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Archery How to Avoid Getting Slapped

How to Avoid Getting Slapped

archer using compound bow, arrow drawn ready to fire.
Whose fault is it?

Taking the Risk

There are always risks when sending projectiles at any reputable speed down range. When firing a gun there are a few risks. One of them is the recoil, while some guns don’t produce much, some may send an unaware shooter to the ground. Recoil is a small thing when on the other side of the coin there may be catastrophic failures that will give you more than a strong punch in the shoulder. 

You, “But Bow Bully, what risks are there when shooting a bow?”

The most common risk is the forearm slap. I don’t have any experience personally with this but, have been a witness to a fellow archer’s misfortune. When the string in full draw has the capability of sending an arrow over 300 feet per second, you better believe if it catches a piece of you on the way by, it’s going to leave a mark. 

Watch That Forearm

There are other risks but, let’s focus on this one for now. Have you ever been slapped? Not by your girlfriend, by your bow string! Maybe you were shooting a recurve bow like the Bear Super Grizzly when you got slapped. 

Did you throw the bow down and say some choice words to it, like it was the bow’s fault? Did you set it down gently, then fall to your knees while you looked up to the sky and cried aloud, WHY? WHY? While your salty tears streamed down your face? If so, why so dramatic, it’ll heal. 

It’s Not Your Fault?

You can stop blaming your bow or the alignment of the stars, it’s your fault. I understand, it’s much easier to blame everything else and move on. Blaming others doesn’t fix the problem. You can buy a new bow like the PSE Archery Stinger ATK Hunter and guess what? If you’re still blaming the bow and didn’t bother to find out the real problem, you’ll probably get slapped again. 

If you’re willing to accept the correction that will allow you to sling the string on both the bows you now own without purple consequences, here it is. 

Good Form Is Your Protection

It’s all about form, I told you it was your fault. I’m watching you fasten your Trophy Ridge Ten Ring Release,  grip the grip with your left hand, close the jaws of your release on the d-loop, with a push pull motion draw. Don’t release yet. 

Check yourself. Are you in a T stance? Great! Now take a look at your left arm or the one you are holding the grip with. Is your elbow locked out? It is? UH OH! Do not release! I repeat, do not release! 

That’s the problem, your forearm is in the line of fire! Unlock that elbow and allow a slight bend. Now that you know your problem, it’s a good idea if you transfer “knowing” into an action and make the proper hold a habit! 

Bear Archery Cordura Arm Guard shown on archer's arm with packaging.
Bear Archery Cordura Arm Guard

If you’d like to continue shooting traditional bows or compound bows without such great purple consequences, take my advice and don’t lock your elbow. If you’d like to continue shooting traditional bows or compound bow but don’t want to change your form, invest in protection for your arm like the Bear Archery Cordura Arm Guard. Maybe you’re concerned you’ll occasionally fall back into bad form, an easy solution is to invest in an arm guard. 

TenPoint Titan Crossbow with sight, locked and loaded.
Scared into a Crossbow?

There’s Always a Crossbow

Maybe the result of the slap is that you’ve sworn off all bows except crossbows because like the TenPoint Turbo S1  they don’t require any part of you to be in front of the string to send the arrow flying, and that is comforting to you. You have that option and I won’t judge you, at least not right now, not in front of everyone else. 

Isn’t it a wonderful thing to have so many options? Learn the problem and correct your issues, change the type of bow you shoot, or invest in protection for your vulnerable parts. Whatever you choose, get out there and sling the string! 

13 thoughts on “How to Avoid Getting Slapped”

  1. TBB,

    Even if your form is good and you don’t experience wrist-slap, investing in an arm guard is good to keep clothing clear of the bow string. Most people practice in plain cloths and forget that their cold weather gear is bulkier and can interfere with a shot, an arm guard can help with that.

    Think that over-bowing is a contributing factor to wrist-slap. If the bow is too heavy it’s natural to lock the elbow and bring the bow string closer to the body to get maximum support and best mechanical advantage for the draw.

    How much bow is ok? IMHO, without special training and lots of practice/toning, the average office worker who sits at a desk all day is best off shooting at 45-50 pounds; a construction worker who does physical work should be able to handle up to 60 pounds and any heavier than that requires special training to shoot well.

    Being able to draw the bow easily and smoothly will allow a relaxed and consistent release. If you need to jerk the bow to draw it you need to do some weight training and/or turn the power down. The “extra range” presumably gained by shooting a heavy bow is usually lost to not being able to hit anything way out there anyway.

    Two bucks and a doe under the apple tree on the front lawn at the moment… nice to watch them.

    Done rambling. Have a great weekend 😉


    • Hank,

      Those are all great points, thanks for bringing those up. Over-bowing is pretty common, no one wants to admit their appropriate max draw weight is less than…If people will hear you on this, I know it will improve their experience all around. I may just need to write a whole new blog in response to your comment to allow others to learn these very important points. Thanks for sharing!

      Enjoy watching the deer and Hank, ramble on man, ramble on!

      -The Bow Bully

  2. The title of your article prompted me to read it. I am not a bow shooter, although I inherited a couple Bear recurves and a long bow an old Potawatomi man made for my father when he was a small child in northern Wisconsin. They are very cool looking decorations on a wall in my home.

    The first time I did shoot a bow was when I was a Cub Scout, under the guidance of a Cub Scout leader at a weekend campout. It was a youth longbow of yellow fiberglass. The grip was a deep, dark blue. When I released that string, it slapped my little forearm so hard it swelled into a purple mess in mere seconds. I was in excruciating pain for a good twenty minutes and pretty serious pain for three days, as I recall. I had to leave the campout and go home just a half hour into it, holding an ice pack to that throbbing arm the whole drive home.

    As I noted, that was the first time I shot a bow. It was also the last time, more than 50 years ago.

    An excellent article, despite being half a century too late for me personally.


  3. Michael,

    Sorry to hear I showed up a little late, but I’m glad you took the time to read the blog. That’s a pretty traumatic experience and I could see why you didn’t want to shoot a bow again, I know some people who’ve done the same thing. It was their first time shooting a bow and their last.
    I’m so glad you stopped by, now that you know how to avoid getting slapped maybe you can share it with a future archer and save them from experiencing a one shot experience.

    Thanks again Michael for stopping by! I hope to hear from you again soon!

    -The Bow Bully

  4. “There are other risks but, let’s focus on this one for now. Have you ever been slapped? Not by your girlfriend, by your bow string”

    It’s media like that that will drive off the women reading, and the men that aren’t asses.

  5. TBB
    I didn’t want to take part in this blog, despite being an archer and crossbow user, since I considered it’s an airgun thing. That was until today. Anyone with a sense of humor deserves attention, especially if his humor is attacked by others not sharing this aspect of life. Keep on with straight flights…

  6. “…take my advice and don’t lock your elbow.”

    The Bow Bully,
    That’s a nice concise piece of advice…I (like Michael) just wish you’d told me that 50 years ago, LOL!
    I had no one to teach me, and I got a few bruises before I learned: “locked elbow…not good!”
    Keep up the good work. 🙂
    Blessings to you,

  7. FM’s HO (stands for Humble Opinion) is the world’s already pretty sick/stressed and a little humor lightens things up and is good medicine. Question: would it be ok to say that being slapped by your bowstring is like being slapped by Moe of The Three Stooges? Then you would experience slapstick!

    On a slightly more topical note, sharing this because it is relevant to bows and arrows and all things related. It would have been very distressing to lose one of your arrows back then; there was no Amazon to fetch one for you. 😉


    • FM,

      The Three Stooges is a good reference, very suitable to the topic. Losing an arrow is never fun, but agreed, today’s ecommerce platforms make replacements much easier than trying to find the right wood and making your own. Thank you for sharing.

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