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Archery 101

Archie Waldroop provides advice on the basic skills of archery.

Archery is one of the oldest sports or practices known to men, as this has been discovered as early as 20,000 BC. Traditionally used for warfare and hunting, more and more people are learning archery to compete professionally or practice it as a hobby.

Aside from experiencing how your ancestors used a bow and arrow in the past, learning archery can provide countless benefits. This sport can improve your hand-eye coordination, upper body strength, and ability to focus. Over time, archery can also enhance your social life as you can meet people when you are practicing in shooting ranges or joining competitions.

You can enjoy these benefits by learning the basics of the sport first.

Choosing A Bow

Nowadays, you can find several pieces of equipment for archery such as an armguard, adjustable bow release, chest guard, and shooting glove. When used properly, this equipment can significantly improve your performance as an archer. But since you are still new in the sport, it is best if you start with the basics first.

For you to learn the basics of archery, start investing in the right type of bow. Sure, all bows might look and function the same, but they come in different shapes and sizes. A bow might be one of the most basic item in archery, but choosing the right one for your skill is also among the hardest.

To make this process easier, follow these tips when choosing a bow:

Consider the draw length and draw weight. You can quickly narrow down your options when choosing a bow by looking in its draw length and draw weight. You can gather this information by visiting shops and trying out several bows. The bow you will choose to use should be comfortable and fit your skill as a beginner.

You can follow this basic guideline when looking for a beginner’s bow:

  • 8 to 12 years old: Bows that weight 10 to 16 pounds
  • Young teens: 14 to 22 pounds
  • Older teens: 25 to 35 pounds
  • Young men and women: 25 to 40 pounds
  • Adults: 40 to 50 pounds

The next thing you have to consider before picking your new bow is your draw length. This is an essential factor because the bow you choose should fit your arm length and range of motion.

Using a bow that is too small or too big for your arm will make it hard for you to shoot arrows and increase your susceptibility to injuries.

You can get your draw length by measuring your arm span from fingertip to fingertip and then dividing the number by 2.5. If your arm span is 76 inches, you should have a total of 30.4 inches after dividing the number by 2.5.

Since you know now what your draw length is, you can start looking for a bow with this measurement. If your draw length is 30.4 inches, make sure that the bow you choose is also labelled as 30.4 inches. Using the measurement of your draw length will ensure that the bow you pick fits you perfectly.

Pay attention to the brand

Although not a requirement, it is best if you also look at the manufacturer of the bow you are planning to buy. Since learning archery takes time, make sure that you invest in a bow that is produced by well-known brands such as Bear, Bowtech, and PSE. Buying branded bows will give you peace of mind knowing that you will be using high-quality and durable archery equipment that can last for years.

If you have friends and family who just started archery, you can ask for their recommendations on the best bows for beginners. The internet can also provide unlimited reviews on the best (and worst) brands of archery bows, so make sure to use this resource before buying, as well.

Choosing An Arrow

Your desire to learn archery will not become a reality if you do not have any arrows. What good is your bow if you do not have any arrows? But just like bows, choosing an arrow also requires time and effort.

Before choosing the best arrow that is suitable to your skill, you need to consider the following factors first:

Material

You can now buy arrows made from wood, fibreglass, aluminium, carbon, and composite. Although all of these materials come with its own set of pros and cons, it is best if beginners like you start by using arrows made from aluminium or carbon.

Carbon is widely known for its speed, reliability, durability, and it is lightweight, while aluminium is an excellent option because it is strong, affordable, and flexible. Arrows made from any of these materials are suitable for newbies like you because both are very easy to manoeuver or control.

Arrow length

Unlike determining the draw length, getting your arrow length is a more complicated process. To stay on the safe side, visit any pro shop in your area, bring your bow, and have the pros assist you in getting your arm length.

But if you are planning to buy your arrows online or if you do not have any access to a pro shop near your area, you will not have any other choice but measuring your draw length on your own. You can do this by:

  • Draw your bow and have another person take measurements from your nocking point (the part of the arrow where it hits the strings are attached) to the rest of the bow.
  • You can add around one or two inches to the original measurement, especially if you are planning to use broadheads.
  • The total measurement after adding a few inches, will be your arrow length.

Practicing Your Shots

Since now you have the perfect bow and arrow on hand, practicing your shots is the logical next step. If you have been watching archery competitions in the past, you might think that archery is just about shooting arrows with a bow. However, it is not. This sport requires skills, and you will have to think about several factors before deciding to release your arrow from your bow.

