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Ultimate Winter Archery Secret: Indoor Archery

Winter Archery can be a real struggle, but there’s a secret that the Archery and Bowhunting community would love to share with you, and that is Indoor Archery. Archers and Bowhunters from all over the country and beyond have all encountered the same problems with Winter Archery and Bowhunting: the days are much shorter, and the temperatures are much colder.

When you participate in Indoor Archery, you’ll find that it has a much more controlled environment, and there are countless opportunities to sharpen your skills and enjoy the camaraderie of other Archers sharing your passion throughout the entire year.

Between the traditional hunting seasons, you can maintain or increase your skill levels with practice sessions, archery leagues of all kinds, and even competitions.  The best part is that it all happens indoors, where the temperature, light, distance, angle, targets, wind, and more are all controlled.  Read on to find out all the other reasons why you should try Indoor Archery.  

The Drawbacks of Outdoor Winter Archery

Winters in many places can be miserable.  With temperatures below freezing or possibly much lower, very few people have a desire to venture out into the cold to practice their hobbies or interests.  Archery and Bowhunting are no exception.

While some archers are total die-hards, hunting in rain, snow, sleet, hail, and even in the blistering heat, it’s not for all of them.  Many that are passionate about archery are resistant or hesitant to invest in the intense and often expensive equipment required to hunt and camp outdoors in the winter months.

While archery equipment, in general, is made to be hardy and tolerable of various circumstances and temperatures, there are still some adverse effects that the extreme cold can have on a bow’s accuracy. 

Many archers report that the cold makes it more challenging to pull the bow.  Some would claim that the cold makes the draw weight increase slightly, and some chalk it up to the shooter’s stiffer muscles. Either way, it can affect the accuracy of the shot.

Besides affecting the muscles, the cold can cause tightness in joints, limiting the range of motion.  This is especially consequential for archers and bowhunters because the sport is dependent on technical skill and muscular accuracy.  When that is compromised, the shooters will miss more shots and lose potential targets.

It’s not only the shooter being too cold that can compromise the experience.  It is also essential to avoid too much ice or cold moisture and the humidity forming on the bow because that can negatively impact the bow’s performance and even damage the expensive equipment archers invest in.

Winter Outdoor Archery can definitely be a no-go for many in the sport.  So how do you keep your skills sharp during those cold months?  

What is Indoor Archery, and How is it the Solution?

Indoor Archery offers the solution to those archers and bowhunters who are itching to keep their skills sharp and stay connected with the archery community

The winter can feel restrictive and isolating to many archers.  With nowhere to practice their sport, it can make the winter months feel long and unproductive.  Waiting until the weather cooperates to continue progressing in archery is a waste when there are better options for archers to keep their skills unwavering and give them a plethora of options for shooting variations and types.

What is Indoor Archery?

Indoor Archery is just that: A place where archers and bowhunters can go that is indoors and is designed for target shooting.  There are indoor archery locations all over the country, often even multiple places within a city.

It is a place with options for those participating in archery as a sport or hobby.  Archers here can: 

  • Pay for a single practice session
  • Join a league of peers
  • Enter competitions
  • Receive one on one or group training or lessons

While indoor archery facilities are definitely busiest during the cold winter months, many offer sessions and leagues throughout the other seasons as well.  

When looking for a location near you, many websites will request an area code or city name and they, in turn, can find the indoor archery facilities within a certain specified radius of your home.

The Benefits of Indoor Archery 

Indoor archery can be a great alternative to outdoor archery in the winter months, especially for those living in a climate with extreme seasons.  Some places reach temperatures further below freezing than any human should have to endure, and going out into that weather to practice a sport may not be as practical as many would prefer.  

Fortunately, there is another option that can provide many of the same benefits of outdoor archery and then bring some new positives to the table that are not feasible when practicing out of doors.

Here are some of the many benefits of indoor archery:

It’s Great for Beginners 

Because the targets are significantly closer and the environment is much more controlled, it is a fantastic option for beginners and those wanting to improve their technical skills or just learn the basics.  

Not only do many indoor archery ranges offer group or individual classes, but there are leagues and competitions to work your way up to as well.  Not to mention while in the facility, there will be others there you can observe to learn and ask questions or get tips from.

