In the last few years there has been somewhat of an uptick in interest in one bow type. No, not compound … barebow! Many new archers are showing interest in shooting barebow (a recurve bow without sights or stabilizers) and apparently aren’t feeling Olympic recurve as they once did. Compounds are somewhat pricing themselves out of entry level kit and longbows by their very nature of being hand made are expensive. Barebow is making itself very attractive presently being modern kit, generally available (allowing for residual covid caused delays in supply) and comparatively inexpensive (no expensive extras like sights or stabilizers). So it seem to be catching the imagination right now with traditional techniques, modern materials and lowish price. Lancaster Archery have been at the forefront of this push with their annual major competition which focuses heavily on barebow. Even AGB‘s house magazine Archery UK and Bow International have dedicated issues to barebow. Its the coming thing it seems so if you are interested in barebow, where to start with kit?
While any take down riser can be a barebow, there are several companies that put a lot of effort specifically into dedicated barebow kit. Spiggarelli and Gillo are well respected in the barebow community for their intermediate and advanced kit but there has been somewhat of a blind spot at the entry level. Recently we looked at the Kinetic Scopus as a potentially excellent riser for entry level recurve. Well it seems that Kinetic have entry level on the mind. Back in 2020 Kinetic launched the Vygo 25″ riser. This ILF riser came with integrated weights specifically designed with the barebow archer in mind. Its still equipped with top, bottom and long rod bushings as well as mountings for clicker, sights and a button. However, there are 3 locations below the handle that allow up to 500g of weight to be added to stabilize the bow. These weights actually come with the riser! Not often you see that and better still, you can configure that 500g in 100g increments for fine tuning. The riser comes in left and right handed models and while the range of colours is not vast (especially for lefties), it is an aesthetically pleasing bow with a colour matched wooden handle.
So much for how the thing looks … how does it shoot? Well, its a small sample but the four customer reviews on Merlin‘s website and the two on Perris‘ website all gave the riser 5 stars expressing extremely positive views on build quality, stability and feel of shot. Its stability, in particular, was commended which is particularly important with a barebow lacking a full stabilization system. At 25″ and 1200g its a medium weight aluminium riser which isn’t too heavy but the weight system, shown in close up to the right, allows you to change that to something beefier, more likely to resist wobbling. Obviously the weight system conforms to AGB rules on weights and stabilizers on barebows (the whole bow should be able to pass through a 12.2cm ring).
Prices for the Vygo riser are at around £140 although can drift a little higher. This price is frankly a steal assuming the riser is as good as the reports seems to have it. Its not noted anywhere but we think its anodized rather than painted which gives a much nicer finish. It certainly looks the stuff in the below unboxing. Sadly there is a rumour this riser may soon be discontinued but while stocks last, definitely worth a look. As with all Kinetic risers, this appears a lot of bow for the money especially as it is intended specifically for barebow. There’s no need to buy weights as an extra and you always have the option to slap a sight on it and have an afternoon of Olympic style archery. The riser is available on many suppliers websites although the lead time does vary quite considerably from immediately to 4-6 weeks depending on supplier, colour and handedness.
Bow International Barebow Equipment list (mostly high end but does say nice things about the Vygo)
Lancaster Archery Mens Barebow final 2022
Arco Sport Spigarelli
Unboxing video of a black right handed Vygo