You can do archery with long nails as long as it does not get in the way when pulling your bow. Your fingers should never pluck the string of your bow to avoid losing a nail. When released, the bow should also be clear to prevent the wires from tangling in your nails.
One of the most delicate parts of archery is getting a consistent and clean release. It is the moment when you let go of your drawn string to allow the arrow to travel through the air and hit your target. Of course, it looks easier than done, but it needs care and accuracy.
Having long nails is a challenge even for seasoned archers, and accidents are evident. That is why newbies may be uncomfortable when finding their grip, as their releases will come into contact with their nails. That could potentially rip their long nails.
How to prevent damaging long nails in archery?
There are archery kits available to prevent possible nail damage, and these all fall into the category of release aids. The type of bow you use might change your release aid selection.
Below are the different release aids for compound bows and recurve and longbows.
- Release aids for compounds bows
Compound bows are the best bows to shoot if you want to use a release aid. These bows have designs that hold back most draw weight when you pull the bow to full draw. These days, most of the release aids are made with compound bows in consideration.
Here are four basic types of release aids specific for compound bows:
- Index finger release- This release aid uses your index finger to trigger the release. You attach this release to a wrist strap and the string using moving jaws, a rope loop, a D-loop, or an open hook.
Marking the release aid is a nice feature best for bowhunters. The index finger release also helps keep the release aid permanently attached to you and draw the bow correctly. These release aids are small and expensive, making them a burden to replace, so you have to keep them safe.
- Handheld thumb trigger or button release- As its name suggests, this release functions with your thumb rather than your index finger. You can notice that some handheld thumb triggers have wrist straps while others do not.
You can use it the same way with the index finger release. These are also suitable for bowhunters, especially the wrist strap models for target shooting. Also, 3-D competitors tend to favor this release aid over other types.
- Hinge or back tension release- While the previous release aids have triggers operated by the archer, this one is simply a trigger. You mechanically rotate the hinge release until the string is not connected anymore. There are ways to do this, and it is advisable to practice both, so you will know which one best suits you.
This release aid is a disadvantage for bowhunters or anyone who must time their release accurately. You cannot get a precise time for your release since you will not know precisely when the hinge will rotate and reach the point of releasing the string.
However, this is a suitable method for target hunters that are hitting stationary targets because the surprise release means there are no flinches to anticipate that can affect your aim.
- Tension or resistance release- This method is similar to index finger release, where you need to trigger it manually. You hook the release onto your string and then hold the safety in place to avoid accidental discharge.
Draw your shoulder blades together with a proper posture to help you increase the resistance on the string. Then release it until there is enough tension to trigger the release. After that, you pull back to full draw and then deactivate the safety.
- Release aids for recurve & longbows
Archers with recurve & longbows usually opt for more straightforward release aids, gloves, or finger tabs. These are the best choices for this type of bow because most recurve archers shoot traditional-style archery that does not utilize the triggers used in compound bows. With recurve & longbows, it is more focused on learning proper finger techniques for drawing and releasing the bow.
The great thing about finger tabs and gloves is that they protect your hand and do not hold any weight. They are generally compatible with anchoring and aiming techniques fit for recurve archers. Such aids can also interfere with how to recurve shooters anchor and aim their shots.
- Gloves- Archery gloves are best for beginners because they offer the most protection from hitting your long nails. This added protection helps new archers to feel confident with their draw as they get protection from the feeling of getting a minor injury. Gloves have layers of thick leather, but they may wear out quicker than tabs because you have to wear them more.
- Tabs- Archers joining competitions make use of tabs a lot because they offer the most sensitivity on the string. However, one disadvantage of tabs is that it does not provide as much protection as the gloves, and you should take them off when performing other tasks.
The tabs materials are generally thinner than the gloves, although both are leather-made. Tabs, however, provide improved sensitivity on the bowstring for a better aim and release. Tabs make your three draw-fingers into one smooth surface for the string to easily slide off.
Release aids are great for beginners, especially for the compound bow shooters. But they still offer some obstacles to recurve & longbow shooters. That is why it is essential to know the different release aids that fit your practice.
Can you do archery with acrylic nails?
There is no rule against wearing acrylic nails in archery. However, just like having long nails, it may cause you to slow down while shooting. It can also get in the way of getting the arrow knocked fast and getting a consistent release.
Release aids help a lot in these cases. To protect your acrylic nails, use a tab or gloves to avoid contact with your bowstring and arrow. It is also advisable to use a compound bow with a release aid to assist in pulling the arrows.
It is best to shoot with your tabs on for a bit longer to get the string and finger marks. Some may have varying mileage on leaving the tab for a long time to protect their nails from damage. Keeping your tabs on also does not matter whether you are shooting barebow or Mediterranean as long as you can get the hang of it and feel comfortable.
What are the three main fingers used to draw the bow?
Archers use their index, middle, and ring fingers to draw the bow. They usually choose between two techniques: split fingers or three fingers under. Depending on different factors such as comfort and familiarity, archers choose between the two techniques.
Split-finger or “Mediterranean style” is when the archer places the index finger above the arrow nock and then the middle and ring fingers below it. While the three fingers under technique are when the archer puts the index, middle, and ring fingers below the nocking point.
When doing the slit finger technique, it is best to curl the fingers around the bowstring so that the first joint of all the three fingers aligns appropriately on the bowstring. However, for beginners, a great tip is placing your index finger on the corner of your mouth. It is to get a clearer sight of your target.
Another tip is that when you draw the string at the same spot every time you shoot, it helps you achieve a tight arrow group on the target. But if you try to draw the string to different areas on your face each time you shoot, your draw length may vary with each shot.
What should you not do in archery?
The top three of these strict rules that you should not do in archery are: never shoot over a ridge, do not shoot an arrow straight up in the air, and do not drink alcohol before, during, and after shooting a bow.
Aside from those three rules, here are other safety practices that you should observe in archery:
- Make sure only to point your bow and arrow in a safe direction.
- Only shoot after looking around when you are sure that you have a safe range or shooting area and a safe backstop or background.
- Avoid releasing the bowstring without a nocked arrow, as it may cause severe damage to your bow and injure another archer.
- Only nock your arrow when it is safe to shoot.
- Protect yourself and the arrow points by handling your arrows carefully. Cover them with an arrow quiver.
- Wear an armguard as well as finger protection while shooting.
- Double-check your target and see what is in front, behind, and beyond it. DO this to make sure you are not going to hit anything aside from your target.
- Store your bows properly. Please put them in bow cases, preferably sturdy cases, and store recurves and longbows unstrung.
- Keep your emotions stable and under control, and do not let them get you. Always think about safety first.
- Do not take any mood-altering medicines before, during, or after playing archery.
- Repair defects in your equipment immediately.
- Check for cracks, dents, breaks, peeling glass, defects in mechanical parts, and separating laminates in your bows.
- Discard your arrows having permanent flaws like dents, cracks, or bends,
- Check your bowstring regularly and replace it immediately if it gets worn out or frayed.
- Use a bow-stringer for your stringing longbows and recurve bows.
- Store your arrows in quivers and other accessories in a sturdy box or padded bag.
Rules are strictly implemented and followed because of the rising number of incidents in archery. There are approximately 4,300 archery-related injuries recorded every year that require emergency room care. The most common injury is abrasion from improper handling of either the arrow or the bowstring.
If you want to get into archery but have long nails, there is no need to worry. Practice is the key, and it will be more comfortable moving forward as soon as you get used to it. Learn how to shoot with one of the release aids mentioned above, and it will help you get accustomed to shooting with long nails.