There are also opportunities for controlled, slow, and ongoing challenges for skill development.  There are different types of targets, strategies, levels of difficulty, and point systems that can keep you pushing yourself harder and harder.

It’s A Good Way to Meet Other People with The Same Interest as You  

Archery is not the most common sport.  It isn’t typically offered at schools or community club athletics.  It doesn’t have a high demand or following in many places, and because of all those things, it can be challenging to meet people with that common interest.  

With indoor archery facilities, it puts you exactly in the right place to find the community of people who share your passion for archery and bowhunting. It takes all the difficulty and discomfort out of searching high and low for kindred spirits.  

You Need Less Equipment 

Because this is something happening indoors, much of the equipment needed for hunting expeditions and events is not required. There’s no need for hiking boots, coats, utility pants, and even sometimes things like camping equipment, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, hats, and more.  

All you really need is the essential equipment listed above and your passion for archery. This can be much less intimidating for those new to the sport or still learning. It’s also much more cost-effective for those who prefer not to invest in heaps of equipment. You get a full experience with the minimum cost and commitment.

There Is Year-Round Consistency 

For those who would prefer not to deal with all the changing seasons, locations, and other environmental factors, indoor archery can be a great option to offer consistency year-round.

The changing seasons and regulations regarding outdoor archery and Bowhunting can become frustrating or annoying to some.  Waking up and seeing the rain or feeling the intense heat and having to cancel an archery event or outing doesn’t have to be a concern anymore. The facilities are open year-round and will have dependable hours of operation.

Here are some other articles you may find interesting

Compound or Recurve Bow? Pros and Cons to Help You Decide
Ultimate Guide To Archery For Beginners
How much does it cost to get started in Traditional archery?

Different Types of Indoor Leagues

There are a variety of winter leagues at each facility that are all indoors.  These leagues offer a place for practice with other archers.  There can be friendly competitions, an inviting environment, increased learning, opportunities for friendships and socialization.   

A few of them might include:

  • Recurve Athlete Leagues
  • Compound Athlete Leagues
  • Target Leagues
  • Dart Leagues
  • Youth Leagues
  • Couples Leagues
  • Bowhunter Leagues
  • Traditional Leagues

Each facility will offer its own types of leagues depending on preferences and demand. They will also have their own requirements for joining.  

Here is a great video that gives some tips on how to prepare for Indoor Archery Competition:

Some may be age-dependent, such as the youth leagues, and others may require a partner, such as the couple’s leagues.  Some might require membership or specific types of bows or equipment before joining.

They will also have their own point system, rules, schedules, and regulations for each league.  The targeting can be a complicated and vital aspect of indoor archery leagues, and those will be unique to each facility and league.

Once the closest indoor archery facility has been found, a glance at the website, a phone call, or a visit to the facility will get the information needed to get started at that location.

There is plenty of opportunity to advance to higher levels of competition and probably the highest and most exciting is The Vegas Shoot, held every year in Las Vegas.

What Equipment You’ll Need

Typically, in an indoor archery range, the equipment can seem daunting for a beginner.  To make it simple, here’s a list of all the archery equipment you’ll need to get started at your local indoor range.

This includes:

  • Bow: There are four different types of bows to choose from, depending on the desired type of shooting.  Below we’ll discuss more what the four types are and how they are different.
  • Arrows: There are many types also, but some of the kinds recommended for beginners include fiberglass arrows, aluminum arrows, wooden arrows, composite arrows, and carbon arrows.  The aluminum or carbon arrows are often the most highly recommended because they are slightly more durable than the wooden arrows and still more affordable than the composite arrows, which are only recommended for professionals and Olympians.
  • Quiver: the most common types of quivers are back quivers or hip quivers.  It is recommended for indoor archery to use a hip quiver, and most often, with outdoor archery, the back quivers can be seen.  There are more than those two types, though, so be sure to find one that feels the most convenient and natural for your sport.
  • Arrow Puller and Lube: It can be difficult to remove arrows from a paper or 3D target at an indoor range, so an arrow puller and arrow lube are recommended to make that process a little easier.
  • Sight: preferably one that can be adjusted without tools. This helps with aiming and vision throughout the shooting process.
  • Bow Stand: These are seemingly self-explanatory, but the bow stand will hold your bow and keep it safe and stable when you are not using it.  These are highly recommended and also conveniently portable.

