Home Forums Bows and Equipment 1 finger over vs. 3 fingers under

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    • ChumpMcgee
      Post count: 252

      Hello again,

      Once again I am a very green when it comes to traditional archery. What I know is from what my old man has taught me in his 40 years of shooting archery and the books he has read, and also from the few books and dvd that I have looked at by Fred Asbell. In both his books that I have read Institive Shooting I and II and the DVD that he made. In all of them he goes over the different kind of nock points and what he recommends using (the middle finger as a reference). He also mentioned that shooting 1 finger over is the better way to shoot instinctivly and that 3 fingers under is more or less barrowing the shaft as if you are looking down the shaft of the arrow for your shots. I personally shoot 3 fingers under but use my pointer finger as a nock point in the corner of my mouth, I know that I do not look down the shaft of the arrow and my eyes are always on the little red dot of the target the entire time that I and drawing my bow back.

      The interesting thing that he mentions is what you do to your bow when you shoot 3 fingers under. You move the center of your bow from the shaft down towards the middle of the handle of the bow due to the fact that you are putting more tension on the bottom limb then the top limb. He shows the example to with a very light bow. Shooting 3 fingers under you could see the bottom limb come much more high then the top limb. Once he shot 1 finger up he pulled the bow back to show that the limbs bend equally.

      What I am wondering is I am shooting “well” with 3 fingers under, little to the left but like I said I am new and not perfect….yet. Does anyone else have any input on shooting 3 fingers under vs 1 finger over?? Do you think I should start shooting with one finger over? Just to give you some input I shoot a longbow and when I shoot 3 under the arrows come out straight, once I put 1 finger over they start porpousing which tells me I need to move my nock point. What do you think or suggest?

    • Clay Hayes
      Post count: 418

      I shoot split finger(one over, two under) but that’s just personal preference or habit. I also shoot with an instinctive/gap type of method. I’m conscious of the tip of the arrow, use it to line up left/right, but do not consciously gap. In other words, the gap is instinctive if that makes any since.

      Anyway, If you shoot by using some reference point such as your arrow tip, 3 under and middle finger in the corner of the mouth can help get the arrow closer up under the eye. This decreases the gap which seems to make aiming a little easier at hunting ranges.

      I used to shoot purely instinctively and have always shot split finger so I just continued using that hold when I began using my method of aiming. In my opinion, if you’re shooting well with 3 under, stay with it.

    • lee
      Post count: 50

      I shoot 3 under just like you, using my pointer finger in the corner of my mouth as my anchor point. I used to actually shoot 2 fingers under (because I didn’t know any better), and simply got blisters on my middle finger all the time.

      I’ve tried the 1 over 2 under and when I do that the arrow goes crazy, I can’t hit the side of a barn… so I say stick with what works. Also I shoot purely instinctive, elevation wise, when I draw back I do use the arrow to line up left to right, but at full draw the arrow is no longer in my view.

      As far as the upper/lower limb flex being equal or unequal, some of the longbows that were used by the Japanese Samurai had limbs of vastly unequal length, with the top limb being far longer than the bottom limb. I imagine this was so they could draw a very heavy bow smoothly, but that’s just my assumption.

      In short, use what works for you, and with practice and mastery of your particular technique, the advantages of one system over another will become unimportant.

    • Mudd foot
      Post count: 25

      Not sure if this analogy will be perceived as irrelevant, but if your watch the PGA tour, there are many different swings between the top players. Physical proportions of the players likely has alot of influence on the mechanics. Nonetheless, there is much to be said for their exactness.

      Furthermore, to continue the analogy, some guys hit fades as their go-to shot, and others hit draws as their bread-and butter. Additionally, golf’s pre-shot routine is very analogous to what we perform in archery. Could split-finger and 3-under be the fades and draws of archery?

      Personally, I’ve struggled with Mr. Asbell’s method of target perception. Every time that I attempt it, the arrow flies everywhere. This includes the use of the split-finger grip. Of course, if I had the opportunity to have a lesson from Mr. Asbell, I have absolutely no doubt that my shooting would improve tremendously.

