[Horsebow] Thumb ring problems


New member
Hi all, I'm new to horse bows and thumb ring shooting but I've now got a working thumb ring made but have run into a couple of problems so was hoping for some friendly advice.

The first problem that I have is pain on the thumb of the bow hand. The arrow rests on the thumb but on release, it seems to impact the thumb quite hard causes pain and fletch cuts. I don't get this issue when using med draw on the left side of the hand so I suspect that it's not an issue with nocking height or arrow spine but more down to bad technique.

The second problem is anchor point. Holding the thumb ring against my face roughly an inch or so further back than my regular med draw anchor, I get a bang on release. The ring band is quite thick and transmits the shock of release onto the cheek against the side of the teeth. Doing this repeatedly will probably result in a mouth full of ulcers. Obviously I need a repeatable anchor which contacts the face somewhere - what is recommended ? My arrows are only 30" so I can't go much further back than this. Clearly putting the ring against the face is a bad idea.

Thanks all,



Active member
I've only used a thumb-tab (as opposed to a thumb ring), so I'm not sure what would be best, but from what I understand you release a thumb-ring by twisting the string off the ring (as opposed to relaxing your thumb and letting the string jump off). Not sure about that - but I daresay it'll take a while to figure out the best way to release that works for you?

Archer Dave

New member
My reply to your problem could be pages long, but I’ll try to do it in a lot less. The pain to your thumb gripping the bow and the cuts are caused by nock placement. Your arrow rests on the bent knuckle of your thumb. Think of a line along bottom of its shaft that is at a right angle to your string. Now go up the string 1 1/2 arrow diameters from that point and that will be a second point which is where the bottom of the arrow’s nock should be on the string. Koreans don’t use nock rings to guide the nocking of an arrow. They may mark the serving or allow the wear on the serving to indicate that nock point. Ring placement to the arrow is about four to five millimeters or a 1/4 inch below the nocked arrow. That’s the top edge of the ring whichever type you have. Koreans have two types. Regardless of which: this spacing does two things. It puts the ring at right angles to the rest. It also leaves a space so that the ring won’t rise up on release and in turn contact and push the arrow up the serving/string. Depending on which type of ring you have, your index finger will be over your thumb for one type or over the horn of the other type. The side of your index finger just past the first kknuckle should be applying a little pressure to the side of the nock and/or arrow shaft depending on which kind of arrow you have. This pressure anchors your arrow and your ring in place. If your serving doesn’t hold the arrow firmly, the arrow may slide forward, so make sure the serving is the right thickness. (An aside: Koreans use two servings, one made with standard serving thread, then one using string material over the first. The first protects the string strands, the second protects the first.) This pressure also helps keep the arrow in the rest’s V, formed by your bow and thumb. This is important as your bow should be canted a little from the vertical. Now I’ve just written a crash course on ring placement which you haven’t asked for. For that, I’m sorry, but you might find it useful.
Now to your anchoring problem. Before I go on, I’ll mention that my draw length is 30 1/4 inches or 77 cm. I draw my arrows until the bottom of the point touches my thumb’s knuckle. That way I always draw the same length. Now to go off on several tangents.
The first thing is: shooting western style and eastern are not the same. I know very little about the former so I’ll just describe how I shoot a traditional Korean bow that some people call a horse bow as it’s a good bow to shoot from a horse. What comes below is not for shooting from a horse. It’s for shooting from a stationary position standing.
Stance: facing 45 degrees to the target, except your head is turned as much as possible to face the target. Head is straight/level and doesn’t move up/down, side to side or left or right.
I’ve seen a number of different arm and bow movements to get to a ready-to-release position. I’ll only mention two things about that. You should be gripping the grip off centre. That is, the larger pad of the thumb should be pressing firmly onto the grip off its vertical centre line at the back. Your wrist should be cocked up and outward. This will help get the bottom of your elbow out of the way of the string on release.
Where you should be once you’ve drawn and are ready to release is this. As mentioned, I draw till the point touches my thumb. This brings my release to around and below my ear, but not touching it. Arm length will cause this to vary. I’ve seen some archers with the upper string past their ear. I do try to get in as close as I can to the side of my neck. What is touching me is the arrow shaft along my cheek and jaw. This will vary with neck length. If the bow were vertical, the upper string might be touching my ear, but the slight cant of the bow takes it away from the side of my face and/or ear. Arrow and release arm should be a straight line. However, having the elbow down causes far fewer problems than if it is up. Release should be fast and crisp trying to get the ring, thumb and index finger clear of the string as fast as possible. You should try to keep your hand motionless except for the fingers.
This is about all I can think of for now so I’ll post it in the hope that it might be of help. Best and many hits.


New member
Thanks for the very detailed information Dave, I will come back to this over and over I'm sure. I've got a new thumb ring (Virmil Classic) and it's much more comfortable than the old one. I'm still getting bad thumb pain on the bow hand so that probably confirms your suspicion about the nocking height so I'll check this next time I'm at the club.

In between the awful shots and the pain I do get some amazing groups (all in the wrong place) with the thumb ring compared with med draw so I think it's well worth persevering.


We love you too cherry.
Thanks :cheerful:
But honestly, I'm shooting without thumb ring, technically. I use a leather protection instead.
My mistake (if you can call it that) was to start into thumb archery without thumb ring.
I got my fist thumb ring about 3 month after starting, and continuously shooting with a thin leather thingy.
It felt really strange, without contact to the string and the arrow shaft. Results were accordingly, all over the place.
I have 3 rings at home, and dropped everyone after a few shots.
The takeaway from that - start thumb archery with a thumb ring immediately. It will feel strange anyway.


New member
Most archers thought that the best protection is one made of a single layer of leather, without any padding, for that creates conditions close to those when an archer shoots without any protection. This method,too, demands LONG AND ARDUOUS PRACTICE. Maintaining the bowstring in a stable and fixed position is unusually difficult with this method, since a leather protection has no clear edge on which the bowstring can rest, as opposed to rings of hard materials that do. Practically speaking, the use of a leather thumb ring makes it impossible to control the position of the surface of its lip in relation to the middle finger, which, in turn, has a considerable effect on accuracy. This type of protection, like no other, leads to mistakes in drawing. But leather, because it is soft and elastic, interferes less with accuracy in shooting than do hard materials. Non-leather thumb rings mean that the archer makes fewer mistakes, but they are considered less accurate. Several authorities have, however, argued the opposite - that it is hard rings that are more suitable for competitive shooting.I personally know more archers who have obtained better results in competitions using hard thumb rings rather than leather ones. Most likely you are committing a series of mistakes that you do not realize. Shooting with the ring is a real art and requires years of practice and patience. Once again I strongly recommend the book:"The Art Of Shooting A Short Reflexed Bow With A Thumb Ring": http://thumbringarcher.org/

All the very best.


Some while ago ...
But in the meantime, I entirely moved away from thumb rings, shooting with the bare thumb instead.
My average horsebow draw weight of 30..35 lbs causes no problems. Occasionally shooting a 50 lbs bow, my arms are usually exhausted before the thumb really hurts.
At least this make blind nocking easier.

Del the Cat

Well-known member
If you have pain in the bow hand thumb, maybe you are taking the pressure on the big thumb joint rather than the big fat pad beneath it or the V between thumb and palm. maybe a bow hand glove may help.