Skip to main content

Shooting Barebow

Shooting Barebow
Jayjohn demonstrates string walking. Note that his fingers are well beneath the arrow but his anchor point remains the same.

Shooting barebow means shooting a bow that has no sights. This technique is used mainly by recurve and longbow enthusiasts, but it can be done with compound bows as well. Many archers think that shooting barebow and shooting instinctively are the same thing. In truth, they are not. Shooting instinctively is one of three primary barebow aiming methods. The other two are gap shooting and string walking. Which aiming method should you use for barebow shooting? Ohioan Curtiss Jayjohn suggests that you experiment with all three of the methods and then use the one that works best for you.

Jayjohn is an expert recurve shooter, especially on live game. He can pick off bottle caps tossed into the air and zap 2-inch-thick Styrofoam targets tossed sideways like a Frisbee. After trying different sighting methods, you might combine elements of two styles, as Jayjohn does. He shoots instinctively out to about 30 yards and switches to gap shooting at longer ranges. However, he rarely shoots at game farther than 25 yards.

INSTINCTIVE SHOOTING


So much has been written about instinctive shooting that it has become the Holy Grail for many barebow enthusiasts. True instinctive shooters focus only on the target and pay no attention to the arrow in the sight picture. Newcomers are told to "burn a hole" in the target and let the arrow fly. The result for most newcomers following that advice is inconsistency and frustration.


I believe many of those who claim to be instinctive shooters subconsciously see the blurred arrow in their peripheral vision and use it to aim. Legendary archer Howard Hill consciously did this and called it "split vision" sighting. It is a cross between instinctive shooting and gap shooting.

"A true instinctive shooter has learned from hundreds of hours of practice where his arrow will fly and land at a given distance," Jayjohn says. "I compare it to shooting a basketball. Some days you can't seem to miss; other days you're on the bench."

Jayjohn draws the string with three fingers placed directly beneath the arrow, called shooting "three under." Most instinctive archers prefer to shoot "split finger," which is placing the index finger above the arrow's nock and two fingers below the nock.


"I focus all my energy on the smallest part of the target I can see, and then I draw and release the arrow without thought," Jayjohn says. "I usually hit within inches of the target out to 20 yards. Beyond that, my consistency with instinctive shooting diminishes."

GAP SHOOTING

To gap shoot, you draw the bow to your anchor point and hold the tip of the arrow at a specific distance (gap) beneath the target. The tip of the arrow is in sharp focus, and the target is blurred. This is the opposite of instinctive shooting.


Gap shooting can be done with a split finger release, but it is much easier three under.

The gap between the target and the arrow is smaller with three under. This makes it easier to adjust at whitetail hunting ranges, which typically are 25 yards or less.

The size of the gap depends on the distance to the target, how far your arrow extends past the arrow rest, and the trajectory of the arrow. Say, for example, that your arrow hits the mark at 20 yards when you hold the tip of the arrow 2 inches under the target. The gap would need to be greater than 2 inches at shorter ranges, and less than 2 inches for targets beyond 20 yards.

The range at which the arrow hits the mark when held dead on the target is called "point on." This can vary from 30 to 60 yards or more depending on your bow, arrows and shooting form. To shoot beyond point on, you must hold the arrow above the target.

STRING WALKING

String walking is the least popular of the three primary aiming methods, but it works well for some people. You focus on the tip of the arrow and place it dead on the target at all ranges. Instead of using a gap, you change your finger placement on the string to compensate for the distance.

A good place to start would be at your point-on distance with a three-under hold just beneath the arrow. Let's say that this is 35 yards. To hit the mark at 25 yards, you would need to place your fingers farther beneath the nock, maybe 1/2 inch or more. A hold that is 1 inch beneath the nock might be on target at 15 yards, and so on. This is a slower process than either instinctive or gap shooting because you must estimate the range and then determine where to grasp the string before you can draw and shoot.

An alternative to string walking is to use different anchor points. You anchor high on your face to be point on at close ranges and progressively lower to be point on at longer and longer ranges.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Why Plant Warm-Season Food Plots for Deer

Why Plant Warm-Season Food Plots for Deer

Learn how and why planting warm-season food plots can benefit you and your deer herd.

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Jeremy Moore talks about the importance of your deer dog's physical conditioning.

How to Plant Food Plots on a Budget with Small Equipment

How to Plant Food Plots on a Budget with Small Equipment

Haynes Shelton debunks the common belief that you must have big, fancy equipment to plant food plots. That's simply not the case; he's how to plan and plant food plots on a budget with small equipment.

Creating Warm-Season Food Plots

Creating Warm-Season Food Plots

On this edition of "Deer Factory," Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss tactics for establishing warm-season food plots.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

What can you do to ease the physical and mental rigors of being caught at full draw? Training to Shoot When Stuck at Full Draw Bowhunting

Training to Shoot When Stuck at Full Draw

Jace Bauserman

What can you do to ease the physical and mental rigors of being caught at full draw?

Whether you cook it around a smoldering campfire or over a charcoal grill, this Braai'ed Deer Heart Recipe is a good one to add to your after-the-hunt rituals.Braai'ed (Grilled) Deer Heart Recipe Venison Recipes

Braai'ed (Grilled) Deer Heart Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Whether you cook it around a smoldering campfire or over a charcoal grill, this Braai'ed Deer...

Low carb and keto-friendly, this recipe for venison jalapeño poppers wrapped in bacon is a great appetizer to serve at your next BBQ or cookout.Bacon-Wrapped Venison Jalapeno Poppers Recipe Venison Recipes

Bacon-Wrapped Venison Jalapeno Poppers Recipe

Emilie Bailey

Low carb and keto-friendly, this recipe for venison jalapeño poppers wrapped in bacon is a...

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count. Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow Bowhunting

Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow

Jace Bauserman

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count.

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

Pat Hogan highlights the importance of applying the fundamentals of the draw cycle when it comes toOn Target: Fundamentals of the Draw Cycle How-To

On Target: Fundamentals of the Draw Cycle

NAW TV - February 13, 2018

Pat Hogan highlights the importance of applying the fundamentals of the draw cycle when it...

December hunting is tough, but you can bump your success with some simple steps. 5 Ways to Stay in The December Whitetail Game How-To

5 Ways to Stay in The December Whitetail Game

Mark Kayser

December hunting is tough, but you can bump your success with some simple steps.

Sometimes a gun hunter really needs to put a deer straight down. Do you know how to make it happen?How to Drop a Deer in its Tracks How-To

How to Drop a Deer in its Tracks

Gordon Whittington

Sometimes a gun hunter really needs to put a deer straight down. Do you know how to make it...

Hunt opening day? Wait until the end? In gun season, the best honest answer is, 'It depends.' Here's why.Why Timing Is Everything in Gun Season How-To

Why Timing Is Everything in Gun Season

Mark Kayser

Hunt opening day? Wait until the end? In gun season, the best honest answer is, 'It depends.'...

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now