From the same teacher that brought me “pulling with your lats”, here’s “pulling with your neck”.
This teacher was watching me shoot yesterday and when I got to the full draw she said, “You’re letting up, keep pushing, expand.” On the next shot she pushed on my right shoulder. Afterwards I went to ask her what she meant by all of it and she said,
“It’s a strange way of using words, but I say that my neck is my shoulder. If I try and spread outwards with my shoulder, I can’t really feel the expansion, but if I imagine my shoulder is my neck and expand from there, then I can really feel the expansion within the bow and won’t let up the pressure before the release.”
I gave it a try myself and the feeling was completely different. Trying to imagine just pushing out with our shoulders is like trying to hold back a waterfall with a toothpick. Certainly you can imagine it, and maybe get your body moving, but against your body and the bow, it’s not enough to successfully win against the bow. Pushing with your neck however engages the whole of your shoulders and chest which allows you to put yourself between the bow and string and successfully expand. If you can connect that with a solid root in the ground from a stabilization in your ashibumi and douzukuri (feet and waist).
Another added bonus I found is that it really helped pull my kao-muke (turning of the head) down and towards the target like it should, which helps spread my spine up and down engaging the tate-sen (vertical line).
All pluses. So give it a try.
Did make the area between my neck and shoulder pretty sore, though. Maybe it’s the first time I’ve ever successfully used those muscles.