Hook The Bowstring – An Easy But Vital Archery Step - My Archery Corner

Hook The Bowstring – An Easy But Vital Archery Step

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Man drawing a bowNow that you found your proper stance and nocked an arrow, it is time to hook the bowstring and place your fingers correctly.
Let me show you how it’s done:

Which part of your fingers touches the bowstring?

When someone tells you to hook the bowstring he means that you place the bowstring in the first knuckle joint of your fingers of your draw hand.
This way you get a good grip on the string and it won’t shoot forwards uncontrolled. You are the one who will decide when you let the bowstring go.

To save you some pain I highly recommend using a finger tab or shooting glove right from the start.
If you don’t, your fingers will hurt after only a few shots which can take away the fun.
Read more about finger tabs and other equipment in my article about protective archery gear.

Please take a look at the picture below to see how the bowstring is hooked correctly:

how to hook the bowstring

Hooked bowstring.

How many fingers hold the bowstring?

As you can see in the picture above, only three fingers hold the bowstring: the index finger, middle finger, and ring finger.
The index finger is traditionally placed above the nock of the arrow, the other fingers below it.
(There are forms in archery that place the fingers differently, but the way explained here is the most commonly used one.)

These were the basics of how to hook the bowstring, but I want to tell you a bit more about the importance of your draw hand:

Keep your draw hand relaxed!

When I see beginners shooting their first arrows, I notice that they are often very tensed and not relaxed.
This is a very common archery mistake and absolutely normal, but you can try to avoid it right from the start.

One of the most important things, when you hook the bowstring (and later draw the bow), is, that you keep your drawing hand as relaxed as possible!
The whole tension should rest on your three fingers. The rest of your hand stays relaxed.

Please try and practice this right from the beginning, so that you don’t get used to a bad style and need to unlearn it again later.

hooked bowstring

How to set your fingers correctly.

How about the bow hand? Is there anything I have to be aware of at this point?

I am glad you asked! 😉

At this point, you have to make sure that you get the right grip on your bow.
Place the grip of the bow inside the meaty part of your bow.
Close your hand. The thumb of your hand has to point at the target.

Again, try to keep this hand as relaxed as possible, too. If you grab your bow too tight, you won’t get good results when shooting with the bow.

You might have seen professional archers that use a sling and when the arrow leaves the bow, their bow will tip forward and is held by that sling.
You can see from that example how loose they hold their bow and what great accuracy they achieve by doing this.

Hook the bowstring and proceed to the next step!

Awesome! Another step in this training is completed and we are about to learn how to raise and extend your bow arm.
This will be the last step that is rather easy before we get to the “real stuff”!
After that step, we will finally draw the bow and then we are almost at the point when we actually shoot the bow.

Important Note! If you don’t feel comfortable with this way of drawing, there are a couple of other ways.
I am discussing additional ways of pulling the string here.

Just be sure to not skip any part of this training.
All the steps are crucial for your success in archery.
Only when you know exactly what has to be done in each phase of the whole archery movement, you will succeed.

Let me know what you think about this step and if you have any questions, please ask below in the comments and I will help you quickly.



>> Next Step: Raise The Bow And Extend Your Bow Arm

<< Previous Step: How To Nock An Arrow The Right Way

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(8) comments


A very nice post for the beginner. When I shot I only used two fingers, it was simply a personal preference after years of fine tuning my shot. I also saw people use an actual metal hook sewn into what you would call a tab.Again a matter of personal preference.

I would also point out, althouh you will likely cover this in another post, wear an arm protector.


    Hi Debra,

    while the three finger method is the most common one, it comes down to personal preference in the end.
    Two fingers is a good technique, but anything more than tree fingers is absolutely not recommended.

    Especially archers who shoot with compound bows often use a mechanical release.
    I will cover this in a later post.

    To read about the arm protector (or arm guard) and other tools to keep you safe, head over to my article about protective archery gear.

    Have a great day.



Hi MoritzS
Great lesson! When I was younger around 11-12 years I took archery lessons! I had to stop, because at one point the practice range closed.

What do you recommend for beginners, should they buy a bow or rent one from the practice range?

And what type of arrows should a beginner use? I know that for me, it was wooden arrows, because if I had the misfortune to lose or break one, they were not too expensive to replace!

Thanks for sharing


    Hello Sonia,

    it’s a pitty that the closing of the archery range caused you to stop with archery.
    I hope you find the time to pick it up again!

    If someone never has shot a bow, I usually recommend to borrow a bow for the first few times he or she shoots a bow.
    You can never know if you like it when you have never done it before.

    If you still like it after a few times it is time to buy a first bow. I found a great bow for beginners, you can read more about it here.

    Wooden arrows are good for beginners, but can break easily.
    Another cheap alternative (even though they are a bit more expensive than wooden arrows) are carbon arrows.
    They are much more durable than wooden arrows, but still cheap enough.




I’ve been looking into the subject of archery recently through my son’s interest. Myself, I only experienced it myself as a kid in summer camp ( although they taught us next to nothing – health and safety was not top of their list in those days! ).
Tell me, are there options out there for a ten year old boy and how safe are they?


    Hello Chris.

    How is it going?
    I have quite a few articles that will be interesting for you.
    You can read about the health benefits of archery and how to keep your son safe when practicing archery.

    I even have a lot covered about youth archery and great youth archery sets you can get for your son.
    They include everything your son needs to get started with archery.
    You will always have to supervise your son, to keep him safe. For more information, please read the articles I mentioned above.

    Let me know how everythig goes.
    Archery is a great activity. I highly encourage parents to let their kids give it a try.



This is really interesting information! I’ve come across your site before, and I remember thinking- “I don’t think so”. But the information and guidance you provide makes it easier to understand archery, and techniques. The visuals are a great help because you see how your hand should be positioned. My boys are still want a bow and arrow, so I will definitely be back for updates and more info!


    Hello Geneva.

    Thanks for coming back.
    I always try my best to provide all the information needed but keep it as simple as possible at the same time.
    Archery can be quite complex and there are many things people need to know.
    Don’t forget to get through my whole archery training.
    Everything you need to know about archery techniques is there.

    Depending on how old your boys are you could give one of these bows a try.
    The last one is the best, as it grows with the archer, but it is a bit more expensive than the others.

    All the best and let me know when you need help.


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