Competitive Barebow Archery Continues to Expand

A push to promote recurve barebow archery at the 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic seems to be spreading across the globe.

World Archery, National Field Archery Association and Archery Shooters Association all recently announced new opportunities for recurve barebow archers at 2018-19 tournaments.

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World Archery on Sept. 15 opened entries for its 2018 Indoor Archery World Series events. This is a series of six indoor, 18-meter tournaments held in different locations around the world in late 2018 and early 2019.

Formerly known as World Cup tournaments, these competitions previously required archers to be part of a national team in order to enter. World Archery has changed that rule this year to allow any archer to enter, and at least one of the competitions will feature recurve barebow classes. None of the events previously had barebow divisions.

The Roma Trophy tournament, scheduled for Dec. 14-16 in Rome, has competition classes for recurve barebow archers. Barebow archers are hoping the same classes will be added to the World Series event attached to The Vegas Shoot, though they had not as of late September.

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Run by NFAA, The Vegas Shoot Feb. 8-10 in Las Vegas will feature for the first time Recurve Barebow Flights. Rules for that division will mirror World Archery’s barebow guidelines.

NFAA has always had Championship Barebow at The Vegas Shoot, but that barebow division differs from World Archery barebow in that the bows that are allowed can be recurve or compound, and the use of stabilizers and draw checks are permitted. A draw check is a device that allows an archer to know exactly how far they have drawn their bow in order to release arrows from a consistent point in the draw cycle.

World Archery barebow is limited to recurve bows that must fit through a narrow ring, which basically eliminates the use of stabilizers, but does allow for additional weights to be added to the riser. Draw checks cannot be used in World Archery barebow competitions.

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Neither organization allows the use of sights in its barebow divisions.

ASA has added two new classes to its slate of competition divisions – Barebow Recurve and Olympic Recurve. Both follow the USA Archery rules for these classes – which mirror World Archery’s – to support the participation of USA Archery college teams in 3-D tournaments. The move also facilitates the International 3-D Championship qualifying event that will be part of the ASA Kentucky Pro/AM scheduled for June 20-23, 2019.

All of these new recurve barebow opportunities follow changes made to the barebow division at the 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic. After noticing an exciting growth in interest in recurve barebow archery, Classic organizers increased the prize money and added new trophies awarded to archers competing in the barebow division at the 2018 event. They also changed the equipment rules so that the Classic barebow rules mirror World Archery’s.

With the tournament changes in place, registration among barebow archers doubled from the 2017 Classic to 2018.

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TradTech brings home the Hardware at 2018 World Archery Field Championships

TradTech Archery had a great showing recently at the 2018 World Archery Field Championships in Cortina, Italy, with the Tradtech RC Carbon Wood limbs helping archers bring home two silver medals.

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The World Archery Field Championships is a prestigious tournament that’s only held every two years, and is only open to a limited number of the best field archers in the world.

Competing in her first international field archery tournament, American Fawn Girard won the silver medal in Women’s Barebow, using her RC Carbon Wood limbs.

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Fawn Girard with her silver medal

Girard was the top-ranked American woman heading into the competition. Her qualification score at the championships also was tops among American women, and seeded her sixth overall for the elimination matches.

As the No. 6 seed, Girard automatically advanced to the fourth round, where she won in a shoot off against Italian Eleonore Strobbe – a four-time medalist and 2010 World Field champion. She then beat Stine Asell from Sweden in the quarterfinals, followed by Italian Cinzia Noziglia in the semifinals, which earned Girard a spot in the gold medal match.

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Fawn Girard, left, competes in Cortina, Italy.

In that final match, Girard and Lina Bjorklund – the 2012 and 2014 champion and 2016 bronze medalist – finished in a tie, before Bjorklund won the gold medal in a shoot off, earning Girard the silver medal.

Jenifer Stoner was the second-highest finishing American woman in Cortina, and she also competed with TradTech RC Extreme limbs.

John Demmer III entered the championships as the top-ranked American in Men’s Barebow. After qualifications using his RC Carbon Wood limbs, he was the top-seeded American and was seeded third overall. That seeding earned him an automatic advance to the fourth round of elimination matches, where he defeated fellow American John Dillinger. Demmer then was knocked out of the competition in the quarterfinals by Sweden’s Lundmark Fredrik, who eventually won the bronze medal.

Demmer won a silver medal, however, as a member of the American Men’s Team. The Team round features the top compound, Olympic recurve and barebow archers from each nation. Demmer was the American barebow archer teamed with compound archer Steve Anderson and recurve archer Brady Ellison.

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John Demmer competes in the team round

The American team beat Slovenia in the first round and Italy in the semifinals, before losing to Germany in the gold medal match, which earned the team members silver medals.

A division of Lancaster Archery Supply, TradTech Archery produces a series of traditional archery products for bowhunting, competitive shooting and recreation.

String alignment for consistent archery shots

Aligning the bowstring in your sight picture is critical to consistent shooting. How archers do that varies – especially among the different archery disciplines.

