There are several ways to place the bow hand on the bow and keeping it as relaxed as possible. Advantages and disadvantages of the different placements will now be discussed.
With every placement you should keep the centerline of the bow in the same line with that of the hand, see figure 4. This is the best way to transfer force from the bow to the arm. In this way you use as much of your bone structure and eliminate the need for extra muscle control.
It is important that the bow is held exactly in the middle, that pressure is not exerted sideways. In this way the arrow, and after that the bow, will only move forward after release, giving the best possible arrow flight.
One way to check your bow hand placement is to put grease, oil or something similar on the grip. This sounds a bit strange, but, as mentioned before, the bow should be able to 'rest against' the hand and jump out of it in exactly the same way, again and again.By greasing the grip, you can make sure that the bow will only press straight on your hand, without side pressure. This is a fast way to find out what a good hand placement is. If you can shoot with a greased grip and a relaxed bow hand (without the bow hitting your face) your hand placement is right.
There are archers who glue a piece of cloth to make the surface rougher. These archers do not show an optimal hand placement. They place their bow hand so that they create a sideways pressure. Instead of letting the hand find its optimal position, they maintain a less desirable position..
It is also important not to try and hold your hand parallel to the handle but under an angle, see figure 3. This is the most natural position and thus is the best way to relax the hand. A way to experiment with this is the following:
Assume your shooting stance, without bow. Relax the bow hand and, with the tip of your index finger, touch the tip of your thumb. With a relaxed hand, the remaining fingers will also be slightly curved. The fingers should behave as they were handling something very delicate. Bend your index finger and ring finger a little more, until both fingertips touch the palm of your hand. Tilt your hand up and towards you and stretch the index finger a little. Now ask a fellow archer to push a bow into your hand. If this went right, the bow will now press on the inside of the ball of your thumb, see figure 5. Your knuckles will make an angle of about 45 degrees with the bow. Little finger and ring finger should be between hand and bow. Try and shoot some arrows in this way and observe the bow's reaction.
For more experienced archers, who have a fairly consistent release, the following method could be of help in finding the best hand position.
Shoot a few arrows without stabilisation and observe how the bow leaves your hand. You probably cannot prevent the bow from tilting backwards towards your head. What you should be able to prevent through your hand placement is left or right rotation of the bow.
To get an idea of what can go wrong, try and apply pressure on the left side of the grip. Do this by bending your bow hand to the right, your wrist is now left of the bow. ( for a right-handed archer). This results in the string hitting your armguard and the arrow hitting the target more to the right. Try the same for the other side of the grip, apply more pressure on the right side of the grip. This is not easy for a right-handed archer. You can do this by reaching towards the target with your thumb. The bow will rotate anticlockwise after the shot and perhaps the bow arm will move sideways to the left.
After experiencing these two extremes, try and find the golden mean between them, the ideal case being that the bow does not rotate either with or without stabilisation. After you are done, ask a fellow archer to watch if the tip of your stabiliser and if the bow travels in a straight line forward or not.
It is emphasised that this method will only give good results for archers that have a good release, i.e. a release that does not make the bow rotate.