Barebow back tension vs Recurve back tension

KidCurry

Well-known member
I want to qualify for GMB barebow next year and I have a plan. It is the same plan as my Compound archery was, to shoot the very best form possible irrespective of score. Now I'm quite happy with the way things are going but I need to be sure my understanding of barebow back tension is correct.
Firstly, it appears that for recurve the back tension through the draw at anchor slowly increases to the point the clicker goes and the release. Now my barebow really suffers if I do this as I have no absolute draw position under back tension to give me the repeatable draw length needed for the accuracy I want. My question is... do I come to a dead stop at my draw position while maintaining back tension or should I continue to draw? My gut feeling is I need to maintain a static anchor and back tension to be absolutely repeatable but any help would be much appreciated :)
 


geoffretired

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Coming to an absolute stop, would seem to me to be a balancing act; are you creeping, or drawing further?
My feeling would be to just keep the draw elbow moving into line, very slowly; like a crankshaft brings a piston to top dead centre, the piston seems to stop while the crankshaft never does. So you know you are working in one direction but that movement generates next to no movement of the draw hand itself.
 


KidCurry

Well-known member
Coming to an absolute stop, would seem to me to be a balancing act; are you creeping, or drawing further?
My feeling would be to just keep the draw elbow moving into line, very slowly; like a crankshaft brings a piston to top dead centre, the piston seems to stop while the crankshaft never does. So you know you are working in one direction but that movement generates next to no movement of the draw hand itself.
That was my original thought. But getting an absolute feeling in the muscle for the point of release is difficult. I have changed to a dead stop which is, initially, working very well. My concern is if it is accepted as wrong, in the same way as a dead release can lead to tendon/joint problems over a period of time.

Just this afternoon I have ordered a book called 'The Art of String Walking: barebow field and 3D archery' which I hope will answer some of my questions. If anyone has read this book I would be interested in their comments. I will post my thoughts on it when I have read it.
 


dvd8n

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I don't know about accepted method, but whenever I try to use the increasing back tension method with barebow then my accuracy goes completely to pot.

My accuracy is always better if I apply back pressure, settle, and release.

As I see it, the increasing back pressure is a technique that goes with a clicker and isn't applicable to barebow. But I'm not an expert...........................
 


geoffretired

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This is very interesting. I wonder how different the methods we have described actually are when viewed very closely by video recorder.
For example,dvd8n 's "settle" might look very much like my moving the draw shoulder a little closer into line.... with next to no added tension and an almost stationary draw hand.How long does KidCurry's dead stop last..... and when does it happen time wise between being settled "on aim" and the release happening? Is it close to getting on aim or close to the release?
 


KidCurry

Well-known member
This is very interesting. I wonder how different the methods we have described actually are when viewed very closely by video recorder.
For example,dvd8n 's "settle" might look very much like my moving the draw shoulder a little closer into line.... with next to no added tension and an almost stationary draw hand.How long does KidCurry's dead stop last..... and when does it happen time wise between being settled "on aim" and the release happening? Is it close to getting on aim or close to the release?
I come to aim during the draw so as I reach and settle at anchor my arrow pile is already on the gold or there about. I've already transfered to back tension by now. I'm not holding for more than a second or two. However, because a coach could not see that continuous expansion that would normally pull an arrow through a clicker they surmised I had no back tension at all.

My accuracy is always better if I apply back pressure, settle, and release.
As I see it, the increasing back pressure is a technique that goes with a clicker and isn't applicable to barebow. But I'm not an expert...........................
That is my current thinking too, but there doesn't seem to be much written on the subject. I've only been shooting BB for nine months and most of my form is based on compound and I've never shot recurve sighted and I don't want to get into bad habits that limit my progress.
 


geoffretired

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I come to aim during the draw so as I reach and settle at anchor my arrow pile is already on the gold or there about. I've already transfered to back tension by now. I'm not holding for more than a second or two. However, because a coach could not see that continuous expansion that would normally pull an arrow through a clicker they surmised I had no back tension at all.
I expected the arrow to be "on Aim" as the string reaches your face and you get into your anchor position. There seems to be no reason not to have that sequence of events in place.
Transfering to back tension, is something I am not clear about. If you are drawing the elbow back round from its position at the start of the draw, I would have thought that used back tension from the beginning.
I used an elbow sling with a finger release aid attached to cords that positioned the trigger right by my finger. I drew the bow with no use of my forearm. I called that back tension. Now that I use a hand held release aid, I draw in the same way and have no use of my forearm, so I call that , using back tension. So transfering to back tension is something I don't experience, as far as I know that is.

