Almost all competitive recurve archers eventually shoot with a clicker. Shooting with a clicker has a lot of benefits. The first major benefit is that it helps you to keep a consistent draw length. Another benefit is that it prevents the common issue of target panic. Therefore, it is recommended to switch to the clicker once you are ready for it.
You are ready to start using the clicker when your form and technique are relatively consistent. It’s recommended to start shooting with the clicker after 6 months of extensive training.
Although this is a good rule of thumb, there is much more to discuss. It also depends on how well you are grouping. Some archers shoot excellent after 6 months of training, while others need to focus on their technique first. Therefore, I will discuss this question in a lot more detail.
A rule of thumb
As mentioned in the intro, you should have a reasonably consistent draw. If that isn’t the case it will be very difficult to switch to the clicker and cause a lot of frustration. Therefore, it will hurt your overall progress. I will explain this in more detail in the next section.
When you are just getting into the sport, you will have an inconsistent draw. We need to train our muscles to keep the right form and draw consistently. This takes at least 6 months of extensive training (3 days per week). So, I wouldn’t consider the clicker any earlier than that.
Some archers get consistent fast and can start with the clicker early. If you have a coach, he/she will discuss this with you. But if you don’t have a coach you should look at your groupings. Tight groups indicate good form and technique.
As a rule of thumb, I believe that you should only start with the clicker if you shoot at least a 7 (per arrow) on a 40 cm (15 inch) target face while shooting from 18 meters (20 yards). For some archers, this can take up to a year to achieve. Especially if you don’t train extensively.
If you shoot at a different distance: use the target size calculator to compare the rule of thumb to your groupings. Insert 16 cm (to only include the 7, 8, 9, and 10) as the target size and 18 meters as the distance. Finally, insert your distance (in meters) and click next. The resulting calculated target size is the size of the groupings you should have, to start with a clicker.
Why some archers should never use a clicker
For most archers, it’s recommended to start with a clicker once you start to have good groupings. But for some archers, even when you have good groupings, it isn’t a good idea. Shooting well with a clicker requires a lot of dedication and training. If you don’t learn it right, it will do more harm than good.
For small children learning this technique can be quite difficult. It requires a lot of concentration and technique. When you start shooting with a clicker, the scores will always decrease. It simply takes a lot of getting used to and for children, this is especially difficult.
Children are more impatient, so if they see that they shoot worse it will negatively impact their motivation. This of course differs per child. But for most archers, it’s better to wait until they are about 12 years old.
If archery is just a hobby
Using a clicker also isn’t a good idea if you don’t train frequently. I would say that you should at least shoot one time per week or more to shoot with a clicker. If you shoot infrequently, it will take a long time to get used to the clicker. You might not be able to get used to it at all.
So, if you don’t shoot all that often, I wouldn’t recommend shooting with a clicker. Even if you shoot good groups, it might take a long time to get used to the clicker. The more time passes between sessions, the more the technique starts to slip away.
Why you don’t want to start too early
Some archers believe that you should start shooting with a clicker when you are just getting started. They say that a clicker is a great tool that trains you to keep consistent. I strongly disagree, however.
To shoot well with a clicker you need to be consistent with your draw. If your draw differs too much the clicker will go off too early or not go off at all. Additionally, if you are still inconsistent with your draw it will also be difficult to configure the clicker. Therefore, I believe that you should only start with the clicker if you are reasonably consistent.
When you start with a clicker too early, you will only get distracted by it. Since you fire right after the clicker, it will become an obsession. When you are just getting started, you should focus on your form and technique and not on technicalities such as the clicker.
‘’A clicker will not fix a grossly inconsistent draw. It will only make a consistent draw even more consistent.’’
Don’t give up too fast
If you started shooting with a clicker, you must persevere. So, don’t remove the clicker if you can’t get used to it after one or two sessions. It can take up to 3 months to get used to the clicker. Some archers get used to it fast, while it takes much longer for others.
Most archers will eventually switch to the clicker, so don’t go back and forth. If you decided that you want to use the clicker you have to follow through. Your scores will be low for weeks or even a few months. But in the end, it will be worth it.
If you go back and forth, the entire process will only take longer. So be patient and positive and keep training!
How to master the clicker
Shooting with the clicker requires a lot of technique and it will be quite a journey. If you want to learn how to use a clicker, I recommend reading the article below. I will not only explain the technique but also give you a timeline on what progress you should expect when you start.
If you are looking for a good clicker, check out the link below. I have listed down two good clickers. One with a built-in clicker plate and one without.
If you are still unsure whether you want to start with a clicker I would wait for a few months. You should be confident when you start. It takes serious dedication and discipline. It’s not something you can try and see if you like it. Otherwise, no one would shoot with a clicker.
Because you fire directly after you hear the click, it will feel like you lose control. This is especially the case when the clicker goes off earlier than expected. Once you mastered the clicker, it will only go off when you want it.
If you have any experiences, feedback, or questions you would like to share, please leave them down below. I will respond to any questions as soon as possible and I will send you an email notification.