Many archers enjoy experimenting with techniques and styles.
If you’ve been shooting for accuracy, and now you want to add some speed, you might consider using the thumb draw.
This old technique was originally used in Asia, and is known for a quick nocking that allows for fast use.
The thumb draw is often used with Asiatic or composite bows.
It is possible to use a thumb draw with a recurve bow, but you may need to change your bow — the technique works best for right-handers using a left-handed bow (and the other way around).
The thumb draw prioritizes speed, and it’s a fun way to challenge yourself and learn new techniques.
Take a look at this guide to find out more about the thumb draw, and possible ways to use it with a recurve bow.
What Is The Thumb Draw?
The thumb draw is a technique of drawing a bow that uses that thumb to hook the string, instead of the fingers.
When the fingers are used to hook the draw, this is commonly known as the Mediterranean draw.
The thumb draw is less common in Western countries, but this traditional method can be beneficial in certain situations.
The thumb draw is also sometimes known as the Mongolian draw, and those who use the thumb draw might be referred to as “thumb shooters”.
The thumb draw technique is commonly associated with bows and archers from Asia.
The method has been growing in popularity across the world, because it can be advantageous thanks to the quick nocking it allows.
When Is The Thumb Draw Used?
The thumb draw is traditionally used by those shooting with an Asiatic or composite bow. It’s also popular with horseback archery.
The thumb draw is the traditional draw for horseback archers, as you can nock quickly while avoiding finger pinch.
Most interest in the thumb draw comes from the speed of nocking.
The quick method has made the thumb draw a popular choice among those practicing speed shooting, but this works best when used with a composite or Asiatic bow.
The thumb draw is also commonly used when shooting small bows.
Using the thumb draw method you can shoot smaller bows without the risk of finger pinch, and utilize the different angles afforded by smaller bows.
The Disadvantages Of The Thumb Draw
The thumb draw is most commonly used for speed, rather than accuracy.
Because the arrow is typically away from the eye, it’s harder to fine tune aim.
The entire sight picture is different, and this can take some time to get used to. Consistency is also difficult with the thumb draw.
There are a greater number of moving parts, so more opportunity for things to go wrong.
And as it isn’t a forgiving technique, even small issues can become big problems. Finally, it’s a tricky technique to learn.
Even with a composite bow designed for thumb draws, the technique takes some time to master.
Of course, all these issues are emphasized when you’re trying to shoot a thumb draw with a recurve bow.
Recurve bows are designed to be used with the Mediterranean draw, which uses the fingers to hold and shoot.
If you try to switch to the thumb draw, you might notice the problems before you can see any advantages.
How To Shoot Thumb Draw
The thumb draw does put pressure on the thumb, and poor technique can lead to pains.
It’s important to wear a thumb ring or use tape, to protect the skin from rubbing when you pull the string.
Thumb rings are better for a clean release, but tape is easier to get hold of (particularly if you only want to practice a thumb draw with a recurve bow).
- First, find your nocking point. When shooting with a thumb draw, the arrow rests on the thumb knuckle of your bow hand. The nocking point is typically above the arrow. An advantage of thumb draws is fast nocking, so you want to be sure you have the correct nocking point.
- Now you can start drawing the bow. Clench your little, middle, and ring finger into a fist. Hold the index finger and thumb in an “L” shape. Place the thumb around the bottom of the nock. Place the index finger gently on the fingernail of the thumb, without pressing down hard.
- Pull back the bowstring. You should feel the weight on the thumb and index finger, and this should hold the arrow tight to the bow. The other fingers should be clear of the string and arrow.
- Release by relaxing the index finger and thumb.
Can You Use A Thumb Draw With A Normal Recurve Bow?
The short answer is: sometimes.
You can shoot a thumb draw as a right-hander using a left-handed recurve bow, but it’s much harder to use a thumb draw as a right-hander using a right-handed recurve bow.
This is because the bow needs to be flipped to grip properly, meaning the window is cut into the wrong side, and the arrow won’t have a place to rest.
If you wanted to use a right-handed recurve bow, you’d need to learn the thumb draw using your left hand, or try tricky string walking.
There are some obvious disadvantages to using a thumb draw with a normal recurve bow.
For a start, the recurve bow isn’t designed to be used that way.
You won’t be able to see over the riser, meaning you have to shoot much more instinctively.
If you were just learning how to shoot, with no prior experience, you’d find the thumb draw on the recurve a tricky one to grasp.
Another issue with using the thumb draw on a recurve bow is the grip.
The grip is molded for either a right or left hand, but you’re flipping the usage with the thumb draw.
But if you have experience using a recurve bow, trying to use the thumb draw is a fun way to challenge yourself.
Over short distances, you might even be surprised by your level of accuracy.
To use a normal recurve bow for right-handed thumb draws, you have to shoot from the left side of the bow.
Hold the thumb lower down on the string, so that it avoids touching the arrow. Then you can draw back safer, and shoot with the thumb draw.
It might take some time to get comfortable (and accurate) but it is possible to shoot this way.
This is actually how it’s done in archery competitions in modern Mongolia.
This is preferable if you want to avoid using left-handed club bows, or find holding the bow in the wrong hand uncomfortable.
It is possible to use a thumb draw with a normal recurve bow, but it might take some time to get used to.
The easiest way to do it as a right-hander is to shoot using a left-handed bow.
But with string walking, you can also shoot thumb draw as a right-hander with a right-handed bow.
It’s a challenging technique, and a fun one to experiment with, but you might struggle with accuracy.
After all, this isn’t how the recurve bow is designed to be used.