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How to Not Hit Your Forearm with the Bowstring

The sting from a bowstring slapping the inside of the forearm can deter beginning archers from picking up a bow again. But there’s good news: You can easily avoid bowstring slaps , even without a giant armguard.

To prevent bruises on your inner elbow and forearm, you must keep them out of the bowstring’s path. Doing so brings other benefits. It improves your archery form and builds a stronger bow arm. Let’s review the two steps that achieve those results.


Fix Your Grip

Gripping the bow incorrectly can make your elbow rotate in, not out. To grip your bow, relax your hand and place it on the bow’s grip. Slide your hand upward as far as it can go. The web of your hand should be in the bow grip’s deepest part: the throat.

Next, set your hand so only the area between your thumb and the palm’s lifeline contacts the grip. Look at your hand. Your knuckles should be set back and at a 45-degree angle to the riser. That angle helps set your elbow in the proper position.

Rotate Your Elbow

Make sure your elbow is rotated so that it is out of the path of the bowstring. Photo Credit: Arrow Soft Sports

With your grip set, pull the bowstring a few inches to add tension, and rotate your elbow out. That moves your elbow out of the bowstring’s path and sets your bow arm in a strong position.

If you have trouble setting your elbow, a simple drill gets it into position. With your bow arm extended as if you’re shooting, place the palm of your hand against a wall. That lets you see your elbow’s natural position. If you’re a right-handed archer, practice rolling your elbow clockwise. For lefties, rotate your bow arm’s elbow counter-clockwise. Once you get a feel for that movement, pick up your bow and replicate it.

Need an Armguard?

Recurve archers still need an armguard to protect their forearms. After the arrow leaves a recurve bow, the bowstring strikes the forearm while bouncing back and forth, which you’ll see in slow-motion videos. That contact isn’t hard, but it can leave a red mark after a few shots. A small armguard prevents that issue and makes shooting comfortable. Some compound-bow archers also need an armguard, but it varies by individual.

Bow arms are one of the most unique aspects of archery form. Don’t be discouraged if your elbow won’t move the way we’ve discussed. Just work with a coach who can diagnose your form and provide sound advice. To find a coach nearby click here.



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