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-   -   Three under vs. split finger (Beginners Guide Volume I) (https://discussions.texasbowhunter.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5870)

TradAg02 01-15-2007 05:08 PM

Three under vs. split finger (Beginners Guide Volume I)
Reference the following link, post number 39 for background on the origination of this thread. http://discussions.texasbowhunter.co...ead.php?t=5725

First off, everyone is different, so give both a try.

To the hard-core instinctive traditionalist, split finger is the only way to go as many associate three under with gap shooting and string walking. As times have changed, most clubs have revised their rules to allow either style as long as you have one finger touching the arrow.

Personally I began shooting split finger as a child and did so well for many years. About eight years ago after noticing that many of the best tournament shooters I saw where shooting three under I gave it a try and haven’t looked back.

The upside:
My unsophisticated rational tells me that one release point is more crisp than two (assuming you shoot a tab). In addition I do not have to worry about pinching the knock between my fingers if all fingers are below the knock.

The way my face is proportioned, by shooting three under and anchoring my middle finger in the corner of my mouth, my knock gently settles against the side of my nose. I use my knock as an additional point of reference to insure that everything is in alignment and I am solidly at full draw.

While I shoot instinctive 98% of the time, I do gap shoot when the target is over 40yds. By shooting three under all of the time, I am already lined up to sight down the arrow on these rare occasions. Unless you just like to play around and shoot long shots for kicks I don’t think this is a valid upside for you, but I thought I would throw it out there.

The downside:
Many people have the habit of holding a disproportionate amount of the bow weight in their ring finger. While this is not good shooting split finger it can have a very negative affect shooting three under. This is due to the tiller of the bow (a whole other topic). In simple terms you want to pull the bowstring in such away that you are pulling from the center so that the weight from each limb is evenly distributed into the arrow. Shooting split finger already aligns you fairly well with the center of the string. While you can have your bow tillered for three under I can’t see any difference between my bows that are tillered for three under and those that aren’t, so don’t worry about it if you are just starting off you probably will not be able to notice the difference if any.

delriowil 01-15-2007 06:10 PM

I guess I am really screwed up because, I shot only two fingers. 1 over and 1 under

mar91773 01-16-2007 12:06 AM

I was shooting a longbow set up for 3under. I have not shot a trad in 25 or so years and I rememebred the split finger shooting from when I was a kid shootind a big 5 special as a kid. I thought I would have a problem, I did for the first 10 or so arrows then I was grouping them fine after that "set in period" when I finally do get a trad bow I will most likly go with 3 under now because I feel pretty good about it. But then again when I was shooting split on the same bow I was grouping also.

Cropduster 01-16-2007 10:02 AM

I shoot split fingers, that is the way I learned years ago. If it is not broken then don't fix it. It works for me.

Swat791 01-16-2007 10:15 AM

As a kid I shot split fingers and contiune to shoot split fingers, with a recurve and compound. It is very comfortable and accurate for me so I haven't changed anything.

bm22 01-16-2007 03:09 PM

not to get to off topic. but tradag could tell me how you build up your riser and if you have a pic. could you post it. i know how your dad makes his but he said you do it different.

Bruiser 01-16-2007 04:20 PM

lol... I shoot split fingers without a glove or tab.

tinman 01-16-2007 08:04 PM


...without a glove or tab.
So the "Bruiser" handle is in reference to your fingers? :D

Bruiser 01-17-2007 10:30 AM


splitfinger 01-17-2007 11:37 AM


I hope you aren't a proctologist...:D

If so, let me know where "NOT" to go for a prostate exam...

Doug Key aka Splitfinger

loco cacahuate 01-17-2007 07:58 PM

WOW delriowil , I thought i was the only one that did that, most people just look at me like im nuts or ignore it.

Bruiser 01-18-2007 08:04 AM

lol... I'm probably going to have some growing pains since I am just getting back into shooting after a long hiatus. But I shoot so much, I don't forsee any issues. It'll take me a while to get the fingers back up to speed but once I do, I shouldn't feel a thing.

