Q: I shoot recurve, and my scores are improving to the stage where they’re good enough to shoot for my county, but there are still occasions where I find I’m struggling to draw fluently through the clicker. Is there anything I can practise to help smooth this out?
A: This is a common malady for recurve archers, and one that often means the difference between excellent and average scoring, particularly when in competition situations. Elite recurvers exhibit ease through the clicker, and this is a result of setting up a positive line at anchor and using scapula motion to execute the shot with repetitive fluency.
If your line from the bow arm through the shoulder girdle to the point of your drawing elbow is not in line then simple physics dictates that even excessive pulling will often fail to get those last few millimetres of arrow past the clicker. So my initial advice is to make sure your line is good, and that your draw length is correct as a result of that. Then, a minimum of scapula motion will see you easily and fluently by the clicker.
With regards to a particular practice technique, I used a drill that the great American coach and shooter Ed Eliason advocated, and it added considerably to my ease through the clicker. Ed would draw through the clicker, and instead of loosing the shot on the sound of the clicker, would continue to pull along the line of his draw perhaps as much as half an inch or more past the clicker position, then let down. Repeating this drill strengthened the shot past the clicker, and exaggerated the line and scapula pull and, in essence, created a strong pathway for passage through the final stages of shot execution.
This drill is usually repeated a dozen or so times before each practice session, and serves two purposes: it makes certain your line is at 180 degrees, and strengthens the sequence of your shot past the clicker.
In summary, be sure your line is correct – get a coach to have a look at it if you’re unsure – and add this drill to your training sessions. You should see your fluency through the clicker improve. Good shooting!