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How to Get Started in Archery TODAY: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you always wanted to get started in archery but don’t know where to begin? There has never been a better time to get started in in archery than today! Let me share with you a step-by-step guide to start putting arrows on target. Are you excited?

Here is the overview of the steps you need to start your archery career today:

Step #1 – Know Why You Want To Learn Archery
Step #2 – Know Your Measurements
Step #3 – Get a Bow
Step #4 – Buying Other Equipment
Step #5 – Find a place to shoot
Step #6 – Target Shooting
Step #7 – Practicing Your Skill
Step #8 – Storage and Maintenance of Your Equipment

If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to having the best shooting experience.

Let’s get into the details.

Step #1 – Know Why You Want To Learn Archery

The very first step you need to do if you want to learn archery is to know the reason why since it will keep you up and motivated. The most common forms of archery are:

  • Bowhunting
  • Competition target archery
  • Recreational archery

Each of these styles of archery can have very different equipment so it’s essential to have an idea of what form you’ll be choosing.  If you’re not sure, I recommend getting a bow that designed to bowhunting. Bowhunting bows are very accurate and can also be used for competition archery if you choose to do so.

One of my favorite forms of archery is Field Archery. Have a look at this article where we talk about everything you need to know about Field Archery.

Competition Recurve Archery

Step #2 – Know Your Measurements

Now that you’ve made up your mind, it’s time to measure things up!

Before actually buying your archery equipment, you’ll need to know some crucial measurements. Here are important factors you need to understand:

Draw weight – measured in pounds and is related to the tension in the string when you pull it back.  A good “do-it-all” draw weight is 40 lbs.  Most hunting regulations say 40 lbs is the minimum draw weight for bowhunting.  Also, 40 lbs will be plenty for target shooting, and it’s not too much weight for beginners.

Draw length – this is the measurement of how far you draw back an arrow and is essential in selecting your bow. Check out this article where we describe how to measure draw length.

Step #3 – Get a Bow

After knowing your measurements, it’s time to buy our first bow!

You already know your draw length and the draw weight you want. Now you need to choose what kind of bow you want. The most commonly used types are the compound and recurve. You can use either of these in bowhunting as well as competition archery. I recommend starting with a recurve bow because it is simple to learn and generally less expensive.

Compound bows use a system of cams (or wheels) to provide the power.  At full draw, the amount of weight held by the archer is less than the full draw weight.  This reduction in draw weight is known as the let-off. For example, a compound bow with a draw weight of 80 lbs and a let-off of 85% means that at full draw the archer is only holding 12 lbs! This is great for taking your time to aim correctly.

Recurve bows and other Traditional bows are more familiar to most people. Their draw weight is rated at a 28-inch draw length.  For example, a recurve bow with a draw weight of 40 lbs means that when the string is pulled back to 28 inches, the archer is holding 40 lbs. This also means that archers generally have less time to aim before their fingers start to hurt.

It will help if your bow has accessories such as the sight and the arrow rest because it makes the shooting process easier.

Step #4 – Buying Other Equipment

The bow should be the first thing you buy because almost all other archery accessories depend on it. Now, here is the usual stuff to buy once you’ve got your bow:

  • Arrow – in choosing your arrows, the arrow length is a significant consideration. As a general rule, arrows should be about 2 inches longer than you draw length.
  • Quiver – this is where you place your arrows while shooting. There are three types of quiver: the back, side, and the bow. Among these three, use the side/hip quiver in competitions.
  • Protective gear – the string could hit your chest and forearm, so wearing a chest guard and armguard is necessary.
  • Finger Tab/Release Aid – you put this on like a glove, but it only covers the three fingers that are used in releasing the string. A finger tab not only protects your fingers, but it also has a positive effect in shooting accuracy.  Release aids clip onto a D-loop that is attached to the string.  This allows you to draw the string back without damaging the string itself.  When you’re ready to release the arrow, you activate a trigger mechanism that executes a crisp, clean shot.
  • Bow stringer – this makes it easy for you to string your bow each time.  It applies the same force to both limbs, and so eliminates the possibility of damaging your bow over time.

Step #5 – Find a place to shoot

Now that you’ve got all your gear, you’re ready to start shooting.

The easiest thing to do is to join an archery club near you. Many archery pro shops will have lanes for target practice and this is a great way to get some quick experience shooting arrows.  It is also a great place to meet other archers who can give you tips and tricks for getting better.

If you’d rather practice on your own and you have space at home on your private property, you’ll need to set up some targets.

Step #6 – Target Shooting

Before aiming your shot, you have to know the concept of the dominant eyewhich is what you actually use in focusing on targets. This was the first thing my archery coach taught in class.

To determine your dominant eye, bring your right hand (or left) in front of you and point to a small object using your index finger. Look at the object carefully and place the tip of your finger on the object.

Now, close your left eye to look at the object using your right eye. Then, close your right eye to look at the object using your left eye. Repeat the switching of your eyes until you notice a difference – with one eye, the tip of your finger will not be pointing to the object! The other eye, which has your finger on the object, is your dominant eye.

Knowing your dominant eye is very useful in archery because it’s the eye that you use in sighting your target. Right-handed people with the right eye as the dominant one won’t have trouble focusing (same as left-handed, left-eye dominant), but if you have a mismatched handedness and dominant eye, closing your non-dominant eye helps in focusing on a target.

