Impressive Erik leading barebow insurgence to Indoor Archery World Series

If you’re going to crash the party, you might as well stay awhile. 

Erik Jonsson hasn’t wasted any time establishing himself on the 2021 Indoor Archery World Series. The decorated barebow archer from Sweden is the only participant to win both of the two stages – in November and December – held so far in this year’s remote competition circuit.

The five-time World Archery Field Champion is excelling, proving the pure talent for shooting archery’s rising bowstyle that’s made him – and his Swedish barebow compatriots – such a force in archery’s countryside discipline for decades.

After years of consignment solely to the field and 3D disciplines, barebow is finally competing – albeit virtually – in a major international target event alongside recurve and compound.

“It’s been a rewarding experience,” he said. “For us barebow archers, we aren’t used to competing at this level. We are proud to finally be accepted as part of the archery family in this big event.”

Barebow categories for men and women have been added for the first time to the open ranking of this year’s remote circuit, which as previously focused on the recurve and compound categories.

(Although some events, like the last two years of the Roma Archery Trophy, the Vegas Shoot and the upcoming Nimes Archery Tournament – before restrictions forced it to abandon those plans and downsize – did hold one-off competitions for barebow.)

The door was opened for the style to join at the international level with its addition to the target archery rules after World Archery Congress in 2019 – alongside the introduction of world records, which were claimed for the first time in 2020.

Barebows around the world have taken advantage. The bowstyle counted for 18% of the entries for the first stage, then 22% of the second.

Jonsson and Italy’s reigning World Games Champion Cinzia Noziglia topped the leaderboards in November. Results from nearly 400 barebow archers were ranked from that opening weekend – and that number leapt to more than 720 for the second in December.

“Barebow is growing,” Noziglia said. “I hope this is just the first step and that in the future, when the pandemic is over, we will be included in more World Series stages.”

Barebow archers shoot the same indoor competition format as recurvers.

The targets, set 18 metres away, must be World Archery-licensed 40-centimetre diametre faces – with a 10-ring measuring four centimetres across – and can be triple- or single-spot.

Jonsson recorded an impressive 569 for his 60-arrow round in November. It was 14 points clear of his nearest competitor, Lundmark Fredrik, and better than all but 92 of the recurve men who participated in that stage of the online tournament, despite him not benefiting from the same sights and stabilisers on his bow.

His partner, Lina Bjorklund, joined him atop the podium by winning the barebow women’s category in December with 554, dethroning Noziglia in the process. Jonsson, meanwhile, defended his top spot with a robust score of 577 points.

Both Jonsson and Bjorklund’s scores were 11 higher than the current barebow world records. Neither will be ratified as they were not shot at official tournaments but the quality on display is, frankly, astonishing.

“This was supposed to be our last year on the national team,” said the 44-year-old, adding that he and Bjorklund took an extended break from shooting at the start of the pandemic. 

“That was the longest I had ever gone without archery in 30 years of shooting. I think that helped me because it’s more fun now. It’s fun again. I like to practise. Before that, I think it was too serious.”

The results speak for themselves. Jonsson said he has beaten his personal best twice during practice over the past couple of months, including shooting an astounding 589.

Despite barebow archery’s historical standing as a discipline for the woods, the category’s top archers are proving that a successful transition from field to target archery is attainable.

“We are archers, just like recurve and compound,” Noziglia said. “As you can see by looking at the results, the scores of the past two stages of the World Series, even barebow archers have shot some amazing scores.”

Featuring no sights, stabilisers, clickers or other devices to aid in a consistent draw or aim, barebows are often the most impressive archers on the field course – a circuit of targets set at varying distances, elevations and angles. They must be precise and consistent in their draw length to shoot exactly where they aim.

It turns out that shooting at a target indoors is largely the same.

“My technique is the same for every competition that I shoot,” Noziglia said. The main difference, she explained, is the deceptive simplicity of shooting at a constant target, set at the same distance, with every arrow.

“If you are shooting at the same distance, the same target and the same place, you don’t have distractions,” Noziglia said. “But it’s very heavy for the mind, to maintain concentration on 60 arrows that are always equal.”

In other words, it’s simple – simple and difficult – which is fitting for a bowstyle whose simplicity also belies its difficulties.

“In barebow, you don’t have those extra things to worry about,” Noziglia said. “You are alone with your bow. It’s just the archer who must handle the shooting.”

Jonsson said his technique approach to shooting indoors is also the same – though he makes one critical exception with his equipment. Rather than using thin, outdoor arrows, he makes the switch to fatter shafts for the shorter distances. Just the same as competitive compound and many recurve archers.

“You can get some extra points with that one,” he explained.

Jonsson is set to return for the third remote stage of the 2021 Indoor Archery World Series on 15-17 January. He is one of the almost-1000 barebow archers who have already registered. (The deadline is midnight CET on Sunday 10 January.)

“Barebow is one of the fastest-growing divisions in archery at the moment,” Jonsson said. "I hope we are here to stay."

The 2021 Indoor Archery World Series is a mass-participation circuit of live and online archery tournaments.

Competition category