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Is traditional archery the same as instinctive archery? Nope.

Q

"Hi Charles,
Is what we did last class considered instinctive shooting, since we didn't use sights?

D."

A

Hey D!

That would a misnomer to call traditional aiming/style the same thing as instinctive. The two things are very different.

Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion/misinformation about what instinctive aiming / instinctive style is (Lars Anderson is not helping either, his videos are full of misinformation), and this is not the first time I have had to explain the difference. Compound Shooters and Olympic Shooters have an awful habit of looking at traditional style and thinking that it is instinctive, but they don't know that there is an aiming methodology to what the traditional archer is doing, and that there is a specific form.

Traditional Aiming - Aiming off the tip of the arrowhead.

Gap Shooting - Aiming using the gap between the side of the bow and the target, using memory to remember where to aim. Sort of like an imaginary sight.

Aiming with Sights - A gadget commonly used by Olympic and Compound shooters that tells them where to aim.

Instinctive Aiming - Not really aiming, but rather just "shooting from the hip" using "gut instinct", like you might see in a Western quick draw duel.

Traditional Recurve Style - Following form principles designed to increase accuracy through repetition, muscle memory, stable footing/form, consistent back power, etc.

Olympic Recurve Style - Very similar to Traditional Recurve Style, but with several changes to take full advantage of gadgets commonly used in Olympic archery.

Compound Style - Form wise it appears similar to the other two, but compound shooters are less worried about form as the gadgets on the typical modern compound bow basically allow a complete beginner to shoot with a remarkable amount of accuracy with little to no knowledge about how form could improve their accuracy.

Howard Hill Style - Commonly used by longbowmen and some traditional recurve shooters, the Howard Hill Style is similar to Traditional Recurve Style and is for archers who prefer to cant their bow while shooting. (You saw me demonstrating this style on Sunday with my 1972 Black Hawk Avenger bow, although with the aided flair of me kneeling during the shots.)

English Longbow Style - No canting, often involves aiming to the side a bit. In the case of an English Warbow there is a different method of holding the bowstring and releasing.

Horseman Style - Nearly identical to the Howard Hill Style, but with a Horseman's Release and/or a Thumb Ring. Often with a much more profound cant on the bow.

Instinctive Style - Formless. Just pull back any which way and shoot. No form needed. So for example if I lifted one leg and pulled the bowstring back underneath my leg (like a showoff would) and then shot, that would count as instinctive shooting. Pull back the bow from behind my back, over my head, partial draw, overdrawing way off to the side, etc - that would all be instinctive. The downside of this formless style is that the archer is really just guessing where the arrow will go. With practice they get better at guessing, but it is really only remotely accurate at very close distances. Any mid to long range distance and instinctive style/aiming is useless.

Little kids who have never done archery before basically shoot instinctively.

What I prefer to teach is ALL the different methodologies of shooting, starting with traditional and progressing in the directions the student is more interested in. If they later want to learn how to use sights, I will teach them how to use sights. If they want to learn Horseman Style, a horseman's release, etc - then I will steer the teaching in that direction. If they express an interest in longbows, then I will typically teach them the Howard Hill Style and show the differences between English Longbow and Howard Hill style. Thus if they want to learn multiple styles, I will teach them multiple styles.

So what you did on Sunday was:
  • Traditional Aiming.
  • Traditional Recurve Style.
  • Field Archery - In terms of what you were aiming at and the random distances. As opposed to say "Target Archery", "Flight Archery", "Clout Shooting", "Popinjay"... "3D Shooting" would be pretty similar to Field Archery, but would often involve shooting uphill or downhill.
If you want to learn more about Instinctive Style during lessons let me know and I shall demonstrate some shots and you can try it out too to see how you like the formless style of shooting.

(I decided to use this question and answer for an article on my website. I will list your name as "D." for privacy's sake.)

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

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