Archery is a challenging sport, one of the biggest challenges for a starting recurve archers is to master the clicker. For many experienced archers shooting with the clicker is an automatic process. When you hear the clicking sound you immediately fire the arrow. This reaction can become so strong that you fire the arrow accidently.
‘’Before I shot with the clicker I often measured my draw length with an arrow indoors. I always aimed towards a wall, just to be sure. When I trained with the clicker for a while I wanted to measure my draw length again. So I did my normal procedure. When I heard the clicker go off, I couldn’t control the reflex and fired the arrow into the wall.’’
The clicker is a great tool to keep your draw length consistent, therefore almost all experienced archers use the tool. In this article I will explain how to use the clicker, how to configure it and what to expect.
In order to use the clicker you first should have a decent overall technique and a consistent draw length. When you are anchoring the clicker should be at the tip of arrow. With your back muscles you pull the arrow the last way through the clicker. You release the arrow immediately when you hear the clicking sound.
You need to change a lot of techniques when you shoot with the clicker. Most archers get used to the different way of nocking the arrow quite fast, but especially the last push can be quite hard to master.
Nocking the arrow
When you shoot without a clicker nocking the arrow is very simple. You put the arrow on the arrow rest and put the nocking point on the string. When you want to use a clicker however you need to be sure that the arrow us under the clicker before you nock the arrow. This might seem simple but because you have just one hand free, it can be challenging at first. I have seen multiple techniques to do so:
- Use the grove in the clicker plate: some clicker plates have a horizontal grove which allow you to easily slip the arrow under the clicker with the tip.
- Using the space above the clicker plate: if you have a small clicker plate or clicker bar, you can use this little space to slip the arrow under the clicker, in similar fashion as with the clicker plate
- Using your index finger: if you have long fingers, you can gently push the clicker backwards with your index finger. Then you can easily slip the arrow under the clicker and release the clicker.
- Nocking the arrow first: some archers prefer to nock the arrow first on the string, temporarily resting the shaft on the shelf. When the arrow is properly nocked you can use the draw hand to lift the clicker and slip your arrow under it.
What technique you want to use depends on your own preference. It is, however, important that you don’t accidentally change the configuration of your clicker. If this happens, you might want to change to a different technique.
Anchoring with a clicker is exactly the same as anchoring without a clicker. When you are just using the clicker you might notice that it will go off before you even reached your anchor point. This happens because you are not consistent with your draw yet. A clicker can greatly help you train this consistency, but it can be quit frustrating first.
When I first used the clicker, I used to look at the point of the arrow, to see how much arrow I have left until I reach the clicker. This trains you to find a consistent draw length. After training for a few months this is no longer needed and you can start with aiming right away.
It is important that you draw the bow back to your normal anchoring position. This position should however still allow you to draw ¼ of an inch (1 centimeter). Otherwise you won’t be able to get the arrow through the clicker.
The last push
The most difficult technique to master is ‘’the last push’’. When you are anchored the clicker should be at the tip of your arrow. To get the arrow through the clicker you should use your back muscles. You pull the arrow through the clicker by pulling your shoulder blades towards each other. You should already have straightened your back when drawing the bow, but the last push comes by using your back muscles.
The closer you anchor to the point of your arrow, the easier the last push will be. If you, however, anchor really close to the point of your arrow you might accidentally pull it through the clicker. When you are getting more consistent you can slowly make the last push shorter.
Some archers push their bow hand forward to get the arrow though the clicker. This is however not the right technique. Although this is more easy, you can interfere with the arrow upon release. Because you tension the bow arm you will manipulate the bow, which will in turn manipulate the arrow. Therefore it’s important to keep the bow arm relaxed when using the clicker.
The last push makes using the clicker really strenuous for you back muscles. You shouldn’t be surprised when you feel your back muscles more than usual. Some archers even experience muscle strain when shooting with a clicker. If you experience this I would recommend to read the following section of this article: ‘’I get muscle strain, what am I doing wrong?’’
Click and fire
When you are making the final push you will hear the clicking sound. When you hear the sound you should immediately release the string and fire the arrow. Therefore when you make the final push you should be aiming at the center of the target and be ready to fire. If you don’t immediately fire after the clicker has gone off, the entire advantage of the clicker disappears. This might feel unusual at first, but you should train yourself to always release when the clicker goes off. The only exception is when something went wrong and you anticipate to do the entire shot sequence all over again. After training for two months, you will notice that you automatically fire when you hear the clicking sound.
When am I ready to use the clicker?
Most archers want to start using the clicker as soon as possible. For starting archers it might seem silly to wait, because it has clear advantages. But if you are not consistent enough you will never get these advantages. If you start to fast with shooting the clicker it will be a slow and irritating process. Therefore it’s better to wait longer than necessary than to rush into it.
To give you a guideline. If you are shooting at 18 meters (60 ft) at a 40 centimeter (15 inch) target face, you should at least shoot an average of 7 per arrow. If you shoot lower than an average of 7 points per arrow, you have other consistency issues to focus on. When you start to shoot with a clicker you should have a solid anchor point, draw and general form. Scores lower than 7 indicate that there are probably some issues in either of these categories.
With many aids on recurve bows, you can just try a feature and remove it if you don’t like it. With the clicker I guarantee you that you won’t like it when you first start, nobody does. When you are just starting you will see your scores plummet and it seems like you have to learn archery all over again. This feeling is normal and every archer goes through this face. So if you go for it you should try it for at least 2 months, don’t expect results immediately.
Why shoot with a clicker at all?
As I mention in this article a few times, shooting with a clicker can be quite a challenge. Therefore you might wonder why archers are shooting with a clicker at all. In archery one of the main challenges is to remove inconsistencies. The main inconsistencies are human errors. The draw length is something that is really hard to keep 100% consistent because you have to use the exact same form every time. The clicker basically removes the inconsistencies in the draw length. Because the clicker only goes off when you are at the proper draw length you will notice when you are inconsistent.
Therefore the basic duty of the clicker is to keep your draw length consistent and letting you know when you are inconsistent. When you are shooting with a clicker you don’t have to worry about your consistency in the draw length. Since there are many other things that require your attention, this is a huge advantage.
When will I notice the benefit?
When you are training with the clicker you might feel frustrated and want a timeline. The problem with shooting with a clicker is that you often don’t know how long it will take until you see the benefit. Therefore in this section I want to give an indication on when you can expect to see progress.
First 2 till 4 weeks
The first weeks you will experiment with the exact configuration of the clicker. This means that your scores will be very low when you are starting. You main focus should be to find the draw length and technique that works for you. Don’t expect any progress in the first few weeks in terms of your scores.
Next 2 months
Once you have found the proper technique you slowly will see that your scores start to increase. In these months you don’t change the configuration of the clicker anymore and just focus on consistency. Don’t expect to be back at your old level to soon. In the first 2 months you are probably still a bit inconsistent and your back muscles still have to get used to the new technique. Don’t work focus too much on other techniques, you first have to master the clicker before you can move on.
The fruits of your labor
In three months you are probably back to your old level. You might even see an increase in your scores already. Once you are consistent with your clicker, you won’t have any issues with it anymore. Since your draw length is always consistent because of the clicker, you can focus on other important techniques of archery. If you are not at your current level in three months, you might have to reconsider your technique and make adjustments.
I get muscle strain, what am I doing wrong?
Archery is quite demanding for your back muscles. The longer you hold the bow at full draw the stronger your muscles need to be. Therefore the clicker can cause muscle strain because you will keep the bow longer at full draw. The final push through the clicker is also completely done with your back muscles, which can cause problems.
Therefore you shouldn’t be surprised if you feel muscle strain when shooting with a clicker. Even if you have never experienced muscle strain with archery before you might experience it with the clicker. If you experience muscle strain you shouldn’t be worried, probably the limbs are just a bit too heavy for you to shoot with the clicker. To build up your back muscles you can train them with special exercises. Read my ‘’How to train your back muscles for archery’’ article for exercises and extra advice.
How to configure the clicker
Before you can actually use the clicker, you have to configure it to your draw length. Therefore the arrow should be roughly at the correct draw length. An easy way to measure the draw length is to draw the bow back with an arrow and let a friend mark the point where the arrow clears the riser. Most of the times you will have to adjust the length of an arrow. You can easily do this with a hacksaw, but be sure to leave some extra just in case you want to increase your draw length later.
When you are configuring the clicker you should keep the following rules of thumb in mind:
- Mount the clicker as vertical as possible: the clicker functions best when the clicker is mounted as vertical as possible. This may mean that you either have to place the clicker on an extender or have to shorten your arrow.
- Correct tension: the clicker should have enough tension to make a clear clicking sound. It shouldn’t however be so stiff that it pushes the peg of the button inwards. If it’s adjusted to stiff it will affect your archers paradox and can cause erratic behavior.
- Extended clickers: although extending your clicker can be a great way to make sure that your clicker is mounted vertical. If your extender is really long the clicker can interfere with the arrow when the arrow is leaving the bow. Therefore it’s good practice to keep the clicker as close to the riser as possible, to avoid this issue.
Tip: if you can't clearly hear the sound of the clicker, you might want to check whether the clicker is hitting a hard surface. The point of the clicker should hit a hard surface, preferably metal, to make the audible clicking sound.
What is a good clicker?
The clicker is a straightforward device. It's basically a flexible piece of metal that makes a clicking sound. This clicking sound is made when the clicker hits the riser or clicker plate. The most important feature of the clicker is therefore the loudness of the click. Clickers can be quite expensive because they are made from high-quality flexible metals.
If your arrows are shortened to your draw length you want to use the built-in clicker plate of your bow. In that situation, I would recommend the Decut Recurve Clicker. Luckily the threading on clicker screws is standardized. So any clicker should fit any modern riser.
Another option is the NIKA Archery Clicker. This clicker has a build-in clicker plate, which is perfect if you want to start with longer arrows or if you have a riser without a clicker plate. In the product picture on Amazon, you can see that the clicker is attached close to the sight. If you want to use this clicker I would advise placing it closer to the riser to avoid interference with the arrow. Also make sure that the clicker is able to be attached to your sight with the clamp!
I hope my article was helpful in your journey to shoot with the clicker. It can be quite challenging the first few weeks. It is important to keep focused and try different techniques until you found a what works for you. My dad for example really struggled with the clicker. When he shot with the clicker for a week he got frustrated because his scores plummeted. The next week he would therefore shoot without it. I was already shooting with the clicker for a while so I advised my father to be more persistent. Therefore he only shot with the clicker and after one month his scores significantly improved.
For my dad shooting with a clicker was more of a challenge than for me. But he got the same results, an increase in scores after about 3 months. The moral of the story is that you should be patient and not expect good results overnight. Some archers get used to new techniques faster than others, but if we persist we all get there.
If you have any questions or opinions you would like to share, please leave them in the comment section down below. I will respond to any questions as soon as possible.