Recurve Barebow Shots Up- and Downhill (Part 2)

This topic is burgeoning. I got an email from another Barebow Recurve archer on a similar topic while writing the last post and there are quite a few loose ends that still need to be tied up here. Also, since I pointed out that the cut chart I included in the last post was a “simplified one” somebody just had to see one that wasn’t simplified. So, let’s get that out of the way right now.

This chart includes the fact that on downhill shots, gravity is accelerating the arrows making their arcs flatter and on uphill shots gravity is decelerating the arrows making their arcs more pronounced. For example: a 50 m shot at an angle of 35° uphill would be shot as if it were a 42.3 m shot but if that angle were downhill it would shot as if it were 39.8 m. Note A 35 degree shot is quite extreme by American standards but not so much by European standards. (Europeans like shots you have to tie a rope around your waist so you don’t fall off of the cliff as you shoot from it.) The “simplified chart” has this shot at 41 m which would be a 1 m error either way, not a lot to worry about.

Note that the two charts are arranged differently: one has degrees vertically, the other horizontally. If you thought I would remake one of these for consistencies sake a blog that doesn’t make me a dime, you need to think again.

Onward and Upward
Stringwalking in Barebow makes things different, but the physics of gravity isn’t one of the differences. The simplified cut chart gives a reasonable number for the crawl setting for an “angled” shot. Using the example above, a 50 m shot at a 35° angle (uphill or downhill) should be attempted with whatever anchor and crawl you would use for a 41 m shot.

This is a starting point! You really need to check these things out. For one, when you take a crawl, you are detuning your bow substantially. Different crawls represent different tunes, in effect. This is why tuning for Barebow is different from tuning for Olympic recurve. Even using a “three fingers under” string grip requires a different tiller setting than the more typical Mediterranean string grip (one over, two under).

The more extensive chart is not needed unless your groups compare to those of Compound Unlimited archers, but those “cut distances” need to be checked. (Do I need to say it again?) The second reason they need to be checked carefully is anything greater than a very shallow angle for a shot can distort the archer’s form resulting in quite varied results (depending on the amount of distortion).

There are a number of compensations that Barebow Recurve archers make for these shots. One of those is to open their stance greatly for downhill shots and close them greatly for uphill shots. The open/downhill posture makes room for the bottom limb to go between the legs, instead of hitting the forward leg if a square stance were employed. Opening your stance shortens your draw length which actually helps with those downhill shots (shorter draws make arrows fall “short” which is what we want), but they also make shots more variable and, hence, more difficult. The ideal is keeping your upper body geometry consistent from shot to shot, but this is virtually impossible at higher angles of launch. The net effect of this distortion of the full draw position is to shorten the draw. By using a very closed stance on those difficult uphill shots, the closed stance lengthens the draw to compensate for the draw shortening described above, making the archer more consistent. (If you do not understand this effect, take a very light drawing bow and at full draw tilt up- and downhill and see what happens to your draw length. (You may need a helper to watch your arrow point or set up a video camera.) Hold the arrow level, again at full draw, and swing left and right (in effect changing to open and closed stances). (Go as far as you can.) Do these things, see what happens, they are more explicative than any thousand words you could read!


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

3 responses to “Recurve Barebow Shots Up- and Downhill (Part 2)

