By Mark V. Lonsdale
Every sport has metrics for improvement, whether it is greater distance as in shotput or javelin, reduced times as in running and swimming, or greater accuracy in shooting sports. For archery, the metric is improved accuracy and score.
Where compound target archery is an almost repetitive series of 10s and Xs, barebow is considerably more challenging and no one is shooting perfect scores.
The first goal for the novice Barebow competitor entering the arena of outdoor competition, is to simply stay on the target bail at 50 meters. From there, a reasonable next goal would be to not throw any blacks (3&4) or whites (2&1).
The goal that takes a little longer to achieve is not throwing any blues (6&5), also known as Smurf shooting. For the novice new to archery, this could take several months, and even top archers occasionally drop an arrow into the 6.
Once you have conquered the blue zone, the next metric is establishing an average score of 8, 8.5, and 9. The goal here is to get to a 9 average or 54 out of 60. This would be a winning score in most Barebow divisions.
In 50 meter Barebow competition, the archer is aiming with the arrow point and string blur. This could place the point at the center of the X, or low or high on the gold, depending on arrow weight and bow poundage. Most serious Barebow shooters will increase bow poundage or reduce arrow weight until they can hold 6 o’clock on the 10 or 9 ring. But keep in mind that from the shooters perspective, the width of the arrow point can cover the entire gold zone, so not exactly the precision aiming afforded by a bow sight.
With a 9 average, the archer can still drop an arrow into the red zone (8s & 7s), so the next goal is to be able to hold the gold (9s & 10s) at 50 meters. I have yet to see a Barebow competitor shoot all 10s so simply holding gold may be good enough to win the day.
Finally, keep a daily training log, either in a journal and/or in your computer. This will keep you honest, track your improvement, and give you goals to shoot for.