Why Do Olympic Archers Swing Their Bows (This Is Why!)

By Andy Ryan


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if you have watched on either television or Youtube and asked yourself why Olympic archers swing their bows, well so have I. When I first started shooting archery I noticed this and started doing my research and actually learned a lot from it. It wasn`t just a show-off trick, but it was a reason behind it.

Why do Olympic archers swing their bows? The reason Olympic archers swing their bow is that they don’t grip their bow. By not gripping the bow the archer gain more control and can increase their accuracy by doing so.

There are a lot of beginners gripping their bow as hard as they can because they think they have to do so in order to gain control and not lose the bow when they shoot. This has the opposite effect of what a beginner thinks. Squeezing the grip will cause you to shake when you are aiming in result decreasing your accuracy.

Why do the Olympic archers swing the bow

So by knowing this you can figure out why the Olympic archers swing their bows. It’s simply just because they don’t hold their bow. Why? Because by not holding the grip firmly they gain more control over the bow and will result in a better shot.

But if they don’t hold the bow, wouldn’t it drop to the ground you may think. Well, it would, but they use slings. Slings are a kind of rubber band they attach on their thumb and pointing finger to prevent the bow from falling to the ground.

When they shot the bow drops into the sling and the bow will swing.

Should you swing the bow?

Yes, you should swing the bow if you want to have a very precise shot. If you are in a competition where you need every advantage you need, not holding the grip firmly and investing in a sling would be a good choice. But you don’t have to drop it either, when you first start learning to grip correctly, holding the grip with only two fingers will give you the same effect without having to swing or drop the bow.

But before you need to worry about this, investing time into your form and making that perfect first has to be your priority number one. Here is an article about the essentials we want you to learn before focusing on the details like slings. (Essential skills to archery article)

(Link to my personal Sling) As you can see a sling does not need to be expensive, it can be more expensive, but it’s really not necessary to invest so much in a sling. A cheap one will just do fine for now.

Why don`t the compound shooters use a sling or follow through?

Looking at the Olympic archers with a swing we mainly think about recurve bow shooters, when we look at compound bow shooters there are many who doesn’t use a sling or have a proper follow-through after the shot. I will explain to you why and why it isn’t that important for compounds, but still a crucial part for recurve shooters.

What is follow-through? The follow-through is the movement you do after the arrow is shot. Still, if you have released the string you need to follow through with your body with the same stance and keep an aim to your target to have the best shot possible, that’s because the arrow is not completely left your bow still if you release the string. If you move too quickly before the arrow has left the arrow rest, you will set the arrow on a wrong course either upwards or downwards. Which is not something you want.

But a lot of compound shooters don’t follow through or swing and why is that?

The reason a lot of compound shooters don’t do either is that the speed of the arrow when shooting a compound bow is so much faster than a recurve. The speed of a compound bow ranges from 140 fps to 300 fps while a recurve is approximately 140 fps to 200 fps for most recurves on average.

The speed is a major factor because it determines the time the arrow needs from the release to leave the arrow release and be in the air. The compound bows archers use have a higher speed than average recurve bows resulting in a very low amount of time needed to leave the bow. That gives them the freedom to not follow through fully and not use a swing.

Why are Olympic archers doing different movements for each shot in the swing-face?

If your favorite Olympic archer always swings his bow 180 or 360 and suddenly moves to the right after a shot, don’t be surprised. It doesn’t have much to say for the actual shot. The reason that happens sometimes can be a variety of reasons.

Sometimes they will balance against the wind or they are using the back muscles in a different way than usual. But the point is that what they do after the shot is fired has nothing to say for the shot itself. The arrow has usually left the bow a long time ago before they actually do something with their hands.


  • The sling is a strap catching the bow so the bow doesn’t drop on the ground.
  • So the reason Olympic archers swing their bow is that they don’t hold the grip firmly enough to hold the bow throughout the shot. Resulting in the bow dropping into their sling.
  • Why don’t they hold the grip tightly? By not holding the bow tightly they will gain more control and get a more accurate shot
  • Why don’t compound shooters use a sling or follow through with their shot? That’s because the speed of the arrow travels a lot faster than with a recurve bow. Making it possible for compound shooters to not give so much attention to what they do after the release because the arrow has already left the bow.

Related Questions

What bows do Olympic archers use?

Olympic archers use recurve bows and not compound bows. That’s because there is a lot of sports competition for a place in the Olympics and the ICO committee has not yet accepted compound shooting as an Olympic game yet.

What pound bow do Olympic archers use?

Women shooting in Olympics typically shoot between 40-and 48 pounds. The men shooting archery in the Olympics shoots on average between 45-55 pounds.