These days, there are more archers going back to the traditional way of shooting a bow, i.e. shooting a bow without a sight, stabilizer or other accessories (bare bow). It is considered to be more challenging as you have to rely on your judgement or instinct each time your draw the bow to shoot.
So, how do you aim if there is no sight to help you direct your arrow to the bull’s eye?
Before we start, let’s take a look at the flight of an arrow over distance.
When you aim at a target, your sight is in a straight line to the bull’s eye. The arrow upon release travels upward until a certain point and then begins to lose height until it hits the target. The closer your target, the lower you aim as the arrow is still on an upward flight. The further the target, the higher you have to raise the bow to compensate for the fall in the arrow’s trajectory.
Now, let’s start with the first aiming technique.
1. Gap Shooting
In gap shooting, you aim the tip of the arrow at a spot on an imaginary vertical line running through the center of the target. At a distance of 10 yards, you will aim the arrow at a spot below the bull’s eye. At 50 yards, you may have to aim your arrow tip somewhere above the bull’s eye. At a certain distance in-between, your arrow tip will be pointing at the center of the target.
How much of an adjustment you make for each distance depends on the poundage of the bow, the length and weight of your arrow and the type of fletching you use. The most important thing is to get a good repeatable shot cycle. What this means is that the way you stand, how you raise your bow, the way you draw the string, your anchor point and the release with follow through, must be repeatable for every shot.
The above is an example to illustrate how you would aim for different distances in gap shooting. Again, this will vary for each individual.
Before you shoot, you will need to know the distance between you and the target. Aim your arrow point at the bull’s eye and shoot. See where the arrow lands on the target. Shoot another two arrows, each time with your arrow pointing to the center of the target. If your arrows are grouping around a spot below the bull’s eye, aim slightly higher. Shoot another 3 arrows and see where they land. Repeat until you hit the area around center. Remember the point on the target for this distance.
2. String Walking
In string walking shooting, your arrow tip is always aimed at the center of the target. The difference is that your draw hand moves either up or down the string for different distances. The anchor point remains the same for each shot.
The closer to your target, the lower your hand moves down the string. Some archers go to the extent of counting the grooves on the string servings for each distance they shoot.
Many archers say that this is a better way of shooting compared to the gap shooting method as your arrow tip is always aimed at the bull’s eye. The downside, however, is that after a certain distance, this method cannot be used.
3. Face Walking
In the face walking method, your draw hand does not move along the string. Instead, your anchor point moves up or down your face.
Face walking may also incorporate the gap method for further distances. Although this method is effective, it is illegal in many competitions.
4. Instinctive Shooting
In instinctive shooting, you do not aim at the target. You first focus on the point you want your arrow to land on, then raise the bow in a straight upward motion, and finally draw and shoot. It’s like golf, baseball or darts. You concentrate on your target and let your brain make the adjustments to your body.
Instinctive shooting is considered to be the purest form of traditional archery as the style of shooting goes back to the days when the bow was first used.
Stand with your feet apart in a square stance. Knock an arrow to the string and keep it pointed to the ground just in front of you. Focus on your target, bring the bow up in a straight horizontal line and shoot. The more you practice, the more your brain will make the adjustments to allow you to shoot accurately.
Try out each method and determine which you want to use. Keep practicing and you will find archery more enjoyable as you keep hitting that sweet spot on the target.