Thumb Release Turkish Archery: Ancient Precision

why use a thumb release turkish archery

Turkish archery is a traditional form of archery that originated in the Eurasian Steppe in the second millennium BC and became highly developed in the Ottoman Empire. In Turkish archery, a thumb draw is used, which involves the thumb and a combination of other digits to pull the string back. This is different from the Mediterranean or Western draw, which uses the index, middle, and ring fingers. Thumb rings are used to protect the thumb from the strain of drawing a bow and to provide a clean release. Turkish thumb rings were historically made from wood, metal, ivory, bone, horn, or leather, and were symbols of prestige. Today, modern materials such as hard plastics are also used. Turkish archery is known for its unique techniques, such as holding several arrows between the fingers of the draw hand for quick repeat shots, and its use of specialised bows and arrows that could impart high velocity to very light arrows.

Characteristics Values
Thumb release technique The thumb does most of the work, with the other fingers reinforcing the hold
Accuracy Higher accuracy due to the wider distribution of the technique globally
Arrow speed Faster arrow speed due to less bending of the arrow shaft
Arrow path The arrow follows a direct, shorter, and flawless path to the string
Arrow nocking Faster nocking due to the bow being "loaded" from the right side
Arrow stability Greater stability due to the special way the string hand is closed to form a lock
Comfort More comfortable release, regardless of shooting position or angle
Extra arrows Ability to hold extra arrows in the string hand for faster consecutive shooting
Spine values Wider spectrum of spine values match a particular bow
Energy efficiency Less energy loss due to less bending of the arrow shaft
Protection Protects the archer's thumb from the string

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Accuracy and stability

Turkish archery utilises a thumb draw, which involves placing the arrow on the right side of the bow for a right-handed archer. This is in contrast to the Mediterranean or Western draw, where the arrow is placed on the left side of the bow. The thumb draw technique provides greater accuracy and stability for several reasons.

Firstly, the thumb draw allows for a more direct and shorter path for the arrow to the string, resulting in faster nocking of the arrows. This increased speed and efficiency can be crucial in combat or hunting situations. Additionally, the thumb draw enables the archer to hold the arrow in place more securely, especially when shooting from horseback or at unusual angles. The index finger of the draw hand applies pressure on the arrow, further stabilising it.

The thumb draw also provides greater stability during the entire shot sequence. The string hand is closed in a special manner, forming a lock ("mun-dull" in Turkish), which creates a stable platform for the arrow release. This lock technique allows the archer to pull and release comfortably, regardless of their shooting position or the angle of the bow.

Furthermore, the use of a thumb ring, known as "zihgir" in Turkish, enhances accuracy and stability. Thumb rings protect the thumb from the repetitive strain of drawing the bow and provide a clean, precise release. They also enable the archer to draw the bow with more confidence, especially when using heavier bows. The Turkish ring, designed for speed shooting, helps to hold the lock in full draw and provides a cleaner release.

The thumb draw technique, combined with the use of thumb rings, offers greater accuracy and stability for Turkish archers, particularly in dynamic situations such as mounted archery or combat.

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Faster nocking of arrows

The thumb release is a general term for a pull-and-release technique where the thumb does most of the work, with the other fingers reinforcing the hold. This is a common technique in Turkish archery.

The thumb release technique offers several advantages that can lead to faster nocking of arrows. Firstly, the arrow follows a direct, shorter, and flawless path to the string. This is because the archer's paradox occurs in the opposite direction compared to the Mediterranean release, resulting in the bow being "loaded" from the right side.

Secondly, the Turkish thumb ring, known as the "mun-dull," allows for greater stability during the shot sequence. The archer's index finger applies slight pressure to hold the arrow in place, enabling a comfortable pull and release, regardless of body position or direction of the bow cant.

Additionally, the string hand can hold extra arrows that can be nocked and shot consecutively, resulting in faster shooting. The thumb release also reduces the amount of bending in the arrow shaft, making it easier to match a wider range of spine values to a particular bow. This means that in combat or hunting situations, archers can use arrows found on the battlefield with better accuracy.

Furthermore, the thumb release technique has been found to increase the initial velocity and kinetic energy of the arrow, resulting in higher arrow speed. This increase in energy can be crucial in situations where every bit of energy counts.

The thumb release is also safer for the archer, as it protects the thumb from the string during shooting, reducing pain and the risk of injury.

Overall, the thumb release technique in Turkish archery offers several advantages that contribute to faster nocking and shooting of arrows, making it a valuable skill for archers to master.

