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Rapid Fire Archery - Different Techniques of Fast Shooting

I have talked about Lars Anderson before in an archery post called Ancient Techniques of Fast Shooting. I highly recommend reading it and watching the video if you are interested in learning how to shoot arrows super fast.

The problem with Lars Anderson's technique is that it requires some specific archery equipment - so you cannot just do that kind of archery with just any bow.

In theory you would need a bow that you can shoot off the right side (which is very unusual for a right-handed shooter) so that you don't have to move the arrow around the bow riser to rest it on the left side (which is the normal place for an right hand archer to shoot off). So right away this means that various longbows and shortbows would be more ideal for this kind of shooting because you could shoot off your left hand's thumb instead of off an arrow rest.

Thus certain styles of archery - like traditional Korean archery or Turkish archery - have a distinct advantage for archers seeking to shoot fast.

In the photo on the right you see a man using a thumb ring and shooting off his thumb on the right side of the bow. Using the thumb ring means he doesn't have to slow down to check his finger positioning on the bowstring so he gains an advantage to his speed. Shooting off his thumb also means he doesn't have to move the arrow around to the left side just to be able to rest it in preparation for his shot. Taken together this speeds up the process of shooting dramatically.

But the big thing is being able to hold your arrows in your right hand in preparation of the next shot. The Lars Anderson technique (which he learned from ancient texts from Persia) is to hold the arrows between his fingers in preparation for the next shot... But he moves so quickly in the videos you cannot see how he positions the arrows so quickly, moving them into readiness to be nocked on the bowstring.

In the video below you will see a man (Adam Swoboda) demonstrating Middle Eastern techniques of fast shooting - but doing them slower than Lars Anderson does so you can see how he holds his arrows in his hand, uses a Mongolian style draw with a thumb ring, and rests the arrow on his thumb while shooting. In the first part of the video Adam Swoboda holds the arrows backwards so they don't interfere with his shot so much and he comparatively takes his time with each individual shot.

In Part 2A of the video he demonstrates another way of shooting, this time holding the arrows in-between his fingers in a manner similar to Lars Anderson's style. It is comparatively faster. Then in Part 2B he does it again, but this time backwards held between the fingers. And lastly Part 3, where he holds the arrows midway on the shaft - and shoots roughly the same speed.


Thus what we have learned from this is partly that fast shooting requires a lot of fingerwork to the point of sleight of hand because it is tricky to hold the arrows like that - let alone 10 of them like Lars Anderson does in the photo at the top of this post.

But the video above also shows Adam Swoboda's mistakes too. His left arm is moving around too much horizontally when he should have it fully extended the entire time, he is taking too much time positioning and nocking the arrow with his fingers, he is simply taking too many motions to get the task done when he only needs TWO motions - nocking arrow in one motion and then pulling back quickly and releasing quickly. Lastly he seems to take his time actually aiming - whereas for speed shooting you want to be aiming more instinctively based on your past experience.

Using a wooden shortbow I recently purchased I have been practicing these fast techniques at home seeking to find my own fast shooting methodology. So far I have eschewed the thumb ring and am instead using a two finger draw method (with no gloves) and hold the arrows between the two fingers doing the drawing (see photo further below). I hold all the arrows between those two fingers and each time I nock a new arrow it happens very naturally because I don't have to move the arrows from one finger to the next before nocking. I also don't do a full draw of the arrow either. I pull it back only part way before each release and then start nocking the next arrow.

Aiming wise I have to do it pretty much instinctively because my nocking method is so fast I don't really have time to consciously aim. HOWEVER, I am getting surprisingly good consistency using this method. I wouldn't have thought it would come so easily, but my arrows are always hitting the target in tight clusters.

During the first day of trying this method I was able to shoot 3 arrows in 2.7 seconds. With practice I may be able to shoot a lot more and hopefully get faster.


Other things I have learned about fast archery...

#1. Canter the bow to the left. I know it feels weird, but the tilt away from the arrow rest allows me to rest the arrow / nock faster and causes no difference to the accuracy quality of my shots. If anything it improves it because the tilt allows me to see the target easier.

#2. Wear gloves and a bracer to protect your hands and forearms. Mistakes will be made and they hurt. Use feather fletching too. Less problems if the fletching rubs against the other arrows' fletching.

