Most Asian archery is performed with a Mongolian draw and a thumb ring. Using one’s thumb to draw the string of a bow is common in Asian cultures such as India, Korea, Japan, Turkey and China. This technique is centuries old, with thumb rings found in Chinese graves dating back to the Zhou Dynasty (1100 to 221BC). The thumb draw technique has become so closely associated with Mongol archery that it is commonly referred to as the “Mongol release”.There are two common styles of ring: one is a simple cylinder of bone or stone; the other is a ring with a rigid tab which fits over the pad of the archer’s thumb. The Mongolian bow is a composite bow made of wood, sinew and horn, held together by glue made from fish bladders. Since this is a short bow, the string (when drawn) forms a sharp angle. Drawing with one finger and not three makes a natural choice to accommodate the sharp angle of the drawn string. A thumb ring is used to protect the thumb from injury. It may also avoid a problem occasionally faced by archers using the Mediterranean release, when the three fingers do not release at exactly the same time and thus foul the draw. There are a number of important matters to consider before using the Mongolian draw: The Mongolian draw is suited to a bow which can withstand being drawn back 34 – 36 inches. Do not try it unless you are using a recurve that easily draws back that far without risk of stress or excessive stacking. *Use a light bow until you are very familiar with the movements. *Prepare some arrows of suitable length. Err on the side of having your arrows too long. Don’t worry too much about spine and your normal arrow measurement at first. Use arrows with long, low profile fletching. *Make sure your thumb-ring fits snugly and not too tightly. You thumb will swell after about 10 shots: allow for that. Line cylindrical rings with soft leather to obtain a comfortable fit. Cylindrical rings have a concave end and a convex end. Put your thumb into the ring from the convex end: the concave end is to allow the top of the thumb a little freedom to move. *If possible use a thicker string than normal or place tube of soft leather round the string at the arrow nocking point: thumb-rings are not designed for comfortable use with a narrow string. *Keep your nails – especially the thumb-nail – trimmed short. The Mongolian release neatly but painfully removes long nails. The “workings” of the thumb ring are quite simple. The string of the bow is hooked behind the ring in the softer inner part of the lower thumb – the ring fits below the nocked arrow. The index finger is then used to “hook” the thumb tip to keep it from straightening under the pressure of the drawn string. The other three fingers of the draw hand are curled into the palm in sync with the index finger. To release, one opens the thumb and index finger, allowing the string to slip over the smooth surface of the thumb ring. The draw hand is then pulled backwards away from the bow, ending in a straight draw arm that extends to the archer’s back.Comparing to the three-finger Mediterranean technique, the Mongolian draw causes less drag on the string owing to the fact that there is a single point of contact with the string (the thumb ring only). However, the Mongolian release style places much strain on the thumb.
Raise the bow and and string hand high to come into the draw. Inhale while you are doing so. Draw smoothly pulling back and down with the string hand and pushing forward and down with the bow hand. You should be able to draw the arrow so that the draw-hand is above your nipple and the bow-hand is extended straight out. Do not let the draw-hand elbow droop. Do not let the bow-hand turn up. Keep your shoulder from hunching. Do not try to release with the arrow at eye-level. You cannot sight down the arrow without spoiling the draw. If your bow-hand is slanted upward to eye-level, when you release it will drop and spoil the shot.
The Full-draw and Release
When the arms are quite level, there is a straight line from the bow-hand wrist, through the elbow to the shoulders and then back to the string-hand. For elevation, raise the bow hand and drop the draw-arm elbow in co-ordination: but keep them in a straight line. Do not bend back at the waist. Your body should be perfectly vertical and your head as if suspended from the top with a string from the sky. At this point, try to push the breath in your chest down into your abdomen. Use the back muscles to bring the arrow back: it is not ready for release until the arrow head can be felt touching the junction between the bow-hand forefinger and thumb. Do not jerk back: let the arrow come back slowly and allow the feel of the arrowhead arriving act like a clicker: relax the draw-hand forefinger and thumb simultaneously. The arrow leaves the bow and the the draw-hand elbow falls back. Release your breath gently. The bow-hand must not react! It must remain perfectly still. Do not drop the bow hand, fling back the string hand or do any theatricals. Just remain still and relaxed. Observe the flight of the arrow and correct your faults accordingly.