Barebow: Dis is de wey

Well, I’ll shoot for a short one today (heh, shoot). Today’s topic will be my experiences with barebow archery and archery in general.

I recall when I was a kid, I was SUPER into archery. My dad made me a bow every year, a strong twig with a string was all it took for me to have an amazing summer. As far as I can remember, I was pretty accurate with it, too, like a decent spread for a 8-year old. A regular bag filled with leaves would get shot to hell in 3 days, 4 days tops. I absolutely adored archery, but was pretty oblivious. I never thought about there being commercial bows, I liked my “longbow” and didn’t give a shit about anything else. A happy kid shooting happy 3D targets.

When I was 12 or 13, I got my first “real” bow. It was a takedown recurve, my dad made me a target from insulation, and I was off! I damn-near obliterated the target, broke arrows left and right, my arrow rest kept falling off, but I believe I got to a level where my equipment was hindering my progress. I still have the bow and if I hadn’t left my string on for two or three… years.

Well, the hobby died off for about 7 years, until about 2 months ago, I got myself another recurve, since I’m a big guy now (4U). For those of you who are interested, I’ll put the specs under this article. The most important part about it is that it is a 36-pound bow, which I got because I felt like I could use the exercise. The whole bow cost about 130$ and had I bought just a few dollars more expensive, I could’ve been a little better off with ILF limb fittings. When it finally arrived, I put it together and started shooting targets.

TIP #1: Don’t let your string unwind. After 2 weeks, my bow got about 5 pounds lighter just because the string got unwound and the tension lowered.

Well, now that you have a lot of useless trivia on my life, let me get to the meat of the article: I’m a cheap son of a bitch.

As everyone (including myself) may expect, my aim absolutely sucked. I lost an arrow on my third shot, shot walls, shit like that. I missed a 4-foot-by-4-foot target, for fuck’s sake! Something was wrong. I may really have lost my edge, but I seemed worse than was humanly possible. Weak shots, missing a lot, shaking like crazy, stuff like that.

I don’t want bullshit that I don’t need to send arrows to the target at high speeds, so I looked around for shooting tips. People had bows before sights, they shot bows for thousands of years, no sights, with pretty good accuracy. Sure, no 70-meter bullseyes, but damn, they didn’t suck like I did! Sure, they put hundreds of thousands of arrows on targets, but the learning curve seemed a goddamn wall!

If you imagine a bow with the string pulled to your face, you see the arrow going seemingly from your underarm to the target. In this position, without sights, there is not much you can do to aim. The best you can do is try to position the tip of the arrow underneath and to the side of the target and hope for the best. When you shoot high, you need to aim lower next time. Much of the time, the arrow is so far away from the target that you need to visualize the way it will fly before you let go. It becomes instinctive, without using sights, there was (at least for me) no way to be scientific about this. The shot either happens well (shot on target) or I screw up one part of the shot process and the whole thing just sucks.

Then I heard the term barebow thrown up in some YouTube video. I never heard that term before, I thought it was like longbow, but that would be strange. Turns out it is the single best thing I could’ve started learning. Up until now, my shooting was instinctive. When I swapped my grip from Mediterranean to three-fingers-under, it was a scary concept. For one, when shooting, you bring the string not to your cheek, but straight up to the corner of your mouth. This was scary. Furthermore, to look down the arrow better, you actually need to put your nose close enough to the string to get a snap over it with EVERY shot. All this may seem counterintuitive: If you want to shoot comfortably, wouldn’t you twitch with every shot for fear of getting your face cut? Well, I didn’t give a shit, but I can see how someone may think that.

Now for the important thing: How do you aim this thing? What does the sight picture look like? What can you do to adjust aim?

Here is where barebow really shines. With the arrow right next to your face and your eye right above it, you can aim with the tip of the arrow. Just cover that gold point and you’re golden.

But m4iler! I hear you cry, where do I grab the string? What is the three-fingers-under?

Aside from a great fingering technique, this is a technique for aiming a barebow. You place your fingers on the string, but instead of putting your forefinger above the arrow and two fingers under it, you put all three fingers under the arrow. To aim, you have to adjust the release angle. Remember, the line from the eye to the tip of the arrow always goes to the center of the target, but by adjusting how much below the eye your arrow is, you can adjust the release angle, thereby adjusting how the arrow arcs on its way to its final destination.

For me, I have a 36lbs bow, so my stringwalk may differ from yours, but here goes: To shoot at 10 metres, I put my fingers right under the arrow, put my thumb on the spot on the string where my middle finger and ring finger meet, after which I keep the thumb in place and slide the forefinger to the place where my thumb is. This way, I have 2 fingers spacing between the arrow and my hand. If I shot at a larger distance, I’d have to put my fingers closer to the arrow, which places the nocking point of the arrow closer to my anchor point, raises the release angle and sends the arrow further.

If you shoot a bow in any way, you need an anchor point. I could put my fingers wherever under the arrow, but unless I anchor the string hand in the exact same place every time, my shot is going to fuck up somewhere. So, to anchor, we need to place a part of the hand on a specific spot on the face. For me, that’s the right corner of my mouth.

To recapitulate: Three fingers under arrow, stringwalk to the specific distance you want and anchor to the corner of your mouth. If the tip of the arrow is on gold, release and like magic, it goes to where you aim! Alternatively, it doesn’t go where you planned because you aimed too high or forgot to stringwalk (happened to me once, overshot by about a meter at 10 meter distance).

If you like this intro into archery, let me know. I’ll try to do more on IRL topics (no pentesting because I suck, so lockpicking, archery and the like) as well as more musings on topics I am far too unqualified to talk about.

See ya people!

-m

BOW SPECS:

Jandao Tangzong 36lbs 68in