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Improve Your Game – How to Set Up a Barebow

November 23rd 2020
Sophie Meering

In this Improve Your Game, Tom Williams and Andrew Barham explain how to do a Barebow set up.

Bow Weights

Set up is simple enough, but depends on how you want to shoot. There are some compromises to be made for varying distances, such as field or 3D, but whatever works…works!

Without stabilisers the behaviour of the bow as you release the arrow will tend to flip the top limb toward your head.

Yes, you do get bonked on the head by the top limb.

We would counteract this with the addition of a small weight attached where you would normally put your stabilizer bar. The Rules of World Archery mean that the unstrung bow must pass through a ring that measures only 12.2cm in diameter.

A small, round weight fits into these rules perfectly. The idea is when you release the arrow, rather than the bow falling away from you as you it would with a full recurve, and the bow will stay upright and jump forward an inch or so in your hand. This ensures clean arrow flight with no contact with the bow.

Again, the actual weight depends on how comfortable you feel. You don’t want to make the bow too heavy! The optimal weight would often be in the region of 300g. Sometimes more, sometimes less. All depending on what feels best for you. Remember, you’re looking to get the bow to be straight up and down when balanced on the throat of the grip.

After 144 Arrows you don’t want your bow arm to be finished! Building strength is all a part and parcel with archery. But it’s not a strongman competition. We’re shooting Barebow after all, not Longbow! It’s important you feel comfortable and at one with your equipment.

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Tiller

Tiller is, as always, an important aspect of an efficient bow. However, when shooting Barebow, the differences in how you choose to aim and manipulate the string will dictate the best tiller for you. As an Instinctive Archer I prefer to use a neutral tiller. This is because I use a Mediterranean grip and the same anchor point regardless of where I may be aiming.

Should you choose to shoot three-under and use the dark art of Stringwalking you may prefer a positive tiller. This is where the strength of the top limb is greater than that of the bottom limb. The further down the string you need to stringwalk or “crawl”, then the more you would need to put on the top limb. All this said, it is always going to be a compromise. You should set your tiller for your best distance.

When shooting in a field competition you would be shooting at all distances and finding the “perfect” tune for every target is near impossible. Find the best compromise that gives you the best possible result, and learn to adjust your shot to allow for the changes in arrow flight.

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest you use will also make significant changes to the Arrow’s flight. There are many types of rest available, but not all of them are the best for Barebow. The first option is also the cheapest, and could be described as one of the best! The old favourite is the Hoyt Super Rest. This is one of the oldest types of stick on rest available and can still be found in use on the equipment list of Olympic Archers to this day.

The lightweight construction and flexibility of the Hoyt Super Rest would make it my first recommendation for anyone choosing to start shooting Barebow. I would suggest staying away from the stick on wire rests. These types can break very easily and bend out of shape when Stringwalking and could cause more frustration than satisfaction.

Personally, I use a Spigarelli wrap around rest. Wrap around rests are very popular within all disciplines and come very highly recommended due to their strength and durability. The only downside with these comes when stringwalking, particularly when shooting closer distances. The angle of the arrow shaft will project the arrow down through the gap between the plunger and the wire. You won’t get good clearance, but they are still very effective.

The best alternative for stringwalkers is a similar type of wrap around rest designed specifically for use by Barebow archers. Instead of shooting along the line of the wire, this rest is designed with the wire at a right angle to the bow. Regardless of the angle of the arrow, the shaft is always supported in the same position. The great thing about these rests is they are designed to drop away as the arrow is released.

This does take a little time and patience to tune the rest to properly drop away, but is absolutely 100% the cleanest shot you can get. Unfortunately the best available dropaway rest is the Zniper, which is quite costly at around £70ish, so only consider forking out for one if you feel Barebow is something you wish to pursue. There are cheaper versions available, but they are not as efficient or as reliable. But, as I mentioned earlier, the Hoyt Super Rest will give you just as efficient results at a fraction of the cost.

Plunger Button

I would always recommend using a plunger when shooting Barebow. The plunger will counter the Archers Paradox and straighten the flight of the arrow as it leaves the bow. Is there a special Barebow specific plunger to consider? Well, no. Not at all.

The favourite plunger button of most archers is the Shibuya DX button. Very reasonably priced and excellent for what it needs to do. The only thing you don’t get from the Shibuya is the micro-click adjustment. This is not as important as it might be for a full Olympic setup, it might be useful for a more experienced Barebow archer when it comes to making slight changes depending on the distance being shot. But, nothing a slight adjustment in your aim can’t fix!

Arrow Choice

Arrow choice is where the biggest decisions can make the biggest differences. Obviously you are limited by your own budget, but careful consideration of where you choose to invest your arrow money should be given.

I cannot effectively recommend one good type of Arrow shaft. I use the old favourite Easton ACC’s. For me, these are great arrows! They fly effectively at all distances and have a good weight for giving a near point-on aim depending on which craw you choose to use (I will cover aiming shortly, bear with me).

If you find yourself with a good arrow budget, you might want to get different arrows for different distances. This is allowed in competition! I know some of the best Barebow archers in the country who would use lighter arrows for long distance, medium weight arrows for mid distances and heavier aluminium arrows for closer distances.

There is no denying the results these guys get from changing arrows throughout a tournament, and there are some impressive results to be had! In order to make this work you would need to have several plunger buttons to change when changing arrows, so cost is always going to be an issue. I have three buttons set up for different shafts depending on whether I am shooting indoors or out and whatever distances I may be shooting.

For example, when shooting a Gents WA1440, I use my ACC’s for 90m and 70m and then change to the heavier Easton Legacy 2117 aluminium shafts with 200gn points and 4” feathers for 50m and 30m. I recommend playing with different shafts and point weights to find the best for you. But I must stress that this is personal preference and by no means the golden rule of Barebow. One of the finest archers in my County uses Easton ACE’s throughout, regardless of the round he’s shooting, or whether he’s shooting indoor or out.

One question I do get asked quite a lot is: “what sort of poundage should I be shooting?”

This is not as silly a question as it might at first appear. As opposed to Recurve, where the higher the poundage the flatter the arrow flight, with Barebow this is not always the case, and going too high could be detrimental when it comes to aiming.

That said, I can comfortably reach 100yds with a 22lb bow, so there is no such thing as too weak or too strong. If someone says to you that they cannot reach 100yds, it is a confidence issue. Not an equipment issue. All the same I do have an opinion on the subject which deserves some thought when deciding what your ideal bow weight should be.

Experience has shown me that, in order to get a good point-on aim, a bow that weighs between 35lb and 40lb off the fingers is indeed the optimum choice. I personally use 40lbs. But again, and I cannot stress this enough, Barebow is absolutely all about personal preference.

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