When you watch the Olympics and other archery competitions on television you may watch and be confused when they fire their arrow and the appear to drop their bows. While this may seem awkward and counter-productive, for their needs in firing it is tremendously valuable.
Why do archers drop their bow? The surprising answer is that it is to help them be much more accurate in their firing. In truth they are never actually holding their bows with their hands but are, in fact, resting the bow on their hand which is why it drops when they fire. Removing the grip of the bow allows more control while increasing accuracy.
So what is with this drop and how can it actually help you to fire in a closer grouping. We will then dive into why the Olympic archers swing their bows when they fire and whether it is for the same objective.
What Is a Drop of the Bow?
The drop of the bow is basically an approach to firing and bracing your bow without grasping it. When you grasp the bow you add in more forces which can and will impact your ability to aim effectively.
The setup is that the bow rests or is "held" by just the crook of your hand between your thumb and index finger and that no fingers actually GRIP the handle and that the handle is technically free to fall.
Should You Drop Your Bow?
This will greatly be determined by what you are attempting to do with your bow, if it is to fire very slow incredibly accurate single shots then learning the drop is going to greatly help you fire accurately.
Should you be aiming at targets at 70 yards then it is smart to learn how to use a drop approach, when you are firing at this distance the little deviations in hand wavering will entirely miss targets which you aim at.
If instead you plan to fire consistently with multiple arrows one after another then a drop will actually hinder your ability to fire as you will have to gain control of your bow each time you fire, slowing down your overall rate of fire.
This method is typical of short range close targets that are within 7-10 yards and the goal being to hit the target, not to specifically hit the dime sized area of the target itself.
Why Do Olympic Archers Swing Their Bows?
Basically the same as a drop listed above but with longer distance shots and smaller targets to hit means that it is vitally important that they impart no change to the the trajectory through holding of the bow itself.
What most people don't know is that when you hold the bow you are imparting force which can cause deviations when you fire the arrow, over the travel of 70 yards this can mean feet from inches of movement.
Watch the below video for a longer, more in depth, explanation from NUsensei who explains how and why the drop exists while showing it.
Hopefully that video helped shed some more light and understanding around the swing that the Olympic athletes use and maybe you'll pick it up and give it a go?
Do People Drop On Compound Bows?
While researching about drops it appears to be not as large a thing within users of compound bows. From what I have read this is typically due to the fact that a compound bow fires much faster so the arrow will be off the bow before the drop could even occur.
Compound bows also aren't allowed in the Olympics so there is less people using them strictly for accuracy competitions and this could change if they were ever to allow compound bows into sports like the Olympics.
Did War Archers Drop Their Bows
This is an argument against the use of drops and is more about archers from our history. While the history doesn't show any use of drop shooting, which is a newer evolution, it also doesn't mean it couldn't have been used in the older days.
Once again here is NUSensei with an awesome video showing why when you plan to fire and hit a target why dropping would be inefficient.
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Today we went over the cool use of dropping the bow after shots and how it actually can help impart less impact on your shots leading to straighter and more accurate fire. This can help you hit targets far more accurately at a greater distance which is why they are favored for Olympic athletes who need to hit quarters reliably at 70 yards consistently.
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