How to Hold the Bow (Beginner’s Guide)

It was a tense situation, and I was biting my fingernails in my mind.

I was insouciantly optimistic that my release would be less sterling, and as the arrow was off, I was ready to face defeat and disaster.

However, shockingly, my arrow hit the bull’s eye. How was that possible? I was amazed.

You see, I was at field archery, practicing some shots, till I agreed for a challenging long-shot (which at that time felt like a big — big mistake).

I was a bundle of nerves and expected to lose the challenge badly, and I was ready to deal with embarrassment.

Yet to my surprise, I won. If I had to give credit to my win, it would be my ability to hold the bow correctly.

Even in a tense moment, my hands were relaxed and consistent.

I am always surprised to see so many people ruminating over stabilizers, new bows, release aids, and so on & so forth, but seldom do I hear about holding the bow correctly.

So I created this guide to run you guys over how you can hold your bow properly.

Ready? Good, let’s get started.

Team Up With Your Bow

Holding a bow is not a difficult task, albeit it might sound a bit odd at first.

To properly hold a bow, you should ensure that your hands are relaxed, and your thumb palm should hold the bow, or you should rest the bow on Thenar Eminence.

Therefore, you’ll be only gripping the bow with your thumb and index finger. Simultaneously, your knuckles should align at a certain angle.

Traditionally, a 45 ° angle is optimum for holding the bow. That said, you can try moving your hand to different angles to find the sweet spot that can work for you.

However, if you are not holding your bow correctly, you can be prone to many injuries and may not be shoot accurately.

Don’t worry; I’ll go over that in a bit.

You see, holding the bow is simple; once you get acclimatized to it, it’ll be easy the next time you hold it.

The most imperative thing to understand is — team with your bow.

Now, what do I mean by this is, ensure that you are doing your part like drawing, aiming, positioning, and so forth, and let the bow do its part.

The bow’s work here is to push the arrow through the string towards the target, and it may not sound like a big deal.

But if you handle it too tight or perhaps “Death Grip,” you’ll not only end up hitting inaccurate shots but also disposed to some injuries.

That takes me to this point.

Death Grips = Inaccurate Shots

One of the most common mistakes a fledgling archer makes is they use a death grip.

Meaning they kind of hold the bow very, very, very tight.

It makes sense, though, as a tyro archer, you’d want to hold the bow very carefully, and to do so, you’ll have to hold it firmly and tightly.

On the other hand, holding the bow with relaxed hands kind of feels dangerous — especially if you are new and are not used to hold a bow with challenging draw weight.

Be that as it may, it should be gentle whenever you are holding the bow, and your hands, as well as fingers, should be relaxed.

Death grip will not help; I can guarantee that if you are holding the bow too tight, your bow will start to shake as soon as you release the arrow.

Though such a grip might feel very safe to neophytes, it is nothing more than dangerous as you’ll have less control over your arrow and bowstring once you’ve released the arrow.

I’ll go over this in more detail as to why it is abysmal to hold the bow tightly, and I’ll be mentioning that while wrapping up, so if you are interested, scroll down directly.

But for now, let’s get over how you can hold your bow properly.

How To Hold the Bow Properly

How To Hold the Bow Properly

Now that you are pretty aware of a few things, here are some easy steps to hold your bow properly.

  • Rest your riser’s handle or bow on the Thumb pad below your thumb and between the lifeline. Using this as a contact point, the bow aligns with the bone structure of your arm and thus provides more strong support. (It is also known as Bone to Bone from in the Archery Realm)
  • Now, next, make sure that you are using a bow sling — especially if you are a beginner. If you don’t have one, I’d recommend getting one.
    • So once you have your bow sling, place your thumb and index finger in a relaxed and open V position. Your bow sling will forestall the bow from going forward when you release your arrow after drawing.
    • On the off chance, for some reason, you don’t opt for a bow sling or don’t have one (I’d still recommend getting it), you should loosely grip or hold the riser handle with those fingers (index and thumb). Ensure that your grip is loose enough so you don’t exert a torque on the bow. However, at the same time, ensure that your grip is also tight enough so that the bow doesn’t slump.
  • Lastly, when you are holding your bow, ensure that your knuckles form a 45 ° angle with the riser. This way, your gripping becomes more effortless and helps for better maneuvers of your elbow.

Note:- Remember to hold the bow loosely and ensure not to death grip it. If you struggle to hold it loosely, make sure to use a bow sling.

