Sequence of Manchu archery

Read and zoom into the the sequence of the Manchu archery technique. During the entire sequence, the eyes should be fixed on the target. This post appeared on Fe Doro (

  1. Feet are shoulder width apart. This is the stance referred to in modern archery as the open or oblique stance, known to be the choice of expert archers, but more difficult to reproduce than the standard square stances. With this stance the upper body is at about 45 degree angles with the line to the target, the rear foot is at 90 degree angle with the target line, and the front foot is at about 45 degree from the rear foot. Heel of the rear foot is in line with the toes of the front foot. While the general foot setup and body-to-target alignment is the same, we can notice some variation in stance from Manchu archer to Manchu archer, just as we see among expert archers on today's shooting lines. Gaze at the target, specifically at the exact spot you want to hit and zoom into its smallest detail. Breathe deep and slow, from the abdomen.
  2. Grasp the arrow behind the tip and bring it towards the bow. Grasp it with the thumb and index finger of the bow hand and move your draw hand back along the arrow, stroking the feathers.
  3. Align the nock with the angle of the string. In a fast-shooting setup you will already have the nocks neatly aligned in your quiver, saving some time in this stage.
  4. Push the arrow forward in order to nock it. This is the stage where the temptation to look at the nock will be the greatest. Resist it! When the arrow is nocked pull it back a little and hold the shaft with the thumb and index finger of the bow hand in order to keep the arrow in place.
  5. Hook the thumb ring behind the string and twist the hand inward to secure the string.
  6. Bring the bow up in preparation to pull it.
  7. Before pulling, make sure you release the shaft with the bow-hand thumb and index finger, if not, one will pull the string out of the nock, a common beginner's mistake.
  8. Open the bow using the back muscles as early in the draw as possible by pulling close to one's body, putting the bow arm elbow backwards as far as one can, in order to bring the force to the back, rolling the shoulder back into the draw.
  9. Imagine opening heavy sliding doors and forcing one's body in-between, using force of both arms to pull them apart. Leaning into the bow also helps getting the back muscles in the shot. The proper execution of this technique will be extremely important when using heavy bows.
  10. Many archers wonder about the absence of an anchor point in this style of archery. In fact, there are many, just not the way we are used to seeing them. First, the string runs over the chest, adding stability to the pose. In the oblique stance, the string moves away from the chest so touching does not interfere at all with the shot. Second, the feathers touch the cheek. Third, the draw is so long that there can be little variation on how to hold a bow with that draw length. Fourth, the finger of the bow hand can feel the arrowhead, so one can exactly determine his draw length. Depending on the type of arrow shot, the arrow is pulled to the beginning of the bark wrapping near the tip, to a "feeler", or to the base of the arrowhead.
  11. Releasing with the Manchu thumbring means twisting the wrist clockwise (counter-clockwise for lefties) while opening the hand. This is the trigger that releases the arrow. Texts then describe two ways of follow through that are technically unrelated to the shot, but may contribute to a good shooting form through adding the concentration during release. I will describe the follow-through taught to me by Ku Ku, the last Manchu archer.
  12. After the releasing twist the draw arm moves backwards in a controlled manner.
  13. The draw hand is completely relaxed, and ends with the palm backwards. A variation of the technique is shown in the Kress photographs, where the palm faces up after release. Either way can result in consistency, just be sure to pick one and stick to that one alone.

One can find the original post by Peter Dekker here.