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Discussion Starter #1
It seems like every time I practice enough to get pretty good out to 20 yards my fingers give me trouble. The docter says I am causing nerve damage and I shoot quit for at least one week longer than it takes for the numbness to go away.

Does any one have any advice besides shooting a release. If that's my only option I might as well get a wheel bow too. I've tried gloves and tabs of several kinds all with the same result. I live near Raleigh, NC and as far as I know there are no shooting ranges or proshops within 75 miles. Any advice offered will be greatly appreciated.

I shoot a 50 pound 62 inch recurve.

Sincerely

Numbskull in North Carolina
 

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That used to happen to me when I first started archery. I think it lasted for like the first 2 months. I don't even think about it anymore. I would listen to the doc and rest your fingers. If you're shooting often its probly just re-aggravating the pain each time. If you're pretty new to shooting a recurve I would keep on shooting and stop when you feel the numbness starting. Then take a break and go again later on. If you've been at this awhile then you might consider getting a lighter bow or getting a compound. If you're shooting split-fingered then you could try shooting 3-fingers under. A lot of ppl say it saves the wear and tear on your fingers. If you have a long draw (30+) then you probly need a longer bow. Do you have any callouses on your shooting fingers? I used to get callouses on my fingers all the time in the beginning but not anymore. I think its because my form has gotten a lot better and I'm getting a clean release.
 

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First of all, listen to the doctor - internet advce can be very bad for your health. That being said, it wouldn't hurt to get another opinion or two from another doctor, making sure he/she understands the cause of the problem is archery.

As to the problem, though, one cause of the numbness is how you hold the string. Are you holding it in the groove of your fingers or on the pads? You need to hold the string in the groove of your finger joint, NOT on the pads of the ends of your fingers. When you release, you have to RELEASE . Do not snap the string off the fingers, but let them relax and straighten out.
 

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Thanks!

Goove of the fingers? Really? Not Pads? Hmmm seems when I bought the bow 5 years ago I got some bad advice. Someone else said canting the bow at an angle could cause problems too.
 

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IMHO, and I started shooting a recurve over 32 years ago and have tried about every conceivable manner of gripping the shooting string. What I learned:

1. Shooting off of the "pads" of your fingers, (just ahead of the first joint), will tend to cause more muscle tension in the drawing hand ...the drawing hand and fingers should be viewed as a simple "HOOK" ,...much like the hook of many mechanical releases.

2. Place the string in the first joint of the three fingers and make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the back of the drawing hand is flat and relaxed. Consequently, the back of the forearm will be less tense and the bicep of the drawing arm will be totally relaxed. All of the tension in this way will be transferred to your back muscles.

3. Pull with your back, visualizing the drawing hand as a simple hook. If there is tension in the back of the hand and/or bicep, something is not correct...let down. Whether you shoot by placing one finger above the arrow and two below,...or by using the "three fingers under" style, (my preference for barebow/instinctive), is your choice. The key is to keep in mind that the drawing hand is only a "hook".

4. When it comes time to release, simply "RELAX" your hook and the string will take off by itself.

What I have described above will tend to put much less trauma on the drawing hand, and may be helpful in relieving your numbness problem. Either way, take some time off,...maybe a week,...and then go back trying what I described above.

bowtinkerer
 

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Been There, Done That . . .

Frank,
First of all, I recommend that you listen very carefully to both your doctor and to BowTinkerer's advice. What BowTinkerer is describing is called the Deep Hook.

In anycase, the problem is with what is known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (the same problem typists sometimes have). What is happening is that the nerve which operates your thumb and first three fingers (not the little finger) goes thru a passage between two bones in your wrist known as the Carpal Tunnel. Unfortunately, this is also the same passage that is used by the BIG DESIGNER to route the tendons which are used to operate the same fingers and thumb (all of the muscles used to operate your hand are in your fore-arm not in your hand). Overuse of the fingers can cause tendon inflammation which pinches the nerve. Pinch the nerve often enough and long enough and you permanently damage it.

The medical solution is usually to first recommend that you back off from whatever you've been doing that caused the problem in the first place. After that comes the possibility of surgery. Note that surgery only works if it is done before permanent nerve damage. The most common type of surgery involves cutting the ligament which holds the two little bones together in your wrist (thus releaving the pressure by allowing the carpal tunnel to get bigger).

OK, so all of that is the basic medical setup What I have done for myself (I have had the same damn problem, amigo) is that I have gone to the local pharmacy and bought a wrist brace (the kind with a metal bar running up under the wrist and into the palm region). When I shoot, I wear the wrist brace and just put the shooting glove on over the brace. This has done alot to eliminate the inflamation. In addition to that I think that the problem is somewhat mitigated as the hand becomes stronger with use.

One more thing - this is critical, so don't miss this part- I also wear a wrist brace at night when I sleep. Especially on those days in which I have practiced. Reason is because your hand gets moved around alot as you toss and turn in your sleep. The whole benefit of the brace is to keep your wrist straight so as to minimize bending and kinking the nerve.

I am not going to recommend that you take an anti-inflammatory (i.e. aspirin) as that is something you really have to takeup with your doctor (aspirin also destroys the platelets in your blood). I am just telling you what I have done and what has worked for me. Ultimately, we both may well have to have that surgery but so far - for me anyway, things are under control.

Good Luck!!!
 

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Numbness can result from a variety of causes, such as have already been mentioned as well as nerve pinches in the cervical column or neck oddly enough.

That was my problem and I solved it by going lighter in draw weight and not trying to shoot more arrows per minute than anybody else. Frequent breaks are more common sense than anything else in these situations. Also, if the bow's too heavy, then it's too heavy. Get a lighter one then. Only you can know that so just be honest with yourself.

Also try different finger releases. There are plenty to go around which, depending on the bow or archer, may or may not pinch the fingers less. Also stay off the pads as has been mentioned unless you're using a very light target bow. A heavy bow will get a plenty crisp release from the "hook".
 
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