Traditional archery aiming techniques

In true traditional archery, the bow – recurve or longbow – doesn’t have a sight for aiming. But the archer still has to hit what he or she is aiming at. So how do you do that?

In this video, Matt Zirnsak – a die-hard traditional archer who produced a series of films and does a podcast all under the name “The Push Archery” – demonstrates three common techniques for aiming a traditional bow.

He runs through instinctive shooting, which involves staring at the spot you want to hit and then adjusting your bow to make the arrow hit that spot. This technique requires lots of practice so you can learn how to hold the bow to get the arrow to hit your aiming point at a variety of distances.

Then he talks about “split vision aiming.” Using this technique, Zirnsak is aware of where his arrow tip is in relation to the target, but he doesn’t focus solely on it. He uses his instincts to guide him in aiming, while making sure his alignment is correct, based on the location of his arrow point – thus splitting his vision between the target and his arrow point.

Finally, Zirnsak talks about “hard dedicated aiming,” which is the technique he uses. Zirnsak focus on his arrow tip, placing it directly on the target spot he wants to hit. Then, depending on the distance to the target, he moves his tab down the bowstring before drawing.

Moving the tab up and down the string is called “string walking.” This changes the pitch of the arrow for shooting. Generally, the farther below the arrow an archer moves the tab, the closer the target is. But his arrow tip is always on the aiming spot.

That’s Zirnsak’s technique for target shooting, When he’s hunting, he has a spot marked on his string that indicates where he should place his tab to shoot 25 yards. He anchors his tab there no matter what distance a game animal might be, but he adjusts his arrow tip up or down, depending on the distance. By having a fixed reference point, he doesn’t have to fumble around – possibly in poor light – trying to string walk to the exact spot that matches the target distance.