      Jim Ploen’s “Aiming the arrow” confirmed alot of items for me in my own practice, and aiming. The article is available on the internet, in case you are interested.

      Three-finger and the tip of my middle finger touching my first bicuspid works for me, and I’ve decided to stick with it. Plus, I just like the sound of “Apache-style!”

      Just my 2 cents,

      Mudd Foot

    • RayB
      Post count: 45

      I’m more accurate 3 under, I always feel like I’m pinching the arrow split finger

    • Brennan Herr
      Post count: 403

      I once shot 3 under and then switched to split finger…I have become more accurate with split finger and find it easier to focus on the target because the arrow is less in my field of vision (I used the middle finger as the anchor for both). But I think to each his own. I am a student of Asbell’s method and used it when I was having trouble shooting (had no idea what the hell I was doing) and that is the reason I went from Apache to split finger. It was weird switching but worked for me. I would say use what works and if you get a new bow have them set the tiller for that shooting style.

    • shawhill
      Post count: 63

      I switched over from compound last year to a long bow and I practiced religiously. I was shooting split finger and couldnt get the consistancy I needed. As July ended I really started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to bowhunt this year unless I was two yards away. I tried three under and kept my middle finger as my anchor point. I found my “point of aim” at 19-20 yards and I started string walking. Now I can stack them in an icecream lid at 20 yards. I don’t judge my distaces as quick as I did while shooting instinctually but I hit what I’m aiming at. I can’t speak with any experience on the bow stress but I would be willing to bet that bow material/contsruction plays a big factor on whether you should worry or not.
      Either way do what works best for you and your confidence, especially since were into the seasons. I wouldn’t change anything right now. Good luck!

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      Hard to argue with success, and I have no desire to try (arguing, that is). I’ve never shot 3-under but easily understand the potential advantage of getting the arrow closer to the eye. However, I’d think that putting pressure on the string as far below the arrow as a third finger extends, could really set things off balance and complicate a clean release. Just surmising here. What I do know is that in my split-finger hold, every time I get a tad too much pressure on the bottom finger, the arrow goes wild and I know it the instant of the release. For me, the smoothest possible release is when I consciously let off slightly on the bottom and top fingers at full draw, so that at the instant of release my middle finger is holding a majority of the string pressure. That is somewhat analogous to a trigger release, while having three fingers on the string under the arrow would seem very hard to control for a precision release. Again, I’m not arguing, but just stating something I’ve always wondered about. And on short bows, like my 54″ longbow and 52″ recurve, I’d think a clean and comfy 3-fingers-under release would be nearly impossible given the sharp angle and pinch of the string at full draw. ????

    • ChumpMcgee
      Post count: 252

      Thanks everyone for there thoughts about this. I know too that I have tried the split finger on my bow as well as other peoples bows that I have shot and the arrow goes everywhere, but once I shoot 3 fingers under it flies beautifully. I figure that I am still new at this that i would be able to teach myself the better and more effcient way to shoot. From what I understand from what people are saying is, do what is best that works for you. I do appreciate all the responses it was great feed back.

    • fattony77
      Post count: 59

      I think in the illustration you’re talking about in Mr. Asbell’s book, he’s actually showing what happens when you have an improper bow-hand grip on the bow. According to Byron Ferguson’s book, the tiller of the bow will make the difference on whether shooting 3 under or split finger is proper for that particular bow. I personally shoot 3 under with my longbow & split finger with my recurve. But I think ultimately the “best” one is whichever style helps you to put the arrows where ya want ’em. 🙂

    • Stephen Graf
      Post count: 2371

      I too am a fan of 3 fingers under. I too like to call it comanche style. It seems more accurate and comfortable for me. And I don’t have any arrow pinch issues. But I have observed that those of us who shoot better at longer ranges use split finger.

      But I don’t care about no stinking longer ranges. If some critter comes in to 20 yds or less, he’s going to find out how well 3 fingers under works! (Like my big talkin?)

      3 fingers under is quick and clean. If you can shed a lifetime of crappy movie preconceptions of how to hold the string, you will be happy.

    • ChumpMcgee
      Post count: 252

      My biggest issue to with shooting 3 under is that I get a blister on my bottom ring finger when I shoot. I will also let everyone know that when I shoot I do not put the sting in the first joint of my finger. I would have the sting roughly halfway from my finger tip to the first joint. This makes me believe that I am holding the sting improperly, I am not sure if I am or not but this makes me think that when I draw the bow back my ring finger is closer to my body then my middle finger is a little close to the bow and my index is the closest to the bow. I could also argue the point that the bottom part of my ring finger is the first point of contact with the bow string so there for that is going to be when the most pressure would be on my fingers. I could be completely wrong with this but should I not be pulling back with equal pressure on all three fingers? I once was told that the bottom finger should have the LEAST amount of pressure on it and that when I draw back I should try to let the pressure off the bottom finger. Any thoughts on that?

      PS I know that blisters will form…I just have to developed them into a healthy calls. I just want to find out where the blister should be forming…or if a blister should be forming at all.

    • Mudd foot
      Post count: 25

      Blisters have never formed on my fingers as a result of shooting, but I use a pretty thick leather finger glove. Callouses have formed but are not thick; almost as if the skin has been lightly abraded.

      When I hold the grip the string it falls just beyond the first joint my middle finger, at the joint of my index, and just beyond the flesh pad of the third finger, but before the joint. The string is at a slight diagonal angle on my third finger.

      When I release the string, I’m really not conscious of what my fingers are doing, it feels subconscious. Perhaps focusing on pulling the string with your draw-hand elbow and scapula could help shift the focus elsewhere?

    • archer38
      Post count: 242

      I started out shooting my recurve split finger and had the same issue with poor arrow flight. I found the teachings of Rick Welch to be AMAZINGLY HELPFUL !! If you get a chance, you should check him out on youtube. He REALLY changed my way of thinking and shooting.He has a few videos and also does a shooting school. He also builds some of the very best bows money can buy.I’m not too sure which is the proper or best way to draw a bow but I do know that “for me”…..shooting three under works far better and more accurate

    • Raymond Coffman
      Post count: 1072

      I shoot short bows almost exclusively now, 56″and under.

      I prefer split finger, mostly because I feel it gives me better control of the arrow during hunting. The final movements to position {stalk etc] for the shot , when preparing for the shot, during the shot, and follow thru upon release- for me. I also over the years have come to do what Dave describes – most of the string pressure is on my middle finger right under the arrow.

      But I believe one should shoot “any style” that allows one the most consistent hits. If just starting out, try them all and stay with the one you like best. They all work, if done properly


    • Jason Wesbrock
      Post count: 762

      At the end of the day there is no right or wrong answer. Shoot whichever way works best for you. I’ve shot both and found three-under works best for me. I have good friends who’ve found they shoot best split-finger.

    • lyagooshka
      Post count: 600

      I am not an expert by any means. I just started 3-under and seem to like it. It felt weird at first, but my groups got tighter and I started to really see improvement (I am new to traditional shooting). I hit a small slump, so I tried the 2/1 again but immediately had an issue that I have always had. Maybe someone can explain it to me, but when I draw back using 2/1, many times the arrow slips off the shelf. That doesn’t happen with 3-under.

      Just to add another level to the discussion, I am using a glove. I just ordered a 3-under black widow tab. I am assuming the calf hair goes against the string? Is there a preference with 3-under in terms of glove or tab?

      Thanks all,



    • Wexbow
      Post count: 403


      Best fix I got for keeping the arrow tight to the riser was from Moebow here at the tradbow forum – see his youtube videos – which involves keeping the string hand bent out towards the back of the hand when gripping the string. Upon drawing and relaxing the wrist the string twists clockwise towards the riser keeping the arrow on the shelf.

    • wildschwein
      Post count: 581

      Alex the calf hair does go against the string.

      As for a preference between tab and glove for three under, I just got back from the ATBA’s Jamboree and the fifty or so three under shooters showed about a 2/3rds preference for tabs. However fifty or so is a pretty small sample of archers.

    • lyagooshka
      Post count: 600

      Thanks for the input. I will definitely spend some time on YouTube. Also, 50 archers is a good enough sample. I was just copncerned if people actually use them as you often see 2/1 tabs but very few 3-under tabs. I am glad that it’s almost 50/50. I will see how I do. If it doesn’t feel right after a few times out, I can just go back to the glove and chalk it up to experience. Thanks again.



    • paleoman
      Post count: 918

      All I know is I shoot split finger and trying 3 under after 45 years feels like going to work in my underwear!

    • William Warren
      Post count: 1384

      I’ve shot split finger my whole life. 3 under is just not really comfortable to me but I have practiced it from an elevated position at close ranges in low light conditions and feel it could provide an opportunity to take a shot I might otherwise pass up. For those who use it all the time, just keep doing what works for you.

    • WildmanSC
      Post count: 40

      tkohlhorst wrote: The interesting thing that he mentions is what you do to your bow when you shoot 3 fingers under. You move the center of your bow from the shaft down towards the middle of the handle of the bow due to the fact that you are putting more tension on the bottom limb then the top limb. He shows the example to with a very light bow. Shooting 3 fingers under you could see the bottom limb come much more high then the top limb. Once he shot 1 finger up he pulled the bow back to show that the limbs bend equally.

      One thing to remember is Mr. Asbell took a picture of a bow built for split fingers shooting and having a nock point set for shooting split fingers and took the pictures. Had he taken a pic of a bow tillered for 3 under with a nock point set for 3 under and with the bow drawn 3 under, the difference in the limbs would have been negligible.


    • lyagooshka
      Post count: 600

      paleoman wrote: All I know is I shoot split finger and trying 3 under after 45 years feels like going to work in my underwear!

      You say it as if there was something wrong with that… 😆

    • Hiram
      Post count: 484

      Duncan wrote: I’ve shot split finger my whole life. 3 under is just not really comfortable to me but I have practiced it from an elevated position at close ranges in low light conditions and feel it could provide an opportunity to take a shot I might otherwise pass up. For those who use it all the time, just keep doing what works for you.


      As usual,,spoken well!! Thanks for being here Fred!!!:)

      Tiller of more than 1/4 positive is hard to tune with three under. It can be done but it is best to have a Bow adjusted to even,, or 0 zero tiller. I have one longbow that is 1/4 positive and tunes and shoots well with three under. The only problem which may be encountered tuning a postive tillerd Bow for 3 under is that once the nock height is adjusted according to the arrow entry, the Point of aim may well be a little low. Why?? well in most cases the arrow nocking point will have to be moved upward on the string to allow the bare shaft reading to correlate with the rear of the arrow nock to enter the target level up an down for the best tune. The nock being upward moves the rear of the arrow higher and effectively lowers the point, this moves the arrow to shoot a little lower sometimes, not always. The reason the nock tunes upward is to apply more pressure or weight on the top limb to compensate for the 3 under grasp. That is why many Bows shot three under tend to be louder, because the limb timing is off! Best to have a 0 tillered bow or 1/8th postive wityh the 3 under grasp on the string.

      The reason people get a sore bottom finger with 3 under?? Yes,,too much pressure on it and may well be overbowed to begin with which means that; most of the pressure is on the bottom and should NOT be!. Best to have most of the pressure on the top two fingers and if this is not the case? You may well consider shoting a liter Bow till you are able to hold most the weight on the top two fingers, allowing the third one to have very little influence on the string at full draw. 3 under is best done when the third or bottom finger is just along for the ride and has minimal pressure at full draw.

      Fred hit the nail when he said do what works best!

