The Evil Clicker of … Evil?

beiter clicker

You’re despicable!

Archers have many natural enemies:
The weather. Midgies. Judges. Archers shooting in the same competition**. Even their own brains can betray them! However, Olympic style recurvers have a very special nemesis. A tiny piece of spring steel/carbon that solves so many problems in your shot but can, if allowed, cause havoc in your form … The Clicker!

**Note: If its someone shooting a different bow type, its just banter! If its the same bow type and category as me, I hope your sight block falls off! ;o)

Fundamentally, the clicker is a draw length indicator. It reliably measures the draw of the arrow and indicates via sound a selected release point for the arrow that will be consistent shot after shot.  Having a consistent draw length will reduce the vertical spread of your arrows especially as the distance shot increases. Put simply, it clicks when you have put the same amount of oof in the arrow each time so helping to tighten groups.

clicker posed

Here you can see the arrow drawn til just before the clicker clicks on the clicker plate (the graduated silver bar just behind the arrow tip).

So how does it do that? The clicker screw attaches to your riser on the same side as the rest just opposite the sight mounting block unless you have an expensive micro-adjustable one that uses the sight block mounting screws. The arrow slides under the clickers spring steel/carbon “blade” so the blade is held away from the riser and under tension. When the arrow is drawn back far enough, it will no longer block the movement of the clicker which is now free to move towards the riser. The tip of the blade will impact the riser/clicker plate with an audible click. The archer now knows the arrow is loaded with the same amount of potential energy as each previous shot and is good to shoot. This mechanic reduces the vertical dispersion of arrows on the target which is a consequence of not drawing to the same point each time.

The clicker goes from beneficial feature to major problem when your form is less than perfect. It demands nothing less than exactly the same length of draw each shot. As you get tired, you will feel it become harder and harder to get ‘through’ the clicker. This may necessitate multiple draw/come down attempts to get an arrow away cleanly which burns precious energy. If you get stuck at full draw unable to get past the click, this will rapidly cause fatigue if you try too long to pull through. Repeated issues will cause frustration affecting your demeanour and disrupting your shooting. In competition you will have the added pressure of starting to run out of time during timed ends. None of these is good for your archery.

aae clicker

The micro adjustable AAE clicker. This shot didn’t go because the archer got stuck with just 1mm to go! The next two attempts didn’t go either!

Also, you have to remember the clicker is only an indicator you have drawn back far enough to shoot. What it is not is a COMMAND to shoot. The shot sequence should be “click, stabilize sight on gold, shoot” NOT “clickshoot”. This command shooting issue has an even worse side. Sometimes called Pavlov’s Clicker (after the famous experiment), any slightly similar sound to their clicker can cause archers to reflexively shoot even if its another archers clicker going off! This is a form of target panic. For this reason its important you know what YOUR clicker sounds like! (they do all sound different)

The best way to acclimatize yourself to a clicker is to shoot blank boss at point blank. Fine tune exactly where on a draw the clicker goes off – ideally just millimeters past your anchor point so you have a minimal extra draw to pull through the clicker. Practice coming up to anchor just shy of the clicker then pulling though. Without the worry of aiming and score, you can concentrate on the feel and timing of the shot as well as ingrain in your head what your clicker sounds like. A large number of repetitions (easy to do during a session when there’s no long walk to collect arrows) will help with the fatigue issue as well.
Cautionary tale: Didn’t happen at GA but we’ve heard a story of one archer who waited til a fellow club member was at full draw then, from behind, tapped the top limb with an arrow making a click. The subsequent reflex shot went through the still under tension clicker striping fletches and deflecting the arrow off target. It may have happened more than once before the ‘joke’ was discovered! Not recommended you try this either from a safety point of view or for the good of your health if the victim does not see the ‘joke’.

So in summary, the clicker is a fantastic boon to the recurve archer ensuring their shots all have the potential to all be on the same horizontal axis. However it takes a goodly amount of endurance to ensure that you don’t get stuck on the clicker as you tire and discipline to ensure you don’t shoot on someone else’s clicker or instantly on your own. We believe the Koreans teach their child-noobs the clicker right from the first touch of a bow but to be honest, the clicker is a struggle all on its own without worrying about all the other 30 things you need to remember as a beginner. So we keep that nightmare for the beginners future … just when they think they’ve got the hang of archery! ;o)


This is what we use to time these two archers shots.

GA Case Study: We have two experienced archers notorious for getting stuck at full draw on the clicker if you want to see how bad a problem this can be. Committee meetings can been held while one has been stuck at full draw. He can hold for a frighteningly long time and coming down appears to be equated to death and dishonour!
The other caused one club member, waiting with antici…………pation for the shot, to coin the expression “A watched ???? never shoots”. The name has been censured to protect the guilty but the number of letters is correctly depicted with question marks if you want to guess who it is! :o)

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Sundial Image by Mark Caldicott from Pixabay

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