And that’s it. You see how easy it is actually to hold the bow. By simply following the steps that I’ve mentioned, you are getting the upper hand over all those self-taught archers and are not committing some common mistakes that beginners make.

Moreover, you are actually fixing some common beginner mistakes, so there’s that.

How Poor Bow Holding can Impact Your Performance

If you are not correctly holding your bow, it can have a prominent influence on your performance, but it basically boils down to two reasons.

Since you are holding your bow tightly, you are inadvertently imprinting some torque on it with your wrist rotation. Due to this rotation, the bow will shift sideways; consequently, it can lead to two main impediments.

  • You’ll Miss Your Target!
  • A Nice String Slap

The first one is quite obvious.

When you hold the bow tightly, you are clenching your forearm, wrist, fingers, and hand muscles, and they start to shake, and the more you hold and the longer you continue, the more they shake.

Since your muscles are shaking, the more your bow will shake, and as your arrow touches all the things when it leaves from the bowstring like whisker basket, shelf, rest, and so on. Those shaky movements can affect the path of your arrow and ultimately lead to inaccurate shots.

And it makes sense.

If I assume that initially, your aim is proper, if you move your bow to the right (or left) with your wrist, your arrow will land on the target’s right (or left) due to those movements.

This is the most common aiming problem I’ve seen in newcomers.

And if you correct this problem, you’ll have one less impediment to deal with your aim.

And the easiest way to do that is by abiding by the steps I’ve mentioned above and holding your bow in a calm and relaxed manner.

The next problem is.

Injuries that You are Prone to When You Hold Your Bow Incorrectly

Not only does your aim gets bad by holding the bow improperly, but also you are inducing other problem that is far more relevant than inaccurate shots.

By other problem, I mean Injuries.

Don’t stress it, there are not many injuries in archery, but I’ll go over the two most common ones.

And if you don’t correctly hold your bow, chances are you’ll subject yourself to these two injuries.

One of them is the most notorious — string slap (but I like to call it nice string slap, coz it hurts)

String Slap

String Slap

Amongst many causes, death grip is one of the leading causes of string slap. And beginners tend to make these mistakes inevitably.

That said, string slap is expected, and I’ve seen many people getting a heck of a welt.

So what happens is, when you are clenching all your muscles (of course, by holding tight), as I mentioned, your bow is going to wiggle back and forth once your arrow flies from your bow, and thus the bowstring is more likely to strike your inner elbow.

And that’s called a sling slap, which, to be honest, had happened with me when I was starting off, and personally, it hurts!

Ideally, your hold should not seem like it’s forced; instead, you should have complete control.

Thumb Dislocation

Well, that does sound scary. I reckon you might be saying — Hey! How on earth can holding a bow tightly dislocate my thumb.

Well, no… but yes.

There are two factors responsible for thumb dislocation.

One of them is simple when you hold the bow incorrectly, you are fortuitously resting the bow near your thumb joint away from the correct position.

So when you draw the bow, you are exerting extra force, and on the off chance, the quarter moves towards your thumb rather than your palm — you’ll dislocate your thumb.

The other factor is simply the draw weight. You see, a 40 pounds recurve bow will have more force on your thumb than a 20 or 25 one.

Fortunately, you can treat the dislocation of your thumb; should you experience it any time, don’t forget to visit a physician as soon as possible.

Lastly, Relax (Yes, Really)

You should never forget that you should keep your thumb pad or thenar eminence relaxed as much as you can while drawing and shooting.

And your thumb is always directed towards the target.

Remember, a relaxed hand and fingers are imperative to a successful and effective grip.

If you feel like too much relaxing can lead to the bow thrusting forward or falling off, use a wrist sling. Trust me, it really helps.

You can practice this method without much of a stretch by holding your hand out before you (as though you were attempting to stop somebody) and afterwards just loosening up your fingers.

You can take it one stride further by doing this before a mirror so you can see where the appropriate spot for your bow ought to be on your hand.

Take Away

Now that you know how crucial it is to hold a bow properly because if you don’t, there are many more problems than you can think, let alone lousy aim.

Always remember to stay calm and keep your fingers as relaxed as possible. Also, follow the steps I’ve mentioned.

Do that, and you will effortlessly learn how to hold the bow within seconds.

Thanks for reading till here; if you have any troubling qualms, I am sure you know what to do.