Does Khatra Let You Shoot Any Arrow Spine From The Same Bow?

by | Dec 15, 2022

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the ancient technique of Khatra revolves around the question, does Khatra let you shoot any kind of arrow spine? Since bow clearance is the main purpose behind using it.

Technically, you can use Kahtra to shoot an arrow that has not been matched to your bow, but the closer the arrow has been matched to your bow, the less it’s going to matter.

Khatra comes from a time when arrows were not well-matched to bows and this reveals how different archery cultures overcame that problem. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not you can use Khatra to shoot any kind of arrow spine from your bow.

Can You Shoot Any Arrow Spine With Khatra?

If Khatra done correctly means that there’s less contact with the bow, does that mean that you can shoot any arrow spine you want from the same bow?

Well…kind of. But of course, you won’t get anywhere close to being accurate or getting the right distance.

You still can’t really ignore arrow spine.

Archers today and even in the olden days understood that all arrows are not created equal.

They are all different lengths, different weights, and have different levels of stiffness or thickness. All these elements combine to form what is known as the arrow spine. Arrow spine is our level of understanding of how much the arrow has to flex or can flex.

Don’t Ignore Arrow Spine

Arrow spine is vital in understanding how to choose the right arrow for your bow. If you don’t choose the right arrow, then your arrow won’t clear the bow properly, and instead, your arrow will deflect left or right and will result in inaccuracy.

When you have selected the right arrow for your bow, it should flex and oscillate around the bow correctly and fly much straighter, as well as maintain its energy and speed, therefore shooting further or faster at shorter distances.

So ideally you need to find the right arrow to match every bow you use. It’s the same for hunting as well as modern target archery and any kind of traditional or historical type of archery.

Even throughout history, it was understood that in order to have good arrow flight, you needed to match the right arrow to the right bow.

Does Khatra let you shoot any kind of arrow spine

With that being said, you can still shoot an arrow that hasn’t been perfectly matched to a bow with a certain amount of accuracy. Just understand that the further away the spine match to your bow, the greater the chance you have of damaging the arrow.

But when you think about arrow making way back in history, they didn’t exactly have it down to a science as bows and arrows were handmade, so consistency was always going to be a factor.

Archers throughout history would acquire different arrows from different places such as the battlefield, or from their enemies when they need to shoot back.

They would not be overly concerned about the compatibility of the arrow with their bow.

They had to make it work somehow.

Arrow Spine And Khatra

In modern times we can manufacture arrows to be perfectly straight and consistent every time, therefore we match the arrow to the bow. If there are any inconsistencies, we can simply change the arrow as there are different spine ratings for different draw weights and you simply pick the one that’s the closest match.

After some fine-tuning, by changing the arrow length, or weight, you can get the exact match to your bow.

If you encounter any remaining inconsistencies with the release, you can employ a plunger button (commonly utilized by Olympic archers). The plunger button functions as a spring, absorbing a portion of the arrow’s side-to-side shock during the shot.

Modern archery uses modern methods to perfect the tool, whereas historical archery, in particular Asiatic archery, used Khatra to perfect the archer.

In using Khatra, the archer is, in effect acting as a shock absorber, a plunger button, or a mitigator by using a technique that allows the archer to control how much the bow moves and opens up and thus compensate for the mismatching of arrows.

It allows the archer to shoot a greater range of arrows that have not been perfectly made.

However, it does rely on good execution because humans are not machines or plunger buttons, we are people. No matter what we do, our technique is going to have inconsistencies.

And therein lies the flaw with Khatra. It has to rely on good execution every time. Arrows flying left and right during the execution of Khatra indicate that the archer has not yet perfected the technique.

Why Is Arrow Spine Important?

Matching the right arrow to your bow is one of the fundamentals of archery, ignore it at your peril.

Arrow spine is classified by an index number that lets the archer know how much flex or stiffness the arrow has. The higher the number, the weaker the spine. The lower the number, the stiffer the arrow.

If you’d like to know about arrow spine then you should check out this article right here

Due to the significant energy exerted by the bow upon release, bows with higher draw weights necessitate the matching of stiffer arrows. Weaker arrows can often break if matched with high draw weights.

What Is Khatra?

Khatra is an advanced releasing technique that has its origins in Asiatic and Middle Eastern archery. Although the original word is thought to come from Arabic.

In styles of archery that employ a thumb release, such as Korean, Turkish and Japanese archery, it puts the arrow on the right-hand side of the bow if you’re a right-handed archer. Turning the bow down or outwards on release makes it easier for the arrow to clear the bow.

Upon release of the arrow in Khatra, the bow hand continues to follow through as if pushing the arrow forward which creates added momentum. This technique will allow the archer to utilise the bow’s full potential.

Khatra involves a high level of skill and timing to perfect the technique as it involves moving the bow clear of the arrow’s path, encouraging a straighter trajectory.

Different Types of Khatra

All forms of Khatra begin at the shoulder and extend down the arm and into the wrist.

Forward Khatra

The action of forward Khatra happens when you push your bow hand forward upon release so that the top limb of the bow moves away from the body.

Side (Torque) Khatra

The action at the wrist is to torque the bow out to the side. Looks very similar to how a Japanese Hankyu bow is shot.

Down and side Khatra

This action combines the two above by twisting the bow hand down and away from the body.

Each technique in Khatra has its own purpose, but they all share a common one, that of arrow clearance from the right-hand side.

When a lot of archers attempt to use Khatra, they quickly become discouraged by the results and dismiss it out of hand as being nothing more than an over-hyped technique.

Mastering Khatra requires a high level of skill, as it involves executing a complex process. It entails precisely timing the release to enable the bow to move out of the arrow’s path without affecting its trajectory.

Flawlessly timing the execution of Khatra is crucial. Performing Khatra too soon will cause the arrow to veer off to the side, while executing it too late may result in the arrow striking the bow.

Does Khatra Affect Arrow Speed?

There has been much debate over the subject of how Khatra increases arrow speed, with many detractors coming forward to say that Khatra only works because you are increasing the draw length and that the arrow has already left the bow so adding Khatra is a complete waste of time.

This kind of reasoning simply misses the point and shows a lack of understanding as to how the technique affects the arrow speed.

The full Khatra movement begins at the shoulder and extends through the arm. The flick of the wrist is the natural follow-through at the end of the technique.

The increase in arrow speed comes from the added momentum that applying Khatra gives to the bowstring. The action of Khatra creates a slingshot effect that propels the arrow forward much faster.

Repeated tests have shown that by doing Khatra you can increase arrow speed by up to 10ft per second.

The old argument that the arrow has already left the bow before Khatra is applied, again, simply misses the point.

In traditional, Western-style archery, the static position requires the bow to generate a substantial amount of energy when firing the arrow.

When you apply Khatra to the bow, the movement, or the expansion at the shoulder keeps the arrow moving which generates forward momentum and added velocity.

The only real way that you can experience this is to try the techniques out for yourself. Experiment with the different types of Khatra because every individual has a style that they feel more comfortable with.

Can You Do Khatra With Any Bow?

You can perform most types of Khatra with the majority of bows. As the bow gets longer and the grip becomes thicker, you may struggle to perform forward Khatra as the bottom limb of a longer bow can end up striking you in the ribs.

Asiatic and Middle Eastern bows are traditionally shorter and lighter than modern, western style bows which makes them perfect for Khatra.

The Japanese Hankyu bow is the exception here. Hankyu is long and slim with a thin grip, only side-Khatra can be used effectively with it.

If you use a heavier bow, like an English Longbow, then the weight of the bow itself can become an obstacle to Khatra as you won’t be able to extend and move the bow quickly enough to give the arrow clearance.

The principles of doing Khatra on longer bows remain the same, but the movement will become less dynamic with the longer bows.

Overall, you need to take into consideration the design of the bow and also the weight of the limbs.


While Khatra is definitely not some mystical technique that can make all arrows fly perfectly straight, it has that potential if you are a highly-skilled master archer. But then again, even top-level archers don’t shoot that well.

Archers of old employed Khatra as a solution for arrows that did not perfectly match their bows, effectively mitigating the compatibility issue. It enables you to deal with the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of your equipment if you train yourself to a high degree.

Modern archery solves the problem by making the equipment perfect to a certain degree and then leaves it to the archer to execute the perfect shot.

Khatra isn’t necessarily wrong, or different, but a different philosophy and approach how to address the same problem.

One fixes the tool, while the other fixes the archer.

You should still be buying and matching the right kind of arrows for your bow. And while Khatra can mitigate some errors and inconsistencies, it can also create a lot of errors if you don’t shoot consistently. And that is often much harder for most people.

Khatra doesn’t allow you to ignore spine rating and shoot any arrow you want. But it does give you a bit more variety and range in what you can shoot. With good Khatra and bad Khatra, you will still have varying results.

So to answer the question, ‘Can you shoot any arrow spine with Khatra?’, if you practice regularly it can help. But try not to think of Khatra as a one-stop-shop to fix everything.