How much does it cost to get started in Traditional Archery?

So you’ve seen Robin Hood a million times, you’ve watched Lord of the Rings another million times.  You’ve decided archery is pretty awesome and you want to get started in archery, but not with those fancy wheeled compound bows (after all, Robin Hood never used a compound). 

Most importantly, you don’t want to go broke doing it either.  So how much does it cost to get started in Traditional archery?  That was an important question for me when I got started so I made a list and priced something out.

Here’s what you need to know.

I chose to start out with recurve archery and for a basic setup, you can expect to pay about $350 to $400.  That includes:

  • PSE Night Hawk in 40 lbs draw weight – $170
  • Fleetwood Carbons 3-pack with field tips (4 packs of 3) – $140 
  • Allen Premium Hair Tab – $10
  • Trophy Ridge Arm Guard – $15
  • OMP 3-tube Hip Quiver – $20
  • Sales tax, because Canada

Now this will vary quite a bit depending on your personal preferences.  I also live in Canada, so that number is likely less if you’re in the US.  I priced this out so that I wasn’t buying the cheapest thing out there and tried to think about long-term quality with the option to upgrade.  With this setup, you will be able to go to any indoor or outdoor range and start putting arrows on target.  The most important piece of equipment is the bow and this is where the greatest price variance lies (from $100 to $500 for quality beginner bows).

Here are some other things you might want to consider when getting started.

Are Recurve Bows Good for Beginners?

When it comes to Traditional archery, there are basically two types of bows to choose from: recurve bows and longbows.  Recurve bows come in two types as well: single piece and take-down.

Recurve bows are distinguished from longbows by their characteristic curve forward near the tips of the bow and this results in the string coming into contact with the limbs.  By contrast, longbows do not curve forward at the tips and the string does not contact the limbs.

Recurve bows tend to be shorter than longbows and are usually 62″ in length.  Longbows can be 68″ or more in length.

I recommend recurve bows for beginners.

Here’s why.

They are shorter than longbows so they’re easier to handle.  And there’s the option to get a take-down bow.

A take-down bow has detachable limbs so you can carry it more easily in a backpack.  With the PSE Night Hawk, you can even get 20 lbs limbs for light practice shooting to work on your form.  I prefer the 40 lbs limbs so I have the option to go hunting.

What is a Good Draw Weight for a Recurve Bow?

The best draw weight is the draw weight you are comfortable shooting with decent form.  That said if you want to hunt with your bow keep in mind that most jurisdictions require a minimum of a 40 lbs draw weight.  Check out my article where I discuss whether or not a 40 lb bow is REALLY enough for bowhunting?

If you are content to just casually shoot arrows into a target then you have a lot more options.  You’ll be able to find bows in a wide range of draw weights from 20 lbs all the way up to 72 lbs.

When just getting started, I’d recommend the following:

  • if you want to hunt eventually, go with 40 lbs draw weight
  • if you don’t plan to hunt, get a 25 lb draw weight.

Now 25 lbs draw weight might seem light on paper but it will be plenty of fun to start out with.  When getting started it is important to learn good shooting form so that you don’t end up injuring your back and shoulder muscles with repeated bad posture.  the easiest way to get good form is to use a lighter draw weight.  And trust me: 25 lbs won’t feel so light after shooting 100 arrows in a row.  Over time, you’ll have impeccable form and then when you upgrade to a heavier draw weight you’ll find it much easier to handle.

What Size Recurve Bow Do I Need?

The size of your bow refers to the length from tip to tip and the longer the bow the longer the draw length.  One way to measure draw length is to pretend you are holding a bow in your left hand and then pretend to draw the string back to the corner of your mouth with your right hand.  Now, measure the distance from the knuckle of your out-stretched left fist to the corner of your mouth.  That will give you an idea of your draw length.

Standard recurve draw weights are determined at a draw length of 28 inches, and that corresponds to a bow size of 62 inches most commonly.  If you have a draw length less than 28 inches, you might consider a shorter bow of 58 inches.

Most pro shops or local archery clubs will have bows that they let visitors use.  If you give those a try you will have a much better idea of what to expect for sizes and draw lengths.

Do I REALLY Need a Bow Stringer?

A bow stringer is a piece of cord that is used to make it easier for you to string your bow.  While you don’t strictly NEED to use a bow stringer, it is highly recommended.

If you string your bow without using a bow stringer, you will likely do it using 1 of 2 common manual methods: what’s commonly called the push-pull method or the step-through method.  These methods of stringing your bow are effective but if you don’t do it perfectly every time then you will be applying uneven pressure on the bow limbs.  Over time, this uneven pressure may cause your limbs to warp, especially if you’re using wooden limbs.

Using a bow stringer ensures that pressure is applied to the limbs evenly every time you string your bow and this ensures that your bow will last a very long time.  It is highly recommended you use a bow stringer to string your bow and they can be bought for around $20.

Where Can I Practice Archery?

For me, this was the most important question because I live in the city where it is illegal to shoot archery in your backyard.  I looked around and found that there are at least two indoor archery ranges.  This is good for year-round target practice, but the fees are pretty steep.  Plus, I’d prefer to be outdoors when shooting.

When I was 11 years old, I did my archery shooting at an outdoor range just outside the city limits.  It was in a forested area with slight hills and clearings.  There used to be regular field archery and 3D tournaments at that range and that’s where I got my first competition plaque: 2nd place!

Nowadays, I’m lucky enough where my wife’s parents live on an acreage way out in the countryside.  My father-in-law has set up a decent archery range on their property and that’s where I plan to do most of my shooting.

When you’re starting out, I’d recommend going to a range.  There, you’ll find people who are more than happy to help you out if you have questions and you’ll be able to find information about upcoming tournaments.  It’s a great place to meet like-minded people and possibly make new life-long friends.  Just be prepared to pay a fee for a membership, but it will be well worth it.