Archery For Beginners - 27 Important things to know

This article has a companion video you will see below. Whether you like watching or reading, I hope this helps you! 

This article has 3 sections.

1) What equipment to get

2) How to shoot a bow

3) How to be successful at archery. 

For the sake of beginners, we have oversimplified many topics. This should be a great starting point for anyone considering archery. I hope you enjoy it!

Section 1 - Equipment

1. Difference in bow poundage (compound VS. traditional)

Traditional bows, such as longbows and recurve bows, are more difficult to pull than compound bows. This is because traditional bows do not have the same mechanical advantages that compound bows have, such as cam systems and pulleys. As a result, a traditional bow of the same draw weight as a compound bow will require more effort to pull which is neither good nor bad just something to keep in mind when getting into archery. 

For example, a modern 70 lb compound bow is roughly equivalent “in terms of the amount of strength required to hold at full draw” as a 35 lb traditional bow. This is because the compound bow's cam system and pulleys reduce the amount of strength needed to hold the bow at full draw. Traditional bows generally are not held at full draw as long as compound bows for most styles of shooting. My advice is to start low and then build on poundage later this is not a strong-man competition it is an accuracy game and bow poundage does a lot less for you than good consistent form. And good consistent form is built through repetition and you can do more repetitions at lower poundages. 

2. Bow poundage to buy

When purchasing a bow, it is important to consider your own physical capabilities. A general rule of thumb is to choose a bow with a draw weight that is half of your maximum draw weight. This will allow you to shoot the bow with greater accuracy and for longer periods of time because you will be able to hold the bow steady.

Think about it like doing pull-ups. I can do 1 pull-up easily. 10 gets hard 100 in a row no chance. Yes, rest helps but In pull-ups, my 100th pull-up would be a set of 3 rather than 10 and my first pull-up would look easy compared to the 100th pull-up. We want shot #1 and 100 to be of equal difficulty, and if we want to get stronger we can train the muscles outside of shooting a bow like by doing pull-ups. If you want to go out and shoot 100 arrows each archery session. It would be a good idea to get a bow that you can comfortably shoot 100 times rather than 10 times or once.

Once muscle fatigue sets in the following shots become less and less productive to getting better at archery. “We will talk more about this in section 3 how to be successful at archery.” 

A bow with a draw weight that is too heavy for you will be difficult to hold steady, which can lead to inaccuracy. Additionally, it can also cause strain and fatigue in the muscles, making it difficult to shoot for extended periods of time. By choosing a bow with a draw weight that is half your maximum, you can shoot with greater accuracy and for longer periods of time, thus allowing you to enjoy the sport more and build good habits.

3. Test with an exercise band.

Most average men start in between 30 and 45 lbs with a traditional bow. My wife finds it comfortable to shoot a 25lb traditional bow and a 40lb compound bow. If you have a friend or an archery shop you can get a gauge for what poundage would be right for you. One of my favorite methods is to use an 8” band Test with an exercise band.

Again higher poundage does not mean you are better than others at archery. Faster cars do not make you better at driving, they actually increase your chance of wrecking. No need to have a fast car if the goal is to get to work safely. But if your goal is to break the sound barrier then go ahead with the ridiculously high draw weight.

4. Different types of bows

The difference in longbow recurve and reflex-deflex bows Longbows: recurve bows, and reflex-deflex bows are all types of traditional archery bows,, but they have distinct differences in design and function.

Longbows are the simplest and most traditional of the three types. They are typically made from a single piece of wood and have a classic D-shape when unstrung. The bow's limbs are relatively straight, and the string is attached directly to the tips of the limbs. Longbows are known for their smooth draw and natural feel, but they tend to be a bit slower than the other two types of bows as far as arrow speed goes.  

Recurve bows, on the other hand, have limbs that curve away from the archer at the tips. This design allows for a more compact bow and also increases the efficiency of the bow by storing more energy in the limbs. The result is a bow that can shoot arrows faster and farther than a longbow of the same poundage. Recurve bows are the most popular overall traditional bow design and are commonly used in hunting, target shooting, and competition.

A reflex-deflex bow is a type of longbow that has reflexed limb tips and a deflexed grip. The reflexed limb tips cause the bow to store more energy in the limbs, similar to a recurve bow. The deflexed grip, on the other hand, makes the bow more stable, allowing for more accurate shooting. This type of bow is also known for its smooth draw and natural feel. I like to say it’s the best of both worlds.

5. Go to your local shop

 If you have a local bow shop you can often go test bows out first before you commit. Maybe one day I will have a local shop of my own!

6. Buy From a place that offers returns

 You can also buy from a place that allows returns like… shatterproof Archery or Amazon. 

7. Bowstrings

 Every bow I have bought comes with a bowstring and if you're just starting it's no problem to shoot that first. There are two types of bowstrings endless loop and flemish twist. Both of these methods are describing how the string is made. The flemish twist is widely known as the more premium string. If you don't want to do research on bowstrings get a flemish twist D97 string and you will be good to go. If you want to do research check out the archery library or any of the 25 videos on the shatterproof archery youtube channel about bowstrings. 

8. Finger protection

When shooting traditional archery, most archers choose to use gloves or tabs to protect their fingers from the string, although some prefer bare fingers. A glove, typically made of leather, is worn on the hand that holds the bowstring and acts as a barrier between the string and the skin. Tabs, on the other hand, are small pieces of leather or sometimes other material that are attached to the fingers and provide a surface for the string to rest against. Both gloves and tabs are used to prevent injury and calluses from forming on the fingers, as well as to improve the overall grip on the string. Some archers prefer gloves because they are intuitive to use, while others prefer tabs because they allow for lots of flexibility in aiming methods. Some people like to feel the string more, and this is achieved through the thickness of the glove or tab. In most cases, a glove will have thinner leather than a tab.  Ultimately, the choice of gloves or tabs is a matter of personal preference and what feels most comfortable for the individual archer.