Now that you’re all set, time to aim! With the bow on your hand and an arrow in the other, here are the proper ways to shoot:

Stand Accordingly: The next thing that my coach taught us was the way to stand. There was a line to indicate the start position, but unlike in running, we had to straddle on the line.

If you do this, you would be facing sideways and not directly to the target. If you are right-handed, your left foot should be nearer to the target direction (left-handed – right foot), and the target should be to your left.

Don’t bend your body, and just relax.

Nock Your Arrow: Carefully lift one arrow from your quiver by picking up at the end of the arrow next to the fletchings. Upon lifting, place the other end upon the arrow rest. You’ll now notice that the non-pointy end of the arrow has a C-like extension. This is called the nock and is used to snap to the nocking point on the bowstring. The nocking point is usually marked in a bowstring but if you don’t have the marking, you should set it up first. The nocking point will be the same for all of your shoot from now on.

Position Your Bow Hand: This is a very important step in the shooting process. Don’t bend your bow hand because you could injure yourself through the bowstring. Keep it relaxed and straight all the time directing to the target. Hold the bow in a relaxed manner, not in a tight grip.

Position Your Draw Hand: Only three fingers are used in pulling the bowstring – the index, middle, and the ring finger. The thumb and the little finger should be tucked inside your hand. The index finger should be above the arrow, leaving both the middle and ring finger below.

It has been mentioned that using a finger tab can protect your fingers from the bowstring, but it’s fine if you want to try shooting without one at the beginning.

Pull the String: It’s time to draw the bowstring! Start by pulling it towards your face without moving your bow hand. To know when to stop, one of the techniques taught by my coach during my archery class was to pull the string until it touches the middle of my nose. One of the most common is pulling the string to the farther tip of your lips, but the idea remains the same. Drawing the bowstring and consistently letting it touch the same part of your face will make your shot consistent too.

Release the Arrow: After pulling the string, use the tip of the arrow as a sight and place it where you want it to go. One technique from my coach was that you should align the bowstring and the tip of the arrow while aiming for the target. Once you’re steadily aiming, it’s time to release the arrow.  Relax your fingers and gradually full back letting the string slide off your fingers.

There is the so-called follow-through, which is done to ensure proper form and complete the shot.  After you release the arrow, let your shooting hand brush past your face to your back shoulder.

You’ve just completed your first shot!

You are now an Archer.

Step #7 – Practicing Your Skill

No professional archer started as an expert. Shooting an arrow so smoothly that it lands on the target takes a lot of practice, patience, and effort. Practice regularly, and you’ll see how much you improve.

One of the best ways to get better as an archer is to join an archery club or a range because the targets are all set up at different distances.  As you get more and more practice, you will get used to gauging distance. Also, there are many other archery enthusiasts you can speak with to get tips and learn the best ways to shoot. If you want, you can also compete with your friends, and as you go through it, you will realize many things which will make your strategy more efficient. Other archers will share techniques for better shooting, so be sure to listen.

Step #8 – Storage and Maintenance of Your Equipment

After a whole day of shooting, it’s time to pack up your things.

If you have a compound bow, it’s fine to leave the string attached to the bow even for a long time. For a recurve bow, however, the string should be removed especially if you don’t shoot regularly. Check out this article where we talk about why bowstrings break and how to avoid it happening to you.

Even the weather can affect your equipment if you don’t store them properly. Keep your gear in a normal-temperature room and avoid excess moisture and extreme temperature difference (i.e., keep away from drafty windows or heating vents).

Before storing your equipment, inspect your bowstring for fraying or fuzzies. If you start to see fuzziness, apply some bowstring wax.

A hard case is a great place to store your bow because it provides a secure place better than a display rack. A hard case can also store your other equipment, like the arrows.

There is this tempting thing to do with your bow called the dry fire: pulling back then releasing the string without an arrow! NEVER DRY FIRE YOUR BOW!

In maintaining the quality of your arrows, take a closer look at them after you’re done shooting. Arrows have what is called ‘fletchings’ which are the wing-like attachment on the non-pointy end. These fletchings help stabilize the arrow as it flies through the air. If these fletchings get damaged or removed, you can replace them yourself. You will just need a fletching, glue, and the fletching jig.

Related Topics

Why Start Archery?

Archery is a very great sport to be involved with:

  • It improves focus because it requires a person to be calm and deliberate in their shot execution.
  • You will develop physical strength since the bowstring needs a powerful pull to get the arrow flying.
  • Being able to follow rules is a very important skill in life, which is why kids who get started in archery are very disciplined.

Additionally, there are many scholarships for archery for different schools.

Why is Concentration so Important in Archery?

Any little flinch can ruin a shot. Executing a perfect shot requires a great deal of focus. Since archery is a game of focus, any distraction can ultimately result in a bad shot. Archery traces its origin as a way for ancient people to hunt for food. This meant that not concentrating on the target could mean no meal for a day.

How to Aim a Bow?

Aiming a bow doesn’t necessarily need to be hard. To aim a bow accurately, you need to know the distance to your target.  Once you know the range, you’re ready to go.

Start with the correct stance (shooting position) by shifting your body to align it sideways to the target. Then, nock the arrow on the bowstring and position your bow hand straight. Using your index, middle, and ring finger, pull the string back to your anchor point.

If you have a sight, place the correct pin on the target and hold it there. Breathe in, breathe out and release the arrow at the bottom of the breath.

If you do not have a sight or you shoot bare-bow, use your arrow tip as the sight. There is another Traditional method of aiming called Gap Shooting.  Check out this article where we discuss “What is Gap Shooting and how to do it.