Oriental Traditional Archery: Thumb Ring

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First and the most wanted information is about thumb rings. I sought this info in the Turkish tradition, as it conserved the essense of the Euroasian archery tradition.
The rings: they might be different:fita:

How to use them? The ways are not numerous.
1. Turkish
2. Far Eastern (China, Korea, Japan)
3. Morden variations (all kinds of releases)

Remember, the ring is designe purely to protect your thumb from an injure by the string. To hold the position of the string on the ring is your task, not of the ring. All leather inserts, overlays, metal substructures, are designe only not to let the string slip off the ring inadvertently. In pure version you never need no grooves, no stops on the ring.
Let's put it on.
This is my modest collection. The green one? made of jade I worked out with my own hands. This one is my favorite.

That's easy:arc:

I went to Atarn (a very respected source, adore) and looked through the Mongolian draw page. Those rings, shown, look like stone cylinders. They were brought to China by Manchurs. Before that Chinese used thumbrings similar to Persian and Turkish. The Mongols also used such rings, but were influenced by Manchurs. Chinese men wore these ring cylinders in special boxes on their waist belts as part of their clothes. Well were we are?

So, this so called "Mongolian" draw is different. One keeps the thumb directed forward and not covers it with forefinger. Modern heirs of this kind of draw are Japanese Kyudokas. They substituted the cylinder with small ridge on a glove. The rest is the same.
"Mongolian" hold the cylinder with the forefinger, the string is hold by the other edge of the cylinder. You spread the fingers and the arrow flies to the target and the cylinder flies somewhat to the left. One have to fix it somehow to the hand. With a lace maybe?

One more point about Turkish method: do not push too hard on the arraw with the first joint of your forefinger, if you do, the arrow will jump to the right. Try to support the arrow lightly just to lie on the thumb of the left hand and barely touching the right side of the bow. If you decline the bow at some angle from vertical position, this will also help. Especially when shooting while riding a horse...

To earn the best from the thumbring, you should start from learnin how to hold the handle of the traditional bow. We should bear in mind that the handle of the ancient bow had nothing in common with the "pistol grips" of modern recurves and other "Olympic" and hi-tech bows.

It was flat like a handle of a showel, with small belly on the back side of the handle (directed to the target).

Let's make a small experiment. Anyone is able to do it. It's completely safe.

Imagine that you have to push a truck stuck in mud or in a marsh. You push it with your left hand. You may come up to a doorway in your flat and do the same with the right side of the doorpost. Select the most comfortable position for your palm. This will resemble the hold of the traditional bow handle.

Let's see it (all for right-handed persons. The rest, please, do the opposite):

1. Spread your left palm, so that the forefinger and the thumb formed a crescend. And press the webbing to the inner side of the handle. Like this:

2. Close the three fingers of your palm as shown.

On the back side of the handle, the joints between proximal phalanx and middle phalanx of your fingers should lie over the handle belly. But it depends on the size of the palm and fingers. Long fingers will demand the bower putting the handle belly on the joint of the fingers and the palm. Shortfingered persons would cover the belly with distal phalanxes.

3. The thumbring on the left hand helps to save the thumb from injures. Sometimes. Better put a leather glove on.

4. Pay attention to the position of the palm - it should resemble the head of a harp.

In such way the bow string in home position is diverted to the right and will never hit your hand when released. But! While starting, pease use lowpoundage bows and lefthand protection. Because oups happens!

When you draw the string, the bow tends to move the handle in your palm clockwise. But keep the harp head!!! You should control the return of the bow to normal position with your fingers at the moment of release. That is why the belly is made on the outer side of the handle.

5. One more extremely important detail. Your left elbow.
Wrong position. The elbow is directed to the left.

Correct position. The elbow is directed to the left-down, at some angle.

There are some more details about standing and breathing whilst shooting.
Should we continue?

Yew Selfbow

Active member
Hey Riss .... thanks for a great post. I've never used a thumb but I've always wanted to give it a try

PS ...well done on the Jade ring ...beautiful job


New member
Thanks for the post.
Been looking for information on this style/method of shooting that I can easily understand. Nice CLEAR pics and explanations.


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About breathing

Breath is the most important thing in our life. Without breathing the rest is not important... At all.
An archer should learn to breathe by belly. Why? Because if you inhale with your ribs, the muscles of the breast wil contradict with the muscles drawing the bow. This causes pain and different aches between the ribs.

So you stand up with your hand on your belly and other hand on your breast. Inhale with your belly, actually daiphragm, feel how your belly protrudes. And control your brest ribs motionless. This will teach you to breath in adequate manner for archery.

Inhale by your belly, hold your breath, draw and shoot. Bingo!:kyudo:
The time for shooting is very short and you will have no any discomfort while holding the breath. Try it! Enjoy...


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Hi Riss,

good to see another archer using the WindFighter. Have a windfighter myself, nice powerful little bow, light as well, my all time fav bow :)

Have a question for you,

What's the max length you can safely draw your bow to?

Can you draw it all the way behind your ears, like trad korean archers do?

What poundage is yours? Mines 40


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Normally I draw my Windwighter (which is 56# @ 81m>, if we belive the pencil notation on one of the siahs) upto my ear only. To be more precise to the level of the ear, projected on my shoulder.


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Normally I draw my Windwighter (which is 56# @ 81m>,
Sorry is that 81cm?

So you are able to draw it out to your shoulder without experiencing any ill effects on the bow?

The reason I am asking is cos not knowing if the bow is designed to be drawn any further back, I fear overdrawing and possibly breaking / damaging the limbs.

BTW what does the siyah say?


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Siah is the "horn" at which the string is fastened.
DO not be afraid to overdraw the WF, but progress slowly. Farther and farther, a bit every day.
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