Training Goals in Barebow Archery

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).

This outdoor Dura-Mesh 122cm target sees a lot of action at 50 meters. In this image the archer is comparing 85 grain points to 100 grain points. While the 85s are close to point-on, the 100s are hitting low.

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 this image the Barebow archer has reached a 9 average, scoring 54 out of 60 with 5 out of 6 in the gold. But there is still that one arrow that hates you 😉

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.


Winners in Sports

By Mark V. Lonsdale

What makes a winner, and more importantly, how do you become a winner?

First and foremost, you need to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you have what it takes to succeed at whatever activity you set your mind to. This is the quiet confidence of the professional.

Not everyone can be good at everything, so select an activity that fires your imagination. Keep in mind that you are about to embark on a journey that will consume many hours of each day, six days of every week, and years of your life.

Define your goals!

Accept that you will have to sacrifice other activities and personal interests to achieve your goals. Your training will become your passion.

Be prepared to train longer, harder, and smarter than your peers. Every day that you are slacking off, your opponents are training and improving. That said, it is also important to allow time for muscles to rest, recuperate, and adapt to the new demands.   

Become a professional student of your chosen sport or activity. Read books and articles from those who have gone before you. Attend training seminars and clinics with national and international champions and coaches. Part of the journey will be testing and experimenting with your equipment and techniques.

Obtain the best equipment that you can afford. When in doubt, look to what the champions are using to win. Select equipment from manufacturers from which you one day hope to win sponsorship.

Set training goals. These should be small incremental steps that can be met and exceeded in a reasonable amount of time. Two months is a reasonable amount of time to expect to see improvement when training five to six days a week. The goals will often be based on improving training scores and then replicating those scores on game day in competition.

Be prepared to travel and to attend every competition you can. There is no substitute for competition experience and having the opportunity to observe and compete against the best. Competition experience also builds the mental toughness essential to becoming a winner.

Have a friend or coach video your performance in competition for post event self-analysis. The objective is not to celebrate your successes but to analyze your failures and flaws. Future training should be designed to turn weakness into strengths.    


2021 Vegas Shoot

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Even though the turnout was less than 300 competitors, the 2021 Vegas Shoot was still a success under difficult conditions and Covid restrictions. Yes, we all hated wearing masks. But it was actually a pleasure to not have to deal with the 3,000+ crowds and the only times that the practice range was full was one hour before shooting times.

Barebow legends Spanky Brooks (left) and Tim Strickland (right) getting in some time on the practice range. Notice that Tim is shooting a compound barebow since the Vegas Shoot Championship Barebow Open combined recurve barebow and compound barebow together.

Spending time on the practice range was essential since the overhead indoor lighting definitely affects aiming and impact. Arrow point of impact also changes with the intensity and location of the overhead lighting depending on where an archer stood on the line. From personal experience, where the light was bright, my arrow hit 2″-3″ high, and where it was subdued, 2″-3″ low. This is probably due to the glare coming off the shiny silver arrow points and aluminum shaft. The lighting also causes the string blur to all but disappear compared to outdoor shooting. But since the practice range was open from 0730 to 1900 I was able to practice four or five times a day, averaging 160 arrows per day.

One the the great things about barebow division is just how friendly and helpful all the competitors are. Barebow has a justly earned reputation as being the most social division with a strong sense of comradery. But all are still very dedicated archers and serious competitors.

Had the pleasure of meeting and shooting with Spanky Brooks who was willing to share several tips on barebow equipment and shooting.

For detailed media coverage, go to


Championship Barebow Open in Vegas

By Mark V. Lonsdale

The 2021 Vegas Shoot had a relatively small turnout directly attributed to Covid and the hesitancy of national and international shooters to travel or fly.

Because of the low number of entrants in barebow, the Vegas Shoot combined several divisions into one — Championship Barebow Open (BCO). This included Recurve barebow (including stabilizers), Compound barebow, Female, Seniors and Masters.

Iconic barebow archer Spanky Brooks (KS) competing along side female compound barebow archer Grace Vasicek (TX)
Compound barebow archers Madis0n Wilkens (CA) and Geoffrey Sasaki (CO) on Day 1 of the Vegas Shoot
Olympic Recurve archer Brady Ellison on Day 2
Women’s Open Compound with Toya Ellison (AZ) and Page Pearce (CA)


Mark V. Lonsdale – 2021 Vegas Shoot

2021 Vegas Shoot

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Better late than never! Usually run in February, but because of Covid, the Vegas Shoot was first run virtually, but now the Championship divisions are underway at the South Point.

At the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Wednesday the 14th was late registration, credentialing, and a practice day. Round 1 begins Thursday morning, 15 April. Round 2 is Friday the 16th. Round 3 and Finals on Saturday the 17th.

With few than 300 competitors, this is considerably less than the usual 4,000 from all over the US plus international competitors. There’s also a very small turnout from vendors, but the Shoot is happening and that’s the main thing.

Note – shooting indoors is very different to practicing outdoors. My string blur has all but disappeared in the overhead artificial lighting. The bales also leave fuzz on the arrow points that can be a little distracting if you forget to clean it off after each end.


High Score in Archery

By Mark V. Lonsdale, USA Archery Instructor/Coach

Can you remember the first time you shot a “33”? You may ask, how can someone shoot a 33 on a target with a 10 ring? Simple, the Vegas Shoot counts the X as 11 so it is possible, but rare, to shoot a 33 end.

All three RX7s touching the X ring for a score of 33 on this end.
Score of 32 shooting Barebow practicing for the 2021 Vegas Shoot

These were shot with a Barebow Hoyt Xceed with Velos limbs shooting Easton RX7-23s with TopHat points.


Consistency & Concentration in Archery

By Mark V. Lonsdale, Instructor/Coach

To keep this brief, consistency requires concentration and concentration is a significant component of consistency.

As with all precision shooting sports, archery requires total concentration to stay in the gold and to shoot 10s and Xs. But consistency in archery also requires a calm, relaxed shot process. So after one has developed a solid, repeatable technique it is then necessary to develop the mental toughness required to stay focused and relaxed on the line.

Barebow practice at 20 yards in preparation for the 2021 Vegas Shoot. The trick is not just hitting 10s, but hitting 9s and 10s ten times in a row (300) for three straight days to make the finals. Bow is a Hoyt Xceed with Velos limbs. Arrows are Easton RX7-23s
Score = 29 thanks to the line cut of the Easton RX7-23s

Unlike the unlimited open compound divisions and Olympic recurve where 10s and Xs are routine and scores of 300 not uncommon, for the Barebow division, a 9 average of 270/300 or 108/120 in the shoot-off may well win the day.



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