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    There is more to this story than just “cut charts”. A field shooter needs to learn how they personally respond to the varied footing and angles related to uphill and downhill shooting. Of course you also need to learn how YOU react to downhill and side hill (toes up or toes down), Uphill and sidehill (toes up or toes down) shooting stances/positions! The ONLY way to learn this is by doing it. Slant boards have been a common way of creating your own means of learning what changes with YOU in relation to these conditions.
    I had the fortune of shooting on field/hunter courses atop Casper Mountain in Wyoming. The ranges were laid out in 28 target sets, in other words, target #14 was as far from the club-house as you would get, then you crawled back out for the final 14. There is a 1,400′ change in elevation between targets #1 and #14, along with sidehll conditions. Add to this the wind element, and it became quite interesting.
    There is a 40 yard target (#2) on the field course that has flat footing, but is steeply and level uphill. Whether or not your are shooting barebow, string walking, or compound bow, release or fingers, I had to cut the target 5 yards…unless I wanted to shoot 3’s (old target face). Two elements involved here: 1. Yes, it was a cut target, but the other issue is that I’m not a tall person. Most of the other shooters I shot with were much taller than I and only “cut” this target by about 2-3 yards. Why? I came to the conclusion that because I was so short, I was literally pushing the bow right out the top as I executed the shot, thus “adding yardage” to the shot.
    #5 target was a 65 yard downhill, but not very steep and the hill slanted from right to left. The stance for a left handed shooter was toes down. However, even when you bubbled into the hill as you drew the bow, and the target was not steep downhill, if you shot the target for a cut of 2 yards, you were going to shoot a high “3” at 1 or two o-clock! The arrow was drifting to the right and shooting high. The distance was properly measured and accurate.
    Problem? About 3/4 of the way down the target lane, the trees opened up and there was a wide open section or “wallow” that allowed the wind free rein. There was a natural air current that would drift your arrow to the right and high on this particular target. The harder the wind…the worse the drift. The shooting position was flat and protected from any wind as was most of the shooting lane.
    Cut charts are handy, yes, BUT, if you don’t know how YOU handle odd-ball stances, shooting positions and target angles, a cut chart may get you the “yardage” (maybe), but it cannot cover how YOU react based upon the odd ball body positioning and the way you draw back the bow under these varying circumstances.
    As was mentioned, those “cut charts” are a nice starting point and guide…but relying on them? Nope.
    Another thing to do is to practice by intentionally mis-setting your site in 1/2 yard increments and shoot for effect so that you learn how much a 1/2 yard, 1 yard, 1.5 yard mis-set will move your impact point for YOUR bow. Then you also do the same with the bubble for left and right.
    ALWAYS set up to draw the bow with the top limb into the sidehill toes up or toes down. NORMALLY the arrow is going to impact on the downhill side as most shooters induce torque that way on their side hill shots. How much? Gotta practice that sidehill stuff and the toes up or toes down situations and learn what it does to you.
    Same goes with shooting in the wind. BIG difference in how you shoot based upon whether the wind is blowing from left to right or right to left. ESPECIALLY with a hinge release or with a clicker! IF right handed and the wind is left to right, the shot is going to be tougher and slower to “break” or the clicker slower to go off. If the wind is right to left, then the release will break more quickly or the clicker will go off a bit easier. You learn this by practicing in the wind at every opportunity.
    MOST shooters avoid going out to practice if it is windy; all they think about is score under ideal conditions….which rarely exist.
    When crawling the string shooting barebow, detuning the bow is bad enough based upon your crawl, but add to this not knowing how YOU react to given conditions can really put an even bigger dent in your scores and confidence.
    “ProActive Archery” involves intentionally practicing for WHEN things turn to crap and being prepared for it ahead of time. You have to know your own limitations and you have to know how YOU react and how YOUR equipment shoots based upon the conditions. You also need to know how to “read” a target based upon arrow holes and paying attention to those around you and those in front of you on the field/hunter courses. Reading the holes in the target can go a long ways into telling you a LOT about how a given target “shoots.” Knowing how far you will miss with a mis-set sight and transposing this to those holes in the target can save you a bundle of points.
    It is pretty obvious that the “cut chart” isn’t working if there are a ton of holes at 4 o’clock in the 4 ring, outer 4 ring or even the 3 right on a downhill target. How much should be readable by you based upon knowledge of YOUR equipment and how you react to that type of target/miss pattern.


    • Tom, they have to start somewhere! ;o)

      On Thu, May 11, 2017 at 5:37 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



      • Tom Dorigatti

        BINGO. Today’s shooters really have a lot of extra advantages due to the computerized apps for just about everything and more reliable equipment and string materials.
        That being said, relying on the gadgetry often costs shooters dearly because they often don’t learn the basics and attentive details.


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