the string (see photo below). Again, the draw is determined in the back (and also by the setting of the draw length in the bow) and the anchor position of the draw/release hand determined by the bones of the jaw or face. The head position is determined by the aiming eye being able to see through the little hole in the peep. Of course, the peep has to be set up correctly so this is possible.

Kisser Yes

Kisser Yes!

If the compound archer has both a peep and a kisser, he has two references as to having correct head position. That should be good, no? No. Consider the situation if either reference is set up incorrectly. Your archer will have one indicator saying “Here!” and the other saying “Here!” with the two positions different. Consequently he will most likely be switching back and forth between the two or finding some ill-defined middle position. Surely, you say, that can’t be a big error? Well, errors of rear alignment are larger than errors of front alignment (just because of the angle of the arrow) and compound archers generally shoot smaller groups, so in this context, even a small aiming error can cost your archer significant points.

Kisser and Peep? No!

Kisser and Peep? No!

What if both references are set up correctly? No problem there, right? Yes, problem there. On level ground there would be no problem (also not much benefit) but in field archery where uphill and downhill shots are common, there is a new problem. When shooting up- or downhill, you are to tilt at the waist to keep the upper body geometry the same as for level shots. Unfortunately, it is easy to say that but hard to do. Most archers tilt at the waist but also tilt at the shoulders a bit. This means that the bow is in a different position than in a level shot but the aiming eye must be able to see through the peep so if the bow is lower, for example, the anchor position must be slightly higher (and vice-versa). Everything rotates around the peep being exactly in front of the aiming eye. But, if the anchor position changes, so does the kisser button position and once again we have the peep and the kisser providing “mixed messages.”

Archery is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder by recommending both a peep and a kisser button to your compound archers. One or the other suffices (with the peep having far more secondary benefits).

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4 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

4 responses to “Kisser Buttons

  1. Bobby Blount

    Thanks for the insight on the peep sight and the information about a kisser button with a peep sight. I just got a new Bear Athuroitty and wanted to set it up right. I had an 02 Hoyt magnatec and the technology of the new Bear bows far exceeded my expectations. Thanks again for your advice.

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    • Of course, I just saw a photo of a prominent archer using both. Just because an idea has a significant downside, doesn’t mean there is no upside. The idea of both kissers and peep sights is to fix one’s head position. This is assuming one is also trying to keep one’s head vertical (we lose abilities when our heads tilt). Having multiple references should make one’s head position more consistent which is a good thing. But there are other considerations above and beyond having to shoot uphill and downhill. I alluded to this but didn’t emphasize it. For targets fairly distant, the line of sight of our archer stays pretty much in the same position, but the bow site (assuming an adjustable aperture) is adjusted for distance. This cause the bow to be held higher (for longer shots) or lower (for closer shots) but the line of sight is still going through the peep. In effect, the bow is rotating about the peep site (it being the only thing that doesn’t change position. So, for shots at different distances, the position peep stays the same and everything else, including the kisser changes position. This means if your head position is linked to the kisser, it too will change, something we do not want.

      Realize that these effects are small and only show up in quite accomplished archers. If the distance being shot is fixed, as in an WA target competition, the distance to the target never varies and both can be used safely as long as they are set up correctly.

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  2. Tommy

    Hi Steve, I believe of what you says. Kisser button had ruining my consistency. If it was consistent it created left tear. I removed it and uses 2 references only i.e tip of nose at string and solid but relax rear point, and I shot pretty nice again.

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