One good thing, I never have to remember to bring a glove or tab. :D

LostHawg 01-18-2007 08:32 AM

As TradAg stated above, we're all a bit different. I learned split finger when I started. Anchor with the middle finger in the corner of my mouth and both eyes open, focused on a spot on the target. That's how I taught my kids.

Justin, the oldest, doesn't put enough effort into it and I imagine, he'll eventually give up archery or go with a compound; just the way he is (he really loves shooting his rifle and other guns though - theres still hope :D). Matthew, 11 shoots split, a recurve and has a great potential showing in his shooting abilities. You guys watch out for this one; he loves it. Got mad at me the other day because I haven't bought him a new bow lately. lol Then there's Caitlin; my youngest and will be 8 in April. Caitlin really loves to shoot. Between her and Matt, I have difficulty getting in any quality practice for myself unless I deny them to shoot. So, I go 50/50 with them. I started Caitlin with split just as I did her brothers. She was terrible, couldn't hit anything to center. I tried several things always using split finger technique.

Last year I went to Freer on a hunt with a group of traddies from around the country and got to meet CM Sackett and a couple fellas from New York. They were shooting 3 under. I've been exposed to 3 under before so I wasn't surprised or anything. I mean, I've shot with "LEFTY" and that dude can punch match stems. Anyway, watching Sackett shoot got me to thinking. "HEY, I haven't tried that with Caity". So, when I got back to Angelo, I introduced 3 under to Caity. She stepped off to 10 yards and let one fly. The arrow hit the "12" ring on my 3D deer target. I told her to do it again. The arrow landed right next to the first. The 3rd arrow was just a little left and low, but within a softball sized area. She had about a dozen arrows so I move her over to my block target and told her to have fun. When she pulled her arrows a paper plate could have covered the group except for 2 which had missed the target completely. Well, now she shoots 3 under and can almost outshoot her 11 year old brother.

Like TradAg says, "We're all different". Caity can sure shoot using 3 under. On the other hand, I've tried it and I'd just as soon stick with split. I let Matt try it and after 3 shots, I MADE him go back to split. That was skeery. :D Justin tried it, but just didn't like it. So, it's Caity's baby and I pat her on the back when she does good and encourage her when she doesn't.

I say if you're having trouble with one, try the other. If you can shoot instinctive, try gap or point on; even try a site if need-be. Remember its YOUR shot, and you have to decide what works best for you. Its nobody else's business but yours. If they don't like it, they can go eat dirt. ;)

Bill M 01-21-2007 04:13 PM

Does the bow have to be set up differently for three under?

TradAg02 02-27-2007 12:12 PM

You can have a bow tillered for three under, but personally I can’t tell the difference.

Your nock set may need to be adjusted when you initially change from split to three under.

Mom 03-23-2007 01:16 AM

Boy Lost Hawg....that's about the smartest post I have ever read (that you have posted)!! lol Way to go! Won't be long till she is outshooting you... and tell her that that is REALLY fun! Kavin and I are shooting again! More fun this time... no kids to tote around, and no stress in competeing cause as old as we are... who cares! lol!

You are right. Lefty and I both shoot 3 under. I tried split fingers and it didn't work for me. It sure feels good to be shooting again! It may help with my disability... as long as I can keep walking around the course!

Hope to see you sometime soon!

LostHawg 03-23-2007 07:40 AM

I'm not really a dummy Mom, I just play one on PC.

Oneway 12-11-2007 11:33 AM

I have shot both ways three under adn split finger on a recurve adn a compound and as for my own experiences i am more consistent with the spit approach and i shoot instinctively no matter what the distance, tyr it both way and see what way you are comfortable with then run with it!

Knight in Mossy Oak 12-12-2007 05:07 PM

Three under for me...I am more accurate that way...though when shooting three under, you lose about an inch of draw length, therefore losing just a little speed, KE...

tinman 01-05-2008 08:21 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I shot 3-under at first.

When I shot three-under, I used the "gap" technique. That is to say that I used the tip of the arrow like a sight pin to aim. My "sight window" looked much like this picture from the Leatherwall...

