The Release (or farkah)
“He should then lock on the string without an arrow and loose an uncharged string, practicing this for a time until he can release correctly.” – Ṭaybughā
This step will surely raise controversy. For myself, and most others, the idea one should “loose an uncharged string” or “dry-fire” a bow is anathema. It makes my eye twitch. Having said that, it may be what Ṭaybughā meant is for the string to be “uncharged” in both the sense of not having an arrow on it and it not being at full draw. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that if you loose an empty string from full Draw, regardless of what happens to the bow, you will slap your Grasp hand incredibly hard.
Having said that, the release is so critical a skill it was believed worth learning in near-total isolation of other fundamentals. Let’s presume I’m right about “uncharged” meaning an empty string not brought to full Draw. We will practice this skill with correct Grasp and Lock, but only Draw a few inches.
The correct Release, or farkah, is a lightning-quick sequence of opening the index finger then opening the thumb, rotating the Draw hand so that the palm faces out, and very slightly pulling the Draw hand away from the bow. The middle finger may be relaxed at this point (to be available to help pick up another arrow), but the ring and little fingers should remain closed against the palm. This sounds dead simple but takes practice to consistently execute on a bowstring under tension. A good Release is quick, crisp, makes a very clear sound off the string, and at no point should you feel the string contact the index finger or thumb (assuming you are wearing thumb protection). A slow Release results in abrasion of the index finger and thumb tip, strain on the distal thumb joint, and a very obvious “flubbing” sound from the string, not to mention how it ruins the shot.
Repeat the sequence of Locking, Drawing a few inches, and Releasing “for a time” until it is completely rote.
Side Note: When performed with an arrow at full Draw, the farkah will result in the Draw hand’s index finger coming to rest just below the ear lobe, palm facing out, and the index finger and thumb will make a shape resembling a crescent. Loosing II talks more about this.