4 Steps To Proper Bow Hand Grip

May 3, 2021Form & Technique

Improper bow hand grip is very common. This means archers, especially those who are new to the sport, need to learn how to grip a bow the right way. Learning how to hold a bow correctly is essential to how well you shoot. It’s important to understand that your shooting success begins with correct hand positioning.

As a new archer, creating a strong foundation is one of the first things you need to do. Your form is what supports your ability to shoot well, making it crucial for you to spend the time necessary to perfect your form. Once you’ve established great form, you’ve set yourself up for success and confidence in your shooting abilities.

Besides your bow grip, great form also requires you to pay attention to posture, stance, bow arm position, anchor point, draw length, release, and lastly, your follow-through. While all form elements play a vital role when shooting, know that bow grip is one of the most significant.

Why Bow Hand Grip Is Important

Why is proper bow hand grip so important? A correct bow grip simply refers to how you hold your bow while shooting. Bow grip is important because using proper grip techniques support your ability to shoot with accuracy, as well as with consistency. In order to for you to accurately grip your bow, you’ll need to grip it in a way that produces a minimal amount of torque. Torque refers to the turning or rotating of a bow, which in turn causes inconsistent arrow impact. When your hand is in its proper position, you don’t have to worry as much about hand torque.

Since improper hand positioning causes shooting complications, failure to correctly grip a bow will result in one or more of the following – tuning issues, left and right impact, and an inconsistent draw position. Archers who tend to over-grip their bow may also experience string slap. Additionally, archers who grab their bow after release can expect to see major shooting inconsistencies. So, be sure to keep this in mind so as to avoid any of these common gripping mishaps.

While the basics of good bow grip don’t differ much when using more than one bow type, it’s best to use your preferred bow when learning how to correctly grip your bow.

How To Properly Grip The Bow

The goal of an archer is to shoot with consistency. One of the easiest ways to do this is to improve the bow grip. While it may be tempting to grab a bow and hold it like a pistol, this grip position causes torque issues. A proper bow-hand grip is one that requires you to focus on keeping a loose grip while at the same time retaining control of the bow.

Learning how to properly grip any bow is not difficult, it’s just a few simple steps you’re sure to master and begin shooting with consistency!

4 Easy Steps To Properly Grip The Bow:

1. Slide Your Hand Up To The Arrow Shelf

The arrow shelf is just above the grip, which is where archers place their arrows before shooting. You’ll need to move your hand up into the “throat” of the grip. Once your hand can go no further, the web of your hand should now be in the throat, which is the deepest part of the bow’s grip.

2. Rotate Your Hand

Turn your hand so that it’s 45° to the riser (knuckles up/out), give or take a few degrees. This location is important because it helps reduce hand torque, changes your elbow position, and reduces/eliminates string slap injuries. You can point your thumb towards the target with your other fingers pointing down or resting on the front of the bow.

3. Where To Grip The Bow

Grip your bow between your thumb and lifeline, aka the pad of the thumb (thenar eminence). This area is most effective because it utilizes fewer muscle groups and in turn helps minimize hand torque. Make sure your bow grip doesn’t cross your lifeline, as this increases hand torque and your chance of experiencing string slap.

4. Relax Your Hand

A completely relaxed hand is essential for a proper grip. A hand that is tense and rigid will easily transfer torque into the shot. A relaxed hand is crucial for consistency and one of the most important things to understand. For archers who find it difficult to relax their hand, try using a wrist sling or finger sling. I’ve used both a wrist and finger slings in the past and highly recommend it for compound shooters.

Gripping A Compound Bow

When a compound bow is your bow of choice, you have a high chance of experiencing torque issues. The most important thing to keep in mind when gripping a compound bow is to keep your bow hand completely relaxed at all times. If you don’t, you’ll create the torque that causes shooting inaccuracies. Keeping a relaxed grip requires you to use the web of your hand vs. your palm or fingers to support the bow.

Once you’re in a full draw position, don’t squeeze the grip. Instead, let the rear power of your draw weight keep the bow in its proper position. Since minimal contact with a bow is necessary when shooting with a compound bow, a wrist sling can help. Many archers will use wrist slings, as this archery accessory supports a completely relaxed bow grip as there’s no need to fully grip the handle.

Gripping A Recurve Bow

Recurve bow grip designs make it easy to properly grip a bow. Many of today’s recurve bow manufacturers will design and add custom grips to their bows, making it easier than ever for any archer to grip their bow correctly. Recurve grips are often chosen by new archers, as this bow choice takes the guesswork out of placing one’s hands in their proper position.

Recurve bow grips require archers to place their lifeline along the ridge. This allows the upper part of the thumb to rest on the grip. This grip option focuses on using an archer’s index and middle finger to gently hold the bow in place upon release.

Common Mistakes

Your hand is the first and last thing to touch your bow when setting up your shots, making it a crucial aspect in establishing repeatable, consistent hand placement. Since you want to avoid making any mistakes when establishing your bow grip, see below for some of the most common mistakes beginner archers make when starting out.

Over-Gripping the Bow:

When archers hold their bow like a golf club or a baseball bat, their fingers are too tightly wrapped around the grip. Even though it may feel more natural for archers to grip the bow tightly, over-gripping is a mistake that negatively affects your accuracy. A tense grip is one that creates torque, which in turn increases the likelihood of experiencing string slap.

Open-Hand Style:

Open-hand style places your hand in the throat of the grip with all your fingers extended towards the target. While this is better than over-gripping the bow, there is still tension in your hand. This tension again leads to increased hand torque and inconsistent impact.

Grabbing The Bow:

Archers who grab at their bow grip upon release will experience major inconsistencies. This is because hand torque is introduced into the shot before the arrow has cleared the bow. In order to avoid this error, use a wrist sling or finger sling to stop the bow from flying out of your hand. If you don’t want to use a sling, then you should use your index and middle finger to lightly hold the bow in place.

Inconsistent Hand Placement:

To shoot with accuracy, you must be consistent with your bow hand grip. Inconsistencies in hand replacement don’t support an archer’s ability to shoot with accuracy, as muscle memory plays a large role in consistent shooting. If your hand happens to slide around, try using bow grip tape to increase friction and keep it in its proper place.

Proper Technique Improves Accuracy

As with any precision shooting sport, repetition is crucial. Using a proper grip with consistency leads to muscle memory and improved shooting accuracy. In order for your muscles to remember, practicing until your grip becomes second nature is essential. While your bow grip is an important part of archery form, it’s a part that doesn’t require a great deal of modification. Once you learn how to hold a bow correctly, you will improve your shooting accuracy in a short amount of time.


Archery form consists of perfecting many different components, including your bow hand grip. Refining all of these components supports your shooting process, resulting in consistently accurate shots. And that’s exactly what you want. While it’s not difficult to perfect your bow grip, you’ll need to put in the time necessary so you can properly grip your bow, every single time.


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