How To: Beginners Guide to Archery
Thirteen years ago, archery forever changed my life. It has led me into so many opportunities that I never even knew existed. It’s something that my husband and I share, it’s something that one of my childhood friends and I share and it’s something that brings people together. I’ve become an archery instructor, I’ve taught at summer camps and private classes, I’ve done 3-D shoots, hunted and just shot for fun. The archery community is so fun and welcoming. Archery has blown up over the past several years. When I first got started, it was still a very niche sport. These days, it’s still niche, but it’s expanded beyond belief. It’s very exciting because more and more people are able to experience the joy of archery.
Because of its popularity, it feels a bit intimidating now-a-days to try to get into it. You know you want to get into it, but you don’t know how and that’s completely understandable!
This is going to be a quick overview of what you should look for, this is by no means a complete guide to archery. For more information, go to your local bow shop (NOT a big box store, but an actual local archery shop where the people there have made archery their life) and the people there will be more than happy to help you. Be sure to find a local archery shop that makes you feel comfortable, not all archery shops are as welcoming to newbies as others.
- Why do you want to get into archery? When I first got into archery, all I wanted to do was just play around with my bow, I didn’t have any real purpose. I just loved shooting and that’s all that mattered to me. These days, I go to 3-D shoots and hunt with my bow, in addition to just target practice. It’s okay to not have a clear purpose of why you want to get into archery, but it may help you decide on your budget and what type of accessories you may want. There’s also competitions, if you want to get really serious about it. So think about why you want to get into archery and if at first you want to get into it just because it looks fun, then that’s a good enough reason as any!
- What’s your budget? Not gonna lie, archery equipment isn’t exactly cheap. You can get a good bow setup for around $350 and from there it goes all the way up to $1,500 and more. It’s extremely important to know what your budget is and stick with it. And don’t think that any bow/accessory/arrows are worse than any other bow/accessory/arrows. Just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s not as good. Don’t let anyone try to shame you into getting a certain brand of bow just because it’s less expensive or not as well known or what-have-you. You get the bow and the accessories that fit your budget.
- Traditional, compound or crossbow? This is where going to your local archery shop is going to be extremely helpful. At your local archery shop you’ll be able to try out different bows. Try out a recurve, try out a compound and try out a crossbow. Try them all! You’ll quickly discover which one you like best. You can hunt with all three of those options, by the way.
- Poundage & draw length. This is another reason to go to your local archery shop. There they’ll figure out your draw length which will help in deciding which bow is right for you. All bows are setup for specific draw lengths and can only be adjusted a little one way or the other. It’s the same for poundage. When I say poundage, I mean that’s the draw weight, as in, how many pounds you’re pulling. If you try a bow that has a 30 pound draw weight and can barely pull that back, then that’ll definitely narrow down the type of bows that you can get. Just like with the draw length, draw weight can only be adjusted a little bit one way or the other. Getting the proper draw length and draw weight is extremely important. It's also important to note if you want to bowhunt, you'll need to check to see if your state has draw weight restrictions. Like some states will say you have to be able to shoot a min. 40 pound draw weight. Some states have no requirements. So do some research about that.
- What about arrows? A lot of people get confused about the numbers on arrows and what they mean. Your local bow shop will set you up with the appropriate arrows. However, to give you a little bit of information about them so you’re not totally confused, the numbers on the arrows indicate which arrow is best for which draw length/weight. Every brand has multiple types of arrows that are best for certain draw lengths/weights. Every brand will explain their numbers differently, but every brand should have some sort of chart that shows you which arrow is right for your length/weight. You don’t want to get any ol’ arrow, the arrow must be able to stand your length/weight. If you get an arrow that is not made for your specific bow length/weight, then your arrow could shatter on impact or it could simply not perform as well. Make sure you get the right arrows.
- What about accessories? If you shoot a compound, you’ll need a release. If you shoot a recurve or longbow, you’ll want finger guard and maybe an arm guard. For compounds, you’ll also need some sort of arrow rest and sight, and it’d be a good idea to get a stabilizer. For a recurve or longbow, you don’t really need anything else, unless you want a quiver. No matter which type of bow you get, you’ll definitely want some string wax. Wax helps maintain the strings on your bow so that they don’t fray or break. Again, your local bow shop will be able to set you up with all the necessary stuff. Remember your budget. Some bows will come with all the accessories already on it, and some bows will be bare, as in you have to buy the accessories separate. Again, know your budget.
- Take a class! Get proper training. Watching YouTube videos and reading blogs about how to shoot can be helpful, but I feel you don’t get a true understanding unless you take an in-person class. Having someone there to show you exactly what to do and then to troubleshoot to make your form and shooting even better, is invaluable. Ask your local bow shop about classes or do a Google search.
- Targets & where to shoot? If you have land or have a big enough backyard and feel comfortable enough shooting at a target, then you'll need to buy a target. Make sure you put the target against some kind of proper backdrop like a fence or maybe hay so if any arrows go through, or you miss the target, then it'll just go into hay or fence. The type of target you get will depend on your budget and your needs. Some targets allow for broadheads to be shot into them while others do not. So be aware of that if you want to practice with your broadheads. Targets are usually not a one-time purchase. Depending on how often you shoot, you could get a new one each year or every couple of years or maybe a couple times a year. It just depends. When it starts shredding pretty bad, your arrows will start to go through the target instead of sticking in it. So just be aware of that. Check out the targets at your local bow shop. If you don't have anywhere to setup a target, then do a Google search for local archery ranges and/or ask where to shoot at your local archery shop.
Couple last thoughts. There is no such thing as a ‘beginner’ bow, no such thing as a ‘hunting’ bow and no such thing as a ‘target’ bow. One bow can fill every category. It’s all about practice, practice, practice! Archery takes some time to “master” and even when you “master” it, you still must continually practice to keep up your skill and challenge yourself.
Also, don’t let other people’s gear intimidate you. Let’s say your budget only allowed for a $350 setup. Great! Some people might have a $1,000 setup. It doesn’t matter. Don’t compare your bow setup/brand/etc to others. Archery isn’t about having the best of the best, it’s about getting the gear that is right for you and making sure that you enjoy it!
Just have fun! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
ReelCamoGirl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and hunting perspectives.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine.