Roy Rose discusses whether or not there is a correct position when it comes to the bow arm and if you should push into the release…
Q. I’m a reasonably new archer, hoping to improve, but I’ve heard various and sometimes conflicting advice as regards the bow arm. Are you supposed to push towards the target as you execute the shot – is this an acceptable method?
Any method from which an archer derives comfortable and repeatable processing form is valid. Pushing at the target as part of the shot execution first came to prominence in the 60s and 70s, where a number of elite Professional Archery Association shooters – using lighter poundage bows than today, in the mid-30s – employed this method to great effect. For recurve competitors shooting a clicker it really became an option when leading Italian shooters, particularly the great Michele Frangilli, made it popular.
Today, top archers – particularly compounders – generally employ a solid bow arm, keeping a balance between the front and back halves of the shot. However, there is a number that employ a ‘push-pull’ philosophy, believing that by making the bow arm a real partner they can achieve a more focused aim. I shot my recurve in this way, with a push-pull passage past the clicker, and since switching to compound have retained that method to seemingly positive outcomes. If I push the dot onto the X as I expand the back half, I seem to obtain better line and use of the scapula. This may well be an idiosyncrasy that works for me, but I know I certainly produce stronger, more fluent execution by being proactive up front, as well as in the back.
I would have to say though, that really conscious pushing is not a method generally favoured by today’s top recurvers, despite the legacy of Frangilli and Ilario De Buo, another great Italian recurver, validated a decade or more ago. The same would generally apply to the best compounders as well, although the push-pull method has a number of successful devotees. The reality is that some degree of push occurs in most people’s shots, but it’s a take-up of balanced tension, rather than a conscious aggression.