Let’s get compound archers out of the way first, because their alignment process is the simplest. Almost all compound archers use a peep sight.

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A compound archer takes aim through a peep sight.

This is a small circle or tube that is set into the middle of the bowstring, between the strands. The height of the peep is set based on the archer’s anchor. Most archers will draw to anchor, touch their nose to the string, and then have someone slide the peep up or down so that it matches their eye height.

Look through the peep and line up the sight so it’s in the center. Ideally, the edges of the peep will perfectly match the edges of your scope housing. If it doesn’t, just make sure the sight is in the middle of the peep, and you’ll know you’re aiming the same way for every shot.

Some bowhunters opt not to use peep sights for various reasons – one of them being hunters fear not being able to see through the peep in low light conditions. These archers might use a bow sight with optical alignment built in, or they use the string in some fashion to line up their sight pins in order to achieve a consistent aim. Perhaps they make sure the string aligns against the riser side of their scope housing, or the bow riser itself.

(Using a peep sight is much simpler, and it’s going to be way more accurate. The time you might sacrifice in failing light is more than offset by the huge gains in accuracy.)

Olympic recurve archers – those who put sights on their recurve bows – usually have a three-point system for string alignment to ensure they’re looking through their sight the same way for each shot.

These archers hook the string with one finger above the arrow nock and two below. With this grip, they will then anchor the top of their index finger under the jaw at full draw. Doing this sets their eye height at a consistent spot in relation to the bowstring.

Next, they will touch the tip of their nose to the string and then move their head until their view of the string and sight is set. That string will be in a consistent spot time and again – often along the vertical edge of the riser’s sight window or on the right edge of the sight housing for right-handed archers and the left edge for lefties.

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This Olympic recurve archer establishes the same relationship between his bowstring and his sight for each shot.

Regardless of where an archer aligns the string, if the string drifts from that spot, the archer will notice the alignment has moved, and correct it by simply turning his or her head slightly.

Barebow archers, who shoot without sights, often refer to “string blur.” It’s the blurry image of the bowstring right in front of their eye, which they see while aiming or focusing down range. Some pay attention to string blur during shot alignment, often lining it up in relation to the arrow or riser.

Others, like world champion John Demmer III, count on the string blur to be set properly based on their anchor. Demmer said if he notices his string blur, then he knows he’s out of alignment, because it should be “attached” to the riser from his perspective.

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Champion barebow archer John Demmer III wants his bowstring to be aligned with his riser for each shot, which means he shouldn’t see his “string blur.”

Also, barebow archers who are string-walking as they shoot different distances, like on a 3-D shoot or field course, will move the string blur left and right to move their point of impact left or right, depending on the distance.

Whether you shoot Olympic recurve or barebow, it takes a lot of practice to get consistent string alignment because there is no definitive object – like a peep sight – to give you a precise reference point.

PODCAST: Matt Zirnsak and Tim Nebel of The Push Archery

Matt Zirnsak is a longtime, barebow target archer. He admits to “geeking out” on the technical side of traditional archery – bow tuning, arrow tuning, aiming techniques, torsional stability and on and on.

While these are facets of archery that most often are associated with compound archery and Olympic recurve, Zirnsak believes they absolutely have a place in traditional archery.

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Tim Nebel, left, and Matt Zirnsak

So he and his friend Tim Nebel – a traditional archer with a passion for videography – last year decided to make a film about the technical side of traditional archery, which they titled, “The Push – A Traditional Archery Film.”

Available to anyone on YouTube, the video has been a smash hit, with nearly 200,000 views in just over 12 months. The video was so successful, Zirnsak and Nebel have made three more films under “The Push” name, and they’ve launched a podcast. They’ve done all of this with a single goal in mind.

“To expedite the traditional archery learning curve,” Zirnsak said.

We sat down with Zirnsak and Nebel at the 2017 Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous in northcentral Pennsylvania – the largest, annual gathering of traditional archers in the United States – to talk about the evolution of The Push and about the growing interest in traditional archery across the country.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • Why traditional archery is experiencing a rush of new participants.
  • Why Zirnsak and Nebel settled on the name, “The Push.”
  • How The Push is helping people get involved in traditional archery.
  • How bona fide target archery practices and principles can and should play a role in traditional archery.
  • How competition can make anyone a better bowhunter.
  • What it’s like to be a rock star in the world of traditional archery.

“Traditional archery is not a hobby. It’s not a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It kind of grabs your primordial essence.”

TradTech Earns Podium Finish at 2017 World Games

With his bow powered by TradTech limbs, John Demmer III claimed the silver medal in the Men’s Barebow Archery division at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

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(Photo by World Archery)

This is the most prestigious, podium finish ever for a TradTech product.

Held every four years, the World Games is the highest level of competition in the world for barebow archers, who consider the tournament to be their Olympics.

Only 12 archers from 10 countries around the world compete in the World Games. Spots for the represented nations were earned last year at the World Archery Field Championships in Dublin.

