FORMASTER EXERCISES (aka Reversal Exercises for some British reason)

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).  

Archery sports specific exercises using your bow - Rigid rope/elbow sling exercises

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.

1.  "Reversal" strength/endurance training

 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. 


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.


2.  Rigid Rope/Strap Shooting Exercise 

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:

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.


The Basics of Shooting with the Rigid Rope for Recurves (NOT FOR COMPOUND BOWS)

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.


 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. 

Further Details on Shooting with the Rigid Rope