Q: How should you finish off a shot? I’ve heard of the value of a good follow-through, but what does that really entail?
A: Imagine you’re a world class athlete hitting a tennis ball, sprinting 100m or throwing a javelin. A tennis player hits the ball so hard that they keep moving the racquet until their swing can go no further, and it all happens so fast that you cannot see where in the swing it was that they hit the ball. A sprinter has so much momentum as they are travelling so fast that it takes time and effort for them to stop running once they’re over the finish line. A thrower puts every effort into the throw so that motion continues even after the release. It’s a very similar thing in an archer’s execution. It can be difficult to imagine how good execution occurs if you do not have it yourself, because you can’t see any motion in a world-class archer at full draw – the shot appears static. However, when a top archer does come to full draw they do not stop pulling and lose all back tension in the hope that they will come through the clicker. They have to make a good shot happen. The reason you need a good solid anchor is so that you can pull the string hard into your chin, and the chin resists the force applied by the string while your front arm maintains its direction and strength and resists the force of the bow. On anchor you need to keep increasing the strength and pull in the shoulder muscles which keeps that momentum going. Now imagine that you are pulling a door handle on a closed door, but the door doesn’t fit the frame properly so the door is stuck. Suddenly the door comes free and flies towards you. That is the kind of release you need to feel when your clicker goes. Your fingers automatically relax, and since you were pulling strong there’s a quick and clean execution in the direction of the pull, which is part of your follow-through. The other part of the follow-through is the reaction of your front arm. The strength and direction in your front arm and shoulder should continue on execution and follow through towards the target while pulling across the target a few inches. This is an unnatural reaction for most people because we like to continue looking at the target the whole time, which is a great thing to do but we need to allow the bow to cross the picture of the target. Of course the head and body should be still on execution. Remember, the shot isn’t finished until the arrow hits the target.