How To Thumb Draw A Bow (In 3 Easy Steps)

Categorized as Archery Tips
how to thumb draw a bow

Are you looking for a step-by-step guide on how to thumb draw a bow?

You can stop looking anywhere because, in this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about thumb draw: from the basic to the step-by-step instruction to thumb draw a bow.

If you already know what is a thumb draw and its benefits you can skip straight to the following section.

What is a Thumb Draw?

Thumb draw is a bow draw method where the archer uses only the thumb to hook the string. As opposed to the Mediterranian draw method where fingers are used to draw the bow instead of the thumb.

Thumb draw is originally known as “Mongolian draw/release” while the shooter is often called “thumb archer” or “thumb shooter”.

Even though the thumb draw method is believed to be originated from Mongol, the technique is quite popular and spread out among all archers across the Asian steppes, including Korea, Russia, China, Persia, and Turkey.

If you live in Europe or North America, you’re likely more familiar with the Mediterranean draw method as the predominant drawing method in modern target archery.

Nonetheless, in recent years, thumb draw’s popularity has risen significantly in those two continents due to a number of benefits that the method offers.

Why Thumb Draw?

Thumb draw is quite popular in archery fields where quick nocking is essential such as horseback archery.

Horseback archers will likely favor thumb draw over other methods not only for the tradition but because the thumb draw allows them to nock quickly and at the same time avoiding “finger pinch”.

Horseback archers use shorter bows such as composite bows to shoot. This shorter bows can cause a significant finger pinch if shot repeatedly with finger methods.

However, unlike finger shooters, thumb drawer won’t ever experience a string pinch as thumb shooter only use their thumb not fingers to pull the bow.

Thumb Draw a Bow: The Step-By-Step Guide

Bad shooting form along with poorly fitting thumb ring is often the cause of sore and swollen thumb. To get a clean shoot and avoid any injury, it is, therefore, necessary to practice shooting with the perfect shooting form wearing the proper thumb ring.

The perfect form to thumb draw a bow starts with learning how to nock arrows the right way.

1. Setting Up The Nocking Point

If you were a finger shooter, and this is the first time you try to shoot with a thumb draw technique, you need to remember that when you nock the arrow rests on the thumb knuckle of the bow hand.

This different resting position means a different nocking point. The different nocking point from the usual with different drawing method can cause the fletchings to injure your hand, rubbing your bow hand as they cross.

Thus before we start with anything, we need to determine our new nocking point first.

As a quick guide, remember that a thumb shooter commonly places their nocking point above the arrow.

Aside from nocking with a proper form, you may also want to wear a thumb ring to protect your skin which we’re going to discuss in details later in this post.

Once set up, you can start nocking the arrow with a pinch grip or scoop grip. Use the nocking method that you are most comfortable with.

2. The Most Common Mistake

The most common mistake that archers are often made when trying to thumb draw for the first time is they use the index finger to grip the thumb. This is a serious error that can lead to injury as the index finger should be in a rested position, not a tight position.

Drawing the string makes all the force, and the weight of the bow goes through the thumb. When you grip the thumb with the index finger while you’re drawing the string, you add unnecessary extra pressure to the thumb that can lead to different types of a thumb injury.

If you find your thumb is getting hurts, swells, or bruise when shooting, stop the session immediately and reassess your shooting form again.

Now, we are going to learn how to thumb draw a bow with the Turkish Style thumb ring.

How to Thumb Draw a Bow with a Turkish Style Thumb Ring

  • Wear your thumb ring.
  • Clench your middle, ring, and little fingers into a fist to help strengthen the wrist.
  • Form your index finger and thumb into an “L” position.
  • Place the bowstring at the lip of the thumb ring.
  • With your index finger still extended, curl your thumb around the string. To make sure the thumb lock is solid, press the tip of the thumb against the side of the knuckle of the middle finger.
  • Rest the index finger lightly on top of the thumb, remember the index finger should only be rested not pressed against the thumb. Doing so will cause injury to the thumbnail and skew the release.
  • You can now draw the bow. When you’re ready to draw the bow, the arrow and bowstring should rest against the hand above the thumb.
  • As you pull the bow, sometimes it may be necessary to tilt your wrist outward to maintain the right angle between your thumb and the string.
  • Remember to hold your hand horizontally and put all of your fingers into one side of the string to keep the fingers clear of the string and interfere with the release.

3. Release

  • To release the arrow, continue to pull the string back. Use the back muscle to draw the bow, not your arm muscle.
  • Relax your hand and continue to pull through. As you pull the string, twist the wrist of the draw hand.
  • Don’t open your hand to release the string; the release must be done smoothly and naturally as a result of the relaxation and the rotation of the draw hand.

Thumb Protection

Thumb Tape

There are many thumb drawers that shoot using tape on their thumb — the method known as tapping the thumb.

The method is quite popular in the UK, the main advantage of using tape is that you don’t need to worry about fitting. Furthermore, the tape is cheap and available anywhere.

The downside is that the quality of the release won’t be as clean as when shooting with the thumb ring.

Thumb Ring

I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching out anything, but trust me when I say that shooting while wearing a thumb ring makes everything a lot better.

Providing you’re wearing a correctly fitting thumb ring, it protects your hand better and allows for a smoother, cleaner release which ultimately improves your accuracy.

The most common types of thumb ring used are the Turkish and the Korean ring. We have learned how to draw a bow with the Turkish style thumb ring in the previous paragraph above.

The only difference between the Turkish and the Korean thumb ring lays in the placement of the bowstring. The Korean thumb ring has a raised lip, a cut-out section where the string rests.

This cut-out section allows you to feel the string against your thumb without actually taking the weight on the thumb as the ring, not the thumb that holds the weight.

Some archers claim that this style of placement allows them to draw and release the bow better. In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference and taste which one you should use, the Turkish or the Korean thumb ring.

Apart from this difference in the placement, the Korean thumb ring is used in the same way as the Turkish thumb ring.


Why Does The String Rub The Tip of My Thumb When Released?

This problem happens when you’re not relaxing your hand enough. Beginner thumb drawers often make this mistake of opening their hand to release the arrow.

The problem is, it is humanly impossible to get our thumb out of the way in time when the string is traveling faster than your regular speed limit.

That is why the release must be done manually via relaxation and rotation of the hand not by intentionally opening your hand.

Why Does My Thumb Nail or Knuckle Hurt When I Shoot Thumb Draw?

This happens as a result of pressing your index finger against the nail to hold the thumb, instead of pushing, the index finger should be relaxed and resting lightly on the thumb.

Why Does The Base of My Thumb Hurt When I Shoot Thumb Draw?

To prevent this from happening you need to spread the force of the bow when thumb drawing by locking the tip of your thumb against the middle finger.

If you don’t use the tip of your thumb to help brace and support the thumb, all the load will be carried out solely by the thumb which could hurt the base of your thumb if too much force is repeatedly exerted and lead to tendonitis.

Why Does My Thumb Become Painful and/or Discoloured When I Wear a Thumb Ring?

Wearing a poorly fitting thumb ring can cause a myriad of problems from a thumb pain to a painful injury. This is the reason why you must only wear a correctly fitted thumb ring.