Archery Technique – Gap Shooting and Point of Aim

While many techniques are available to the barebow archer, and one of the most common is ‘point of aim’ or ‘gap’ shooting. Generally with gap shooting the archer shoots with three fingers beneath the knock, then the arrow is drawn back with the middle finger anchoring on the corner of the mouth. Anchoring on the face then makes it easier to aim using the tip of the arrow (hence point of aim). The archer then learns over time what gap to leave between the arrow point and the gold at full draw at each distance.

As with every technique, there are pro’s and con’s, and some important things to remember.

  • It’s simple. Draw back, anchor, aim release. This makes it good for beginners as it allows the coach to focus on only a few important things.
  • When done properly the technique is fairly sturdy. By sturdy I mean that anchoring against the corner of your mouth is a solid, generally unchanging anchor point… unless you move your face or talk during the shot.
  • Anchoring on the face allows you to better see down the arrow shaft (compared to anchoring on your chin), making aiming easier.

It can however cause a number of problems:

  • I feel that with only one anchor point, it can put a lot of pressure on your release. If you shoot this way try to work on making your release as smooth as possible.
  • With three fingers round the string there can be a danger of ‘fist gripping’. This is where the archer, voluntarily or not, curls his fingers around the string when drawing the bow. Again, this makes it more difficult to achieve a smooth release, so if in doubt try to make sure you shoot with the string in the first gap in your fingers.

Related to this, anchoring too strongly can lead to you shooting ‘through your face’. This is where you over-zealously anchor on your mouth, leading the string to brush past your mouth, cheek or nose on release. Done repeatedly this is painful. If you find yourself doing this, you might be over-bowing yourself. See how you get on with a lighter poundage.

In conclusion…

Overall though I like this technique. If you shoot using a tab, get a tab you are comfortable with (I use a barebow tab cut out of leather with a hole for my middle finger). And as always, it doesn’t matter if you know exactly what gap you need to be shooting if you don’t shoot with good back-tension, so try to get your technique right before worrying too much about the gap.