January 17, 2006
from P.H. of England:
"Bow Arm -For the first few years as an archer I accepted the advice that shooting is the best way to develop archery muscles. However, last October I visited an archery shop at which a member of the UK squad works and he advised me to use a rubber band to develop bow arm posture (the vertical elbow crease). Previously I had thought that this was largely a knack as my arm would always rotate away from the vertical as I drew. He also adapted my built up (epoxy wood filter is excellent for this) Hoyt grip to look more like the Hoyt Ergo grip with the result that it is now easier to maintain the correct bow hand/arm posture.
Having read many leading books in the hope of mastering this skill, it seems the solution is to gradually build up the back muscles that stabilize the bow arm scapula using a rubber band to begin with (as mentioned on page 131 of TA) and to practice drawing and holding the bow (10 reps of up to 1 minute as endurance improves - TA page 145). Any comments you have on the best way to proceed would be very useful. Also advice on how to customize bow hand grips would be very useful."
Indeed the best way to develop archery muscles is through archery specific exercises, such as the KSL SPT exercises. My archers do these exercises for 1hour/day, 5 days a week. For these exercises a slightly stronger bow (+2 or 3lbs) should be used. Proper shooting structure must be maintained, using proper technique and body posture. If using your normal shooting bow, slip a couple rubber elastics or stretch bands to achieve the extra poundage. Also refer to page 143/144 item 3. – “Weight Training for Improving Power-Zone”
If you have trouble achieving a near vertical elbow joint on the drawing arm try as an exercise to grab any fixed solid with the bow hand and you should be able to rotate the bow arm quite easily to get the feel of how to achieve it. Please note that near vertical is the preferred position, however, some people, including David Barnes, due to the structure of their arm can not achieve this preferred position. This reduces string clearance a bit, but if you can’t, you can’t and I wouldn’t loose any sleep over it.
The rubber band is an excellent training tool to teach the developing archer the proper form required. This can also be done with a very light draw weight bow, about 15lbs, so that the archer doesn’t get the shakes after holding the bow for 15 seconds whilst being taught proper form.
Most top archers modify their grip to suit their personal preferences. Some excellent articles have been written on this subject in the Archery Focus magazine, refer article “Get a Grip” by Rick McKinney Sept/Oct 1999 and by Don Rabska, “Bow grips…Getting the right feel” November 25, 2002.
Make sure when setting the grip, during gripping and hooking, to set it!! Don’t fiddle to get the most comfortable feeling position. The bow hand should be set properly, refer to recommendations page 41, photo 17.