February 8, 2006
from J.K. of Germany:
"At our club there seems to be a difference of opinion amongst coaches as to the draw hand position on the face. Some of the older coaches say that the back of the draw hand should be vertical, parallel to the string, and others say that the top of the draw hand should make a solid and as much contact with the jaw as possible, which means a slightly angled back of the draw hand. Could we please have your views on this? "
This is a common bone of contention with some coaches. Firstly, have a look at the Anchor/Holding/Release photos on this website which show some of the current top archers in the world and you will see that none of them have the back of their draw hand parallel to the string. Back in the 70's some top archers were shooting like this, however, like with any sport, techniques evolve and change. Techniques in running, high jump, pole-vault, tennis, shot-put and any other sport you might like to name evolve and change over time. This can be due to changes in equipment, high speed video analysis, biomechanical research into more efficient techniques etc.etc.; likewise in archery.
Trying to have the back of the draw hand parallel to the string, rather than keeping a natural, biomechanically strong hand position on the face in order to maintain strength through the hand, wrist and forearm, has some major problems such as,
- It prevents good contact by the length of the hand and forefinger with the jaw when anchoring. When the index finger of the draw hand only makes contact with the jaw bone there is too much room for variation, which would result in varying pressures on the three draw fingers from shot to shot.
- Because the hand and draw arm is forced, it will therefore result in an unnatural position and you will not be able to achieve a good alignment of the draw elbow.
- Further, forcing the back of the hand vertically will result in a kinked rather than a straight wrist, which is biomechanically inefficient and can lead to wrist injury (see also answer to question 2) The ability to get a good connection and transfer tension in the forearm and draw hand to back tension (which we all now know is the most biomechanically efficient way to ensure a good strong hold) is highly dependent on a natural process and alignment of bone and muscle. If you are twisting your hand to make it look vertical then this process will be inhibited.
- The notion that the fingers come of the string at different times if the back of the hand is not vertical is a fallacy. If that would be the case then archer is trying to open their fingers rather than relaxing the draw hand and let the string do the work as shown in the photo below.