When practicing your shots, do not feel pressured and think that you have to play like a professional right away. Perfecting the necessary skills for the sport will require plenty of time, and you should be willing to exert this resource when learning.

When practicing your shots, make sure to take your time, relax, and follow these tips:

  • Perfect your form: Before deciding on when you are going to release your arrow or how are you going to aim at your target better, start by perfecting your stance first. When playing archery, playing with the right position can improve your aim and overall performance of the sport.

For beginners, the best stance to practice is the square stance. You can implement this stance by:

  • Simply stand straight with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart. Both of your feet should be parallel to the line of shooting before, during, and after you made the shot.
  • Your knees should be bent slightly, and your hips should face forward. Make sure that your back is straight and not arching.
  • Stand straight and avoid leaning too forward or too far away from the target. Shoulders should be relaxed the entire time, and your torso should face straight ahead.

Nock your arrow

Nocking your arrow means putting your arrow on the string of your bow. For beginners, attaching a nock locator or string nock to your bowstring will make it easy for you to determine the nocking point on your trusty bow.

After setting the nocking point, listen for an audible click as you snap your arrow into place. Hearing this sound is a signal that your arrow is now locked into your bowstring and is ready to be released.

Hold the bowstring

There are several techniques in holding your bowstring, but for beginners, focus on learning the “three-finger draw” first. This is the most basic and the simplest way of holding your bowstring.

The three-finger draw will involve putting where your fingers make an initial bend on the bowstring. Carefully place your index finger above the arrow, and both the middle finger and ring fingers should be positioned below. Lastly, your thumbs should be relaxed and facing downwards.

Set your bow hand

Your bow hand determines the aim of your shots, which is why you should take time in setting your bow hand. Although there are several ways on how you can do this, the simplest way would include keeping your hand in a forward position and then letting the bow rest gently in your hand. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to grip it hard to get better shots.

Aim the arrow

Aiming the arrow is one of the most challenging phases when learning archery, but since you are still a beginner, there is no need to hurry the preparation.

When using a bow sight, make sure to use your dominant eye to lock your target and spend a couple of minutes to focus on that point. Position your bow and make sure that when you peek through the bow sight, all of the pins are in line with the target that is visible in your line of sight.

Release the arrow

To release the arrow from your bow, relax your fingers and let the bowstring move forward by itself. During this time, all you need to do is to let go.

Find A Good Coach

Regardless of how well-equipped and determined you are, you can never learn archery overnight. Having the right gear and passion for learning is a great start, but these are not enough for you to efficiently play the sport. You need to practice as often as possible, assess your performance, and improve gradually.

But if you want to expedite the process of learning archery as you wish to become a pro soon, invest in the services of an experienced coach. Hiring one will give structure to your attempts in learning archery as you will be guided on what to during practices and how you can improve based on your current skill set.

A coach can also share valuable tips about playing the sport and help you practice these tips. Along with regular practice and watching videos of professional archers, working with a coach will make it easier and fun for you to learn archery!

Never Compare

If you have been fascinated with archery for years, you likely saw how professional archers played during competitions. As a fan who just started playing the sport, you will probably compare your performance to the performance of your idols and wish that you can perform just like them.

Looking up to a professional archer is a great way to keep yourself inspired, but you should know when to draw the limit. If you want to effectively learn archery and succeed in playing the sport in the future, never compare yourself to the performance of other archers. Doing this can impact your mental health and might even discourage you to continue playing.

Stop worrying about what other people think about your performance or stress about how soon you can have the skills of professionals but instead, focus on yourself. Concentrate on your games, audit your performance, and never get tired of learning.

By paying more attention to your performance rather than the performance of other people, it will not be long until you can participate in more significant competitions and earn the same amount of recognition as your idols. 

Think Positive

You need to invest in several pieces of equipment and learn different techniques if you want to play archery. This still does not include the changes you will have to make in your schedule so you can find time to practice regularly. Completing all of these tasks can be daunting, but once you can familiarize and even master archery, you will realize that all of your efforts will be worth it.

Aside from using this article as your guide, always have the patience and willingness to learn. Have fun during the process and make the most out of your experience!   


Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • WALDROOP, A. (2020) Archery 101 [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article536.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Archie Waldroop is a sports coach who works with individuals and teams in introducing a new sport or improving their skills for a sport they have played for years. Archie creates unique sports tactics and strategies based on the players' current skill set and goal. When Archie is not busy working, he likes to sweat in his home gym or write sport-related articles.

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