#3. Sometimes I accidentally use a three finger draw without realizing it. It doesn't seem to make any difference.

#4. Note to self, buy wider nocks for faster nocking.

#5a. You have to really practice nocking quickly. I find using the backs of my knuckles as a guide for the bowstring works really well and I don't have to think about it to the point it starts to feel instinctive.

#5b. Don't try to use three or more arrows at once. Learn to nock and shoot two arrows very quickly first before trying to do three or more. Master two arrows fast shooting first!

#6. Don't worry about the arrows bumping or rubbing against each other during the nocking or drawing process. It doesn't matter by the time you actually take the shot so don't waste time thinking about it.

#7. I think my reading about Zen (particularly the book "The Unfettered Mind") may have better prepared me for this because I am less distracted by minor things. Avoiding distractions and not dwelling on them by maintaining a disciplined mind that is focused on doing everything quickly seems to make me go faster. If you think about something too much it ends up slowing you down, but you just do it without really thinking you are much faster.

#8. Note to self, buy a better bowstring for my wooden shortbow. Something thinner and easier to nock.

#9. Note to self, switch to double-fletched arrows instead of triple-fletched arrows. I am not sure it will make a difference but I want to see if the double fletching is faster / more accurate for this kind of shooting.

#10. After awhile it starts to feel like I am aiming without really looking at the target. Makes me wonder if I could hit the target blindfolded if I knew where it was and practiced as such.

#11. Learn to nock the arrows by feel - not by sight. Stop looking at the arrows during the process. If anything look at the target (ignore what I said in #11, I was getting over confident) and do everything else in terms of nocking and drawing by feel.

#12. I also tried an alternate method of shooting a nocking which has the bow going completely horizontal, the arrows over the top (left side shooting this time), and the arrows resting on the top of the bow the same way with my fingers as above, but during the draw I keep the bow relatively horizontal and I am pulling back with the fingers facing downwards (which compared to my normal shooting method, is backwards). It actually felt like it had the potential to be faster still than the method I am using above, but would require a lot of practice to get used to. I guess the tip here then is...

Keep practicing!

4 comments:

  1. I have been shooting for a long time conventionally and the rapid fire archery if nothing else is intriquing. For starters the question comes as "what is the need?" In bow hunting, we look for the correct arrow placement and quick efficient kill. Rapid fire appears to have combat application, but then you are better of with an AK. I am intriqued by rapid nocking and firing with arrow rest on the riight. How to rapidly nock seems a bit hard to do and then it seems a thumb basis release would have to be a must, but how? A thumb ring makes sense but I am unsure how that is supposed to work. So if someone out there has figured this out, how about sharing some knowledge here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Spartacus (awesome name)!

      I agree, an AK-47 would definitely be handier in close combat / mid-range combat. I have had this conversation several times recently ever since the new Lars Anderson video came out. Fast shooting really has only one practical purpose - close range combat against opponents who are similarly armed. It has horrible accuracy at long range and even mid range and is only truly accurate within point blank range.

      Regarding fast nocking I have tried several different ways of fast nocking. The holding multiple arrows in hand like shown above is one way, but my preferred method is to hold the arrows in my bow hand (in front of the bow handle, on a roughly 45 degree angle), wear normal or Persian style archery gloves and then my manner of nocking them quickly is to slide the arrow between string and bow, nock, draw and shoot. The nocking-drawing is effectively one motion. This method is slower than Lars Anderson's replication of Persian style fast shooting, but it is what I prefer to use.

      I personally prefer to draw to a consistent anchor point and thus get much greater accuracy at mid and even long range when fast shooting. It is slower than the Persian style, but I enjoy having far more accuracy and not losing any arrows.

      At some point I should make a video showing my method of fast shooting. It won't be as impressive to watch as Lars Anderson, but it will be much more accurate when shooting at 50 yards.

      Delete
  2. Hello, I have read some say that Lars uses duck-taped nocks to achieve his rapid-fire technique, is this true? Or does he have a way to loose arrows so quickly using regular nocks? He himself hasn't really been clear about this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My understanding is that Lars uses wider nocks. Whether he uses duct-taped nocks, I do not know.

      Delete

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