July 19, 2024

Backcountry Bowhunting

Off The Beaten Path… No Regrets

Shot Process and Back Tension

2 min read
Grip on Bow

What is Back Tension?

Back tension is defined as the contraction of the drawing side rhomboid and levator scapulae muscles, which causes the scapula (shoulder blade) to slide and rotate toward the spine.

Back muscles

Rhomboid Muscles

These are small muscles in the center of your back, running up to just below the base of your neck. Working the rhomboids will help to hold your shoulders back and maintain good posture.Rhomboid Muscles

Levator Scapulae Muscles

Levator Scapulae Muscles

Grip on BowGrip

A death grip is not needed. In fact, it is detrimental to a properly executed shot. Note that the fingers are very relaxed. This will help eliminate bow torque.

Shot Sequence

Shot sequence is the same for trigger or back tension release, hunting, 3D or spots. Additionally, there are some portions of the shot which are conscience and some which are subconscience. The subconscience portions are not performed, they are the result of an action performed (see step 14).


1 – Stance – feet shoulder width apart and perpendicular to target – conscience
2 – Nock arrow, attach release – conscience
3 – Choose impact point – conscience
4 – Focus on impact point while mentally rehearsing the shot and “seeing” the arrow impact the X – con/sub
5 – Establish grip – conscience – hook your release on the string and support the weight of the bow with your release hand this will enable the bow hand to be relaxed with no pressure on it to feel it’s proper position in the bow’s grip.


6 – Raise bow – conscience
7 – Draw bow – conscience
8 – Lower shoulder; settle in to anchor point – conscience


9 – Center scope/pin guard in peep – conscience
10 – Level bow – conscience
11 – Pin floats over impact point (the same spot where my mental shot went – X) – conscience
12 – Breath – very relaxed exhale, then hold


13 – Begin tightening rhomboid with slight forward pressure in bow hand, pin floats over impact point – conscience
14 – Shot explodes – sub-conscience

Follow Through

15 – Follow through – sub-conscience. Eyes remain on target. Don’t try to keep the bow on target after the shot. This will occupy your thought process prior to the release instead of allowing you to concentrate on your form.
16 – Mentally reinforce good shot execution, forget the bad shots – conscience


Will using the back tension release technique work? This is the result of good coaching and a little focused practice. Here is a downloadable PDF.

Roger Medley - Spring Championship 2006

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