What is the difference between barebow and traditional type bows?

Barebow and traditional bows are two different types of bow. They have different equipment, techniques, and purposes. Some people argue that one is better than the other, but in the end, it all comes down to personal preference. So, which style is right for you? Let's take a look at the differences between barebow and traditional archery to help you decide.


1. Definition of all the types of bows

2. The history of the barebow and traditional bow types

3. The benefits of using a barebow or traditional bow type

4. How to choose the right barebow or traditional bow type for you

5. Recommended resources for further learning about Barebow and Traditional Bow Types

Types Of Bows

  • Freestyle limited/unlimited: any type of bow shot with any sight and without/with a release aid.

  • Bowhunter recurve/compound: any recurve/compound shot without sight or stabilizer, without string- and face-walking.

  • Barebow recurve/compound: any recurve/compound shot without sight and at maximum only one stabilizer, measuring up to 12 inches in length with string- and face-walking.

  • Modern longbow: any non-recurved bow (i.e. limb gets closer to the string the farther along the limb you go) made from any material (including fiberglass and carbon) shot without a sight, stabilizer or string- and face-walking.

  • Modern traditional: any recurve bow made from any material (including fiberglass and carbon) shot without a sight, stabilizer or string- and face-walking.

  • Traditional: any all-wood bow shot without a sight, stabilizer or string- and face-walking

The History Of The Barebow And Traditional Bow

Imagine a world where you can enjoy shooting bows without having to think of the complications that come with them. They're easy and fun, so much like pop culture's favorite bow designs! In this day in age when people are looking for something familiar or basic they know will work well enough to just go grab it and shoot it without thinking twice, it makes sense why these types of bow types would be sought out by recreational archers that want a challenge.

In Europe, the historical bow is an all-wood bow with a design based on a pre-1900s bow. A longbow is any bow that, when strung, makes a D-shape (i.e. the limb gets closer to the string the farther up the bow you go). Recurve/compound freestyle limited/unlimited are recurved and compound bows with as many accessories as you can fit (limited not being allowed a release aid). Barebow is every category in between recurve and compound bows without a sight (but with a stabilizer), fiberglass/carbon horse bows, reflex-deflex bows. Usually longbow and historical make up the traditional category.

Barebow has evolved over time and gets confused with being called traditional archery when it is not traditional archery, it is barebow archery. Depending on where you live there are different definitions between the two. We want to set the standard and clear up the confusion. Now NFAA (National Field Archery Association) says Barebow is no sight, stabilizer allowed. NFAA Traditional is any bow that isn't a compound, no sight, stabilizer allowed. Bit of a mess really.

Our definition is: Barebow is any type of sighted bow without sight or stabilizers, and traditional is everything but barebow and sighted bows. Primitive archery includes all wood bows. An extension to the traditional and longbow categories is that they have to be shot with wooden arrows. Using aluminum or carbon will put a longbow into the barebow category.

The Benefits Of Using A Barebow Or Traditional Bow


1. Having a basic idea of what you're doing without all the confusing technology around it

2. Not having to buy an excessive amount of accessories or special equipment for your bow to be functional

3. Easier on the wallet, which makes it easier to play more often

4. Relaxing to shoot, no pressure

5. Learning basic form, tuning, and how to work with your bow

6. Building the shot process without having any other distractions

7. The raw simplicity of shooting a bow


1. Lack of forgiveness when you're just starting out, it'll be harder to get good scores in competition because there's no room for error (compound/recurve bows have a certain level of forgiveness built into them)

2. Learning the different types of arrows and understanding their flight, how to tune your bow well enough without an arrow rest or plunger in order to get a decent arrow flight curve

3. Having a high learning curve when you're just starting out

4. Can be a little intimidating to those that don't want to put in the effort, or those that aren't willing to spend time figuring out what is needed for their bow

5. Potentially more dangerous as you're shooting without any of the modern technology keeping things safe

How To Choose The Right Type For You

1. Determine what your purpose is for wanting to shoot a bow. Are you just looking for something fun and want to do it as often as possible? Or are you interested in competing?

