How To Get Into Archery (and don’t suck at it)

a beginner archer trying to figure out how to shoot correctly

Today I want to inspire you by showing you how to get into archery easily and without necessarily breaking the bank.

I will also be explaining how to get better with time and possibly reach competition levels.

Plus the dos and don’ts of archery.

Sounds good? Ok, then let’s get right into the thick of things.

What is archery?

Well, for the sake of complete freshers, archery is nothing else but an age-old art which involves shooting arrows with utmost accuracy towards targets- obviously with a bow.

You can venture into archery either as a hobby or as your new sport.

Types of archery

Your first big call is on the type of archery that to engage in.

Now, in general, you can select any of the following types of archery according to your passions..

  • Target archery: You shoot at standstill bullseye targets. Most beginners love it.
  • Field archery: You will be shooting standstill bullseye targets but outdoors in myriad terrain. Here you can shoot farther distances. This could be exciting if you’re an outdoor enthusiast.
  • 3D Archery: Also great for outdoor fanatics, you shoot 3-Dimensional foam-made animal targets in the woodlands. 
  • Traditional archery: This will be ideal if you want to rewind the clock and shoot the style of our forefathers. The long and the short of this type is that you won’t be using any of the modern-day accessories.
  • Bowhunting: If you love harvesting your own meat, go for bowhunting or bowfishing (catching fish with bows and arrows). Wild animals like whitetails can obviously pose a challenge but that’s the fun of it.

Remember there are a couple of other styles including the Japan-inspired Kyudo archery but we will concentrate on the most common since you’re just starting out.

What do you need for archery?

I will speak in generalities since you may need more/less gear as per what, how, and where you’re shooting.

  1. A bow: There’s no archery without a bow and you need the best bow possible.

So, what type of bow is best for beginners?

This is your next big call:

Overall, you must decide on the following choices..

  • Recurve bow- This is the Olympic bow and has limbs  curving away from your when unstrung hence the name. You can use it in competition, 3D archery, field, and even bowhunting (at higher levels)
  • Compound bow- This is the world’s most technologically advanced and hence most powerful bow. It’s used practically in all types of archery although it’s not allowed in certain competitions like the Olympics. Arguably the easiest to learn for starters.
  • Traditional bows– This includes the longbow and lacks contemporary sophistication. Though a challenge to shoot with for starters, traditional bows can be quite a delight to shoot once you learn it.
  • Crossbows- This modified bow can also serve the various archery types and actually shoots farther and more accurately than most other bows.

Bottom-line?

On the whole, most starters are at home with compound and recurve bows.

They both excel in target archery (the most famous type of archery for novices) and are similarly adept in 3D and other archery types.

Your situation could be different so take your time and consult widely.

Note that compound bows are costlier than recurves because of their complex construction (which is why they’re so powerful and easier to aim).

In comparison, recurves rely more on your skill (than technology) but are pocket-friendly. Perhaps that’s why most trainers prefer these bows when teaching newbies.

  • A string: You cannot draw a bow without stringing it.
  • Arrows: Archery is all about propelling arrows towards targets.
  • Finger tab: This small leather/synthetic patch protects your fingers from being hurt by the bowstring as you draw the bow.
  • A quiver: You store your arrows in quivers.
  • Bow stand: This acts as a bow holder in the field- instead of dropping your bow to the ground.
  • Bow stringer: This helps you string/unstring your bow safely.
  • Targets to shoot at: You can opt for homemade targets or order commercial ones.

A word on the costs

Is archery expensive? That’s another question on the lips of newcomers. Well, I cannot lie that it’s the most affordable adventure..

But, and a big BUT for that matter, it’s not like golf where entry fees can climb to hundreds of thousands.

Besides, you can easily make it as cheap as you want by using home-made equipment (I wrote about making targets at home here) and buying budget or second-hand equipment.

And, of course, taking care of your equipment so that they serve you for longer.

But how much is the cost really?

Here is a rough guide..

EquipmentPrice range (starter to pro-level)
Bows$150-$2500 (Quality long bows range start at $100)
Bow case/bag$35
3D Targets$150-$1500+
Homemade targets$20
Arm guard$5
Finger Tab $10
Gloves$9-20
Arrow rest$20
Sights$20-$30
Stabilisers (reducing bow vibration)$15
Bow string$7
Bow stringer$5
Stand$10
Quivers$15-$25
Release aid – protects your fingers with a compound bow$30-$45
Arrows $40
Miscellaneous items such as string wax (string maintenance), arrow fletchings, etc.Not more than $50

I deliberately included most of the accessories but in truth, you will be good to go with just good sights, a bow and arrow, a release aid (compound bow), tabs/gloves, and maybe a quiver.

You may not even require sights if you opt for traditional shooting.

Also, note that the above-quoted prices are not cast on a stone so you can maneuver and get even cheaper pricings.

Master tip 1: Many clubs and specialist archery shops offer basic archery equipment for hire and you can first hire to help you get the hang of things.

