How to Understand the Clicker in Archery

A recurve bow has a clicker

This one is for the recurve archers (sorry compound, barebow, and traditional archers!).

Knowing about the clicker, understanding it and being at peace with it will make your archery journey a lot easier in the long run. This is what this article will do, demystify things about the clicker, increase your knowledge on how to use it, why you should use a clicker, and general fun facts about it, with a few recommendations on which clicker to use.

Whether you are new to recurve archery or you are an experienced archer and have been shooting for a while, using a clicker is important to your progression and consistency within the shot. Essentially, the clicker is just a piece of metal or carbon or plastic. But it has such an important job to do when you are at full draw.

Let us begin with the basics.

What does a clicker actually do?

Recurve archers should use a clicker earlier on in their archery journey than not. Purely because if they are wanting to go on and compete, maybe in Olympic Recurve competitions, Olympic archery, World Archery events, a clicker is imperative to get to grips with as soon as possible.

A clicker is used for precision in archery

We are not saying the first time you pick up your recurve bow you should put the piece of metal, carbon or plastic on your bow, but once you are comfortable shooting it is a good idea. So, what actually is it? What does it do?

While the piece of equipment used on recurve bows is one of the smallest and cheapest accessories on the bow, it is very important. Although it is not essential to archery, it can help solve issues and help with the shot development.

The main function of the clicker is to make sure the same and correct draw length is achieved each shot. As the archer pulls the string back to full draw and their anchor point, during the expansion phase (this will be explained in a bit) of the shot, the clicker will drop once the point of the arrow has passed it to indicate the correct draw length has been achieved.

The clicker gets its name from the sound it makes when it hits the riser when it drops after the arrow point is pulled through and it makes a click noise as it hits the riser.

How to check the correct draw length

Before setting up the clicker, it is important to check you are at the correct draw length and anchor point, to then make it easier to set up the clicker and have a fluid and controlled shot.

To do this, firstly get your ArcheryUP instructor to come prepared with a pencil ready to draw on your arrow (do not worry, pencil comes off and will not harm your arrow). You will then need to come to full draw several times, do not shoot your arrow. Every time you are at full draw, hold at full anchor with the bowstring in the correct position on your chin/nose/face.

Your ArcheryUP instructor will need to draw a small line on the arrow where the centre of the plunger meets the arrow. Make sure to do this several times, to get an average position of where your draw length sits. Once you have done this and got a solid average position, it is time to set the clicker in the right position.

How do I know the clicker is in the correct place?

In order to make sure the clicker is in the right place, talk to your ArcheryUP instructor and they can help measure where it needs to be. Having the placement out by even a millimetre can affect your shot and performance, due to it being too far in or too far out.

Firstly, an archer must be competent in their shot and shot process before introducing the clicker. Start by position the clicker slightly further forward than needed, to help get used to it as you expand through the shot. Expanding through the shot is once at full draw, using back muscles to keep the movement in the shot and the release of the shot. The arrow should not be going forward at this stage, removing the element of forward releasing. This would look like the arrow going forward and backwards through the expansion phase. Just one continuous and smooth motion.

A clicker should be set with about half a centimetre for the expansion phase of the shot. This can change depending on the person, and also remember if a child is shooting, it could change day to day with their growth.

During the first few sessions of using a clicker, keep a close eye on when the clicker drops in the shot, is it too soon, is there over expansion in the shot. The technique of the archer needs to remain as it has been practiced, not compromised to fit the clicker. The clicker needs to fit the shot timing and process. Confidence and control are essential for conquering the clicker, especially for new archers.

The main aim is for the archery clicker to keep a consistent draw length for the archer, which is why it needs to be set in the correct position.

A great way to check if the clicker is set in the right place is to have an arrow nocked on the string, close your eyes and complete an entire shot at blank boss that is only a few metres away. Do this without releasing the arrow, however. Simply come up to full draw, complete the expansion phase, allow the clicker to go off, hold for a few seconds, and let down.

Whilst you are doing this, get your ArcheryUP instructor to take a look to make sure the clicker is in the right place, you are not over expanding during the shot and pull the bowstring too far back, or on the flip side drawing too short.

Try to do this on three different days, to get an average of where the clicker should be. Do the drill about six times in a row in your session.

Doing this on different days will ensure that even if one day it is easy, another day it could be difficult to make a strong shot. If the result is there is a range of marks from the draw length, set the clicker in the middle position. It can be narrowed down from there as you get more used to it and more control over it.

How to shoot with a clicker

As we have discussed, the clicker is to help ensure the archer is at full draw, to then release the string at the correct time. It cannot be placed too far forward, or too far back, as this will disrupt the shot.

To know that the clicker is in the right place for any shooter, the bowstring must be at full anchor before the clicker goes off. Making sure the clicker goes at the right moment is vital.

The draw cycle for recurve archers is very important to progress and grow. Some shooters have it written down and learn it, some memorize it and implement it into their training. Talk to your ArcheryUP instructor about your draw cycle and how to make it as fluid as possible.

Having the clicker set in the correct position will help create a fluid, strong and stable shot. Some archers will push with their bow arm to get through the clicker, some pull their back elbow round using back tension, some do both. There is no right or wrong way, provided the shot can be replicated time and time again and get the results that you are after.

Keeping a consistent technique, pushing and pulling, will keep the shot flowing. Try avoid stopping during the shot, as that limits the strength within the shot and could cause issues with the clicker and use of it.

