I'm a newbie and I haven't quite perfected the technique. I'm also very impatient. For me it was taking about 15-20 minutes to do 1 bow because I was constantly having to pull here and tug there to make sure the loops were even when doing them free handed.
I purchased the NBNG templates and I have to say, for me, it was life changing. I can get 1 bow out in about 3 min. Granted, I have to switch templates for different sizes but I printed the size charts and posted them for easy access. The size charts are also a cheat sheet because they tell you how much ribbon to use for different size bows. I'm just not as gifted as some of the ladies here and I'm definitely not patient enough to learn a free hand technique. The templates are well worth the money if you are anything like me.