The Value of Back Tension

The term back tension, commonly used by serious archers, merely describes the use of the muscles of the back, rather than the muscles of the arms, to hold the bowstring at full draw. When you use back tension, you'll hold steadier because the back muscles are larger and stronger than the arm muscles, and because they're positioned closer to the spine, they are more stable.

When using proper back tension, you should feel as if you're trying to squeeze a dollar bill between your shoulder blades at full draw.

A good way to demonstrate back tension is to get into the full-draw position without a bow. Have someone stand in front of you and grab your elbows and try to pull them together. Try hard to resist. Since you've removed the arm muscles from the equation, the back muscles alone are preventing you from collapsing.

This demonstration also illustrates how your arms and, more importantly, your hands, can re-main relaxed during the shot.

One thing that might help you develop solid back tension is to move your release elbow slightly up and back. This transfers the holding weight from the arm to the back muscles. If you're pulling right, your shoulder blades will come together and your shirt will be loose across your back at full draw.

More How-To


Small Fixes for Your Traditional Archery Setup

Fred Eichler - September 26, 2018

Try these small tweaks to improve your recurve or longbow shooting performance!


No Secrets with Modern Hunting Technology

Dwight Schuh

New tech has made hunting more efficient, but it also raises several questions about ethics...


Little Things That Make a Big Impact on Shooting Accuracy

Joe Bell - August 01, 2018

In life, every decision and every detail has a way of affecting the overall outcome or result.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.