For many who partake in the sport, archery was likely introduced to them by another—be it a friend, family member, or otherwise. In my case, I was raised by family members who showed a fondness and appreciation for the outdoors and all that it entailed; as such, I was getting started in archery at the ripe young age of 5.
Times have changed, however, and as cities have grown, so have the number of people who come to express interest in archery that may not know anybody experienced in its ways who can “bring them into the fold.” If this sounds like you, if you have an interest in starting archery but don’t know where to begin your journey, keep reading to find out the 5 things I would do to familiarize myself with the sport.
Training Wheels: Getting Started in Archery
Step 1: Visit an archery shop and make connections.
One of the first things I would recommend for getting started in archery is to visit a pro shop. The pro staff will be more than happy to help and have extensive experience in bringing new and aspiring archers into the sport. Do bear in mind, however, that their job also includes selling a product and service, so I would recommend visiting multiple pro shops to find out which shop near you seems to suit your needs best.
Additionally, it never hurts to walk around and meet some of the archers who frequent your local shop/range. Oftentimes, you’ll meet local pros who represent the shop or a local dealer, all the way to your average Joe who will insist on giving you advice because he “knows a thing or two.” Being sure not to put all of your eggs in one basket, I would advise during this time to be a sponge and accumulate as much information as you possibly can. As you become more familiar with the sport, you will remember and be able to more effectively sift through this information to build your individual “style.”
Step 2: Start taking an archery class to familiarize yourself with the equipment commonly used in archery.
Whether you’re an experienced archer with goals to compete with the likes of Levi Morgan and Dan McCarthy, someone who is just getting started with archery, or someone who has never shot a bow before, we all could stand to benefit from lessons.
For archery basics for beginners, this will look something like an intro to the different types of archery supplies available, best safety practices, figuring out your general sizing and fitment, and some range practice with cheap bows available for use by the organization teaching the class. The safety aspect of the sport should not be understated, as archery equipment can store a lot of energy and is under extreme amounts of tension at times—so be sure to pay attention, but also make sure that you have fun.
Step 3: Try new bows and various types of archery equipment to see what suits you best.
Once you begin to familiarize yourself with the general concepts of archery and develop your “sea legs,” you should decide (if you haven’t already) what type of archery equipment and bow strings you would first like to grow with. Perhaps you want something very simple and straightforward, and you don’t have a large yard to practice—in this case, a traditional bow, such as a recurve or longbow, might suit you. Maybe you plan to do some bowhunting and need more precision, in which case a compound bow might be worth a look. Or, if you have an injury that prevents you from drawing a vertical bow, or you’re getting started in archery later in life, crossbows offer an ease of use that makes the sport much more available to people from all walks of life.
Step 4: Get started with a budget archery bow/equipment, so you don’t sink a large amount of money into the sport in case you don’t like it.
In step one, I mentioned visiting a pro shop when starting archery. While this can be helpful, I encourage exercising caution when shopping for a starter bow. While flagship bows have that feel to them, and a shop will be more than happy to sell you one, I always recommend new archers start with a budget bow to make sure they are committed to archery and aren’t going to give up the sport in 6 months. Trust me, you don’t want to be the person to spend $2,000 (or more) on a bow, just to get started and find that archery isn't for you.
Step 5: Consider attending archery shoots/events.
Archery shoots are one of the places where you will most likely see the highest concentration of archers than in any other setting (other than public land, if you’re in one of the heavily pressured states). That said, there are people who attend these events to shoot competitively and people who attend just to shoot for fun with friends and family. Mingling with people such as this at local events is a great way to build your archery network, and if you’re lucky, you might find yourself a mentor.
We’re Here to Help You Get Started in Archery
At the end of the day, there are many ways and opportunities to start archery. There are opportunities aplenty to keep you entertained and engaged, and there are opportunities for us more experienced archers to be a mentor and advocate for the sport. Keeping archery alive and thriving depends on us, on our ability to show people what makes archery so great. But it begins and ends with us and what we can do to help new archers develop a love and understanding of archery.