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Less energy loss

The thumb release is a handheld device with a trigger that is activated by the thumb. This is in contrast to the index-finger or wrist-strap release, which is the most common release aid used by bow hunters. One of the main advantages of using a thumb release is that it can help to reduce energy loss and improve shot consistency.

Archers find it easier to use large muscle groups to trigger shots, which improves consistent shot execution. The index finger is more sensitive, which can cause hesitation and "punching" of the trigger. By using the thumb, archers can take advantage of the larger muscle groups in the hand and arm, which provides a more stable and consistent release. This can lead to improved accuracy and reduced energy loss due to improper form or hesitation.

Additionally, the thumb release allows for a more comfortable and consistent anchor point. The position of the hand and thumb release allows for a more defined area of contact between the side of the face and jaw, creating solid and repeatable anchor points. This consistency in anchoring can further reduce energy loss by minimising movement and improving shot execution.

The thumb release also offers a wider range of adjustments compared to wrist-strap releases. Archers can customise the trigger tension, trigger travel, trigger position, size, and angle to suit their individual needs. These adjustments allow for a more comfortable and natural release, reducing the risk of improper form and energy loss.

While the thumb release offers these advantages in terms of reduced energy loss, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. Some archers may find the wrist-strap release more comfortable and affordable. Ultimately, the choice between a thumb release and a wrist-strap release depends on personal preference, budget, and specific needs.

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Higher initial arrow speed

Turkish archery is a tradition that became highly developed in the Ottoman Empire, though its origins date back to the Eurasian Steppe in the second millennium BC. The Turkish bow is a recurved composite bow, with a wooden core, animal horn, and sinew. The curvature of the unstrung bow is more extreme than other bows, with the limbs curling forward into a "C" shape.

Turkish archery utilises a "thumb draw", employing a type of grip called a "mandal". This grip prevents the arrow from moving if the archer is on horseback or firing at an unusual angle. The thumb release is a modern term for a technique where the thumb does most of the work, with the other fingers reinforcing the hold.

The thumb release provides several advantages, one of which is a higher initial arrow speed. The arrow follows a direct, shorter, and flawless path to the string, allowing for faster nocking. The string hand is closed in a special manner to form a lock ("mun-dull" in Turkish), stabilising the entire shot sequence. The archer can pull and release comfortably, and the arrow shaft bends less, resulting in a wider spectrum of spine values matching a particular bow.

In a short study, two experienced thumb shooters and one experienced finger shooter used a 55#@28 all-resin Ottoman bow replica and shot two arrows weighing 513 grains and 422 grains. The result was an increase of 6.5% in initial velocity when the thumb release was executed with a well-made, rigid thumb ring. The calculation of kinetic energy resulted in an increase of 12.29%. This difference can be crucial in combat or hunting situations where every bit of energy counts.

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Protection for the thumb

The thumb ring, or 'zihgir' in Turkish, is an essential piece of protective gear for archers practising the thumb draw technique in traditional Turkish archery. The thumb ring serves as a guard, shielding the archer's thumb from the bowstring during shooting. This accessory is particularly useful when using a heavy bow, as it provides a secure hold on the string and reduces the pain caused by the string pressing against the thumb.

The design of the thumb ring is such that it allows for a cleaner, more precise release of the arrow, resulting in increased arrow speed. The ring's lipped design, with or without a guard, ensures that the string does not come into contact with the thumb, providing comfort and protection. Additionally, the ring's elliptical shape is designed to fit the thumb snugly, rotating 90 degrees after passing the knuckle to prevent slipping.

The Ottoman-style thumb ring, offered by some manufacturers, features higher sides and a more aggressive release angle. This design not only enhances the speed and cleanliness of the release but also reduces the physical strength required to draw the bow. The sharp release angle quickly moves the thumb out of the way, preventing the string from riding down the ring. This style of thumb ring is often paired with a Kulak accessory.

To ensure a perfect fit, some companies offer custom-fitted thumb rings, sized on a continuous spectrum rather than set sizes. It is important to accurately measure your thumb to find the right ring size, as a tight fit can cause discomfort, and a loose ring may slip off during use.

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Frequently asked questions

Thumb release is a general term for a pull-and-release technique where the thumb does most of the work, with the other fingers of the hand reinforcing the hold.

The thumb release technique provides greater stability during the shot sequence and allows for faster nocking of arrows. It also enables a wider spectrum of spine values to match a particular bow and can result in a higher initial arrow speed.

A thumb ring is a protective piece of gear that goes on the archer's thumb. It is used in Turkish archery to protect the thumb from the repetitive strain of drawing a bow and to provide a clean, precise release.

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