Attachment 16269

I anchored with my middle-finger in the corner of the mouth and from 10-25 yards I could put the tip of my arrow just under or directly on the "spot" and drill it with some serious consistantcy.

I did switch to split-finger after that first couple of years. Because of certain advantages...not because of what the "real traditionist" think about shooting 3-under. ;)

When I shoot split-finger, I still anchor with middle-finger in the corner of my mouth but I do not use the tip of the arrow to aim anymore. I think there are some advantages to both techniques but this feels more natural to me...it just takes me more practice time stay consistant.

Three-under definitely helped me with the transistion of switching to tradbows from compounds.

Oneway 05-08-2008 11:09 PM

Yes split finger approach does require more practice from my experience as well!

texag93 07-05-2008 08:21 PM

I shot recurves many years ago and just recently picked it up again. It feels good. I have been working up slowly but shooting daily. I am shooting split fingers, 3 under just feels weird. I shoot with a glove as well.

Chew 07-17-2008 11:21 PM

Just starting out in this stuff. I'm using a glove and shot both ways tonight. The three under felt awkward but I seemed to group better. The split finger felt more natural but I seem to have to concentrate more on my release and felt like I was getting a bad release often. It's gonna take some time!

Oneway 07-19-2008 12:26 PM

Chew, one thing that really help me was an article I read about finger release called "ripping to a conclusion" it said that whne the string comes out it should be at the end right about the time you reach your anchor point, the string should just simply slide out of your fingers, it took a little while to get used to but it made a huge difference in consistency at any yardage, if you like i will scan the article into my computer and email it to you , if you like. Have Fun!

tinman 07-22-2008 11:53 PM


Originally Posted by texag93 (Post 745360)
...3 under just feels weird.

Probably the #1 reason I switched to split-finger. Even after about 2 years of shooting 3-under almost daily, it felt better but never felt right for me. However, I was so much more confident in my shooting that way at first that I hunted 3-under for about two years while playing with different techniques between hunts.

Because of where I anchored and how I shot 3-under/gap, I had some consistantcy issues with shots over 20-yards or so (I still do but I can't blame 3-under anymore, grin). Once the target was covered by the arrow tip, well it's not easy hit a spot you can't even see. So I started playing with both techniques again during a long off-season. I tried using split-finger for longer shots and 3-under for close shots...but that was too much thinking and if you've ever "drawn" split-finger and "aimed" 3-under with a brick wall behind your target...well, you know why I had to choose one style or the other.

For about another month, I shot both styles everyday and weighed the pros/cons in hunting situations (for me). I finally settled on split-finger because it still felt more natural and I felt more connected with the arrow. I also knew that I'd have to shoot more often this way to build/maintain my confidence and define my shooting distances for hunting.

There is no right or wrong answer to this thread/question. I guess everyone should play with both techniques (over time) and decide what works best for them. I may not be hunting with a tradbow today if not for my early success while shooting the 3-under/gap.

I know that for some people 3-under and gap shooting aren't related...but for me, the only reason that I shot 3-under was to help me gap shoot better. I think that it really helped me with the transition from a compound with sights to gap shoot and basically use the arrow's tip like a sight pin.

Ol Man 07-23-2008 08:18 AM

Tried 3 under - drove me nuts... I have shot split for a long, long time. One thing I did notice that if you shoot split finger - the most consistent release you can achieve is the pull through method. ( At least for me)

This is achieved by coming to anchor then releasing your fingers as you put your back muscles into play to draw your hand beyond the point of anchor. This causes you to release all 3 fingers simultaneously without dragging your third finger. The dragging of the third finger is a common problem a lot of us face. I am notorious for doing it and know when I do this - the side of my finger starts to swell and ache badly. I also get erratic arrow flight and usually hit left on my intended target...
When I pull through on my release I am far more accurate and more consistent in form and follow through.

2050z 08-11-2008 09:47 AM

I just tried three under this weekend and my groups look a whole lot better.

I just shot twelve arrows this morning to see if I could do it again. I shot all tens from 15 to 22 yards. :)

asj1953 08-17-2008 08:20 PM

I have never tried three under but I will now....

Stephen 01-15-2009 08:52 AM

I shot well both ways but my bow is a lot noisier three under

Stephen 01-15-2009 08:53 AM

Also shooting three under I sometimes hit my lip with the string

Texastaxi 01-15-2009 09:08 AM

I'm new to this trad thing so I really don't have any bad habits. The first time I ever shot a "real" recurve was when I hunted with TxRattler and he let me shoot his bow. My first instincts were split. After reading this, as un-natural as it feels, I really want to try 3 under.

I finally got all my arrows and stuff and I'm ready to LEARN.
Do any (or all) of you semi-pro veterans in the west Houston area want to host a "clinic" for us new guys? I'm wiling to drive, but I will also offer up my back yard as a host. I live just south of 1093 in Grand Mission.

I could even burn some meat if ya'll want! :D

TradAg02 01-15-2009 04:08 PM


Originally Posted by Texastaxi (Post 1186532)
Do any (or all) of you semi-pro veterans in the west Houston area want to host a "clinic" for us new guys? I'm wiling to drive, but I will also offer up my back yard as a host. I live just south of 1093 in Grand Mission.

Post a thread and you will probably get some interest. I live in Rosenberg and have been contacted by several guys who want to meet and shoot in Richmond.

I sent you an e-mail through TBH the other day regarding mounting a turkey fan, did you get it?

Texastaxi 01-15-2009 04:42 PM

I never got your email.

I'll be out of town all weekend, I'll post it on Monday.

Widow Maker 02-05-2009 02:22 PM

I've always shot 3 under. I'll the split and see how that works.

bob sarrels 03-08-2009 02:29 PM

I shoot splitfinger. Actually I shoot 2 fingers under. At the begining of my draw I have my index finger above the arrow, as I reach the end of the draw my index finger comes completely off the string and is somewhat pointed at the target. Being crosseyed (cross dominance ) I can't hold and aim or my eyes will get into an argument over who is in charge. As soon as my middle finger brushes the corner of my mouth it is gone. So I have a pull thru release that seems to work for me. As far as the tillering goes, if someone asked for a three under I will tiller the limbs even. Like most people I don't think its that big a deal for a three under shooter to shoot a bow that is tillered positive on the bottom limb. Just simply raise the nock just a bit. You gotta realize that the shelf is not the center of the bow in most cases. My shelves are cut 1 1/4 " above the center line, so this makes the top limb shorter than the bottom. This is the case in almost all bows. So you gotta make the bottom limb just a bit stiffer so they reach the same spot at full draw and close into the static position at the same time. I had a customer bring me a bow once , no name on this bow so I assumed it was a kit bow, that was so out of tiller the only way I could make it shoot was to turn it upside down and shoot off my knuckle. I fixed the bow for him but lost about 6 to 8 lbs of weight in the process.

Van/TX 04-30-2009 07:13 PM

3 under became popular because of 3-D (short range shooting) which became popular after the compound was invented. For NFAA field (10 to 80 yards) prior to 1970 no one used it except maybe for the couple of bird shots on a 28 target course. The one's that shot instinctive did not show up to major shoots:) ...Van

4feathers 05-29-2009 08:22 PM

Like most ol' archers I shot split for many years then went to compound and back to recurve. When I came back I tried three under and did great with it for a couple of weeks then my old sight picture came back and I had to fight three under for several months but once I got it licked I have not looked at changing back. I shoot a lot of 3-D and hunt, and I seem to have a better sight picture with the arrow close to my eye. I'm not a gap shooter but with the arrow close to my eye it is easier to see the line I want to shot. Three under or split it should be the shooter choice.

jmark100 08-17-2009 04:03 PM

I shoot split
A friend told me to use my second finger for a ancher point(corner of mouth) instead of first finger.
Has worked great

