Please Release Me
This article isn’t a plea by Ki Bo Bae to escape captivity from our editors basement but a look at three different methods for holding onto your bow. We can already see newer archers looking confused. They are thinking “I just hold it with my hand don’t I?” Well, as with many things in archery …….. yes, and at the same time, no.
Gripping the handle of a bow with a death grip, like its trying to escape, is where we all start. Traditional archery with its faster shot cycle really doesn’t see this as an issue. However, for recurve, barebow and compound, grip is a problem. Your hand is an extension of your wrist and your wrist moves. Movement in your wrist at the moment of shooting can cause the bow to twist out of alignment with the target and the arrow will not go in the middle. To counteract any possibility of torquing the bow due to movement in the wrist, experienced archers shoot with an open hand. Its the draw of the string that holds the bow in place against their open hand rather than the fingers gripping the handle. Ok, we see you thinking … “but what happens when they shoot? The tension from the string vanishes and they drop the bow don’t they?” Well, hilariously sometimes they do appear to throw their bow down range but that’s because they have forgot the solution to having an open hand … the sling!
The Finger Sling
Probably the most common way to hold onto your bow when shooting with an open hand is the Finger Sling. Primarily the method used by recurvers, you can see it in any World Archery youtube video when the archers pick up their bows and approach the line. So ingrained is this action they won’t even be looking at it as they loop the sling over their fingers. How does it work? You loop the sling over the index finger then round the thumb while holding the bow. This closes off the bows avenue of escape when shot. The sling itself can be a figure 8 of elasticated cord allowing it simply to be pulled onto the fingers. It can be custom made with paracord and spring loaded locks or it can be a simple boot lace … These all do the job and its simply what you like the feel of.
The Wrist Sling
This method is preferred by those of a paranoid nature who don’t find the finger sling particular secure. Here a loop of mesh goes round the wrist and is made snug by a buckle. A strap connected to this mesh loops through the fingers, round the bow and is secured usually by a plastic DELRIN side clip. Its quite a secure way to restrain your bow as long as you remember to clip it up on the way to the line. It can be a little annoying off the line as the strap hangs down and can catch in things but this is easily remedied by slipping the clip under one of the bracer’s straps when on a break. Also irritating to get on initially, requiring another archer or your teeth to tighten the mesh loop onto your wrist. Once on, its always with you, doesn’t need to be removed till end of shootie and when clipped closed, absolutely secure.
The Bow Sling
This approach is mostly favoured by the dark side. Compounders like things easy so they have their slings attached to their bows where they can never misplace or forget about it. The sling is usually a loop of woven paracord with a bracket at the front. The long rod goes through the bracket and screws into the bow. This secures the sling to the bow. To use, the archer simply picks up the bow by the handle with the hand going under the sling first. The paracord loop rests on the back of their wrist providing security when the bow is shot. When the bow flops forward, the sling is already in the right place to control the fall. Only real downside to this style is that sometimes the longrod comes loose because of the bracket between the longrod and the bow. It can be a struggle to keep the longrod tight enough. This is countered by checking your longrod isn’t loose in between ends.
So that’s the three different slings used on non-traditional bows. They all work, each has its positives and negatives. However, for once, we’ve no real recommendation. Its just whatever you feel most comfortable with. For GA members, we have a few finger slings in the tab box if you want to try one out.
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For extra GA credit … can you name the archers whose hands appear above? At least one is hoping to be hand model in the next Rolex catalogue.