These are the basics, but more can be bought to upgrade your equipment or adjust your shooting style.  

The Four Types of Bows to Use Indoors

With only four major types of archery bows, we can look at them each to discover which one is best for indoor archery.

Recurve Bow for Indoor Archery 

This bow is among the oldest models and, as such, has been tried and true for archers and bowhunters for hundreds of years.  The curves in the bow are made to give it extra strength for long-distance shots.  It is also the only bow allowed in Olympic Archery Competitions.  This bow is recommended for beginners and also for shooting outdoor or indoor.  It is an excellent all-around bow for many purposes.

Longbow for Indoor Archery

The truly ancient model, these are not only the oldest but also the most simplistic bow.  They are tough to pull, having a heavier draw weight than other types, and make it extremely difficult to be precise when shooting a target.  These are usually only used by very experienced and refined archers that are as strong as they are skilled.

Compound Bow for Indoor Archery

These are the modern variation.  They have undergone all the technological advancements that can be made and have various systems built in to help aid in precision, distance, accuracy, strength, and convenience.  These are most often used by bowhunters and those live shooting game and are the most durable. Stop by your local archery facility to give them a test before heading out on the hunt.

Crossbow for Indoor Archery 

The make of the crossbow allows for much less skill and precision, giving the archer much less need for extensive practice or training.  It has a built-in crank that will eliminate the worry of handling the high draw-weight and allows for increased distance shooting.  Many places only allow crossbow shooting in rifle and firearm seasons, which is important to be aware of when looking to purchase or use a crossbow.

Here are some other articles you may find interesting

Compound or Recurve Bow? Pros and Cons to Help You Decide
Ultimate Guide To Archery For Beginners
How much does it cost to get started in Traditional archery?

How Indoor and Outdoor Archery are Different

Indoor and Outdoor archery can have a few things in common.  You are still shooting targets, whether they be moving, 3D, paper, long-distance, or short distance.  You also are still using a bow and arrow, as well as a quiver, a sight, a bow stand, and more.  But they are different in many fundamental ways.

Equipment

Indoor equipment is less complicated because of the short distance range and the controlled environment with little variability.  

Compared to outdoor equipment, indoor archery can typically use a recurve bow or a compound bow, and wider and heavier arrows can be used since there is little concern for wind variation or distance struggles. 

Location Options

This can be an enormous benefit of indoor archery.  Finding outdoor locations to practice archery or hunt with a bow can be complicated and time sensitive.  There are often specific places and seasons where it is allowed, depending on state and county regulations, limiting the experience quite a bit.  

Indoor archery solves this problem by allowing year-round training and practice.  There are enough indoor archery ranges throughout the country and beyond to make it highly convenient for most people to find one near their home or area and then visit it frequently.

Environment

There is no question that the indoor archery ranges offer something that outdoor archery could never compete with: a completely controlled environment

For many archers, the continually changing environment provides a challenge that can be both exciting and exhausting.  The changes can include an increase or decrease in wind, rain, temperature, sun positioning, cloud coverage, or humidity. Will you need a thermal coat? What if you get too hot? What if the sun comes out and you forgot to bring sunscreen?

Without all those factors constantly changing and complicating the shooting process, a more intense focus can be achieved, improving technical skills and confidence.

With the convenience of a facility also comes the camaraderie of a community.  In the outdoors, there is often much less socialization with others that share the same passion.  The indoor archery ranges offer that place to connect with other archers. 

The Takeaways

Indoor archery can be a fantastic way for archers and bowhunters to sharpen their skills and connect with others sharing their passion through the winter months.  The equipment needed for indoor archery is often much less than outdoor archery and can be more affordable. 

The environment is much more controlled, and many find that to benefit their shooting practice.  Lastly, many facilities offer leagues and competitions to keep archers progressing in their chosen sport.