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Basic Archery
Step 5 - Draw and Load


On this page you will learn about Draw and Load, which is the fifth basic archery step of the shot sequence. In this step you will learn how too draw the bow, proper alignment of the drawing arm, location of the drawing arm elbow and the draw arm shoulder.


This step can be one of the harder archery steps to learn and the concept of setting the drawing arm shoulder down does not easily resonate with a lot of entry level archers.

We will walk you through the process so you can grasp this important step and capitalize on the biomechanical efficiency of setting the drawing arm shoulder down and back in preparation for the next steps.

Let's get started...

Before you begin the Draw and Load step you should check the following...

Did you have to reposition your grip hand at any time prior to this step?

- Hint: If you find yourself re-adjusting your grip during the set-up or the draw and load step then you need to re-evaluate your initial grip position.

If you must reposition the hand on the grip during this step then carefully "let-down" the bowstring, adjust the grip hand and start the process over.

- Bow-Arm Shoulder: Is your front shoulder pushed downward or do you feel like the muscles of the bow-arm shoulder are "bunched-up" on the top of the clavicle (collar bone)?

- If the shoulder muscles are on top of the shoulder then the shoulder is not properly located which will lead to pain and prevent you from achieving proper upper body alignment which will also prevent you from performing the remaining steps properly and efficiently.

- Carefully let down the bowstring and start the process over. Try to think about the action of forcing or pushing your shoulder downward while lifting the bow-arm toward the target.

Your chest should be rotated parallel to the arrow shaft and perpendicular to the point of aim (target).

Basic Archery Step 5: Draw and Load

  1. Draw: Draw the bowstring back toward the side of your face.

    1. The bowstring hand started slightly above the level of your nose at the end of the set-up step.

    2. As you draw the bowstring back toward your face in a straight line it should end in a position at the side of your face.

    3. Your index finger on the bowstring hand will be near the corner of your mouth.

  2. Load: As you draw your bowstring arm back toward your face, move your shoulder (drawing-arm) back and down as far as possible.

    1. This is the action of positioning the shoulder and scapular so that the back muscles can "take over" the draw weight of the bow in a later step called transfer and hold.

    2. Think of rotating the shoulder blade around from the front of your body toward the back.

    3. As you rotate the shoulder back, it should also move down as low as possible.

  3. Move your drawing arm elbow until it is directly behind and parallel to the arrow shaft.

    1. If you are not able to get your elbow directly behind the arrow it is OK. If the elbow is slightly higher than the arrow you are in a good position but the elbow should not be below the arrow.

Coach's Corner

It is important to know that you are not yet transferring the draw weight of the bowstring from the stronger bicep muscles to the back muscles during this step.

We are simply putting the shoulder in the right position for the next step.

The wrist, forearm and elbow of the drawing arm (bowstring hand) should be located behind the arrow and as close to parallel (in-line) with the arrow shaft as possible.

It is not uncommon for new archers to tilt the head back away from the bow OR rotate the head toward the bow string.

While the archer feels comfortable doing one or the other, or both, the action of tilting the head will make you unstable and prevent the archer from achieving the best biomechanical alignment of muscle, joints and bones.

Keep your head up with the chin rotated toward your bow arm shoulder.

Resist the temptation to tilt or roll your head.

Suggestion: Focus on bringing the bowstring and string hand to you rather than moving your face and head to the bowstring.

If you are a beginner or advanced archer and you are looking for a personal instructor, coach or trainer you can contact me directly.

What is the next basic archery step?

Go to Basic Archery Step 6 - Anchor

Go to previous Basic Archery Step 4 - Set Up


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