LInear Draw and Alignment (ala the Korean method)...

Exec Summary:  

You draw to alignment and since you are already inline with the bones, you have the leverage to hold so you can anchor.

90 percent of archers who can’t get inline, can’t because they are bound up by anchoring too soon and then pivoting from the anchor and trying to muscle into the line.

You draw to the alignment first, the first part of that is get both shoulders and scapula in line at the beginning. That’s why you see a high front arm and draw arm bicep near their ear from the Korean shooters. You have to do that. Same with any Rick McKinney photo in his book " The Art of Winning". His draw photo sequence is text book linear. His arm positions are the same for this. That’s why his head looks further back. His head is on his hand where the alignment is. When you start the draw, your draw arm bicep should be at your ear. That’s how high you have to get it to get the shoulders in line art the start of the draw. Otherwise, your rear shoulder is out and not in line.

Good example below:

Linear Draw video examples:

a study of shooting styles between clicker muscles, and rubics cube

No tension in their string arms; using linear draw to engage and use clicker muscles

Newbie being instructed to use clicker muscles, not Rubics Cube

Russian Dash ...Look how she executes the linear draw.

And here in this sequence of pictures showing the linear draw from start to finish …

Very high string upper arm to her head/ear (this gets her back shoulder and front shoulder in line), then see how close she draws to her face/body (once she's established her balance line, she stays in this line all the way through her draw to full alignment/anchor).  And then she's holding/expanding with her clicker muscle, so no elbow wobble or arm tension

Korean Jun (2009 world champ) teaching a newbie

teaching a newbie.

Some examples of how to start your LinearAlignmentDraw …

Linear Draw - Drawing and Shooting With The Back, Not The Arm/Wrist

The Hold and the Expansion:

The elite::

- use their Clicker Muscle groups in their back to swell/expand just slightly to break the clicker.  This allows them to keep their string elements - fingers, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder - more relaxed/athletic/responsive.  And this technique to break the clicker is far simpler than breaking the clicker with a fingers/wrist/forearm/elbow/biceps/shoulder technique (Rubics Cube).  Your brain is controlling/directing only two large entities to minutely swell, using only a small additional percentage of their power generation capacity, thus maintaining precision and simplicity.

Another symptom of using Clicker Muscles to expand is that the point approaches and breaks the clicker in a smooth continuous motion - thus more precision and accuracy

- How are the elite able to access/use their clicker muscles to actuate the clicker break, instead of having to use their string arm 'rubics cube of components' ?    Because they 1) understand the importance of using the clicker muscles to actuate expansion, and 2) they have trained up their 'inner back' clicker muscles to be as strong/stronger than their shoulder/biceps/elbow/forearm/wrist/fingers.

Example:  Kim Woojin - look at how he so economically and efficiently just uses his back to drawing (seemingly) effortlessly to perfect alignment with no noticeable tension in his arm or wrist or hand ….  

- Why is having their clicker back muscles stronger than their 'Rubics Cube arm components' important/necessary?  Because it's impossible for your brain to bypass the stronger solution and use only the weaker solution.  You can't do it.  If you want to use your clicker muscles, they have to be at least as strong or stronger than your Rubics Cube.

- Most amateurs 

- have elbows that are shaky and shimmy just before/during/after the clicker break (I'm using examples of two of our best archers - Aurora and Jeff - to show that even high level amateur shooters are prone to shaky elbows/expansions due to insufficient Clicker Muscle strength).  

Why?  Because they are expanding with an increase in power generation across a Rubics Cube array of arm components - 3 fingers, wrist, forearm, elbow, biceps, and shoulder - that must all work within extremely coordinated precision.  And this Rubics Cube is asked to not only 'hold' at anchor and aiming, but then also to have each component of the Cube generate a significant increase in power in order to increase expansion enough to break the clicker.   And each component that is trying to increase its power generation (under enormous stress already) must also exactly maintain the same ratio of coordinated team work with the other components of the the  Cube (the elbow must increase tension but also maintain exactly the same proportion of tension in relation to the tension that is being increased by each finger, and match the increased tension of the wrist ... etc).  Impossible to do.  And thus the shaking, which is just a symptom of the frantic and intense negotiating/stuttering/correcting going on amongst the various Cube components.

Another symptom of using the Rubics Cube solution is that the point approaches the clicker and breaks it only after some stuttering negotiations between the point and the clicker edge, as the various components of the Rubics Cube try to increase tension but still negotiate/coordinate the same precise ratios with the other Cube components.   Less consistent, less accuracy, more fatigue.

- Why do amateurs use this Rubics Cube approach?  Because their clicker back muscles aren't strong enough to 1) communicate with the brain/gain access, and 2) aren't stronger enough to be the primary expansion activator.  Your brain will always use the stronger solution.

- What is the mistake amateurs then make when they decide they need to get stronger to better control the weight and have more control over expansion ?  They do exercises that work the entire back and then necessarily the shoulders, arms, elbows too.  So, if the Rubics Cube has a strength rating of 100, and the Clicker Muscles have a strength rating of 60, the brain will appoint the Rubics Cube to hold/expand/break the clicker.  If the amateur then hits the gym and works hard to make his back and shoulders and elbow and hands/fingers stronger (using conventional exercises and executions of those exercises), now his Clicker Muscles have a strength rating of 80.  But his Rubics Cube strength rating has gone up also, now at 120 to 133.   So the amateur has made no progress in switching clicker expansion/control away from his Rubics Cube and over to his Clicker Muscles.  The brain will continue to use the stronger solution.

So, what is the answer?   

IMO, the answer is two pronged:  

1) a set of specialized/customized workout movements in the gym (one exercise with the lat pull machine; one exercise with a barbell; one exercise with dumbbells).  These exercises must be demonstrated in person to convey the nuance of getting the movements just right.

2)  some special shooting drills to be relentlessly pursued with vigor, discipline, tenacity, and resolve.  Again, these drills must be demonstrated in order to get the nuance right.


Once your Clicker muscles are as strong/stronger than your Rubics Cube, then you can start holding/expanding with the Clicker Muscles, leaving your Rubics Cube components relaxed/pliable/athletic/motionless (and injury free).  This will result in more precision with more weight, higher scores, and less injury risk.

If you can combine this Clicker Muscle mastery with 'getting into force/balance alignment', you'll be amazed at the increase/progress in your draw weight, your margin of error window, and your scores.

This is high level math - quantum physics versus Algebra2 which most archers top at at, technique/preparation-wise..  As such, it's a two-lesson project, to get a good straight push down the highway.  

Finger sleeve

Draw Elbow motionless

Elbow twitchy or shaking



Watch some of the videos of the women elite archers ... usually the Koreans are wearing arm sleeves.  But on some of the other teams (India, Germany, China), one thing they all have in common - not muscular biceps and forearms.  They barely engage the muscles in their arm at all during the draw and anchor - you can't see any muscle definition at all.  The drawing arms are smooth and relaxed, and their elbows are as calm as a statue, and why they don't get injuries hardly ever in their string arm.  They are only expanding with their clicker back muscles, which are stronger than their shoulders/arms/elbows.  Aurora, and Jeff, and me and almost all other non-elite archers - we all shoot with our arms because our shoulder/biceps/elbow/forearm/wrist/finger combo is stronger than our clicker muscles.  We're muscling the shot, and the tension in our arms holds us back (no pun intended).  To make the leap, an archer must make their clicker muscles stronger than their shoulder/arm muscles, and then must use/hold/expand the shot only using those clicker muscles, while the arms stay relaxed/pliable/athletic/fluid.

This is my epiphany over the last couple weeks, shooting and lifting and studying where the stress is during exercises at the gym, what gets sore, and watching videos of my students and then these youtube videos and wondering how their elbows never shake.   And then it all  came together like a kaleidoscope where everything just drops into place and the picture is perfectly clear.

Bombayla from India ...   She's shooting 40lb, but her arm looks like a spaghetti strand, and her elbow is as still as a statue

Lisa Unruh ....     look at how muscular and shapely her legs are.  Lisa is a  big, strong, muscular, athletic girl ... but notice how smooth and definitionless her drawing arm is, both at rest and at full draw.  No arm engagement at all.

Brady -     Brady is a big strong strong young man.  But look at his drawing arm - smooth and definitionless, both at rest and at full draw.  He's not drawing and holding and expanding with his arm.

Once I learn how to LinearDraw, and make it my ‘new normal’,

how do I determine my new ideal draw weight???

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lksseven lksseven is online now

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Mar 2010





As Long As We're Strapping Wires and Monitors on Archers

Per John's musings that he'd like to see some scientific studies on muscles/tendons involved with different shooting form techniques, here is something I really want to know ... With all of these elite archers, what 'percentage of strength required versus strength available' is their optimum range of draw weight?

If you've hurt yourself (broken a bone or bulged a disc or such) and are being treated in a hospital, the medical personnel will ask you to describe your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being 'almost no pain' and 10 being 'the top of my head is coming off because of the pain' .

So, what I would love to know from some of the elite archers is "on a scale of 1 to 10 (and allowing for tenths), what is your level of strength required to hold at full draw/alignment/anchor and be in athletic control such that the bow is a good complimentary dance partner to you and that you can maintain for 72 arrows?"

"At your optimum competitive draw weight (whatever that is for each archer), would you rate your draw weight at 7.8 out of 10, or 8.6 out of 10, or 9.1 out of 10?"

Metaphorically, what is Brady's pain level? Vic? John, when you were doing your best shooting, what was your pain level? Rick? Ki Bo Bae?

Rick McKinney Rick McKinney is offline

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Mar 2008


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Good discussion.

Larry, we tried to answer your question in the mid to late 1980's by using the sciences to test several different items to see what made an archer achieve a higher level than other archers. Unfortunately, the sciences were tossed out in the mid-1990's by a new leader of the program who felt you either had it or you didn't. Sciences and mental training programs were "unnecessary". This was during a period of utter chaos within our organization and what I have called "the Dark Ages" of USAA. The death spiral continued until the USOC stepped in and tossed all board members out and reshaped the organization. Anyway, I digress.

Most of the top archers tested their strength ability of endurance over time by cranking up the poundage a little at a time and found where they could no longer control their shot in an acceptable manner. They then cranked the bow down slightly to where they felt they could control the shot throughout a competition. This was in the 1980's and 1990's. The problem was more in release control than anything else. The goal was to keep your release fingers as relaxed as possible while coming through the clicker. Once the clicker clicked the fingers just slipped from the string and an accurate shot was made consistently. If the string fingers tightened, the release was not so consistent. When adding too much poundage the fingers tightened, thus losing control of that fine motor movement needed for accuracy. That is why most top men are maxed out at near 50#. I shot 51# for my first world title. When I dropped down to 49# the following year, my scores skyrocketed and I became very competitive against my arch rival DP. I tried many times to get my poundage higher, but each time I hit 50# or more, I lost the relaxed finger release control that was needed to be as exacting as I demanded from myself. I find that today, most archers are over bowed and they have a similar problem of yesterday.


Larry’s notes:

General rule of thumb:

Draw weight that you can hold for 45-60sec.  Calculate your competition weight to be 5-10% lower than that.  

So, for example, if you want to compete at 30lb, then in practice/training you should realistically be able to hold 33lbs for 45-60sec and still then make a decent shot (“decent” = hitting 122cm yellow at 20yd )

You can fudge on the above some … but only to this extent:  if you want to compete with a weight that you can only hold for 30 seconds, fine.  But you have to be able to hold that weight for 30 seconds by drawing and holding with only your clicker group, with relaxed fingers/hand/wrist/elbow/arm/shoulder.