2. Figure out how much money you're willing to spend on this hobby/sport

3. Once the answers are answered, then you can seek out your weapon of choice.


The barebow is a bow that is used in the non-competition style of shooting known as "traditional." It can also be called an American, or instinctive, style of shooting. This type of bow typically has the following characteristics: riser cut to fit the archer's handgrip; no arrow rest; long draw length of 28 to 30 inches, with a relatively slender grip and arrow, the bow will have a stiff wrist at full draw. Barebow archers use traditional bowhunting techniques to hunt animals from a distance of 15-20 yards. Like their counterparts in the Olympics, they are expert shooters and utilize accessories such as weights or elevated rests with cushion plungers for an improved shooting experience that is more satisfying than ever before.

Traditional Longbow

The traditional longbow is the only bow that has been used in warfare and hunting since it was invented. It is referred to as a self-wood bow since the entire bow is made from self-wood instead of using composite materials such as fiberglass or graphite laminates. Since the old days, man has tried to make wooden bows more powerful and efficient by stretching them out longer than before thereby increasing their energy-storing capacity. The longbow does not have stabilizers for example, because they were not needed until 12th century when crossbows became popularized in Europe.

The longbow was the only weapon used by the English in their conquest of Wales and France during the Hundred Years War. The Welsh were legendary longbowmen because they were able to perforate French armor with these weapons at ranges up to. Although not as powerful as today's crossbows, they are still capable of inflicting serious injuries when used correctly. The best example I can think of is how Richard III was killed by an arrow that punctured his brain while fighting in battle against Henry Tudor who later on became King Henry VII after Richard's death. It has been said that Henry ordered many arrows shot into Richard while he was lying helplessly on the ground waiting for men to withdraw him from the battle.

Once you've decided which one is right for you, there are a few other things to mention before making the purchase. If it's a traditional bow, then maybe even think about building one yourself because it'll save some money, you can reach out to us for ordering a bow building kit that will have everything you need to build one. You have to have patience though as there are things that take time. If you're impatient, then building a bow isn't the best option for you because it takes time to get it done, then maybe look at getting a preconfigured ready-to-shoot barebow. There are also lots of different types of materials that can be used to make bows. You have wood, fiberglass/carbon, and high-tech carbon compounds which are more advanced.

Wood is what's most natural, but requires maintenance because it needs to be waxed and/or oiled at least once a year in order to keep the wood from drying out. It's also important to use wood for your bow if you want to shoot traditional because there are some different rules involved with traditional bows

Fiberglass/carbon is similar to wood, but requires less maintenance, because it doesn't dry out like wood, and will last you a long time. The downside to using fiberglass/carbon is that the material isn't as friendly to traditional rules

High-tech carbon compounds can be a bit too complex for some shooters, which also makes them more expensive, but they offer durability and performance benefits for hunting and competition. They might also be a little harder to tune and can be more intimidating to some people.

If you can't take the time to learn how to use a barebow or traditional bow type it's not worth picking one up. If you're interested in learning how to shoot a bow, but aren't all that serious about it, it would be better for you to go with either a compound or recurve bow where there are more accessories and safety features built into them that makes it easier to operate. Being too lazy to spend much time figuring out your gear will make things harder on yourself when starting out. See which one you're willing to work with and go for it.

Recommended Resources For Further Learning About Barebow and Traditional Bow Types

The art of archery has many stories in the past where humans used these weapons in wars, but then later on people started using them for practice instead because they can be dangerous when you don't know how to use it correctly or if you have been drinking alcohol while shooting at your target with it. It also might scare other people away from shooting at targets near their place too if you're doing something wrong with the weapon so try to keep yourself safe by practicing more often than drinking alcohol before you shoot it.

People have been using bows and arrows since the beginning of time, but now people are starting to use these weapons again because it is a great sport that does not require much skill to get into unless you are trying to be competitive with other users.

For more information about barebow and traditional bows go to Archery 360 , World Archery, or read one of our other archery blogs listed on our site.

179 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All