That way, you’ll have a clear picture of what will best serve your shooting ambitions.

Master tip 2: Your buddies at the local archery club or even the assistant at the archery store can help you make a more informed decision on the other essentials according to your special needs.

What about maintenance cost?

The good thing with archery is that the maintenance costs are rock bottom- it’s not like motorsport or kayaking, where you can spend a fortune in maintenance.

When is the best time to get into archery?

I can’t certainly say that you have a right or wrong time to join. Indeed, if asked, I would say today is your best time!

Having said that, bowhunting has seasons even though they occasionally change year to year in every state.

What you need to keep in mind is that killing certain animals when not in season could land you in trouble with the authorities

Additionally, weapons and gear tend to be pricier during seasons’ peak so if possible, buy everything ahead of the season.

Knowing the rules of the Game

Admittedly, archery is a dangerous sport and state governments have set regulations which you must abide by to enjoy this increasingly popular recreational activity.

The thing is rules vary from state to state so you need to familiarize yourself with the legislation in your state depending with your planned type of archery.

Most of this information is available from state government websites.

Do you need a Licence for archery?

Like I hinted above, it all depends on your local rules. To put it into context, you need a license if you want to bow hunt large game in certain states.

At the same time, you are free to hunt with your crossbow in Vermont as long as you’re over 50.

And so forth.

That’s why I reiterate that you should check the regulations before investing in equipment lest you end up with expensive equipment that you’ll never use.

Where to practice shooting

You’re free to practice archery both indoors and outdoors meaning you can have fun all year round.

Safety is, however, paramount if shooting at home- you don’t want to risk the lives of your lovely pet, neighbors, and family so you will need to select a safe spot to practice from.

As usual, don’t forget to check what the rules say as it may be illegal to shoot beyond certain limits in your area.

The other option is the archery club or the field and these are, by and large, safe for everyone.

Where can I learn archery?

It’s important that you have the basics – perhaps even before thinking about buying your first bow and beginner sets.

The good news is that you’re spoilt for choice as far as learning is concerned as you will see next..

  • Online archery website: Websites like this have abundant tips and useful information so they can help you gain the basic knowledge. On my side, I self-trained online because I lacked time to attend live archery lessons. The biggest drawback for online learning is that it’s a bit of trial and error so it may take you longer. But this is undoubtedly the most affordable schooling method.
  • Archery training centers and clubs: Learning centers and clubs dot the nation and you can check them out for both youth and adult lessons. You will be learning from ace archers so you’ll likely take less time. Google can help you connect with a center near you. The costs vary per hour and start at about $20-$30 per hour on average (There goes another cost to add to the above archery cost, right?)
  • Private coaching: You can as well hire a seasoned archer to train you. Private lessons rates may come to about $30- $60 hourly, depending on your archery range. Google is again handy here.

Is there an age limit?

A lot of people wonder if they’re too young or old to get into archery. However, you’re supposed to know that archery is, first and foremost, a leisure activity and thus fit nearly all ages.

You should, however, be aware that you need reasonable body strength to successfully draw a bow so if you’re thinking about your kid, start him/her with a simple-to-draw bow.

Senior citizens may also struggle a bit especially because you generally have reduced muscle strength at this age.

But overall, unless you’re suffering from the chronic issues that come with aging, for instance, arthritis, you can still have fun with a bow and an arrow.

What about if I’m disabled?

Again, disability is not a big issue because adaptive archery equipment is readily available both online and in archery shops.

In fact, archery has been a major component of Paralympic sports for decades so there are hefty options for you if disabled.

I would suggest that you look up local archery clubs catering for disabled archers for guidance.

How can I get better at archery?

Here are some useful basics.

  • Bow tuning– To help your arrows fly straighter and more accurately, have your bow properly tuned.
  • Relax– My best shots come when I am at my most calm.
  • Use technology– Using utilities like activated light pins will help you shoot better in low-lit environments. Likewise, a bubble level will ensure that your bow isn’t tilted when shooting. In a nutshell, take advantage of any useful accessories.
  • Practice, practice, and more practice– that’s the only way to will build your best form and stance.
  • Keep challenging yourself– aim for farther distance, higher accuracy, and bigger game as you grow into archery.

How to get into archery: Additional tips and do’s and don’ts

  • Do: Always wear safety gear such as an arm guard and appropriate clothing when shooting arrows.
  • Don’t: Never shoot a bow without an arrow (dry-firing). It can hurt you as well as break up the bow.
  • Do: Observe all rules at all times.
  • Don’t: Perfecting your skills can sometimes take time so don’t give up too soon.

What next?

Well, this is actually a don’t and my last point in this how to get into archery article…

Now, I know of friends who are still ‘researching’ archery more than one year since they promised to join me…

Well, don’t be like them (Hope they will not read this)….

In short, I want you to take your first step today.

Even if you’re not ready financially, you can start by browsing online tutorials and hiring equipment over the weekend.

And then build over time…

Who knows? You could be the next superhero!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *