NTS… in a nutshell

The National Training System “NTS” in its entirety is not a simple system. With all its intricacies, it can be easy to misunderstand. Learning NTS from Coach Kisik Lee was eye opening. It was important for me to hear it from the source as so much of what I thought I knew previously about NTS was actually inaccurate.

The following is, in a nut shell, my understanding of NTS as it was taught to me by Coach Lee and how I described it back to him during my practical exam for my coaching certification.

For those of you who are interested in learning NTS, I hope this helps to dispel any myths or questions you may have had about the system.

Part of what I love about being a coach is helping people find answers. If the information below does not have the answers you are looking for, or if you have further questions, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to respond.

And now, on to NTS…

NTS uses sport science combining a biomechanically stable and efficient shooting technique with an 11 step shooting sequence. You can think of these two aspects as software and hardware, where the software are the steps of the shot and the hardware is the technique you use to execute the steps. 

Having software is crucial. The software allows you to increase consistency especially in regards to you rhythm and timing and your form. The software allows you to command and control your shot, and maintain mental toughness under pressure (the ability to aggressively return to your process when needed). Without software, it is easier to fall victim to target panic. 

The following are the details of the software and hardware of NTS…


NTS uses an open stance for stability and to prevent a “hollow back”. To set the open stance…

1.     Straddle the shooting line with feet shoulder width apart.

2.     Ball of back foot on the target line, back foot rotated 15 degrees open to the target.

3.     Front foot big toe 2” behind target line and rotated 30 degrees open to the target.

4.     60% of weight on balls of feet, 40% of weight on heals, gripping the ground with you feet.


Nock the arrow the same way each time making sure it is on the rest and under the clicker.


Set hook before grip and visually check your hook.

To make the hook…

1.     Curl the fingers so they point back towards you.

2.     Back of hand flat (press your knuckles in).

3.     Wrist slightly out with a natural curve.

4.     Thumb and pinky back to form a “c” shape.

Place hook on string, hooking upward and gently squeezing the spacer between your fingers.

The string should be placed…

1.     Just in front of first joint of index.

2.     Just behind first joint of middle.

3.     On pad of ring.

The finger pressure at set should feel approximately 50/30/20 top down. This will change during the shot to 40/50/10 to keep the string vertical.

To set your grip, set your pivot point (webbing between thumb and index) into the valley of the grip then press your pressure point (which is in the center of your thumb mound, at the base of the thumb, inside the lifeline) behind the center of the bow grip.

Knuckles should be 45 degrees to the riser’s arrow shelf with your fingers curled in to your palm, index finger on front of riser pointing down.

Thumb straight, thumb print pointing forward, gently squeezing the bow between your thumb and index finger to help engage the bow arm muscles (the lats and triceps on the bow arm side).



1.     Knees locked.

2.     Hips open to the target and stay there for the rest of the shot (no hip rotation).

3.     Hips tucked under and chest down to prevent hollow back.

4.     Shoulders down and level.

5.     Head to target.

Bow arm straight with bow arm muscles engaged, elbow rotated almost vertical.

Draw elbow inside arrow line, string hand away from the body.

Slight coil (rotation of upper body around the spine) to tighten the core and begin to brace the bow building about 40% back tension.

Before moving on take a zen breath (4 seconds in / 4 seconds out), think about what you want to do, and mentally commit to the shot.


In set up we establish the barrel of the gun and most of your draw scapula movement.

Barrel of the gun is when your back shoulder, front shoulder, front elbow and front wrist are all in a straight line together.

To set up, keep bow arm muscles engaged and raise the bow, draw arm should follow bow arm. 

Open the bow by coiling your upper body to establish the barrel of the gun. Draw scapula makes a major movement towards spine building 60% of back tension.

Draw elbow should stay inline or behind the arrow line and level with draw wrist.

Draw hand should end up approx 2” below the chin, just behind the front shoulder, and slightly away from the body.

At set up, the stabilizer and arrow point to the left of the target (for a right handed archer).

No aiming at this point.


Drawing is done angularly using LAN2. 

LAN2 is a focal point centered between your draw elbow and shoulder on the back of the upper arm.

When drawing, move LAN2 in an angular motion (movement around the central pivot point aka the spine). The draw elbow moves around and slightly up along the draw force line from the pressure point. 

Back tension should increase to about 80% with minor scapula movement.

The draw hand will move in a straight diagonal line into the chest and finish about 1” below the jaw. The pinky and thumb touch the base of the neck and the string lightly touches the face.

