8 min readArchery Technique – How To Use A Clicker on a Recurve Bow
Why is it important?
It helps you with consistent expansion, if you set it correctly!
Using and setting the clicker properly is really important. You should use the clicker to help improve the consistency of the Expansion stage of your shot.
If you have correctly executed the previous stages of your shot, you should be at your ‘real full draw’ position and only have a small amount of the arrow to move through the clicker. The Draw & Full Draw technique is particularly important here.
The reason why the clicker is really important is simple; once you set the clicker you will probably do whatever it takes to make it click easily during your shot. Your body is clever, and if you set the clicker in the wrong place you will find a way to make it click when you need it to.
So why is this not good? Surely being able to make the clicker go off when we want is good? However, if your body adjusts to having the clicker in the wrong place, the way you make it click will more than likely be wrong.
The solution to this is to learn the your ‘real full draw’ position, learn the correct expansion technique and then set your clicker once you can repeat these parts of your shot.
How to know when to use a clicker
Get the basics correct first
Before you can use a clicker properly you should make sure you understand and can repeat your basic shot cycle. In particular, you should work on the basic foundation and structure of your shot. The main thing is that it’s important to be able to continue moving through the shot without forward movement, this is an essential skill.
What do we mean by this? You should be able to draw your bow, come to your full draw position, expand and release the shot without the arrow moving forwards at any point. Many people draw the bow and ‘see-saw’ the arrow backwards and forwards during their expansion. Work on continuous, smooth movement first.
Why is it important to train this skill? The reason is that it will simply train your brain to continue the movement through your shot, no matter what is happening. It’s a skill which will give you huge rewards long term as recurve archery is all about dynamic movement.
In the early stages of your learning, shooting without a clicker can allow you to focus fully on the internal feelings of the shot and the technique that you are doing more clearly.
Setting your clicker length
Control your clicker, don’t let it control you.
Once you’ve got the basic parts of your shot down. For beginners, you should set your clicker so that you have around ~0.5cm (~1/4inch) to expand through the clicker. You might need slightly more or less length than this depending on exactly how much fine control you have. Don’t worry about the precise position here. Position your clicker so you can smoothly expand through it, and so that you don’t make it click too early. If you start making the clicker go off early, it can cause hesitation on subsequent shots. Oftentimes, this causes new archers to compromise their technique to prevent the clicker going off early again. This is why it’s important to set the clicker in the right position and build your confidence and fine control first.
To set your clicker, close your eyes and perform your entire shot cycle at blank boss but without releasing the arrow. You should draw the bow, come to full draw and then expand. While you do this, get a friend or coach to look at your arrow point and see where it is on your bow.
For beginners, do this at least 6 times in a row and mark the average position. Do this on at least 3 different days.
For more experienced archers you may only need to do 3 times in a row, but still check on at least 3 different days.
The reason this is important is that many people set their clicker and struggle on some days, whilst they find it easy on other days. If you are particularly flexible and rested on one day and you set your clicker, this may make it difficult on other days. Find your range of clicker positions by doing the above tests. If you don’t have someone to check your clicker position for you, you can easily use a camera or your phone to video your arrow point. As you do these draw ups it’s important to make sure that you are doing the proper expansion technique and not distorting your technique. This is why closing the eyes is quite helpful here, it will make feeling the right expansion process more clear.
When you have your range of clicker marks, you should set it to the middle position. Then you can work to narrow down your range and become more precise.
The final part of the skill
How To Improve Your Clicker Control
Your clicker control will only improve over time and with substantial practice. While you are at the stage where you have your expansion set to around the 0.5cm (~1/4inch) mark, you should continue to have training sessions where you are looking at the clicker as you expand. Do this at close range blank boss obviously. This will accelerate your learning and give your brain feedback as to how much the arrow moves when you perform a certain amount of effort. This is all about putting data in your brains ‘computer’, in essence this will allow you to subconsciously control the clicker really finely later on in your skill development.
There are various ways you can improve your clicker control.
1. To start with, only use a poundage which you can manage, and improve your strength with bow training. If you’re too weak for your bow, your clicker control won’t be good. End of story. Be in control of your bow and you can learn to control your clicker.
2. At close blank boss close your eyes, draw your bow and perform your shot sequence. Make your clicker click and open your eyes just before you shoot to check your aiming point.
3. This drill is again at close blank boss. Find an aiming point and look at it as you open and draw the bow to setup. After setup, look at your arrow under the clicker as you draw, come to full draw and expand. Focus on making the amount you need to expand smaller, and try to improve the smoothness of your expansion.
4. During certain training sessions, have certain times when you shoot with Increased Draw Weight. You can do this with a heavy pair of limbs or with a band over your limb.
5. Still shoot without your clicker sometimes. The clicker is an aid, and is definitely useful. However you should still be able to shoot without it. Shooting without your clicker will help you make sure you’re not under or overdrawing. It will help you check the stages of your shot sequence, and it will highlight any other technique flaws that might not be so obvious to you normally.
6. Change the timing of your shot. Varying the timing of certain parts of your shot can help you learn and develop skills and fine control more quickly. For example, vary the timing between coming to full draw and shooting the shot. Make your expansion length 4 seconds for a few ends, then 3seconds for a few ends, then 2seconds, then 1second…etc. Then go back to expanding over the course of 4 seconds. Varying this timing can help your brain learn fine control of your clicker more quickly.
7. Finally, minimise tension in your shot. Don’t try too hard! Focus on dynamic, fluid movement and direction through your shot, right until the arrow hits the target.
Please don’t forget to share this article with your archery friends and family if you found it useful! Thanks for reading!