By Terry Rivers
Measuring draw length is not the same as checking draw length. Measuring draw length of the bow arm (phase one) is done in front of the nose. Checking draw length of the draw arm (phase two) is done behind the nose. Without the correct draw length, proper form is impossible.
Measuring draw length of a bow is done with some kind of measuring instrument. The bow does not have to fit the draw length of the shooter in order to measure the draw length of the bow. It doesn’t matter if the string touches the end of the nose to measure the draw length of the bow. However, it is absolutely critical that the string touch the end of the nose to measure the draw length of the shooter.
While it is possible to use the trial and error method of checking draw length, the simple way (beginning with the center rib cage notch to the wrist measurement) to correctly measure the draw length of a shooter with a bow (phase one) requires a low poundage non-specific draw length bow and some kind of measuring instrument. A tape measure and a standard arrow is all that is needed. Mark the arrow at the point where the throat of the grip (usually in vertical alignment with the sight mounting hole) lines up with the arrow at full draw using proper form and posture. Measure from the point where the arrow nocks on the string to the mark on the arrow and add 1 3/4 inches. If the arrow measurement mark were twenty-six inches, add 1 3/4 inches which equals twenty-seven and 3/4 inches rounded down to twenty-seven and 1/2 inch draw length.
Proper form and posture means the string must always touch as near the end of the nose as possible at full draw: shoulder low, bow arm straight and relaxed, wrist low and relaxed, with an open grip (no hammer handle grip). The finger tips of the bow arm should be bent down and the knuckles set at a forty-five degree angle. The grip of the bow should be resting on the heel of the thumb during the entire draw cycle. The grip of the bow must never cross the life line that runs from the index finger to the center of the wrist. Only the tip of the index finger should lightly touch the front of the bow grip. I call it the “karate grip”. The “karate grip” prevents the shooter from torquing the bow. The “karate grip” also prevents the string from burning the bow arm.
CAUTION: Always use a safety wrist sling worn loosely to prevent the bow from falling after the arrow has been shot.
Many high end modern compound bows have no recoil and will rest “dead in hand” after having been shot. The inexpensive beginner GENESIS series bow requires a little more index finger pressure to keep from dropping the bow. It’s a good thing, however, if the beginner allows the training bow to fall away forward while wearing a safety wrist sling.
After the correct draw length of the shooter has been matched to the draw length of the bow, the next step (phase two) is the focus of next week's lesson.
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By Terry Rivers
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