NFAA Traditional takes a 12 inch stab

I havent confirmed this with the NFAA but the word on the street is that the NFAA  will be allowing a 12 inch stabilizer in the Traditional class, my understanding is that this will come into effect in June of this year.

12 inch stabilizerI have heard some mixed views on this rule change:

Some say it’s about time since archers were using weighted quivers on their bows to provide the same/similar effect as a stabilizer and if that was allowed that there was some hypocrisy in not allowing a short stabilizer.

There are the ardent traditionalists to which the essence of the trad class was that it was a simple bow with nothing on it and a this is more like a 12 inch stab in the heart.

There is the World Archery/FITA crowd who like the FITA barebow rule that a bow unstrung must pass through a 12.2 cm circle and as long as it does that you can do whatever you please and are frustrated with different rules from different organizations which make you have to own 16 bows all set up differently to meet whatever the latest code is.

There are also the folks that just want to shoot their arrows and don’t  need to get into a big brouhaha over it. “Just tell me the new rule so I can make the changes and shoot the lights out”.  Seems to be the path of acceptance.

As for me I’m middle of the road with liking the FITA rules and wishing the NFAA was closer to their barebow class and accepting whatever comes. I live in NFAA land, so will just adapt but I really dig the freedom I see in the FITA rules.

Let me know if you have an opinion on this subject.

The Barebow

Often when the word barebow comes up we imagine a bow that is akin to the word. Meaning a bow that is bare. Many imagine a wooden bow with not a thing on it. Naked, you might say, or as the Italians say il arco nudo.

In competitive circles, particularly in Europe where shooting the barebow classes is more popular than here in the US,  a dedicated barebow is more often than not an aluminum riser complete with elevated rest and plunger that resembles a modern Olympic bow.

What makes them different? Well to answer that we must first regress and get into rules and organizations a bit. Just a bit.. As getting into this deeply can be an exercise of frustration.

There are many governing archery bodies like FITAIFAA, and NFAA, their rules for barebows differ but for the most part they revolve around some basic elements of this type of archery.

The most important, the one everyone agrees with and the distinguishing feature between this type of archery and others is that we don’t use sights. None, nada, zilch, no sights or anything that could be used as a reference to aim, no marks of any sort, or anything protruding into  the sight window to act as a reference to help you hit the target.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t aiming methods it just means that the bow is in it’s birthday suit and can’t help you in that regard.

Another element of this type of archery, which we do share with other classes,  is that this is a fingers deal. Releases of any sort are a no, no. It is fingers on the string, baby. Tabs, gloves or a chew strap if you are impaired are accepted.

That is the simple part, after that it can get confusing depending on class and organization. What the different classes tend to regulate beyond the above are the accessories we add to our bows, such as arrowrests, drawchecks, counterweights and stabilizers.

For the purposes of this blog entry what you need to know is that there are archery organizations which limit or don’t allow the use of stabilizers in the barebow classes and because of this barebow design differs from Olympic bow design.

An archer shooting a sighted Olympic bow in the appropriate class can add any number of stabilizers at various lengths, angles, directions and weight, because of this Olympic risers tend to be lighter, the expectation is that the archer will customize the bow getting to the weight and stabilizer arrangement that is optimum and usually most forgiving for them.

Olympic bows set up with stabilizers

Olympic bows set up with sights and various stabilizers

Barebow shooters (depending on class & organization) don’t have this option. they can’t take advantage of the benefits of stabilizers so rely on design and weight  to create a balanced and stable shooting platform that is more forgiving at release than a lighter Olympic bow shot bare would be.

Bernardini Nilo weight riser weights

Bernardini Nilo with integral riser weights added and a Spigarelli weight added to the lower stabilizer bushing. – Photo by Nathan W Lediard

Olympic bows shot without a stabilizer or counterbalance will typically have the upper limb tip back towards the archers head at release. Which is accepted by some but a bit annoying for most.  To compensate for this, barebow design shifts the riser weight and usually allows you to add weight to the lower part of the riser body.

Spigarelli Barebow weight mounted on the lower riser.

Spigarelli Barebow weight mounted on the lower riser, the Allen head fastener keeps it in place.

Weight module on a Spigarelli Barebow, the weight can be set flush or proud of the riser body.

Another view of the weight system of this Spigarelli Barebow.

Innovative riser design has also changed the way mass/weight is distributed in barebows as well as how those elements affect stiffness and vibration reduction, the Green Horn Sirius and the Stolid Bull Black Thunder are good examples of this.

Green Horn Sirius 25 inch riser

Green Horn Sirius riser

Stolid Bull - Black Thunder - Photo by Nathan W Leidard

Stolid Bull – Black Thunder – Photo by Nathan W Leidard

Italian archery companies have created some of the world’s best known barebows such as Bernardini, Best and Spigarelli. Below are images of some of their excellent work.

Best Moon with weights

Best Moon with integral riser weights, custom Jager grip, and a Spigarelli weight in the main stabilizer bushing.

Bernardini Nilo

Bernardini Nilo – Photo by Nathan W Lediard

Spigarelli Barebow

Spigarelli Barebow- Photo by author

As far as competitive barebows made on this side of the pond the bow that comes to mind is the recently introduced TR-7 riser made by Sky Archery. I had a brief conversation with Jim Belcher, owner of Sky Archery,  to get the skinny on it as the word on the street is that this very appealing riser could be configured as a barebow.

Sky TR-7 25 inch riser

Sky TR-7 25 inch riser

Jim confirmed that in fact it could. You  remove the Mathews harmonic damper at the bottom and insert a custom1/4 pound weight which balances the bow in hand.

If you’d like more weight he also has a 5/8ths pound weight that can be used. This coupled with Sky limbs should make for a heck of a competitive bow. Jim mentioned that many top shooters are lining up for one to include Michelle Frangilli, Italian Gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics.

I would finish by saying that if you want to shoot barebow competitively and what you already have at your disposal is an Olympic ILF riser and you’d like to balance it, you can experiment by adding weight to the stabilizer bushings or adding custom weights to the riser and be on your way. Many top barebow shooters prefer an Olympic bow and do just this.

Spigarelli weights which are popular with barebow shooters can be had from Arco Sport Spigarelli in Italy,  Lancaster Archery in the US, and Alternative Sporting Services in the UK or go to your local shop which can order them in for you if they don’t have them on the shelf.



Archery at Bowdoinham’s Ice and Smelt Festival

My town has an annual event called the Ice and Smelt Festival, there are many events and contests some of which include the Parade of Smelts, a best beard competition, bonfire and luminaries.

Ice fishing shacks on the Cathance River, Bowdoinham

Ice fishing shacks on the Cathance River, Bowdoinham

The smelt festival is derived from the tradition of ice fishing in shacks on the Cathance river and Merrymeeting bay that are popular in our town. There is also an archery event, which is organized by long time archer Carol Dyer.

Sue Dyer watches as Susan Brown takes a shot at the "giant smelt"

Carol Dyer watches as local resident Susan Brown takes a shot at the “giant smelt”

Carol is an active member of Maine Traditional Archers and was generous in giving some of her time to organize and help many kids and adults alike give archery a go despite the cold, cold temps on Saturday.


Chris Edwards gives his son Caleb a hand.


Caleb reigns triumphant over the festival smelt.

Many families and kids lined up to give archery a try.

Many families and kids lined up to give archery a try.

P1020597It was great to see an event like this in our small town, many thanks to Carol Dyer for braving the cold and lighting up kids eyes as they released their first arrows also thanks to the Merrymeeting Arts Center for the Smelt Festival!