Drawing Lessons

One of my Recurve students was struggling a bit with the NTS draw, specifically the ending of it. In that draw, the string is drawn until it contacts the “corner” of the chin, with the string fingers an inch or so under the jaw, then the string hand is raised into position under the jaw (+ detail, detail, detail, etc.).

If that gap is a bit large as many people concluded it should be from Kisik Lee’s first book, especially the pictures, there is a problem. The unstated aspect of this issue is if the archer’s chin is “down,” his chin blocks the draw by interfering with the string fingers on their way back. Recurve archers who shoot from a “high anchor” (corner of the mouth) have no such problem; there is nothing in the way of the string finger’s landing zone. But Recurve archers using a “low anchor” need to be taught to position their chins higher than archers who use a side anchor. Our jaw lines generally slope from the rear downward toward the front, so to get the hand under the jaw, you have to kind of “go around” the point of the chin.

If, though, in the NTS approach the draw was a bit too low, it encourages moving the head farther than if it were closer at the end of the draw. Your head moving down (the part where your nose touches the string) and your hand moving up have to negotiate a meeting place in the middle, which is a significant source of variation because very small changes in the position of the rear end of the arrow result in large differences in hit points. By raising your head the bare minimum, then drawing to a very short distance below your jaw, you can minimize this source of variation.

In the old days it was “set your head” and “draw to anchor.” Kisik Lee designed his approach in reaction to this instruction, which has the drawback of the archer’s chin possibly blocking the path of the draw fingers into position.

Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. The basic task is to get a good head position while getting into good full draw position (including an anchor point with a large amount of contact with the jaw to enhance the “feel” of being in the right place). Both of the described approaches are imperfect, so I suggested my student give the first one a try (the old school approach). In this I am definitely becoming “new school”! I think that if we tinker a bit our autonomic and subconscious processes will adapt whatever approach is chosen into one that works … if we know what works. Obviously bumping your chin while trying to anchor is not acceptable, but both of the above approaches will work if archers allow them to be tweaked by the wisdom inherent in their bodies.

The bow and arrow will teach us everything we need to know … if we can learn to listen and to hear them and if we do not assume we know what is right and wrong. Too often entrenched ideas of what is correct and incorrect dominate the teaching and learning of archery. Instructional books have diagrams showing “Correct” and “Incorrect” forms, for example. This then uses our worst tool (our conscious minds) to dictate the workings of our bodies. We try to force our bodies to comply to the conscious dictates of some form master. I am coming to realize that if we share with archers what they are trying to accomplish and then have them train their subconscious functions along those lines we will end up at a very good place faster and with less effort.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Drawing Lessons

  1. David Beeton

    I often find that some of my younger students find it difficult to get a set anchor point when moving from barebow to freestyle, so I get them to start with a slightly raised chin as they draw back, and then settle down into the anchor position, almost “trapping” the draw hand under the chin. As they become more body-aware, I can get them to adjust their technique to suit their own individual style. It doesn’t work for all but it has helped some, and it’s something else to try!

    • As far as I am concerned this is standard procedure. The whole point of the “nose touches string” aspect is to control head position (combined with erect posture, level eyes, etc.). And it only has to be in position just prior to release. (Look at Michele Frangilli for instance).

      More and more, as coaches, I think we need to give our students “things to try” that will help them find their own form, rather that insist that it has be “this way.”

      Cheers!

      On Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 2:40 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:

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