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Archery Drills - Bow Trainer Holds

Bow trainer holds are just like the Full Draw Holds that you can do with your fingers. However, using an elbow sling such as a Formaster or Astra Shot Trainer allows you to remove the load on the arm. The benefit of this is that you can challenge your back muscles more by increasing the weight or duration of hold time.

You should combine bow training with general exercises you do in the gym. See our dedicated exercises page: Recurve Archery Exercises.

Key Points

1. Use the formaster to draw the bow and come to full draw.

2. Make sure the formaster is the correct length to let you come to a good position. You can see an acceptable length in the picture above.

3. Hold at full draw. Muscle fatigue is what we want to achieve here, but make sure there is no acute pain in or around the shoulders or the shoulder joint.


You can combine these with other bow training exercises to make a bow training circuit that you do after a training session. Formaster holds can also help you learn to direct your final draw movement from the draw elbow.

recurve archer showing formaster bow training holds

It is incorrectly commonly taught that the recurve grip must be as relaxed as possible. However, this causes many issues. If you allow the wrist and bow hand to be completely relaxed, your hand will slide off the grip. This compromises the bow arm positioning and your release on the bow arm side. This commonly can cause string contact issues with the arm.

There must be some tension in the bow hand in the correct places. You must slightly pull the ring and little finger knuckles of the bow hand back (see Fig 4c and 5a) and directly push your thumb straight towards the target. The thumb direction to the target is crucial for consistent forward pressure. You can see the direction created by the thumb in Fig 4b and 5b.

In fact, the knuckle position in Fig 4c could actually be pulled slightly further back to look more like the archer in Fig 5a. Lastly, it is crucial to have good bow arm elbow rotation to make the proper connection between the grip and the archer. You can read about this more on the Recurve Technique – Set Up page.