Drawing arrows – sounds simple, but is it?

How to draw an arrow, surely that is pretty easy? Just grab it, pull and out it pops. Simple right, after all it is one of the first things you learn when you start archery. Isn’t it?
Back in 2012 (yes I have been writing this blog that long !!) I wrote an entry on the method of drawing arrows and following a few discussions I thought I might revisit it along with providing an update for it.
As with everything there are numerous ways to accomplish a task. Some will be the right or preferred way and no doubt there are several wrong ways to do things. Just look on YouTube and you’ll see a dozen different views. This is the same with pulling arrows from the target, whether this be a 3D or foam boss. In this post I am going to go through the process I recommend to my students when they start.
So before I start I’d like to remind you these are my views and personal advice.
There are a few things to remember before you draw arrows.
  1. First off, its important that all archers whether newbies or experienced get to  see where their shots have landed in the target. If nothing else it provides them with feedback on how they are doing.
  2. Check it is okay for you to draw the arrows as some archers prefer to draw their own arrows.
  3. If in a competition, ensure those scoring have finished noting down the results. In fact you shouldn’t touch any arrows until the scorers have marked the score cards. Most organisations have this in their rules as it prevents arguments over whether the arrow was scoring before being touched.
  4. Make sure no one is standing in a location that they may be hit by the arrow as you draw back.
I must admit to cringing sometimes when I see archers pull arrows. Some people grab them and just pull without considering what might happen or could go wrong. I’ve seen carbon arrows snap in an archers hand, slicing their finger open or wooden arrows bending into a banana or snap as someone is a little over zealous when drawing them. So my first tip is slow down.
Drawing arrows badly

Drawing arrows badly

When it comes to actually removing the arrow from the target, then can I suggest the following.
Never grab the arrow from the end by the nock and fletching as shown in the picture, as it may well result in a bent or worse still broken arrow. You often see archers pull arrows like this because they are unaware of the potential problems that might occur, especially with wooden arrows. Maybe they are used to drawing carbon arrows that are more resilient than wooden ones. The thing is any arrow can break and I’ve seen more serious injuries when carbon arrows break than any other. I’ve also seen several annoyed archers when they see their prized wooden arrows snap because of a lack of care.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with carbon arrows, but you need to remember whether carbon, wood or metal,the material can brake. When carbon breaks it can result in razor sharp edges.
The other thing to consider is you don’t know if the arrow has impacted on metal ground pin in the target or possibly a lost arrow point.
For this reason I always advise you  hold the arrow at the front end nearest the point. This gives less chance for the arrow shaft to break or bend.
Then pull back in a steady even draw. Also there is nothing wrong in asking for help if you find you can’t draw the arrow on your own. Some foam, 3D targets are very hard to draw arrows from.
I always suggest when drawing an arrow you avoid using your thumb on top of the arrow shaft as this can lead to you expending downward pressure and increase the risk of bending the arrow., as shown in image below.
gripping arrow

Gripping arrow without using your thumb

The method shown in the picture is the best way I’ve found. Grasping the arrow with the fingers of one hand and with your other hand bracing target. This grip is sometimes referred to as a gorilla grip as it does not use your thumb.

Drawing arrows

Drawing arrows with one hand on the boss to steady it

This method allows you to brace the target with one hand preventing it moving. By holding the target with the other hand you can judge how stable it is. I’ve seen archers go to pull the arrow and the boss or 3D target fall on them as it wasn’t secured or stable.
Ideally once the arrow is drawn it should go directly into a quiver or on the ground. Try to avoid putting arrows on top  of the boss or leaning against target as they are easily lost when they roll off the back of the boss or forgotten.
Some people may use an arrow puller to give them a better grip on the arrow. These can work pretty well in most circumstances but can slip in wet weather. I would say it is worth investing in an arrow puller or grip as this gives you greater grip on to the arrow. In the case of carbon arrows it also reduces the risk of getting carbon splinters. as they offer a level of protection to the archers hand.
Last piece of advice I would like to offer is to put your bow down somewhere safe before you start drawing arrows. This may seem obvious but you will be surprised how often people lean them against the 3D and suddenly discover their bow is falling over as they draw the arrows.
I hope you find this useful, let me know your thoughts .
Thanks for reading.

Bow weights for beginners and Juniors

At a recent coaching course I was co-running, the question of bow draw weights for beginners and junior archers was raised. This is both a very important question and a complex one, with no easy answer.
The true answer is partly dependent on what age the archer is when they start along with their physical development. Everyone is different and trying to standardise and prescribe anything in stone simply doesn’t work. So here are some points to consider to help you decide.
  • If you start with too high a poundage in draw weight  for the newbie they can become fatigued quickly and their form will suffer as the archer struggles to cope.
  • Too heavy a mass weight can tire the arms of young archers, resulting in dropping their arm.
  • Another factor that is worth considering is how some young archers develop in height earlier than others but this does not mean they have muscle development for longer draws.
There are other elements that play a part here too, such as peer pressure which can occur when coaching a group or even a family if there are two siblings that try to compete with one another. Peer pressure can cause anxiety and increased stress associated with being watched and not doing as well as others or drawing the same poundage as their fellow archers.
I was lucky enough to be shown the specifications that the scouting organisation in the UK use which provides some good guidance on potential draw weights for different age ranges.
Age Range Maximum bow weight at start of course Maximum draw weight by end of the course
Up to 12 yrs old 14 lbs 16 lbs
13-14 16 lbs 18 lbs
15-16 18 lbs 22 lbs
17-18 20 lbs 24 lbs
19+ 20 lbs 24 lbs

I have to say I am a fan of using small “jelly bows” that are very low draw weight and light in hand. Ideal for under 10 year old. We bought a couple of these from Merlin Archery (https://www.merlinarchery.co.uk/ek-crusader-bow-kit.html) though we don’t use the arrows provided.

On take down recurves I start low 10lb or 12lb and let them see how it feels. We have a selection of limbs which we can swap out and have found this of great benefit. Again we bought some bows from Merlin – the Core Pulse in both 54 inch and 64 inch.
When I get the opportunity I will write up a review of these bows in the near future.
The best advice I can give anyone is start with a low draw weight and light bow. If they aren’t having to fight the bow or struggle holding the mass weight they are more likely to learn and in turn succeed.
Thanks for reading.