Ideally, your bow arm elbow joint should be rotated so that it is vertical during the shot. This occurs during the Set Up phase of the shot. Rotating the elbow is normally hard to learn, so this drill is a great way to teach yourself how to do it.
For many young or beginner archers, a lack of strength can prevent them achieving this elbow rotation. This is normally due to being “over-bowed” and lacking general physical conditioning. If this applies to you, work to become stronger as a whole. You can see some great exercises that will improve your archery strength in our Archery Exercises section. Bow training will also help this.
1. Stand with your shooting stance, and your bow arm raised as if you are at full draw. Look towards the target direction but watch your elbow and bow hand.
2. Try and rotate the bow arm elbow so that the line becomes vertical, without rotating your bow hand around or rolling your shoulder joint over. You can see this demonstrated correctly in the figure above.
3. Notice that in the figure above, the bow hand does not rotate as the elbow rotates. In this photo it is easy to see the movement when you look at the armguard. At the correct position the elbow joint is vertical and the crease of the elbow is directly facing the camera. At the incorrect position the crease of the elbow joint is facing upwards to the sky.
As you rotate the elbow, it is natural for the muscles around the shoulder to almost rotate slightly too. You can see this if you look closely at the figure above. However, there should be no tension in the upper traps or pronounced rolling over of the shoulder joint.
To start with, try this drill with your bow hand flat against a wall or some other object. This will prevent your bow hand moving as you rotate the elbow joint in this drill. It will help you learn to disconnect your elbow movement from your bow hand movement.
There are exceptions and some people are able to get great direction through the bow arm and perform at a high level without fully rotating their bow arm. However, generally it is required to get the best alignment and connection through the shot. To see how you can fit this drill in with your training plan, see our guide on How To Train for Archery.