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Hello everybody,

After many years of thinking about it, lurking on forums and trying to put a few hundred bucks aside, I finally took the plunge and got my first bow: a Kaya Firefox, with a thumb ring. I thought I’d share my experiences as a newbie, for those who are interested.

TLDR version: it’s awesome.

Why was I interested in horse bows and thumb rings? Well, part of the answer is: just because :). I think horse bows are beautiful and the traditional aspect appeals more to me than compound bows, although if I ever win the lottery, I’ll probably get one of those too.

Regarding thumb rings, I was fascinated by the fact that they allow a longer draw length, for more power and efficiency, and they seem to allow an ergonomically friendlier hand position, and, if you ever get good at it, they make it possible to reload and shoot faster. And on top of that, I just like to do things the unusual way :)

I bought a Kaya Firefox because that was the only bow I had been considering that the store happened to have stocked, and I didn’t want to wait any longer. It has a draw weight of 40 lbs at 30 inches and around 33 lbs at 28 inches. The sales guy measured it for me, so I’m confident those numbers are accurate.

My first experiences:

- What I find hardest about the thumb ring (I have the tear drop shaped kind, though I’m trying to make my own Manchu style ring), is to not let the shot get away from me. After three sessions it doesn’t really happen anymore, but in some of my first shots the string slipped off the ring before I’d finished drawing and the arrow went flying far from where I intended to send it.

- In terms of accuracy, I obviously still have a long way to go, but on the whole I’m not unhappy with where I am after maybe 100 shots. Since my experience with the Mediterranean release is limited to a workshop a few months ago, I don’t have much to unlearn. I aim roughly by pointing the thumb of my bow hand at the target and keeping the arrow head on a vertical line through the target’s centre. After that, it’s a matter of trial an error to figure out how high you have to aim to get the desired result.

- As recommended by a Manchu archer on Youtube whose name escapes me for the moment, I don’t always, at this stage, try to draw the string back all the way. I’m also experimenting with close range shots for which a partial draw will do the trick. I find this helps me get a feel for how the bow and arrow behave under different circumstances. The fact that this reduces the draw weight also allows me to concentrate on other technical aspects, such as my stance, hand and arm position, sight picture, etc.

- Speaking of draw weight, I find that (A) the 40 lbs I need at 30 inches are entirely doable. I am happy I got a bow at this weight. More would probably have been too much at this point, but less wouldn’t really have made a difference in my opinion.

- The thumb ring I have is a little on the big side. If I slip something under it (I used gauze and a paper towel so far and both did the trick), the strain on my thumb is very manageable. If I don’t, it hurts.

- So far I’ve been shooting from distances between about 5 and 12 meters. Nothing spectacular, but good enough for me at this point. Longer distances and bigger draw weights will come when I’m ready.

- I have much more control if I slightly rotate my drawing hand (moving the thumb away from me and the little finger towards me).

- Did I mention it’s awesome? I love the *thoc* when the arrow hits the target! If the rest of my life allowed me, I could do this all day long.
 
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