This sent by John Kearny of the U.K. in April 2001 - This document pertains to the use of the Formaster. Edits made 12/2005 by A.Ron Carmichael, based on further knowledge attained through the BEST method. If anything here seems to contradict the BEST method, follow the BEST method!
For additional pictures, click here
This document was compiled by John Kearney. It is based on a document (author unknown) that John rewrote and padded out with extra information provided by Richard Priestman (Olympic double-bronze medalist).
During the seminar, Richard explained that the best way to use the elbow sling for these exercises was to have two ropes attached to the device. One of these ropes should, when the sling is fitted, only come up to just below the fingers on your hand when the arm is in the bent position. The other should reach up to the first joint of the middle finger.
It is important to remember that these are approximate distances and may vary from archer to archer. I have a single adjustable rope on my elbow sling at the moment, and I use it for simple reversals (as described in part 1). I found that I had to set it a little longer than recommended in order to get my drawing shoulder in line.
When I began reversals, I started slowly, as Richard suggested, by holding the bow at full draw for only 15 seconds and then resting for 30. After I was doing 20 of these, I moved up to 20 second holds. After a month of reversal training on every day that I don't shoot, I managed to get to 20 reps for 30 seconds. It has made a massive difference to my strength and endurance for archery, and my confidence has been boosted as well.
Richard also recommended that I obtain a heavy bow or set of limbs to do my reversals with once I had built up my strength with the limbs I normally use. The reason for this is simple - if you can work up to 20 repetitions with limbs 10lbs heavier than the ones you normally use, then you will never have any problems pulling your bow. For the last week or so, I have been using a set of limbs 10lbs heavier than my normal ones, and am currently doing 20 reps @ 20 seconds.
Once you have started your reversals, you may find it helps to flex the shoulder muscles in small, repetitive movements (i.e. pushing the bow shoulder out and down, and the drawing shoulder round and back.) According to Richard, this should help improve the strength of these muscles.
Richard also stressed the importance of stretching and warming up before your reversals just as you should before you shoot.
I hope this is of interest to those who read it. I have edited some of the sections, in an attempt to clarify the meaning of the document as I see it. If anyone has any corrections or comments to make, please feel free to drop me an e-mail. Please note that this document does not claim to be a definitive guide to these exercises. If you perform these exercises, you do so at your own risk. No one involved in the production of this document accepts any responsibility for injuries or damage to equipment incurred by these exercises. Although I believe they can help archers, I make no guarantees. (Webmaster interjection: It is a good idea to wear protective eyeglasses - the rubber tubing can snap at any time when under stress.)
NB – Richard Priestman has read over this document, and has made no corrections. However, he has stressed that it would be very useful for anyone trying to do reversals or shooting exercises with the elbow sling device to find an experienced archer or coach who can demonstrate these exercises to them in person.
Reversals are used as a method of
training, which builds the stamina, strength and endurance of your archery
muscles. The shorter rope is used
for this exercise.
One full reversal is holding at full
draw for 30 seconds and then relaxing for 30 seconds. The shorter holding time, say 15 or 20 seconds, is advised
for those who are new to this exercise. When
you can do ten reps at 20 seconds, increase to 30-second reps.
Keep a log of your number of reversals to see how you are improving.
When you can do 20 reps of 30 seconds
you are now only just getting strong enough to control your bow effectively.
At this point, you can consider increasing bow weight - but only under
the supervision of your coach/mentor.
When drawing the bow, use your elbow in
the sling to pull the string, not your fingers;
Keep your head at 45 degrees to the bow
arm and keep your neck relaxed; (ed: facing the target as much
as possible is usually more than 45 degrees and is more desirable - arc)
(ed: facing the target as much as possible is usually more than 45 degrees and is more desirable - arc)
Watch your posture!
Try to keep a normal shooting stance: stand tall, with your shoulders
down and relaxed as much as possible;
Both shoulders and bow arm should be in
a straight line,
Always warm up first!
Always pull to full draw slowly and come down slowly and smoothly -
be kind to your joints and muscles! It
may help to start the draw with a higher than normal bow arm;
gently throughout the exercise - don't hold your breath at full draw;
Whilst at full draw, focus your
attention on your bow arm shoulder and your drawing arm elbow and shoulder
blade. Feel the tension and
muscles and feel the balance (50/50 front and back); we don't want to see
your bow arm shoulder creeping up or your drawing arm elbow collapsing!
Feel that you are expanding/increasing
drawing very slowly at full draw rather than just a static hold.
This will help you to stop creeping/collapsing at full draw;
When you begin to feel the strain,
remember not to collapse as this may result in injury.
Come down slowly and calmly, maintaining your posture.
It is preferable to put stabilisers on your bow as you would for shooting, but this is not essential.
You may ask, "When should I do reversals?" The answer is quite simple: you should do reversals on every day when you do not shoot! You should also do them after (or at least on the same day as) any physical exercise, e.g. running/swimming/weight training etc. This way, you always keep your archery muscle balance. Most exercises work on big muscle groups, whereas reversals help to keep the little archery muscle groups in trim.
REMEMBER - STAMINA CAN BE GAINED
AND MAINTAINED, BUT NOT STORED
The longer rope is used for this exercise, which is used to supplement your normal skill/shooting practice.
Shooting with the rigid rope offers the following benefits:
Teaches the correct use of the scapula (arc) and shoulder muscles needed to develop the 50/50 balance required for effective shooting;
Gives immediate feedback of the balance after the shot;
Teaches correct muscle memory while shooting in the subconscious state;
Teaches how to relax the string fingers, while maintaining proper back tension right through the shot sequence;
Teaches good follow-through of the bow arm to prevent it dropping on release;
Teaches the correct use of the clicker, to control your shot more effectively;
This exercise can help to cure long-term bad habits/faults in your technique, and is also an excellent training aid for beginners and developing archers because it helps to teach the correct way to shoot before bad form develops.
Load the arrow in the bow and position the cord above and below the nock. Draw back using the fingers and aim as normal. Draw through the clicker and release the bowstring.
When you first use the rigid rope you will probably collapse. This is not unusual, even for top-class archers;
Always aim at a target bale during this exercise but do not use a target face;
Use a finger tab and be aware that a platform tab (especially a metal one) may damage the cord with use and may cause the cord to break;
Do not use a bow over 60lbs in draw weight.
How to analyse the feedback of the release:
If you have shot the bow with this training aid correctly, you will obtain a fine feedback from your front arm and drawing arm:
Front arm - your bow arm and bow hand will stay in line with the target after the shot. If your bow arm moved to the right (right-handed archer), more attention to your bow arm/shoulder alignment is required; i.e. more muscle groups should be engaged on your bow side of your body. You must visualize REACHING towards the target bale as well. This is integral to the BEST technique. Ask your coach for information on how to do this.
Drawing arm - your drawing arm should remain stationary or move back slightly after the shot. If your drawing arm moved forwards and collapsed, you have not maintained sufficient strength in your scapular region (sometimes called "back tension"). To correct this you need to engage more with your scapular muscle group to draw the arrow through the clicker; i.e. you should feel that you are pulling past the clicker not just to it.
Regular practice with the rigid rope teaches the correct muscle force for 50/50 balance (50% front, 50% back). Your practice should include a minimum of 30 arrows with the shooting rope and 30 arrows without. You must use it regularly to maintain the 50/50 balance;
You can use this exercise before and during normal shooting practice and competitions;
If your rigid shooting rope is the correct length, the arrow will NOT LEAVE THE BOW;
When practising with the rigid shooting rope, and especially if you are dealing with creep or collapse, do not use a target. The archer must focus on the successful BEST execution technique, not on where the arrow is going. Once the archer has successfully attained a good, solid release, the use of a target is acceptable.
An advantage of practicing with a target or aiming mark and not a blank target the the thought that effective shooting and aiming is done in the subconscious state and this can be a good way to practice this.
You should practice (at different times) shooting in 2 states of mind, i.e. subconscious (not thinking) and conscious (thinking). During the subconscious state your muscles work in an automatic sequence (muscle memory). Your conscious mind interferes with this automatic sequence, especially if you are nervous or thinking negatively. The conscious state is always present and functioning and cannot be totally suppressed, so you have to give the conscious mind a function or strong positive thoughts will shooting; e.g. think about your drawing hand or drawing elbow continuously moving throughout the shot/release/follow-through sequence;
Always check the cord and elbow sling for signs of wear. Replace if you can see any damage;
When shooting with the rigid rope, either indoors or outdoors make sure that the normal safety rules and safety regulations are adhered to. Failure of the rope can allow an arrow to fly from the bow unexpectedly.
Never put the cord above the arrow on the string. If you do this the cord may slip upwards as you draw the bow and the top limb may hit you on the head!
COMPOUND ARCHERS - DO NOT SHOOT/LOOSE THE BOWSTRING WITH THE FORMASTER ATTACHED! JUST USE THE RIGID SHOOTING ROPE AND DO REVERSALS (PULLING AND SLOW LETDOWNS ONLY).