Archery without sights | Your Complete Guide

Posted by Andy Ryan
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People shooting without sights

Archery without sights can be a challenge. This was something I didn’t know how to learn or the best to do learn it. So I decided to do some research on it.

Aiming without sights, Yes it is possible. It is harder than with sight, but it can be learned up to the point where it is possible to hunt and shoot well without sight.

There are many hunters doing this. It will be a little harder, but you it can feel more natural and can be more fun. In Sweden, barebow shooting is quite popular and this is a sport based around the concept of shooting archery without sights. This is the technique I used to learn to shoot without sights. It will get harder the further away you are from your target, but I learned it, so I am sure you will too. 

How to shoot archery without sights

A women from the olympics shooting archery without sights
A women from the olympics shooting archery without sights

Start small with short distance to the target

Start shooting at close range, I prefer to stand about 5 feats away from my target in the start. After shooting at close range you will start to adapt and learn how to adjust to the new way of shooting. If you think to yourself “hah, 5 feats. That’s no problem for me”, Well maybe it’s not, but I still want you to start at 5 feats. It’s very different than shooting with sights and it`s important to learn the basics and get the feel of the new way of shooting.

When you feel comfortable to increase the distance

When you start shooting well and feel you have mastered the 5 feats level, you can move up to 10 feats. This can be harder, but you will notice it is easier to learn, because of the same principals is used at 10 feats and 5 feats. When you think you are doing well on 10 feats add distance to 15 then 20 etc. The way of shooting will be very similar up to 50 feats. That’s when the distance will make the shooting a lot harder, but I will come back to that later in the article explaining it more in depth.

Remember to use your regular stance when practicing

While practicing it is smart to use the same stance you would if you were hunting if that is your goal. I am usually sitting on a chair or sitting on my knees since this is what I do often when I am hunting at my spot. This will make a huge difference when you decide to shoot without sights when you are hunting or are using it in competition. Because you will be familiar with the way of shooting. If you shooting in a sitting position while you are training, but in the competition, you have to stand. Well, it will make it a lot harder for you and it can have a huge impact on your shooting results.

This is aiming methods you can use to shoot archery without sights

There are several methods used to increase accuracy and to hit your target. There are gap shooting, string walking, face walking, and instinctive shooting.

My favorite shooting method for shooting without glasses, Gap shooting

When you are a gap shooting you choose a point on the target depending on the distance you are from the target. When you are shooting at close range you shoot above the center of the target, or the place you want to hit. For example, at 10 yards you want to shoot above the center to hint in the center. That’s because of the arrows moving pattern when it’s shot. The further you move from your target the higher you need to aim over the middle, or the spot you want to hit. This picture illustrates why.


Archery without sights | Your Complete Guide 1

String shooting, using the same anchor point for every shot

String walking is a technique where the anchor point is at the same spot on all shots, but the motion that changes the distance of your shot is your drawing hand. You need to move this hand up or down on the string according to the distance.

The closer you are to your target further down you would move your hand. The further away from your target you are the more you move your hand upwards. This is a good option and some even prefer string walking instead of gap shooting, but the downside of shooting with string walking is that it stops working after a set distance. 

Face walking, using your drawing hand to aim

This is a powerful method that is illegal in a lot of competitions. A lot of archers combine this method with the gap shooting method at longer distances to make the shooting more accurate. 

Using the face walking method you move your anchor point with your hand. You don’t move the hand up or down the string, but the whole bow. You will pivot the bow up or down depending on the distance. Moving your hand upwards will decrease the distance of your shot and moving your hand down will increase the distance.

To learn all these methods you need to practice. Because you need to find the point to shoot at wich distance. For example, the gap shooting method(1). You need to know where to aim at the target when you are at 10,40,80 feats etc. Choose one method and master it. After that, you can start thinking about learning about different ones. I found that to be the best way to learn to shoot without sights in the first place.

Tips and tricks to shooting without sights

People shooting without sights

Remember to keep both your eyes open when shooting. This is very important and can improve your shooting a lot. If you don’t trust me then look at all the pro shooters. You can notice they all are doing it.

Another thing to remember is that the wind. Maybe it’s not an important factor in the start when you are practicing with 5 – 15 feet distance, but as soon as this gets further this will be something you have to adjust to.

Distance is something that needs a lot of practice and adjustment too. When I shoot at 100 yards my arrow drops about 4,5 feet. Anything further than 50 yards makes it hard. That’s why you need to shoot a lot of arrows to practice before you take your skills to the woods to hunt. Your brain will start to learn the distance after a while and it will become easier after some time. It will take some time and don`t give up, you will learn it in the end and it will be worth it.

The Hardest Part of shooting without sights

The one thing that will keep you away from learning the amazing art of shooting without sights is consistency. It`s easy to give up when you have a hard time hitting the middle when that’s an everyday thing when you shoot without your full setup with sights. So my number one thing is to stick with it. This is something that is easy for me to say, but hard for you to do.

What you will notice is that hitting the middle of your target will be a lot more rewarding without sights than with sights. Why do you ask? Because shooting without sights will be a lot harder and a lousy shot will not hit your target, but if you use sights and shoot a half decent shot you can still hit the middle. So everything needs to be done perfectly to accomplish the score you want. It will be frustrating at times when you fail to do, but the day you do. it’s a big “wow”. Just wait for it.

There are a lot of you that shoot with glasses and is the reason you shoot without a sight, if so then check out this article on how to shoot with glasses.

Related Questions

how to shoot a recurve bow instinctively?

To shoot a recurve bow instinctively, you need to learn the fundamentals of archery first. You need to perfect your technique and practice without sights a lot. The brain will learn to adjust to a new way of shooting. Time, technique and practice are what you need.

How to a bow with sight pins

Line up your rear sight with one of the pins in your sight, that is fitting your distance between you and the target, then shoot.  You need to set up these pins to specific yards before shooting. Typically these are 20, 30 and 40 on a 3 pin sight. 



Andy Ryan is the founder of ArcheryPower and has been in the archery industry for many years. He is an instructor and maintains a certification. His mission is helping more and more people each year with archery and bow hunting.

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