Traditional Bow:Compound Bow::Golf Club:Rifle or Traditional Bow as the “Trick Shooting” of Bow

Posted on November 24, 2011


Saturday, after lunch, I went out with my friend, and two of his children to practice traditional bow. He lent me a 45 pound traditional recurve bow. At first, I tried shooting it like my Z7…that didn’t work too well.

As someone fairly new to bow, I ignorantly assumed that “bows are bows.” Sure, some bows would be harder to shoot well, more accurate, more powerful, quieter, etc. but I basically assumed that all bows were used in the same manner. I was pretty wrong. I’d spent all my time shooting modern recurve and compound . They are fairly similar. The absense of let-off means that you don’t spend much time “aiming” a recurve, but the bow has a front sight, and, with a repeatable index, the arrows will basically go the same place every shot. A modern compound bow with a rear peep aims almost exactly like a rifle. You center the front sight pin on the target, place the pin inside the center of the rear peep, ensure your natural point of aim is correct, then release the shot without disturbing the alignment of the sights.

A typical traditional bow:
Look Ma, no sights

Shooting traditional bow is a lot like a swinging a golf club. A traditional bow doesn’t have sights, hence the name “barebow.” Basically, by holding the bow arm in a consistent position and drawing the bow the same way every time, the arrows will go in more or less the same spot. Knowing where “that” spot is requires trial and error. Once the archer has practiced with a particular bow quite a bit, he or she can aim by positioning their body to adjust where arrow will fall. This is no different from a golfer changing food position to direct the ball in a particular direction.

Because a traditional bow must be practiced until the muscle-memory is perfect and the motion is instinctive, the technique is unsurprisingly called, “instinctive aiming.”

After some time, I was capable of making the arrows go more or less where I wanted at 15 yards. I didn’t try much beyond that, as it would have been a faux pas to lose my friend’s arrows.

Traditional bow is certainly an interesting skill but it strikes me a bit like mastering trick shooting. Trick shooters practice a limited range of tricks and, when everything is correct, deliver that trick on demand. For example, check out Bob Munden, the fastest gun alive:
Bob Munden demonstrating world beating trick shots

He could stand and pop balloons with his single action revolver all day long as long as they were in a configuration he’d practiced. Compare that skill to the skills of Jerry Miculek:
Jerry Miculek firing twelve shots from a revolver in 2.99 seconds

Jerry Miculek is not quite as fast as Bob Munden, but using his sights, he can shoot any course of fire you put in front of him.

Jerry shooting a semi-auto handgun, shotgun, and AR15 in the same stage:

I hear he’s also a crack shot with a bolt action.

He’s like the Honey Badger of shooters, he just doesn’t give a shit. If it has sights, and shoots bullets, Jerry Miculek is going to stand and deliver with it.

I’d rather be Jerry Miculek than Bob Munden.


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Posted in: Training