Bow pivots in the hand and the stabilizer rotates toward the target.

Bow hand should be above the center of the target.

No aiming, and no change in the length of the barrel of the gun.


To anchor, again move LAN2 angularly, this will increase your back tension to approx 90% and escalate your draw elbow and hook into your anchor position.

The 2nd and 3rd joint of the index finger of the hook should be pressed into the jaw, back of thumb and tip of pinky should be firmly pressed into the neck. The string will be on the corner of the chin and lightly touching the nose. 

Again, no aiming at this time.


To transfer use your anchor as a fulcrum for leverage and move LAN2 Parallel to the shooting line. This will increase your back tension to 95+% and begin holding.

Holding the most important step in NTS. Holding is both mental and physical.

In mental holding you are calming your mind. Once your mind in calm, you make the conscious choice to move to expansion where your subconscious takes over.

Holding can be described using an analogy of a water bottle with water in it, where the bottle represents your physical movements and the water inside represents your mental state. Holding the bottle sideways is the start of your shot. As you move through your sequence the bottle rotates towards vertical. When the bottle gets vertical you are at your hold position. But at the moment you reach hold (vertical bottle) the water inside is still moving.  We need to stop and wait till the water is calm them we can choose to move on and finish the shot.

You can test for mental holding using a heat rate monitor.  If you are holding correctly your heart rate will go down.

In physical holding you are using your bone structure and alignment to resist the forces of the bow. The strength of the hold position is what allows you to reduce intensity and calm your mind. This is the most biomechanically stable and efficient way to shoot. 

The feeling of holding can be described as being braced inside the bow. Some say it almost feels effortless. 

You can feel “holding” with the “squeeze drill”. Additionally, you can test for holding using a shot trainer.

At hold the clicker should be about 2mm away from being activated.


Expansion is an invisible internal movement that should take 3 seconds or less.

Focus on the feeling of finishing the shot while the sub conscious takes over.

During expansion you should be holding your breath.  This will increase your blood pressure and expand your chest.

Keep your back tension and bow arm muscles engaged.

As a result, the barrel of the gun and the bow will shift forward toward the target ever so slightly activating the clicker.

Aiming begins after expansion starts. To aim keep eye focus on the target and line up the string blur on the right side of the sight aperture (for a right handed archer).

The timing of expansion is important. The sub conscious and the rise in blood pressure can only be sustained for about 3 seconds. Any longer and we lose the ability to expand properly.

There should be no movement of the anchor during expansion.


To release, the fingers sub-consciously relax allowing the sting to push the fingers out of the way. 

The draw elbow and bow arm move around and down following the path of the archer’s disc (a tilted plane encircling the archer). 

The string hand should finish just behind the neck in the original hook shape.

The bow hand “sit” motion and the string hand follow through need to be synchronized to maintain the balance of the shot. This means your back tension is at it’s greatest at the end of the follow through.

Tension (back and bow arm tension) and direction (Following the path of the archers disc) must be maintained to the end of the follow through with no change to the length of the barrel of the gun.


Before loading the next arrow take a couple zen breaths, calm yourself, evaluate the previous shot, stay positive, and prepare for the next shot.

To make the shot sequence more streamline you can shorten the software into 8 essential steps to focus on while shooting:

1.     Set – Stance, hook, grip, posture

2.     Set Up – Barrel of the gun, major scapula movement

3.     Load – LAN2 angular movement

4.     Anchor – Angular escalation

5.     Transfer – LAN2 parallel movement

6.     And (the “and” represents hold) – Calm mind and body

7.     Expand – 3 seconds, LAN2 continues parallel

8.     Follow Through – Maintain tension and direction


The Key points to the breath cycle are…

Our lungs are never completely full or completely empty, they hover between 50-70%.

Breathe diaphragmatically.

Hold breath during expansion so blood pressure can increase expanding the chest.

At set take a breath in as you raise the bow, then breathe out and finish set up. Then breathe in when drawing and breathe out to get to holding. Then hold your breath until the shot is complete.

And there it is! Again if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am always happy to help.

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Archery is my passion. I have been shooting and competing in archery for over 20 years. I have competed in various styles including Olympic Recurve, Barebow, Longbow, and Compound. I am a USA Archery Level 4 NTS National Coach and instructor trainer. I believe in a scientific approach to teaching and learning archery. Development through understanding is the key to success. - Coach Ian Garner Lerose

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