What Is The Thumb Draw In Archery

What is the thumb draw in archery? Should you be using it and are there any disadvantages to it?

Here is a brief description of what it is.

In general, the thumb draw is an eastern style archery technique of drawing the bowstring where you use only the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand.

I will tell you, why it’s not a good way to shoot in my personal opinion in just a second.

So How Is It Done?

The process below is written for right-handed archers, if you are left-handed do everything the opposite.

How To Do The Thumb Draw In 7 Easy Steps:

1. Get a bow that supports a thumb draw (not all bows are designed to support this way of shooting)
2. Hold the bow in your left hand
3. Place the arrow tip on the right side of your bow, not the left side
4. Nock the arrow (place the back end of your arrow to the bowstring, so it stays in place)
5. Keep holding your arrow, with your left hand, while making an L sign on your right hand with your thumb and index fingers
6. Hook your right thumb finger around the bowstring just below your arrow
7. Slightly rotate your right palm, towards the tip of your arrow and “hug” your right thumb with your right index finger

Your right index finger should be holding your thumb at this point. The purpose of your right index finger is to hold the arrow in place. We will get to why that was important a little later on.

Here is how it is supposed to look.

Why Did People Start Shooting Like This?

The thumb draw was widely popular in Asia. At one point in time at least half of the planet shot with the thumb draw. The theory behind its origins is that the Asian tribes like the Mongols, Turks, and the Huns relied heavily on horse archery as a way to wage war.

The thumb draw technique for its many flaws in the modern-day provided for many benefits for the Asian warriors. The main one being it gave them greater control of their bow, while riding a horse, no matter how they moved the arrow did not fall off the bow.

Because the index finger fixated the arrow.

That was the main selling point of the thumb draw. Greater control of the bow regardless of the movement of the horse archer.

Benefits and Disadvantages of the Thumb Draw

There is no practical benefit of using the thumb draw in archery. You might be thinking I’m joking, trust me, I am not

One could make the case, if you are a serious archer it does not hurt to get familiar with all of the variations of archery, and of course, you are correct. I guess you could make a case of trying out something new a new variation could “spice things up”.

Very well. Valid points. Truly the only two benefits I can think of.

So let’s get to this …

The Disadvantages of Using The Thumb Draw

The disadvantages of a thumb draw in archery are:

– The cost of new equipment
– It will change the way you aim if you are used to Mediterranean draw (like most of us)
– New unfamiliar equipment

So let’s start with the hardest disadvantage for me to swallow

The Cost of New Equipment

To effectively shoot with the thumb draw you need an Asiatic-style bow. It goes under various names like Turkish, Hungarian, or Mongolian bows. So need that before starting to practice.

Why do you need that?

A thumb draw is almost impossible to do on a standard recurve bow. Well, not completely impossible, just unnatural. You have to change so much of your shooting technique it’s hardly worth the effort.

You can get around this to an extent by picking up a left-handed bow if you are right-handed. The grip would feel unnatural but it can be done.

What else do you need?

The Thumb Ring

The thumb ring is an archery aid that protects the knuckle on your thumb from damage when using the thumb draw archery technique.

With the thumb draw, you pull the bowstring with the knuckle on your thumb. This means the entire draw weight of a bow is being pulled by one single knuckle on one tiny finger.

The thumb ring allows you to fire more times and not hurt your finger.

This one is relatively inexpensive as you can on Amazon here.

Your Aim Will Be Worse

Consider this.

When using the Mediterranean draw the tip of your arrow is placed on the left side of your bow (if you are right-handed).

This placement slightly alters the trajectory of the arrow. As an archer, you learn to compensate for that by aiming in a certain way. And that habit sticks with you.

With the thumb draw, the tip of the arrow is placed on the right side of your bow. This slight difference in the placement of the arrow, in the end, affects how the arrow travels to the target.

Meaning, your accuracy will take a hit in the beginning. With time you will improve it and learn to aim with the thumb draw.

Just don’t be disappointed when your arrows go off in a weird direction.

New Unfamiliar Equipment

This one is simple. The equipment is new and different. It’s almost as if learning archery from the beginning.

Like with anything new you do get used to it with practice.

How To Get Started With the Thumb Draw in Archery

You know how to do a thumb draw so here are a few tips on how to start practicing it.

  • Have the correct equipment, preferably use a bow with a small draw weight and a thumb ring.
  • Start slowly, remember your thumb isn’t used to this, so to avoid any injury start slow and if at all possible shoot from a small distance. At your local archery range that might not be an option, I know.

Even so, do not fully draw the bow. If your arrows don’t even reach the target that’s fine in the beginning. You are allowing your thumb to get used to this.

  • Ignore accuracy in the beginning. You need to get those repetitions in. So shoot a lot of arrows which will allow your muscle memory to get familiar with this.

Once you get the technique down you can focus on improving your aim.

Should You Use the Mediterranian Draw or the Thumb Draw?

The Mediterranean draw. The sheer fact that most archery equipment is made with the Mediterranean draw in mind should tell you that.

Hopefully, my bias isn’t too obvious here.

In Conclusion

The thumb draw in itself isn’t really that bad. It just has no practical value in modern archery.

You should still try it out. If your archery range has the appropriate equipment, rent it out for a day and have fun.

No harm in changing your practice sessions every once in a while to keep things new.

So give it a go, try it out, I doubt you will like it but you never know.

That is it from my end, thank you for reading, and feel free to take a look at my other articles on archery.

Take care

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