      3 under allows for a higher position of the arrow closer to the eye, this reduces the gap between the arrow and the eye also. Split finger actually moves the arrow dlwnward about a finger distance or 5/8’s of an inch and equates to about 10-12 yards of elevation. This means you have just raised the point of the arrow upward for more elevation. Yes!!!!!split can be mastered for the close gap difference, (Byron Ferguson) but 3 under is really good for close up shooting, say 28 yards and in. I actually use the arrow tip as a split vision reference which means I only see it in the bottom periferal view. I mostly see the target as a the primary focus. My point on with the aroow tip and 3 under with a fast 45 pound Bow and a 400 grain arrow is 32 yards. Put a hunting weight arrow in the same Bow,,,say 550, and the point on changes to about 22 yards.

      I think the way Fred shoots that the arrow doe’s NOT come into the equation as a reference,, to quote him ( I have read all his books and watched all his video) ” If you start seeing the arrow, it all goe’s to hell” Now for his way of shooting,,,this correct! It matters little at all if you shoot split and shoot totally instinctive, as Fred doe’s and doe’s really well for him and many others. For me,, I will sty with 3 under and actually shoot a 50 pound Howard Hill Bow 3 under!!!

      Split doe’s have one major advantage,, By nature of the top and bottom finger actually holding the arrow, you can shoot the bow on it’s left side,,right side up.. right sode down and sideways!!! lol, and still keep the arrow on the Bow shelf. You can also shoot a tad looser nock pressure on the serving and get by with it. For 3 under, you must have a snug nock fit to hold the arrow on the string!!!

      What is tiller?? Top and bottom limbs distance from the center line of the Bow. Split needs a little less tension to allow for the index finger input on the string, hence you have positive tiller built into or adjusted into the Bow. 3 under has less effect on the top limb and according to the influence or inputs onto the string by the shooter, usually has less an upward pressure on the strings pulol of the top and bottom limbs. To understand tiller si understand that a Bow (one strings, not compounds) is a simple spring! For them to shoot well, the vertical timing of both limbs dynamically is essential to have good tuning. Dynamic firing of the Bow that is tuned to the individuals shooter inputs on the string will allow both limbs to hit dynamic brace height and release the arrow without inducing more pressure on the rear of the arrow in the vertical upward or downward, which causes the arrow to be more consisitent with the shooters expectations for vertical consistency. Horizontal tuning is a whole other ball game with more than nine innings of typing! 🙂

    • LocDoc
      Post count: 4

      This is something I’ve struggled with for years. I’m much more accurate shooting 3-under, more comfortable shooting split. I’ve often pondered why the difference. Personally, I think besides the ‘nock pinching’ issue some have talked about, I think split finger shooters inadvertently ‘torque’ the string at anchor. And also, in my case, when shooting 3 under and using the pointer finger in the corner of the mouth, the arrow nock is actually more in line with my eye, the rear sight. The absolute best way I have come across to increase my accuracy, with either method of anchor, is Asbell’s “Push/Pull”. When I get that right, my split finger accuracy is close to my 3 under. Shoot the way, aim the way, YOU want. What you do naturally is what you’ll do consistently. And that’s what you want.

    • James Harvey
      Post count: 1130

      In my little peanut view of things, archery marksmanship, just like rifle marksmanship (in which I am considerably more schooled and practiced)is an attempt to build a bunch of repeatable processes which result in a consistent release or shot. I’ve shot 3 under since I started, but for about a month now have been giving split a red hot go. It strikes me that in my list of processes split finger gives me one more thing to consider (where is my top finger?). In that regard, by striking out one part of a process, I think 3 under seems a little more “repeatable” or easier to “repeat”.

      But like many wiser folks have already said, there is no ‘best’ way, but there may be a ‘best for you’. I’m trying to read widely and try as many different things as I can.

      Oh and a final note, my fingers seem to be fatiguing faster shooting split, but I suspect that is just a matter of conditioning, or lack there of.

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