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When I started shooting a recurve bow, I wondered how barebow archery worked and what it was. I did some research and found barebow archery is underrated for the skill it takes.
So, what is barebow archery?
Barebow archery is archery done with a recurve bow using no sights, stabilizers, or any other assisting devices. Certain arrow rests are sometimes permitted. Compound bows can be used as well as long as there are no extra devices being used.
A lot of people don’t realize the physical and mental skills that come with barebow archery. Shooting a bow with all the devices is hard but, not using any sights or markings on the bow to get accurate precision is TOUGH!
How do you aim Barebow archery?
Usually, archers shoot a sighted recurve or compound bow. But the barebow is different.
It is a stripped-down bow with no extra devices to “artificially” increase accuracy.
Well, then how do you shoot it?
Most archers use the String-Walking method. The string is hooked higher or lower, in order to change the arrows point. The closer the string is to the nock the higher the arrow will fly.
The first step is going to be to stand on the line with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your arrow on the string, and then you start the string walking method.
For example: If you are shooting at 15 meters, your fingers will be 2 finger-widths below the arrow. Hook the string and then draw the bow back until your index finger touches your mouth. Aim your arrow at the target where you want to shoot it (usually the center).
Then release by relaxing your fingers off the string!
Here’s a video of the Legendary Professional Barebow Competitive Archer John Demmer III demonstrating the String Walking technique:
How many fingers do you need to draw a bow?
Here are two methods used in shooting a barebow. One is the three-finger method, and the other is the split-finger method.
Using this three-finger method has its pros and cons. It is usually used by beginners where the split-finger method is used in long-distance shots.
You will have your three fingers placed under the arrow notch like the picture below.
Then pull the bowstring back to the corner of your mouth. This is known as “anchored”. You will use this anchor point every time you shoot for consistency.
The split-finger method:
You are going to use your first three fingers of the right hand (if you shoot right-handed). You will hold the arrow notch lightly between your first two fingers and draw the string back to the corner of your mouth.
The same drawback will be done by pulling the bowstring to the corner of your mouth which is your “anchored point”.
Another method is called the finger pinch method. I am not a big fan of this one because it can cause a lot of inconsistency. But a lot of beginners use the finger pinch method when they first start learning because of how natural it feels.
What is finger pinch archery?
The pinch draw uses the thumb and the index finger to pinch the end of the arrow or the nock. A lot of beginners use this method naturally without realizing it.
But this will prevent the release of a stiff bow using its full the from the drawback. This method is hard…unless you got really strong fingers.
If you plan to shoot a compound bow with this method, I wouldn’t advise it. Most compound bows are made to use releases and not fingers.
Unless you have a specific compound bow made for barebow or finger pinch archery, I would stick to a low draw weight recurve bow for this method.
What do archers wear on their fingers?
Since you are not using a release in barebow archery, you have to use your fingers. And just like anything, we have to have good safety!
A finger tab or archer tab is a small leather (or synthetic) patch that will protect your fingers from the bowstring. It is usually strapped to the archer’s hand and is more convenient than gloves.
Aside from safety reasons, this can also improve accuracy!
In barebow archery, you have a repeatable shot sequence to your target. When you improve your shot to be more consistent and accurate, you can focus on the inconsistency. Knowing your release is 100% ready to go and that you can keep that consistent, will give you the advantage.
Gloves are a good alternative to finger tabs but during warmer weather can be uncomfortable and can be harder to manage for control purposes.
Is Barebow archery in the Olympics?
No, Barebow archer is not in the Olympics (yet!). Archers can choose to use a barebow because there is no rule against it.
But they won’t be winning much! It isn’t practical since all the other competitors will be using fully equipped bows.
Read this article we wrote to find out more about Olympics archery rules and regulations.
What mental skill is needed for barebow?
“There’s a difference between shooting to watch arrows fly and shooting to watch how the arrows hit the center,” said former compound archer Ben Rogers from the USA.
The barebow competition leaves its competitors feeling satisfied by using their own physical and mental skills to hit the center of the target rather than relying on sight.
The most challenging part about learning how to shoot a barebow would be the time it takes. It takes a really long time to learn this skill.
You need to be mentally prepared to focus, and only concentrate on where you are shooting. You must eliminate all distractions to get where you are aiming.
But this takes practice, which means shooting a lot.
How many arrows should I shoot a day?
Coach Tom from ACE Archers suggests 120 arrows a day, 4-5 times a week.
Yes! This sounds like a lot and quite frankly, my arm would fall off. But how bad do you want to be a better archer?
Sit down and make a schedule and block out time for your archery practice. And be consistent and diligent with it.
When you keep up the hard work and consistency, you will see things start falling into place as time goes on.
You will get stronger, and find shooting your bow easier. You will shoot more accurately and precisely over and over again until it becomes second nature. You will get “muscle memory” and won’t even have to think about it anymore.
That’s a lot of arrows….what if I don’t have the funds or ability to get all these arrows.
Using an exercise stretch band is an amazing hack to use.
It is budget-friendly and can be used over and over again. Plus, you find them pretty much anywhere.
Shooting arrows is a great work out and creating that muscle memory will make you one step closer to being a great archer.
All you need is YOU and the STRETCH BAND.
Stand in front of your mirror and shoot the perfect form for 30 shots. Don’t release the stretch band like you would if you were actually shooting.
Just pull the band back like a bowstring and hold it for 15 seconds and slowly bring your arms back together. Do this 30 times while looking at yourself in the mirror.
Having the correct form is critical so really watch yourself. This will help.
Further Barebow Training
So you’ve piqued your interest and you want to get more into barebow archery.
But where do you go for more?
If you are ready to take your barebow archery to the next level, I highly recommend checking out this online training course called “JD3 Barebow” made available by The Push Archery and instructed by John Demmer III himself! (This is NOT an affiliate link! We just believe so highly in this course that we’re promoting it here.)
In this course, John Demmer teaches you everything he’s learned from his vast experience shooting barebow competitions.
You will learn about:
- barebow archery gear
- tuning for better accuracy
- perfect archery form
- mental control
- rules for Indoor, 3D, Target, and Field Archery
- strategies for various archery games,
- and much, much more!
Do you want to be a good archer or a great archer? Concentration is what makes the difference between the two. You need to concentrate on where you are aiming to be able to make the perfect shot.
Yes, archery is a useful skill. It is a fun sport that will also keep you fit and it has great health benefits. You gain skills such as focus, concentration, upper body strength, and coordination. You should never force yourself to do something you don’t like but archery is a great way to try something new.
Archery 360 suggests a single-arm dumbbell row, dumbbell side raise, Romanian deadlift, rowing machine, and forearm plank.
I enjoy giving knowledge to any bowhunter from beginner to experienced. My family has grown up as avid bowhunters here in Virginia and we mainly target shoot with compound bows and crossbows. I can’t wait to add to the Archers Hub community!