Bow International accepts submissions for articles via email, however, anyone wishing to submit is asked to read the below carefully.
Getting the length right
Bow‘s commissioned feature articles are either two pages long or three pages long. A two page article is usually 1100 words, a three page article 1650 words. Occasionally we commission longer articles (especially for historical interest) or shorter, one-page articles (for things like book reviews). But most features run at those wordlengths.
An article for publication has to be delivered at the right word count on or before the date specified by the editor. Understanding the preceding sentence is pretty much all you need to develop any kind of career in print magazine writing.
Bow is a magazine fully illustrated with high-quality photos. Priority for commissions and publication is frequently given to contributors who can supply good, clear, sharp images along with copy. You do not have to ‘be a photographer’ or have a ‘professional camera’ if you understand what we are looking for. Modern smartphones can take excellent usable images, and we often use them in print.
At the very least, you should have a good idea of what images could go with your article and where they could come from. Don’t forget; with a handful of exceptions, we are not allowed to use random images from the internet to illustrate print articles. We have an archive of over 70,000 images of modern competition archery to give more general illustration.
Submitting a pitch
If you are looking to see something published, it’s always best if you contact the editor before actually writing the article. This is standard practice in almost all print publishing.
So you have a great idea for an archery article? Awesome. “I have an idea for an article about (x). What do you think?” is not the best opening to an email to the editor if you are looking to get it published. But something similar happens pretty much every other week.
The way to suggest an article idea to an editor is referred to as a pitch.
A pitch includes a title, usually a sub-headline, a few sentences explaining what the piece is about, and what is sometimes called a takeaway: what the reader might be expected to learn and understand after reading it.
For example, take a look at this piece by Lucy O’Sullivan about winning a field competition at the first try. It was published in Bow in June 2020.
A good pitch for this might look something like:
I have an idea for a piece:
“Field Fitness: Making The Difference“
How I won a Pro series event at the first tryIn 2018 I won a pro compound event in Wales without any experience of field archery, and won £2000 as well. I managed to do this by focusing on my physical fitness as much as my bow fitness, and I will explain exactly how I did it. This will give the reader an idea of how important off-the-bow fitness is and how much it can transform their archery. It will also explain how to get started.
This would be a two page feature, 1100 words. I have images of myself shooting at the event and some extra images too. It can be ready before the end of the month.
The above will hopefully give you an idea of what the editor is seeking; developed ideas with clarity as to what they will eventually look like, at a specified length, and an idea of when it would appear on their metaphorical desk.
Sometimes pitches are accepted and commissioned as is; more commonly, the editor will work with a contributor on shaping an idea before commission.
Do I have to be able to write?
The most important quality we are looking for is being able to communicate personal experience well to a reader. This is more important than being able to ‘write perfectly’ in English. If you have a great deal of archery knowledge, especially detailed technical knowledge and experience, we’d like to hear from you. The editor is able to fix the odd typo or smarten up grammar if you really know your stuff.
For more experienced writers, we have a style guide which contains some details that you are expected to follow. You can download the style guide here.
Is there any money?
Yes! There is some money available for publication, although not an enormous amount. Don’t expect to make a living off Bow. A decent night out at best. (Maybe even a night out for two, depending on extravagance.)
Getting it involves jumping through some digital hoops. You cannot just send in an invoice. Contributors to Bow have to complete at least two long forms to be accepted onto Future Publishing’s automated payment systems. They also have to log in and acknowledge payments on the Future website. I wish this system was a little simpler and friendlier, but there we are. It’s a tedious process the first time around, much easier on any subsequent commissions.
What are we looking for right now?
This is an ever-changing and not-exhaustive list, and Bow‘s editor will attempt to keep it as up to date as possible. This list was most recently updated in January 2023.
Bow is generally aimed at more experienced archers of all kinds, i.e. we don’t usually feature material aimed at complete beginners (apart from our ‘Starting Here’ strand). Bear in mind that many subjects have been covered before and brand-new takes are often required.
Traditional, field and 3D archery. We are looking to increase our coverage of non-WA archery disciplines, and are currently looking for specialist contributors who are active in these areas.
Expert tips. A short take on some aspect of archery, around 400-500 words, explaining something interesting. These usually appear in the Ask The Experts section. (You could imagine them answering a hypothetical question from a reader.) If you’ve come up with a clever solution to a problem, shout.
Shoot reports. Bow now only usually covers events on the national championship or international level. We also now focus shoot reports on analysis rather than details of competition scores and so on. We also need photographs. Having said that, if you are going somewhere interesting or out of the ordinary and can take the reader there too, let us know.
Deep technique dives. Exploring an aspect of technique in any bowstyle, giving the reader a thorough grounding and hints and tips on how to improve. Opinions are very welcome.
Comparative equipment tests. If you are able to do shootouts between two or more types of anything currently available – from cordovan leather to Sasquatch 3D targets – and give enough technical detail to really inform reader choices, then we’d definitely like to hear from you.
Articles about fascinating obscure corners of the archery universe that will inform and delight and inspire the reader. Not much to ask, is it?
Contacting Bow International
If you’ve read and understood all the above, please email:
Please bear in mind that it sometimes takes several days to respond. Thanks!