As we already said in our recurve basics section, archery is about consistency, and the purpose of all our previous technique work is to give us the best chance of making a consistent release.
The release is normally only thought of as the motion of the draw hand fingers leaving the string. However, it also includes the direction and movement of the rest of the body at the time when the arrow is leaving the bow. So, your goal here is to release with minimal movement from the rest of the body until the arrow has completely left the bow.
Once the arrow is on the way to the target, the follow-through begins. The-follow through is the movement of the body after the shot has been executed. You can think of it like the swing of a tennis racket after hitting a ball, the swing continues way past the point of contact. The follow-through is an essential part of recurve technique. You must maintain motion and direction until after the arrow has hit the target. You can see more videos about the release on our Online Archery Academy YouTube channel.
1. The release is the most important part of the shot. Everything up to now has been done to make it as good as possible.
2. The follow through must be maintained until after the arrow hits the target.
3. The follow through tells us how the shot was executed.
4. During release, you must maintain movement and direction of the draw elbow around the body.
5. The bow hand side must direct the bow towards the target and then into the ground during the follow through.
6. The bow arm should stay horizontal and not drop down.
7. The draw hand should stay close to the neck at the start of the release. There should be no visible ‘opening’ of the fingers.
8. Drills are essential to learn the release quickly.
The release of the string from the fingers is perhaps one of the most difficult skills to learn. New archers normally think in terms of “opening” the string fingers. However, to get a good release you must instead think of keeping the fingers in the same place as the draw hand moves backwards. You do not open the fingers, the string pushes them out of the way.
For example, you can see a great example of the recurve release in Video 1 below. As the string leaves the fingers you can notice how there is no movement from the rest of the body. It is also clear that during the release the fingers immediately curl back to their original position and move straight backwards along the neck and jaw.
During the release you don’t want the fingers to contact any part of the arrow as this will cause inconsistent grouping. If your finger is pressing on the arrow at full draw or expansion, it will probably contact it during your release. To get the cleanest release, all three fingers should leave the string at the same time or as closely together as possible.
During the release, it is crucial that the whole draw arm continues the expansion motion around the body and does not collapse. There should be no twisting or forward movement from the wrist, forearm, elbow or upper arm.
At the exact moment of release, the draw elbow looks as if it is stationary on a slow motion camera. However, it is still being directed around the body along the line of expansion. It is balanced by the bow arm side which is directed towards the target. Maintaining the elbow direction is essential to keep the release clean and close to the neck. If you lose direction from the elbow and try to “open” the fingers to release the string, you will probably collapse on your draw side and have a sloppy, outward release.
Video 2 illustrates what good release execution (left side) and execution error (right side) looks like; look very closely at the right video and you can see the draw side elbow collapse and the bow shoulder collapse on release.
In the same way that the draw elbow continues along the line of expansion, the bow arm must continue towards the target through the release.
You must really continue to direct the bow into the target as you execute the shot. For some people it almost feels as if they are pushing the arrow into the gold. This front arm execution is balanced with your draw side execution. Perhaps the most obvious way you can watch the bow arm execution is to get someone to watch your longrod as you release. It should maintain direction and fall forwards, it shouldn’t twitch to one side.
To get a good release, you must think about continuing your expansion motion past the clicker and moving past the follow through. This will make sure you maintain your direction and movement and have a good release on both sides. In the right side of Video 2 below, you can see an execution error on the bow arm side visible as the bow shoulder moving during the release.
The follow through is really a longer extension of the release. It’s simply the part of the release which continues once the arrow has left the bow, and lasts until after the arrow hits the target. As a result, the release and follow through both give us vital information about how the earlier stages of the shot were performed. In particular, the effectiveness of your expansion phase will be shown clearly in your follow through.
During the follow through the draw elbow will continue moving around the body and as a result the draw hand will move closely along and around the neck. The bow arm and wrist should remain as close as possible to their full draw position as the bow hand wrist directs the bow roll forwards and down into the ground. Both sides of the follow through are connected and you must synchronise them so that they act together. Improving one side of your follow through can often also improve the other side because of this connection.
You can see the follow through demonstrated in the series of pictures that make up Fig 1 below. Notice in Fig 1d that there is a straight line maintained between the draw elbow right through to the bow hand.