Bow grips

Yes, a coaching tip! I haven’t done of these for ages, but the subject of grips came up recently during a session so it seemed worth putting down a few thoughts.

Firstly, “grip”. It is an unfortunate name, because of course you don’t actually grip the bow. At least, you shouldn’t. The bow should be pulled into your relaxed hand by the force of pulling the string with your other hand. Your hand should stay relaxed through the release so that there is as little interference with the bow as possible. Your hand should be turned such that the line of your knuckles is at roughly 45 degrees. The grip should press against the muscle at the base of your thumb, and nowhere else. That point of contact should be aligned down the middle of your forearm to keep it stable and to reduce the need to use unnecessary muscles.

The shape of the grip on your bow can help or hinder getting your hand in the right place, and not just the right place but the same place for every shot. Everybody’s hands are different, so you can’t necessarily rely on the standard grip that comes with your bow. The good news is that you have options.

If you shoot a longbow or other traditional bow then there may be little you can do to modify it, but I’m aiming this mostly at the removable grips that come with most recurve and compound risers. These are generally secured with a screw or two. Bow manufacturers such as Hoyt offer a range of off-the-shelf grips which are worth trying, and there are specialists such as Jaeger and R-Core. Of course, it is best to try them out before you buy them, so ask around your club or visit an archery dealer and try out what they have that fits your bow.

You can also make your own if you are handy with woodwork, or customise an existing grip if you can’t find one that works for you. Car body filler or Sugru rubber can be used to build up a grip to the shape you want. What shape should that be?

Firstly you have a choice of angle. Low grips place your wrist lower and high ones keep your wrist straighter. Low ones are generally more stable and make it slightly easier to keep your shoulder down. High ones move the contact point closer to the line of the arrow and can make the bow more stable but need a bit more control to keep your wrist straight. There is no best answer to that, just give high, medium and low a good go each and see what works for you.

Second, the part against the base of your thumb is best as a flat surface either facing towards you or turned slightly away from the palm of your hand. This will make it easier to get your hand in the same place each time. It is amazing how a slight difference in where you feel the pressure can move your arrows from a gold to a red.