However, because a coach could not see that continuous expansion that would normally pull an arrow through a clicker they surmised I had no back tension at all
Ahhhh! This is something I was thinking about a couple of days ago, regarding something else.
If an archer draws to their full draw position; then they have completed that movement. If their clicker is positioned so that it clicks just as that full draw position is reached, then there is a continuous drawing movement that can be seen happening.
If that archer forgets to set the clicker and comes to full draw in the same way, there will be a continuous draw all the way to full draw, that looks exactly the same as before. It will be the same, viewed very closely and in slow mo, too.
I guess some clicker users draw part way then do a special bit on the end to get through the clicker. But is that, special bit on the end, clearly different from the first stage. Is there a stage where the draw stops and the " get through the clicker" starts?
 


chuffalump

Well-known member
A few years ago I read Zen and the Art of Archery. Its about Kyudo. One of the greatest struggles the author had was understanding when to release once he was at full draw. In other words there was no continuous movement involved. Apparently there is supposed to be some internal muscle tensing and preparation so you could say that the draw cycle has no wait period but the movement itself stops.

If you can feel something similar maybe. A switch from draw to release mode. Some internal balancing of forces felt in the back muscles.... Tell me how to feel it too. 😁
 


geoffretired

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Chuffalump, I read that book ,too.
I am not sure how to explain this, but at the point where the release is being made, the movement of the arrow in the rearward direction must top as the forward movement starts.
A piston in a cylinder runs up and down. It stops twice in each cycle, as it reverses its direction. And yet the engine never stops.
Drawing a bow is a bit like the engine running. The stop in the draw is like the piston at the point of changing direction.
It seems to me that we could all be describing the same thing and using different words which makes it appear that we disagree with one another.
I think that we are still pulling the string when the release happens. If we were not still pulling the string, it would be pulling us back towards the riser.
Back tension is there all the time, and it shows at the release when the follow through happens. Releasing the string is almost done to us or for us. We want it to happen and it happens.
We throw stones in the same way, almost. We don't open our hand to let the stone fly free and we don't stop the throwing action at the release, either.
 


chuffalump

Well-known member
Yes I understand the piston analogy. I can see it's the ideal draw cycle but it relies on you actually managing to be on aim at the correct point or be forced to slow down the cycle. Sometimes to the point of stopping.

In the book he was holding at full draw. At one point he was gradually allowing tension to leave his fingers to let the string slip out, much to the disappointment of his teacher. Movement was effectively stopped.

As you say, as long as the string isn't moving forwards then you are obviously applying back tension. A good release will give natural follow through.

I think that there is some complex difference between locking your full draw position using muscles and holding at full draw by counterbalancing the string pull weight. The locked position holds the string almost by default, like a hook on a metal girder. The balanced position holds the string like a counterweight on a pulley. If you try to control forward AND back movement simultaneously (holding position) you end up locked hence a continuous cycle allows smoother motion.
 


geoffretired

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Chuffalump, thanks for that.
it relies on you actually managing to be on aim at the correct point
I would see that just a little differently. I would say, " It relies on being on aim for some short time before a good point...."
To my way of thinking the aim takes an amount of time. To be on aim for only an instant, means the archer could be passing through the gold and trying to release at an instant when the sight is cutting the gold.Being on aim for a period of time means the sight remains in a good place and the release can happen when the archer feels the time is right.
The "Instant" idea can soon lead to the release becoming a "NOW" event with all sorts going wrong.
I think the release doesn't need to be done NOW and at no other time. It should be done during a period when important things are already in place.
I think that there is some complex difference between locking your full draw position using muscles and holding at full draw by counterbalancing the string pull weight.
We agree on that.heehee! I would say that "counterbalancing" is a bit too difficult and require constant adjustments in " more or less tension". I feel it is safer to be trying to go one way only; no matter how small. I would not want to have the string going forward just as the release happens.
If we lock up at full draw, I think that means the release has a higher risk of becoming deliberate.
 


KidCurry

Well-known member
Transfering to back tension, is something I am not clear about. If you are drawing the elbow back round from its position at the start of the draw, I would have thought that used back tension from the beginning.
Yehhh... I should be more careful what I say. Although I don't think it helps beginners understand back tension when asked to only use their back muscles when the shoulder muscles are very important, but when I say transfer to back tension I mean I mental check that all the weight is on my back, which is done without me noticing, is to check this is done. I say 'without me noticing, as I only notice when it is not quite right, so I must be doing the check subconsciously, well for compound. Barebow is still very much a conscious check at the moment. I think Alistair Whittingham had a really good video of this process but I can't find it now.
 


geoffretired

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Hi KidCurry,
I should be more careful, too. What I should have said is, I have never understood what archers mean when they talk about transferring to back tension. I wasn't meaning you personally.
In my case, I never feel any transfer. The draw is from my shoulder and back muscles, from start to finish.
I remember talking to a member of the Scottish national team, when I was new to shooting. I asked about shooting off your arms and what that meant. He replied very simply. " If your elbow is sticking out you are shooting off your arms." From that I gather that when your elbow is in line, you are using back muscles, and no need for arm muscles.
So, I guess you feel a little use of the arms, maybe early in the drawl then at the end check it is all back and shoulders, NO arms??
 


KidCurry

Well-known member
So... the book 'The Art of String Walking' arrived on my doorstep two days ago. Excellent book. Covers everything someone just starting out needs to know to get them to an advanced shooting level, with one caveat... it does not cover the draw/anchor. Considering this part of the shot process is critical to accuracy of barebow it is a major omission :(
 


geoffretired

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That seems odd to miss out of any archery book.
In a way the draw and anchor is the equivalent of a long jumper's run up. Or pole vaulter, high jumper, triple jumper, javelin thrower.
It puts the athlete in a position to give their "finishing" the best chance of success.
 


Geophys

Member
Having regularly shot with you on the same boss on the Friday sessions indoors over last the winter, I can honestly say that GMB should be no problem for you. I mainly used my longbow, but because of your example I switched to barebow. I remember seeing you shoot superbly with the compound as well. When I took the sights off of my recurve, where I used to use a clicker, and started shooting barebow I shot it like I do my compound, rather than expanding through a notional clicker, I hold it against a notional wall, as with the compound. Seems to work for me so far, though I'm no where near your standard, (yet).
 


KidCurry

Well-known member
Having regularly shot with you on the same boss on the Friday sessions indoors ....
Hi Geophys
Ahh... that's kind of you to say. When you said 'on the same target' the penny dropped, but I should have guessed by your avatar name :) Really looking forward to indoors this season, it was great fun shooting with you last season. See you in a couple of months.

I sent an email to the author of the book I have read, he included his email but I didn't expect a reply, and he emailed me back :) He will expand on his comments in a week or so but he said, and I quote, "In my oppinion BB shooting Is more like compound shooting". To be honest this is the conclusion I'm coming to as well.
 


geoffretired

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Interesting, for several reasons. Geophys mentioned compound, too. I wonder if it is the idea of a wall to pull against.I understand the idea of pulling to a position that seems more solid than the position a recurve archer reaches before getting sorted for the clicker to go. They have to pull further than that initial contact with the face. But by the time the clicker goes they will be very close to the one Geophys describes.
I think it was the idea of " coming to a dead stop" that made me wonder a bit. I got the impression that it would mean making a deliberate release with no follow through as the draw had come to an end.
 


KidCurry

Well-known member
I think it was the idea of " coming to a dead stop" that made me wonder a bit...
Well I changed things on Wednesday. I felt I was overdrawing slightly and to get a consistent draw length I was pulling into my bracer. I have now dropped my draw length 1/2 an inch. My anchor is now where my compound anchor is. The bow weight was increased by 2lb to compensate. I shot a short metric last night that was 4 points higher than the UK record :) The anchor felt really comfortable and stable. I shall test this over the next few weeks.
 


geoffretired

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Sounds good.
It is interesting that the draw length can be shortened by half inch and still feel good; when previously it also felt good at half inch longer. I don't mean that in an unkind way; it is something I have read about on the forum some years ago about a top level compounder being able to shoot well within a 3/4" variation in draw length. The favourite draw length gave equally good results, but easier.
So, to clarify, at full draw you are not really increasing the draw length but still pulling so as not to creep; have I got that about right?
 


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