With all the debate lately on Archery Talk about how you shoot a hinge, I decided to shed some light on my journeys to learning to become proficient as a hinge shooter. These will be my findings and what worked and didn’t work for myself only.Keep in mind while reading this, I was using bows with SpiralX cams, so I had to adapt my techniques to an aggressive cam that did not allow me to be lazy.
My journey started probably like a lot of others. I saw talk of this magical way of shooting called “Back Tension” and wanted to learn more about it to help myself become a better archer. I started my research by reading posts on ArcheryTalk, watching videos from Larry Wise, and reading articles from John Dudley. The first release I bought was a Carter Evolution. This release is a tension activated release. You set the poundage to trip at a few pounds above your holding weight so that as you come to full draw with the safety engaged, you can release the safety and start to pull through your shot. This increases the pressure and weight against the release and it will trip. This release allowed me to start learning the fundamentals of using the correct muscles in my back that I had read about from John Dudley’s articles, as well as what I had watched with Larry Wises’s video. I enjoyed learning the feel and seeing results, but soon found myself changing to my first hinge release.
This is where the journey of trying different ways of firing a hinge started. Naturally I began by only increasing the muscle tension in my back to pull my elbow back and to the left to rotate the hinge till it fell off the ledge of the moon. I found that by setting my D-Loop length a tad short, I could pull through my shot moving my elbow from right to left and extend to a straight with the arrow position when the hinge fired. Most of the time. Well some of the time. Well….. Yea that method tended to be frustrating. I didn’t like my float. I felt like I was fighting my bow because of the movement in my elbow and back. I would have left and right misses a lot, and if my creep tuning wasn’t spot on I had up and down misses due to varying pressures as well. So that led me to take a step back and really decide if I wanted to shoot a hinge or not. After all, I could use my button release and pull straight back and trip the thumb button. I got good results this way, but the urge to punch my release would still show up. That urge to punch led me back to deciding that yes, in fact I did want to become a hinge only shooter. But now what? What do I do to make firing a hinge more accurate?
I started looking at my hinge as what it was at this point. A mechanical device with a lever that rotated across the moon until it reached the end of the ledge and tripped. It’s such a smooth device to use and that’s what has always drawn me to it, and why I continue to be an advocate of it today as well, but back to how to use the release. So the rotation of the hinge is what is needed to get it to fire. My next way of shooting that I tried was using my outside fingers to increase pressure and cause the rotation to happen and get the hinge to fire. This method allowed me to set my D-Loop length back to an optimal position to allow myself a steadier sight picture because I would not have to increase the tension in my back with any left and right movements of the arm and elbow to get the release to fire. This method worked pretty well for me actually. I liked it and used it for a while. It allowed me to still be aggressive with my SpiralX cams and get a good shot off. The issues I had with this method was torque on the release with my fingers. Since I was only adding pressure with my outside fingers, I would have a tendency to push the hinge down or pull it up in my fingers as I increased the pressure. This caused me some up and down misses because of the movement of the release as I executed. At times I also would pull my shots to the right as well because of how I was squeezing the hinge. Once I figured out what was happening, I went back to the drawing board on how I could execute differently.
The next method I tried was taking out the squeeze from my outside fingers and only releasing pressure from my index finger. This still gave me the rotation I needed, and allowed me to not have the hinge being forced to move through my execution by my incorrect pressure points. What I found with this method was I had a tendency to become soft in my whole hand. Releasing tension with all fingers instead of just the index. Of course when this happened most of the time the release wouldn’t trip and allow my shot to go off. Another issue I had with this method was my hand coming out and away from my face at time of execution and causing me to have left misses because of the guidance at the back of the string. Onto the next try.
What I decided to try next was a combination of both my previous two methods. This method worked very well for me and at times I still find myself coming back to this method when I am struggling with my primary way of execution with my hinge. Basically with this method, I start to relax the index finger and take up the relaxation with the outside fingers by increasing pressure through them. This is a smooth process of execution for myself. It’s a slow continuous movement until the release trips. It allows me to stay straight in my alignment and keep a good float. At times however, I feel like this method can give me too much movement if the pressures aren’t being tended to correctly. Because of that, I find that I can have movement in my anchor position and this will cause me problems from time to time. The reason for this on myself is because of the way I anchor with my index and middle fingers and the movement in them changes the pressures and positioning against my jaw bone.
The next method that I tried was GRIV’s method. Where you use the main knuckles on your hand, the big knuckles at the base of the fingers, as a spring board. You keep a little spring and tension in them as you anchor and then release the pressure and allow the palm to expand from the fingers like a spring as you let off pressure after squeezing it together would do. Because of the make up of the hand and fingers, this expansion allows the index finger to expand out faster than the outside fingers and this is what causes the rotation. I like this method. Because there is not as much perceived or actual movement from my index and middle fingers, my anchor point stays stronger and it allows me to stay aligned better for a clean shot. The problem I found with this method when I started using it, because of the aggressive cams on my bow, was that I would creep forward and had a tendency to collapse on my shot. This caused me to scrunch up my shoulders and have a weak shot with misses sporadically due to my over compensation to stay in the middle.
What I learned though all of this was that the positives from GRIV’s method outweighed the other methods I had used previously, I just needed to find a solution to the tendency for a weak shot. This led me to where I am today. My primary method for executing with a hinge is a combination of GRIV’s method of expansion through the base knuckles and an increasing of my back muscles to pull straight back to keep me from creeping and collapsing. Now, the increase in tension through my back muscles differs here from when I was only using that method to fire my hinge. Because I am creating rotation with my hand, I no longer need to rotate my elbow from right to left. Now, I pull in a straight back movement. Which, to be honest, isn’t much of a pull at all. It’s actually just enough to take up the minute slack that is caused from the expansion in my palm. Because I incorporate both of these methods together, I can limit the amount of movement I would need from only using one or the other methods. This keeps me steadier, it allows me to have less moving pieces to change my anchor point or alignment, and it keeps things going straight back from the target.
So what’s the bad with the good from my primary method? At times I find myself not regulating the pressures with the correct efficiency. I will creep if I don’t pull back enough, or I will pull back too hard and create too much movement and pressures through my execution. So, it’s not fool proof. And it’s why at times I will incorporate different methods in to balance myself out. Or preferably do some up close shooting where I am only focusing on the feel of the execution to bring things back in order. But, the reason I have chosen this method as my primary method is because it allows me to be the most consistent and have my best overall scoring.
So once again, these are only my findings based on what works for myself. I am not really an advocate on use this method over another. The reason I am not is because I feel each person’s mind and body are wired differently. Also, the type of bow that is being used and the cams on the bow matter as well in my opinion. What I prefer instead, is to teach the correct muscles to use as well as the how and why behind the mechanics of everything that is going on. Then, as a shooter progresses and finds good and bad from a particular method, we can adapt and progress as needed.
I wanted to add one more method onto this article that I have recently talked through with shooters who like to use the pulling through style of shot, but are fighting staying on target because of the release arm moving from one side to the other. I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from the shooters I’ve shared this with and I enjoy shooting with this method as well. The ideology behind what I’m teaching to people is to move the pivot point from the release elbow to the outside finger on the release (such as the ring finger on a 3 finger release/ pinkie finger on a 4 finger release).
What you will want to do is come to your anchor point, settle in and distribute weight across your fingers on the release evenly. The next step you’ll want to do is start to pull through, but the difference here is you will just pull straight back with the release arm versus trying to get the rotation out of the elbow using only back tension to fire the release. Make this pull a slow pull, and make sure you have the release adjusted to where you don’t start to shake from pulling too hard or have a miss fire from not being able to pull to your steadiest sight picture. As you are doing this, focus on shifting the pressure in your fingers over to your outside finger and use that finger as your pivot point. This shifting in weight to the outside finger will allow your brain to soften the ring finger and this will create your movement to fire the hinge. This type of method is good for those that like to pull and see their float pattern get steadier, but have a hard time softening or yielding their release hand.