The minute you buy a cellphone or computer, you know a newer, better model is already on the market. Technology advances in the blink of an eye, and most consumers must own the latest and greatest products.
In archery, technological advancements keep making bows faster, and accessories more reliable and efficient. Each improvement boosts accuracy and draws more people into the sport.
Meanwhile, some archers choose to keep things simple.
Traditional archery – also known as “trad” – attracts archers who prefer basic “stick” bows, wooden-shaft arrows and other gear from bygone eras. Even so, they can choose from a variety of traditional bows, ranging from homemade all-wooden bows to modern trad bows built with carbon fibers, phenolic resins and fiberglass laminates. Most trad archers shoot without sights, stabilizers or other aids.
Barebow archery bridges the gap between traditional bows and modern Olympic recurves. Barebows feature risers made from aluminum or carbon fibers, and top archers often use the same limbs preferred by Olympic athletes. Barebow archers also use accessories like weights, elevated rests and cushion plungers.
“People are still fascinated by traditional archery, even if they’ve never tried it,” said John Wert, director of TradTech Archery, a division of Lancaster Archery Supply. Wert helps introduce people to traditional archery. He has been shooting trad since the 1980s. He grew up rifle hunting with his father, but felt drawn to archery.
He said his father kept a wooden bow on the wall, and it captivated his interest as a boy. “While I was learning the skills involved with bowhunting and hunting, and being successful with a compound bow for a few years, in the back of my mind I wanted to do it with a wooden traditional bow,” Wert said.
Wert’s neighbors taught him bowhunting’s basics, and he also learned by reading books by G. Fred Asbell. For Wert, traditional archery is about time spent in the woods hunting.
“Traditional bowhunting is just one step closer,” he said. “You have to be 15 to 20 yards for most people with a traditional bow. You have to be so close that it feels as if the animal should sense your presence. They can smell you and almost feel you. That’s what’s exciting and also difficult about bowhunting, and traditional bowhunting, specifically.”
Shooting barebow adds a level of difficulty in competition. These archers use fieldcraft, repetition and skillful techniques to master field archery, according to “5 Things You Should Know About Barebow,” an article by World Archery. Barebow archers compete in indoor, 3-D and outdoor events. Because they use few accessories, barebow archers must fully understand their draw technique to shoot accurately.
The passion to shoot barebow and traditional archery differs by archer. It’s all about the challenge for some, while others enjoy getting back to archery’s basics. “Inherently, barebow and traditional archery are the most beautiful forms of archery,” Wert said. “As long as archery exists, people will admire archery in its simplest and most beautiful forms.”
To learn traditional or barebow archery, archers should visit a local archery shop. Wert said it’s important to seek an expert who can help you choose the right equipment and teach you the proper techniques.
Whether someone shoots an old wooden bow or the latest compound bow, Wert encourages everyone to fully embrace the sport. “Make sure the way you’re doing it is what makes you most happy,” he said. “Be respectful of our differences, and just enjoy archery for the reasons you enjoy it.”