Traditional Archery, Gap Shooting Method Explained



This method uses the point of the arrow (arrow point) as your sight point. Using this method, you will determine how high above, or below, the bull’s-eye you will need to place the arrow point at various distances in order to hit the bull’s-eye. This point-of-aim (above or below the bull’s-eye) is the “Gap”. Assume for the purpose of this article that the image above is depicting targets located at 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards away from the archer on the left.

The Basics:

Remember that the arrow flies in an arc, unlike your eyesight which follows a straight line to the target (this is the “line-of-sight” noted in the image above). At some point along the arc of the arrow’s flight path, the arrow will actually hit the bull’s-eye when the archer aims with the arrow point located directly on the bull’s-eye. The distance at which this occurs will vary for each archer, depending on a number of variables related to the draw weight of the bow and the weight of the arrow. For example, you may find that your arrow hits the bull’s-eye at 40 yards when you aim with your arrow point dead on the bull’s-eye. If this is the case, you will know that for targets located up to 40 yards distance, your point-of-aim with the arrow point will always be located somewhere below the bull’s-eye because the arrow’s arc will be above your line-of-sight and you must compensate by aiming below the bull’s-eye. At distances past 40 yards, your point-of-aim will start to rise further and further above the bull’s-eye as the arrow’s arc of flight will now be dropping below your line-of-sight past the 40 yard distance and you must compensate for that continued drop in the arrow’s flight by aiming higher and higher above the bull’s-eye as the distance increases past the 40 yard dead-on point-of-aim.

The specifics:

When shooting at distances up to the dead-on point-of aim:

The Gap will increase until you hit the maximum gap located at the height of the arrow’s arc. After that, the Gap will decrease again until you hit the dead-on point (refer to the image above).

When shooting at distances beyond the dead-on point-of aim:

Your gaps will begin to increase again only this time your point-of-aim will start to rise increasingly above the bull’s-eye to compensate for the ever increasing drop in the arrow’s arc of flight (refer to the image above).


Step 1 – Find your Dead-On Point-of-Aim

  • Generally, most of you will have a good idea of how far away a target must be before you find that you have to start aiming high just to reach the target.
  • Take any number of shots you need to while moving closer to, or farther away from that target until you find the sweet spot where you are able to aim directly at the bull’s-eye with your point and hit the bull’s-eye each time as a result.
  • Measure the distance from your shooting line to the target and record this as your dead-on point-of-aim distance (g. 40 yards in the drawing example provided above).

Step 2 – Identify your Gaps up to the Dead-On Point-of-Aim

  • At set intervals (E.g. 5 or 10 yard increments) from the firing line up to your Dead-On Point-of-Aim, aim at the target with your arrow point directly on the bull’s-eye and measure the distance from the bull’s-eye “up” to your arrows point of impact on the target.
  • Record the measurement at that distance (E.g. one foot below at 20 yards). This is your Gap. Now you know that to hit the bull’s-eye at 20 yards, you must always aim with your arrow point located one foot below the bull’s-eye in order to hit the bull’s-eye at 20 yards.
  • Repeat this at each of the various distances until you have a set of measurements (Gaps) for each distance up to your Dead-On Point-of-Aim. For example, set up your gaps for 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards or for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 yards.

Step 3 – Identify your Gaps beyond the Dead-On Point-of-Aim

  • Repeat step 2 above for distances past your Dead-On Point-of-Aim only now you will be measuring the distance from the bull’s-eye “down” to your arrow’s point of impact.
  • This will produce a set of Gaps for the distance above the bull’s-eye that you will need to aim in order to hit targets at increments beyond your Dead-On Point-of-Aim (E.g. 45, 50, 55, and 60 yards).

Step 4 – Things you can play with to help reduce your Gaps

  • Use one finger above and two below your arrow nock, rather than placing all three fingers below the arrow nock.
  • Drop your anchor point lower on your face.
  • Shoot lighter arrows.
  • Play with your knock point on the string.
  • Shoot a bow with a heavier draw weight.

Author: Doug Bowes

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