How to Aim a Bow Without Sights

Image by: J&S Shoot Photography

Traditional archery has no need to resort to sights or stabilizers in order to ensure the perfect shot. Fortunately, there are numerous methods and styles of shooting to try when opting to refine your skill and aim without a sight.

After all, as one grows in their archery ability the urge to shoot without a sight also increases.

Shooting with a recurve bow is far better without a sight as well, aiding your accuracy through promoting intuitive shooting.

Here we’ll be taking you through a look at the best aiming techniques, showing you how to aim a bow without sights, stabilizers or other shooting aids.

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Gap Shooting

As one of the most popular techniques for hunters, gap shooting is a technique which works just as accurately in competition.

The flight path of any given arrow launched is anything but straight; in actual fact its trajectory is elliptical without a smooth arch.

Gap shooting requires the archer to fin the arc of the trajectory of their bow and compensate for it.

When gap shooting, your arrow is released with an intentional arch instead of being fired with force in a relatively straight direction.

Your bow setup, arrow weight and fletching, and your draw strength all affect the distance which your shot will travel before its starts its download plummet.

Longer arrows with a heavyweight are always best for gap shooting as they reduce your gap granting you longer range.

How to Start Gap Shooting

1. Begin at ten yards from your target (the average dead-on point-of-aim for most)

2. Aim the tip of your arrow at the center of the bullseye

3. Shoot three arrows in total always aiming at the same center point on your target

4. Measure and record your results from your first round of shooting establishing your first gap

5. Repeat the process at fifteen yards, twenty yards or any other range of distances you wish to perfect, keeping track of how high or how low your arrow is from the bullseye

6. Adjust as is necessary, aiming higher or lower as is necessary to adjust the fall of your arrow

String Walking

String walking is one of the more traditional means of aiming a bow without sights. This method uses your arrow tip to aim, shifting its point into a sight by taking hold of your bowstring at various locations.

The position grasped changes the way that your target is seen, with shifts in your grip changing the flight of the arrow. A grip closer to the nock causes your shot to be released higher while a lower grip further down your bowstring makes it hit lower.

Most string walking shooters resort to etched markers which serve as consistent references granting high accuracy.

A great deal of trial and error is needed to determine your ‘sweet spot’ but once you’ve found it you’ll be capable of high accuracy over long distances.

All that you adjust to change your shot is the rear tilt relative to the distance you are shooting and your given accuracy.

How to Start String Walking

1. Start with your fingers quite far down the knock (a three-finger spacing is generally a good starting point)

2. Bring yourself to a full draw aiming at your bullseye with the point of your arrow

3. Observe the slope of your arrow and take your shot gauging your accuracy

4. Adjust the distance beneath the knock (termed the ‘cramp’) to either shorter or longer depending on where your shot hit

5. Note the spacing between your anchors once you have reached consistent accuracy over any required distance

Split-vision/Indirect Instinctive Aiming

Almost all archers agree that split-vision shooting is one of most fun ways to aim a bow without sights.

Also known as ‘indirect instinctive aiming,’ consistent accuracy will take dedicated effort but once you have imprinted this method as second nature, you’ll find that your shots are not only spot on but quick as well.

The process of learning how to split vision shoot is not something that can be rushed but once the archer’s muscle memory has entrained the technique he or she can aim instinctively without a sight at even long distances over twenty yards.

Without needing to focus consciously the archer can apply other performance-enhancing fundamentals.

How to Begin Split-vision/Indirect Instinctive Aiming

1. Assume your stance and bring your bow to a full draw

2. Focus on your arrow – the entire arrow not just the tip – with one eye in your peripheral vision whilst maintaining a focal point (your imaginary target) at a slight distance above the bullseye or your desired mark

3. Make any adjustments to the direction of your arrow in peripheral vision only, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by aiming

4. As your hold focus on your imaginary target ensure for a split-second that your tip is set to hit this point and release your shot

5. Shift your imaginary aiming target higher or lower as is necessary always making sure to release from a full draw

Perfecting Your Barebow Archery

Many seasoned shooters swear by instinctive shooting over all other techniques. By leaving all aiming conditions and actions to the unconscious, you are left shooting at exactly where you are looking.

All this method needs is practice, hand-eye coordination and firm control over your mind and focus. Split-vision shooting often evolves into an intuitive, instinctive act without directly intending to do so.

By repeating any action of aiming a bow with sites you will eventually make yourself conscious enough of the process, technique and stance needed to shoot on time every time without any extended shot preparation.

If you decide to practice instinctive shooting instead of a fixed, step-by-step method, make sure that you fire multiple shots in varying conditions and over numerous distances.

You’ll soon find that your arm is raised or lowered automatically without you needing to consciously change position.

It is generally best to try out a few different methods of aiming before extensive practice.

The best way to aim a bow without sights is the way which feels most comfortable to you as an individual.

Be sure to explore all your options.

About Brad Harris