Tag Archives: anchor position

Principles-Based Archery and Coaching

I work with a few coaches who are trying to expand their archery knowledge so as to be able to work with more students. (Mentoring coaches is important. If you aren’t doing it—either as a mentor or being mentored—think about it.) In one case I am teaching a recurve archer/coach about compound archery. Some coaches are more comfortable sticking to what they know best and that is fine. You do not have to learn about multiple styles, you can specialize. I do think, however, that a principles-based approach can help coaches apply what they know to different styles of archery (for those interested) as well as different variables within their chosen style and my intent for this post is to give an example of this.

This comment is based upon a very good archery instructional video: “How to Find a Recurve Anchor Point” hosted by Archery 360 (a site of the Archery Trade Association) and this video was made in conjunction with World Archery. It is available on YouTube here.

This video is wonderfully made, with excellent production values and high quality presentations. The archers shooting demonstrated excellent form (this is not always the case). And, of course, I had a quibble.

In discussing the characteristics of a high quality recurve anchor position they made the claim that the nose touch by the sting is intended as a mechanism to set the bow into a vertical position. This is debatable at best, actually I think this is wrong. Rather than a mechanism to set the bow into a vertical position, it is a mechanism to make consistent one’s head position. In the video, a illustration was drafted of how the bow being placed off vertical somehow changes the position of the string on the nose as a “tell” and this allows the archer to straighten his/her bow up so that it contacts the nose correctly. This might be true if the archer were struggling with holding his/her bow anywhere near vertical. It also might be true if archers didn’t put such a premium on the nose touch that they will tilt their head to make the nose touch the string no matter what. (Have you seen this? I have.) I think this concept of what the nose touch is for is misleading. For one, the nose touch is not calibrated such that one could detect a canted bow at all well. For example, could you determine a 3 degree bow cant at the tip of your nose? Our sense of touch is limited in the first place and the tip of our nose is not anywhere near as sensitive to touch as, say, our fingertips or lips. In other words, the tips of our noses are not up to this task. In fact, without our eyes, we are very limited in determining plumb or level positions of our own body parts.

A "nose touch" can be incorporated into a side anchor or a center anchor (as here) or in a totally screwed-up anchor. Its primary function is in controlinghead position, primarily head tilt.

A “nose touch” can be incorporated into a side anchor or a center anchor (as here) or in a totally screwed-up anchor. Its primary function is in controlling head position, primarily head tilt.

The actual context for the nose touch, I believe, is that the bow is raised into a vertical position after we set our heads to be level (we hope)—a level head is needed because the eyes need to be level to function optimally. The nose touch occurs at anchor, confirming that both head and bow are vertical and the head is not tilted up or down. One can keep one’s eyes level and tilt ones head up and down (do it now and you will be agreeing with me, aka nodding). But tilting one’s head up and down changes the distance from the nock to the pupil of the aiming eye, which changes one’s sight marks. One does not, I believe, adjust the verticality of the bow based upon the touch of the nose. The nose touch is almost all about head position, not bow position.

These things are not minor quibbles because they can mislead archers as to the procedures they are to follow. When should the bow be made vertical? I think this needs to be done at the end of the raise. (Keeping the bow vertical as long as possible locks in the feel of the bow being vertical when shooting. Compare this with, say, trying to make the bow vertical just before the loose.) When should the head be made vertical? I think this is just before the raise. After that point, there are many other things to do and we do not need to add to that list. Since we want to “bring the bow to us and not move our bodies to our bows,” we need to establish where we want the bow to go.

Note The entire shot sequence is based upon a “set and move on” basis, that if done quickly enough, the things done earliest stay where they were set.

So, the sequence for recurve archers is: set head erect, eyes level (establish line of sight to target), raise bow to be vertical, draw and anchor, establishing nose touch which confirms verticality and sets head tilt to be consistent shot after shot. Having to wait for “nose touch” to check bow verticality and adjustments if necessary is inherently imprecise and also wasteful of time and energy at full draw.

Compound archers, on the other hand, check whether their bow is plumb after they hit anchor. This is facilitated by letoff, creating a draw weight at full draw that is a small fraction of the peak weight passed getting to full draw (a 60# bow can have a holding weight as low as 12#), thus allowing more time at full draw to check things, plus the fact that their sight apertures have bubble levels set in them that allow bows to be set perfectly plumb (if the bubble level is correctly set up).

As you can see, I think there are sound physical reasons for doing these things at these times. It may be a small point, but an archer mislead leads to difficulties later when sequences need to be shifted around and a “new shot sequence” learned.



Filed under For All Coaches

Beyond Barebow Basics

I have been working with one of my Barebow Recurve students on his full-draw-position in order to assure he could get “in line,” that is have a good full-draw-position, one that exhibits the Archer’s Triangle. This has necessitated a different anchor position (hand on face). Here is a report he sent me yesterday:

Dear Coach Ruis,
With my new anchor point, I have had several problems I am unsure how to address. First, my arrows are flying much more to the right because my new anchor is farther to the left on my face. I now have to aim in the black, left of the yellow, to get the arrows to land in the yellow. Second, my string is now so far from my riser that it is impossible to align the string up to the riser. Third, my new anchor point isn’t as unique as my old one. Sometimes, I get arrows that fly high because I overdraw and I’m unsure exactly where to place my hand.


Obviously your new anchor point is different and will feel “funny” but maybe some further experimentation is necessary. Maybe you haven’t found your “new” anchor point yet.

A couple of additional things:

Nobody every cut their nose with tied-on anchor points. (He was using brass nock locators that rubbed against his nose and which had burrs on them from the use of inexpensive nocking point pliers. SR)

You might benefit from moving your nocking point locators up higher than we discussed. (The 0.5˝ above square is the starting point for non-stringwalkers.) Brent Harmon and I did a preliminary study (note the “preliminary,” this is not gospel) which shows that instead of walking your fingers down the string from a “normal” nocking point, if you walk the arrow up the string (by moving the nocking point), you need less of a crawl. Obviously this would be problematic for outdoors as so many different crawls are used, but indoors there is basically only one crawl.

While I wouldn’t do anything to your arrows just yet, your comment “I now have to aim in the black, left of the yellow, to get the arrows to land in the yellow.” indicates your arrows are behaving as if they were too stiff. (The archer is left-handed. SR) A change in anchor and full-draw positions is also often a change in draw length which can affect the relationship of bow with arrow (vis-a-vis dynamic arrow spine). So, find your new anchor, one that is repeatable and “findable” (“comfortable” will come with repetition) then retune. (One way to deal with too stiff arrows, if they stay “too stiff,” is to increase bow weight—it may only require a turn or two on your limb bolts since you were tuned fairly well before.)

Regarding your “string picture,” this is a consequence of your head position also, not just your anchor position alone. At full draw, focus on your string position and then reposition your head slightly until you get a decent string picture. Your head should end up straight up and down, just turned on your neck to see the target. Very, very slight movements of your head (typically rotations, not tilts) will change your string picture significantly. Find a good one. String picture is a way of ensuring head position (in particular, of the aiming eye) and can be used to adjust for side winds, so people can and do adjust it on the fly.

A “unique” anchor position for your string hand is of no value if it doesn’t allow for all of the other aspects needed for strong shots. A unique anchor position for a tilted head (which negatively affects binocular vision and depth perception) is not a good trade-off.

Let me know what is working.

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Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A