Irish Barebow Championships 2016.


Valentine’s Day, the day you wear your heart on your sleeve. This year barebow archers attending the Irish Barebow Championships, showed their devotion to a form of archery, little-recognised in the  indoor target arena. Barebow is a  recognised style in World Archery field and 3D archery but with some exceptions doesn’t feature much in indoor target archery. The exceptions would include the Lancaster Classic and the Vegas Indoor shoot, both held in the US. National Governing Bodies can recognise different styles to World Archery for the different disciplines and so barebow archers get their big day out for the indoor season annually, hosted in recent years by the NUIG Archery Club in the Kingfisher Hall and organised by Conor O’ Beolain and his merry band. Many thanks to them all. I’m sure some would have preferred to have taken part.


While visually there may be more similarities between barebow and Olympic recurve (same equipment is used, just less of it), I think barebow has more in common with Compound archery (due to technique used, which will vary with individuals too, of course). A prolonged aiming period is often necessary or is demonstrated by the elite archers. Compound is a game with a very high mental component due to the necessary degree of precision needed to be competitive. Barebow has a very similar requirement for a high level of mental control. While it will always be a subject of differing opinions, barebow has been said by world-level archers to be the most difficult style of the three to master well.

For the first time, the Instinctive style was included in the competition and drew 8 more archers to the venue. To avoid misunderstanding, the definition of ‘Instinctive’ is an equipment one, not based on aiming method. Instinctive archers will be using more hunting orientated equipment or historic equipment. The aiming method……….well, that is up to the archer, so who knows for sure. It may be true instinctive, split vision, one of several forms of gapping or point-of-aim. Who cares? The shot still has to be performed perfectly the same time after time.


So, on the morning of February 14th, 30 men and women gathered to do battle in styles of archery most similar to the original.

Having missed some of the most recent events myself what was quite noticeable was how there is a new crop of up-coming barebow archers. Some of these are coming from the universities but there are also recent converts that are slightly older. The original barebow crew from when I started have now largely moved into the master category so it is a welcome sight to see the ranks being replenished. I hope that these new arrivals will continue in this form of the sport and improve the existing standard to bring us closer to the international elite of Sweden, Finland, Italy, France and the US.

Indeed, if you look at the podium places for both the men and ladies barebow contestants you will see a good mix of weathered, new-comer and university archers represented.

However, I will remind these young pups that when you look at the ranks of the best international archers, the age range is a lot more older-biased than other styles so the old dogs aren’t going away any time soon. Indeed, some of us haven’t peaked yet!


The format was a 60 arrow FITA 18 to seed the places for the following head-to-head session which decided the places. This is now the international standard but is a format I’m personally not-at-all taken with. 60 arrows should give a much better idea statistically of who’s the better archer than the much smaller number of each head-to-head competition. Anyhow……….

After the rain and drizzle of the night before cleared we were left with a bright crisp day as we arrived at the Kingfisher Hall. This can be seen in the attire of the archers as they prepared themselves and watched and watched the organisers put the final touches to their preparation.


Nice to see last year’s Ladies barebow winner back again.




Barebow archers are a small group that often compete together as everybody is well-known and shoots are very social events.


It was possible to warm up by shooting before the official pair of practice ends and this is a great boon for older archers who may need to stretch out a bit more.

Under the watchful eye of our judge, Barry Brophy, twenty ends of three arrows were quickly dispatched in two lots of ten with a break in-between.


A break for lunch followed by another chance to warm up as other groups went through their head to head rounds. In the end there can be only three and the head-to-heads quickly reduced the number of archers to the top four. Once the top two were decided they fought it out for the gold and silver medal while the other two shot it out for the bronze medal.











Congratulations to all the medal winners, particularly the gold medal winners, Terry Dempsey who represented Ireland in last years World 3D Championships and Ann Marie Murray a relative newcomer to the art who showed great composure under pressure.

Thanks to NUIG Archery Club and Judge Barry Brophy for a smoothly run event.


Full results are available here.











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