9. Arm guard and arm protection

Arm Guards are an important piece of equipment for traditional archers because they provide protection for the inner forearm from the string slap. String slap is when the bowstring hits the inside of the archer's forearm during the release of the arrow. This can cause redness, bruising, and even cuts or abrasions. It's made of leather or other durable materials and its design can vary from simple straps to more elaborate designs with padding for added comfort. Armguards are a useful and necessary piece of equipment for traditional archers as it can prevent injury and discomfort, and allows archers to shoot more comfortably and accurately.

10. How to string a bow

There are a couple of methods to stringing a bow but first a quick warning, beginner archers sometimes will look at a recurve bow and want to string it backward. Don’t do that, it doesn’t work. Remember that with a recurve bow, the limbs will bend away from you when the bow is unstrung. The side of the bow closer to you is called the belly of the bow and that is the side the string goes on, the side further from you is called the back of the bow. 

One method of stringing a bow and the safest way for you and your bow is with a bowstringer. Take the top loop of the bowstring and slide it down the top limb. The top loop is usually larger than the bottom. Put the bottom loop in the string groove and place the bowstringer over the bottom loop. Slide the other end of the bowstringer on to the top limb, step on the string with one or two feet, and pull the bow up towards the ceiling. As you pull up, slide the top loop into place and release the pressure. The bow is now strung.

Another method of stringing a bow is with your leg. This method works great you just have to be careful with the tip of the bow. I like to put the tip on a soft surface to string the bow this way. Put the bottom loop on the bow, Step between the bow and the string, and bend the bow over your leg.

11. Nail knot floss and brass nocking points. (Make this video First link to it)

A nocking point is a great way to increase consistency. A nocking point is just a marker showing where to nock the arrow every time. There are a couple of ways to add a nocking point to your bowstring, check out this video. 

12. Trad bows use feathers instead of veins 

When getting arrows for your traditional bow you will want the fletching to be feathers or foldable, this is because trad bows usually have an arrow shelf rather than an arrow rest.

13. Arrow tuning

The main thing here is to match stiffness to poundage so the arrow flies straight. This is much easier to learn through a video so here is the link

14. Targets

There a many inexpensive options for a target to shoot. The most inexpensive is probably stump shooting (explain stump shooting) or shooting a steep bank. You can often go to your local archery shop for an indoor range, often cities have stationary or 3d ranges that are low-cost. If you want to shoot in your own backyard or set up your own target you can buy a cheap target for $20 or you can build your own by using cardboard and a ratchet strap, strap it tight and shoot between layers of cardboard rather than through the layers to easily pull the arrow out. You can also use a hay bail, a box full of old t-shirts or your neighbor's truck.

Section 2 - Shooting the bow 

15. Get close- big target - safe backdrop

It's hard to feel the freedom to improve at archery when you are scared of shooting your neighbor's truck. Get close to a large target with a safe backdrop. 

16. Drawback to what is comfortable/ anchor point

Your anchor point is where your hand rests, usually on your face and this is another way to improve consistency. You want your anchor point to be exactly the same every shot because if it is not, your sight picture will stay the same while your arrow flies in different directions.

17. Cant the bow

Cant the bow so arrow does not fall off the arrow rest. Grip the bow with your hand gently let your thumb and index finger gently touch without squeezing the bow like a hammer.

18. Pull back multiple times before shooting

 Do this for the comfort of the draw, do it 10 or 25 times.

19. What is dry firing and why to avoid it

Dry firing the bow is shooting the bow without an arrow. This does not seem like it would be a big deal but it is. Dry firing can actually break your bow. Feel free to draw a bow without an arrow but never fire it without one.

20. Surprise Release

Relax your fingers and let the string slip through You don't need to know exactly when the string releases.  When you grip the string it should be like carrying a bucket and with your wrist straight and fingers bent. And when you release the string it should be like dropping a bucket. 

21. The goal is to have a good time and let arrows fly initially.

 Do not let the number of details you could learn to keep you from nocking an arrow and letting it fly.

22. If you are competitive compare yourself to yourself. 

Measure your shots and take the average of every 10 or maybe average every session.

23-25 Aming preferences 3 types 

Aiming with a traditional bow is different than aiming with a compound bow and it is part of what makes traditional archery so much fun. Compound bows usually have sight and you line the pin up with the target. Traditional bows usually don’t have sights which is why people use instinctive, gap, and string walking to aim.

23. Quick overview of instinctive

Instinctive shooting is basically focusing on the target, the very smallest point you want to hit, and letting your subconscious aim.

24. Quick overview of gap 

With gap, you use the tip of the arrow to aim. You find your point on at say, 30 yards so if you were at 20 you would aim low and if you were at 40 you would aim high.

25. Quick overview of string walking

String walking is moving your hand up or down the string to adjust for distances rather than aiming high or low. If you shot three under and your point on was 30 yards, then at 20 yards you would slide your hand maybe 1 inch down the string and still aim with the point of the arrow. 

Section 3 - How to be successful in archery 

26. Know your goals. Competition, hunting, fun, relaxing hobby, community building, long distance, horseback riding, heavy draw, or accuracy ext.

27. Judge your success on how you are achieving your goals, not other people's goals. That's the beauty of archery there is so much variety and so many rabbit holes that are all a blast to go down.  



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