JTapp 08-27-2009 11:42 PM

i've tried 3 under, but can't seem to get a feel for it. more power to ya, 3 under folks

bearbow 09-03-2009 03:11 PM

I used to shoot with one finger under for along time. (but it looked like I shot split finger) because I thought I made a more crisper shot. But I shoot three under now, and I'm a lot more consistant. I knew this after only one day. I should have been shooting this way along time ago. I would be a much better archer today. SO A.S.A. COMPETITORS, WARCH OUT NEXT YEAR...!

codpopper 12-06-2009 07:11 PM


Originally Posted by delriowil (Post 93517)
I guess I am really screwed up because, I shot only two fingers. 1 over and 1 under

thats not screwed up, the best way to shoot is whatever is most comfortable for you.

mojohunter 12-06-2009 09:53 PM

I may have overlooked it. When I used to shoot my recurve in 4H and JOAD (sp) I used a three finger split. My index finger was on top and my middle and ring fingers on bottom. I also anchored my index finger in the corner of my mouth. To each its own I guess.

Brushpopper 12-29-2009 10:15 PM

In 4H we teach split but if having probelms w/arrow stayen on or pinching little fingers 3 under works.

PSE-Hunter 01-20-2010 04:58 PM


Originally Posted by TradAg02 (Post 135765)
You can have a bow tillered for three under, but personally I cant tell the difference.

Your nock set may need to be adjusted when you initially change from split to three under.

This is true but not much otherwise there is no need to adjust with your fingers. Its just the world Champions say it is more accurate with 3 under not all but most. I personally like the split finger I used to shoot my compound the same way. I got a release and I was still as accurate. Personal preference to the shooter just as what type of Bow the shooter likes as well. Try it see how u like it.

texscot 03-22-2010 02:39 PM

First bow last August. Instinctively shot split finger. From instructor shot three under. After reading these comments tried split finger again yesterday and improved accuracy. My instructor is excellent and I have learned a lot but I think my instinctual split finger fits me better. Looking forward to learning more from Texas BowHunter.

JEFFRO 04-18-2010 10:25 AM


Originally Posted by cropduster (Post 94216)
i shoot split fingers, that is the way i learned years ago. If it is not broken then don't fix it. It works for me.


Kingslayer 04-20-2010 09:12 PM

I started with 3 under..so its normal to me...I dont think I could switch over now.

Foam Collector 09-21-2010 10:58 AM

Splitter all the way, always have been, always will be. On the other hand, to each his own, do what works best for you.
A lot of what works for you, depends on how you learned and who taught you, or who made an impression on you when you got started.
Fred Bear was my idol when learning to shoot in Northern Michigan when I was a youngster. My late grandfather was my teacher, so I stuck with it, and it has served me well.
I don't really snap shoot, more of a controlled ("Slow Draw") release. When I hit my anchor I let it rip. My whole draw cycle is part of my aiming process. Because I shot 70 # draw weight bows I didn'y care to hesitate long, I didn't give myself a chance to "Creep". As long as I "Hit" my anchor point, my consistency stayed high.
My poundage has dropped a bit as my age came up, but with a more energy efficient bow,(namely a Widow), and carbon arrows, I can hold my anchor just a little longer and it still works, if I practice enough.
Lots of arrows shot, and then some more arrows, developed a muscle memory that honed my skill as an instinctive shooter. No sights on a rock or a baseball, but with the right practice routine people can have precision accuracy. I've seen it!!!!!!!
Have fun, concentrate well, and "Shoot To Kill".

Greywolf in Hawaii 10-23-2010 01:30 PM

I have 3 reasons I shoot split finger
#1 I suck at guessing yardage
#2 I'm not good at telling the distance to the target
#3 see both above

Split finger I just look at the spot, draw hit anchor, let settle and the arrow goes there...Well most of the time.
3 under I see the arrow, split finger if I see the arrow I'm not concentrating hard enough.

corduroy_z 11-26-2010 12:10 PM

i switched to three under a couple of months ago and greatly improved my accuracy (which i admit, still ain't the greatest)
downside for me: my middle finger often goes numb, though this is good for comic relief; when dad asked me which finger was going numb, i flipped him off

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