A tradition and culture - barebow in Sweden

Swedish barebow culture

The recently-completed World Games in Birmingham, USA saw Sweden take half of the medals on offer in the barebow categories.

Erik Jonsson defeated Leo Pettersson in the all-Swedish men’s final, while Lina Bjorklund won bronze in the women’s competition.

Jonsson’s gold was his third after topping the podium in 2001 and 2005, while Bjorklund completed her full set of medals, having won gold in 2013 and silver in 2017.

“It is a long tradition,” says 46-year-old Jonsson about why Sweden have had success in the discipline over many years.

“We start in barebow when we begin at clubs and we have a pretty good tradition.”

But success has played its part. Nothing is more inspiring that seeing medals being won and that is something Bjorklund is aware of.

“It might because we start with barebow in the clubs,” says the 42-year-old. “But we also had Erik (Jonsson), Anne (Viljanen) and myself. Since we are very good at it we try and help other archers."

“They can always call and ask us things and we will help them. They will get the help they need we are actually their ‘idols’, they are looking up to us and we will help them.”

Fourth barebow member in Alabama, Stine Asell, agrees.

“Maybe it is a tradition but we also get influenced by each other,” adds the 56-year-old.

“In Sweden, we have role models to look up to. Maybe that is the key? Maybe they (see them) and want to be as good as they are?”

Sweden's Jonsson and Pettersson celebrate at Birmingham 2022

One of those looking up is Leo Pettersson, at 18, the youngest in the Swedish barebow team at the World Games by 24 years.

“There is a culture of barebow in Sweden. Most of the people start with barebow at clubs, plus we have people like Erik or Lina,” says Pettersson.

“They are really good and are great role models on the field and off the field."

“During the first two years of my career my goal in archery was to go for the Olympic Games but then my goal changed to become a better archer than Erik and to win more World Championships than him.”

“It is fun to be the youngest archer,” he adds. “We are just a great family with people at different ages.”

And in such a diverse group of ages, Asell recognises one unifying thought: to inspire the medallists of tomorrow.

“When they are kids it’s important to help them, not push them, but give them confidence to shoot,” she says.

“We take care of them when they are young.”

Jonsson, who is a triple-World Archery Field Championship winner has seen the sport ebb and flow over the years and recognises its current, healthy position is helping to expand the discipline globally.

“We had a bunch of archers shooting really high scores in the late 1990s and early 2000s, then it went down a little now but it’s getting back up again,” he says.

“Now World Archery have introduced world records for indoor and target the discipline is growing really much all over the world in Asia, the USA, for example. It’s the fastest growing discipline now.”