Last week I changed my anchor point from the corner of my mouth to behind my ear. You often see medieval depictions of archers drawing their bow behind their ear and it is these depictions that the modern warbow archer has looked at for guidancance.
Luttrell Psalter f.147v – British Library
At the moment I am no where near a warbow draw weight but it is something that I aspire to. So whilst I save up for a heavier bow, at 80# @31, I thought I’d try and nail down the drawing technique with my lighter 55# bow.
Now, I don’t know anybody in person who shoots from behind the ear or for that matter shoots a heavy bow so I’ve been watching videos of warbow archers on youtube and bothering @keoghnick on instagram.
From my online observations it looks like the archer has a much narrower stance than the modern stance, to the point where the front leg is placed slight further forward than the back. As you place your arrow on the bow you learn forwards at the hips and as you move back into an up right position you stretch your back, push with your bow arm and pull with the draw arm and then slightly lean into the draw. This allows you to use your back muscles and not just rely on those in our arms. No movement is wasted in the draw process as it all helps get the bow back. Leaning into the shot also seems to allow your back to bear more of the weight much like a weight lifter would have an arch in their back as they do a deadlift.
I decided to try and video myself drawing this way so that I could see what my form was like. I didn’t knock am arrow as I don’t have the space to loose in my garden but it did give me a good guide to what I was or wasn’t doing. The video can be found here, I tired embedding the video but I gave up after a few attempts.
One of the things I found strange was the feel of the bow when I drew without an arrow nocked, it was probably physiological, as I was concentrating on the draw, but the bow felt really heavy. Another thing I noticed was that I was bringing my draw arm up and over leading to a rotation of my shoulder. This is something I’ve never consciously done before so I need to stop doing it before I overload my shoulder.
I’ve now been shooting from the ear for a few sessions and I can honestly say that it’s really comfortable. It does take a while to get used to the motion and the anchor but after a while it started to feel really natural. As an added bonus that extra inch or so added to my draw is leading to the arrows traveling quicker and faster. All in all I’m happy with my progress and as the weeks go on I’m hoping my technique will become more refined.
2 thoughts on “Anchor Away”
Be very careful of using archer’s renderings of archers shooting as these can be very misleading. The artists are almost never archers themselves, and they do succumb to artistic license when making their portraits. Even the verbal descriptions one can find are hard to interpret as word usage changes and modern definitions often do not suffice. I heartily recommend the books of archery historian Hugh D.H. Soar to satisfy your history lust. His descriptions are painstakingly researched and he is an archer and has been around since the dawn of time, seemingly.
Thanks for the comment. I’ve read Hugh’s book and you’re right it’s very detailed and a great read. My approach at the moment has been to watch how others are doing it, research and then trail and error. If I’m honest it’s been a lot of fun working out what does and doesn’t work