Demmer, of Pennsylvania, who competes with a Gillo riser and TradTech RC Carbon/Wood Recurve Limbs, earned the U.S. spot in the World Games competition by finishing in the top 10 in Dublin. Then, he won the right to represent the U.S. in Wroclaw by finishing first in Men’s Barebow at the 2017 U.S. National Field Championships in Darrington, Wash., in June.

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(Photo by World Archery)

Demmer shot well during the qualification round in the World Games, finishing in sixth place. He won his early head-to-head matches in the elimination round, and wound up in the quarterfinals, where he faced Giuseppe Seimandi of Italy – the two-time defending World Games champion.

In an upset victory, Demmer cruised past Seimandi to reach the semifinals. There, he shot against No. 2 seed, Martin Ottosson of Sweden. Ottosson jumped out to an early lead in that match, before Demmer clawed his way back with consistent shooting to take the win, earning a spot in the gold medal match.

In the finals, Demmer competed against veteran field archer Istvan Kakas of Hungary. The match went neck and neck, with the pair tied heading into the last target. There, Kakas’ accuracy was just a little better than Demmer’s, and he won the gold medal by a score of 54-51, with Demmer claiming silver.

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(Photo by World Archery)

TradTech is a division of Lancaster Archery Supply – the world’s leading archery equipment supplier.

U.S. barebow archers counting on TradTech Archery at 2017 World Games in Poland

TradTech Archery will be well represented by U.S. archers at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, in late July.

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Barebow archers John Demmer III of Pennsylvania and Jenifer Stoner of Virginia both will be shooting TradTech limbs on their Gillo risers in the competition scheduled for July 20-30.

“They’re really amazing,” Stoner said of her TradTech RC Extreme carbon/foam limbs. “They’re extremely smooth pulling, and because of that, I was able to go to a higher weight for shooting at longer distances.”

Demmer, who uses the TradTech RC carbon/wood limbs, said he likes the feel of his bow with the TradTech limbs attached, and – especially for field archery – he likes the increased arrow speed the limbs produce.

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John Demmer III

“They feel like well-built, solid, decent limbs,” he said.

For barebow archers, there is no higher level of competition than the World Games.

“This is our Olympics,” Demmer said.

Held every four years – just like the Olympics – the World Games is a multi-sport event that features many off-beat competitions, such as canoe polo, hang gliding, finswimming and tug-of-war, just to name a few.

Archery, of course, is part of the Olympics, but only recurve bows with sights and stabilizers are used to shoot at 122 cm targets from a distance of 70 meters.

In the World Games, the archery competition includes classes for archers using Olympic recurves, compound bows and barebows. And field archery is the chosen game for barebow and Olympic recurve archers. (Compound archers will compete in standard, target archery.)

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Jenifer Stoner shooting her 3-D TradTech bow.

Field archery is like 3-D archery, where archers walk a course and shoot at targets of different sizes, placed at different distances. On the first day of the World Games competition, the field archers will shoot three arrows apiece at 24 targets at unknown distances out to 50 meters. On the second day, they will shoot another course of targets, but the distances will be marked.

Only 12 archers from 10 countries can qualify for the men’s and women’s divisions of the barebow and recurve competitions. Spots for the represented nations were earned last year at the World Archery Field Championships in Dublin.

The top nine nations represented by the competing archers each earned a spot for the World Games, with the No. 1 finishing male and female archers earning two spots each for their respective countries, and the host nation –Poland – reserving two spots in each division as well.

Demmer and Stoner both shot well enough in the world championships to earn spots in the World Games for the U.S. But that didn’t guarantee they would be the ones to represent the U.S. at the World Games.

They had to earn those spots at the 2017 U.S. National Field Championships in Darrington, Wash., in June. Demmer won the men’s competition there, and Stoner won the women’s division to secure their World Games team positions.

The other members of the U.S. World Games archery team are: Heather Koehl (women’s recurve); Brady Ellison and Vic Wunderle (men’s recurve); Kris Schaff and Reo Wilde (men’s compound); and Christie Colin and Cassidy Cox (women’s compound).

Both Demmer and Stoner said they realize they will face stiff competition at the World Games. While it’s not too well known in the U.S., barebow archery is wildly popular and highly competitive across Europe. Italy, Sweden and Spain – among others – always have highly-skilled barebow archers.

Demmer said he hopes his and Stoner’s participation in the World Games will shine some light on barebow archery in the U.S. Known for wearing superhero T-shirts, colorful shorts and other wild clothing in competition, Demmer is always striving to promote barebow archery.

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John Demmer as Superman.

“It’s fun,” Demmer said. “And, as a group, barebow archers always seem to have fun together. Why wouldn’t someone want to be part of that?”

One of the aspects of barebow archery that Stoner said others might find appealing is that a few bad shots won’t necessarily take an archer out of contention in a competition.

“We’re all going to have those shots,” she said. “So you’re never really out of it. And I think when you take away that pressure to be perfect, you can be more relaxed.”

TradTech Archery is a division of Lancaster Archery Supply that produces high-quality, ILF risers and limbs for traditional and barebow archery.