Avoid becoming too hung up on the clicker and where to have it at the beginning. If you become obsessed with it, waiting in the shot for it to go, it could result in target panic, which no archer wants to experience.

Which clicker should I use?

As with every bit of equipment, there are different brands and materials, thickness and stiffness of clickers available on the market. There is no hard and fast rule about which clicker is best, it comes down to which one that archer prefers.

It could be the Beiter Clicker, a micro adjustment clicker, the WiaWis clicker, there are many available. There are flat blade ones, round ones, all making different noises when they are used.

It is worth trying different makes and materials to hear the sound, how they feel during the shot, the stiffness of them. Each archer will find the differences better or worse for them.

Archery clickers come in different shapes and sizes

Some shooters will prefer to have a stiffer clicker, but be careful it does not influence the tune of the plunger or the arrows, due to pressing the arrow into the bow riser and the arrow rest due to the stiffness of it.

It really does come down to personal preference. Talk to your ArcheryUP instructor about what they suggest for you and your shot. Remember also that different bow risers, such as Hoyt or WiaWis sometimes have different screw sizes, so be sure to get the right clicker for the bow.

Clicker Drills

Understanding, controlling and being aware of the clicker will go an incredibly long way on your archery journey. Doing clicker drills every week will help with this.

A great one to do is to set up a short range target, blank boss and set up your shot. Come up to full draw, expand through the shot and let the clicker go, keep your shot at full draw for 2-3 seconds after the clicker drops before either letting down, or shooting the arrow.

If you struggle with shooting at the same time as someone else, in case their clicker goes off before yours, a simple (but difficult solution) is to literally just shoot at the same time as other people. Do it more and more until you feel comfortable doing it. This will help when it is time to shoot in competitions, or alongside different bow types such as longbow, barebow, because of the different sounds.

Shooting with a training aid, such as an elbow sling, can be a simple way of training when you do not have time to go to the range, or have a session with your ArcheryUP instructor. Using an elbow sling will help create a strong back elbow and back tension, whilst learning the control of the clicker without needing to ‘shoot’ an arrow. An elbow sling can be used on any takedown bows, so if you do not have much space and cannot have your stabilizers on inside to bow train, then use it on a barebow.

There is also an argument of shooting without a clicker for some shots. This will help you understand what full draw is, without the extra aid. Have your ArcheryUP instructor stand so they can see the arrow and the position it is in before you release the string. Check that you are at the correct full draw position before releasing the bowstring. This can be done at short range distances, or long range. Whatever you feel most comfortable with. It is about learning your shot inside out and making sure you have full control of your shot, shot process and shot timing. If you are going to be doing this drill, make sure to go between using the clicker and not, to ensure you are doing it correctly.

What are the benefits of a clicker?

Plain and simply, it helps with accuracy within the shot. Having a point of reference to let you know when you are at the same place for every shot will help with the actual point of the sport, hitting the target in the middle every time.

Everything in archery is about accuracy and consistency, with millimetres changing the end result of where the arrow goes in the target.

Using a pencil, mark on the arrow for correct draw length

Using a clicker can help improve your technique as well. Repetition is key, this cannot be said enough about this sport. The clicker will remove the reminder of getting to full draw each time before shooting the arrow. Due to the noise it makes when the arrow has reached the same place each time, shooters know that they have reached full draw and expansed through the shot.

You might be wondering why full draw is so important. Bringing the bow string back to the same place every time gives it the same amount of power every time. Meaning it will help eliminate the element of inconsistent power being put into the nock and the arrows. A shorter draw length gives less power into the arrow, more draw length gives more power. As you can imagine, this would send the arrows into different places on the target, due to the inconsistency.

Hints and tips for using a clicker

Make sure that you are in the right place in your archery journey to introduce the clicker. It is important to feel in control of your shot before you try adding new pieces of equipment. Talk to your ArcheryUP instructor about how and when to introduce this piece of equipment.

Try out different clickers, as said above, they make different noises, different sounds, etc, so find one that you like and works well with your shot.

You control the clicker, not the other way around. If you let the clicker control your shot, you run the risk of getting target panic. Which no archer wants. So keep on top of it, and remember that you are in charge!

Use the drills we have explained above, they are all about helping you improve as an archer. There is no need to struggle during the shot, so using drills will help bring a greater understanding to your shot, more confidence and an all round better shot to use in your archery journey.

The biggest thing about archery is to enjoy it. It is a great sport, so if you struggle at first with the new equipment, do not worry, it gets easy. Change is difficult so keep pushing through and enjoying it with your ArcheryUP instructor!

Get in touch with us

Our ArcheryUP instructors are here to help! Their knowledge, skills, and understanding will help you on your archery journey. They will progress you to a standard and level that you want to get to, even in the comfort of your own backyard!

Simply get in touch with us today to get started, progress yourself, or just to have some lessons at your own pace. We are here to get you into archery!

If you have already got an ArcheryUP instructor, take a look at our blogs and see what takes your fancy, from learning about archery through the ages to different movies and shows to watch to broaden your archery knowledge!

Mimi Landstrom

I have shot since the age of 7, after starting archery at a summer camp. As a junior I won National and county titles, whilst breaking county records throughout the years. As a senior, I still compete at a national level and travel to compete at the Indoor World Series.  After university I went to Summer Camp in Pennsylvania, Camp Westmont. I taught summer to all ages throughout the summer and loved every second!  Being able to stand on the shooting line and have myself, my bow and arrow is my idea of heaven. It’s peaceful, calming and an escape from work and life stresses.