How to get started with Archery

By Marion Fernandez
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How to get started with Archery

Marion Fernandez
 
 
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Regardless what your source of inspiration is, be it hunting, Legolas, or Katniss Everdeen, training in archery is an exciting endeavor. Archery is not only fun, but it is an excellent form of exercise too. Yet to begin, it can seem a bit of a mystery. Buying a bow and a set of arrows simply isn’t enough if you really want to become a competent archer. But getting started is the key.

1. Getting a bow

Compound Bow
Compound Bow

Of course, to begin training in archery, you are going to need a bow. There are two primary types of bow: the compound and the recurve. Which bow you select will be based on what you intend to do with it. A compound bow is stronger and more powerful than a recurve. This is the ideal bow for bow hunters as it will allow arrows to fly faster and further.

Meanwhile, a recurve bow is what you usually see in movies and is the only bow that is permitted at the Olympics. They rely more on your own skill in order to achieve a shot. Because they are easier to fire than a compound bow, they are the best choice for a beginner archer. They are also typically less costly.

Selecting a draw weight for a bow is entirely based on your ability to bend the bow. Starting out, it is not recommended that you select anything too high as it can be frustrating if you are fighting to bend it instead of focusing on your accuracy. The average adult woman would need 16 to 26 pounds in draw weight for a recurve bow and the average man would need 22 to 28 pounds. A compound bow’s weight will be higher, in the 30 to 40-pound range.

Archery bows are a bit more complicated than you might think
Archery bows are a bit more complicated than you might think

Likewise, you will need to be sure that the draw length is right for you as well. The draw length is as essential as getting your shoe size right. To calculate your draw length, you take your wingspan and divide it by 2.5.

2. Learn the proper stance

Take enough time to master the basics before you try to shoot an apple off someone’s head…
Take enough time to master the basics before you try to shoot an apple off someone’s head…

You will need to work on your form before you even nock your first arrow. To start, you will need to stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, facing sideways. Your feet will need to be pointed toward the target. Do not bend your knees and make sure you are standing totally straight. Your head will be looking at the target. The only thing that moves is going to be your arms as they draw back and release the arrow.

3. Arrows and loading

Unlike the arrows of old, modern arrows will come with three fletchings at the end. A fletch is the end of the arrow that used to be made out of feathers. Modern ones are usually plastic fletchings with two of them being one color and the last a different color. The one that is not the same as the others will be facing away from the bow. The nock is the tip of the arrow that has a notch to put the bowstring in. You will need to put the nock in between the drawback pad.

4. Find somewhere to practice

Archery clubs are a good place to practice and to pick up tips from the experts
Archery clubs are a good place to practice and to pick up tips from the experts

When you get started, you shouldn’t be anywhere near people. Professional archers may shoot with crowds watching, but beginners run a higher risk of shooting the somebody in the crowd. Unless you have a large yard, it is best to not practice there because of the risk of shooting at your neighbors. While we may think of archery as a leisure pursuit, don’t forget that it was a skill used in warfare for centuries. Bows can be deadly if used improperly.

Many areas have archery clubs for just this reason. See if there are any near you and if they would allow you to go try your bow out on a trial basis until you are certain about your commitment to archery. An archery club will not only have a space to practice shooting, but is also likely to have teachers who may be able to help you work on your archery skills. You could even check with a club about testing bows before making your final decision between compound or recurve bows.

5. Now you can shoot

If you have secured a location and have a general idea about nocking the arrow, you should be ready to try some archery. Once you have assumed the stance we talked about above, you will need to nock the arrow. Then, put the hand holding the bow straight out, with the other hand holding the string and arrow. Be sure to not lock up your shoulder so you do not hurt yourself.

Now you’re just like Robin Hood
Now you’re just like Robin Hood

To properly hold the bow, you will use your pointer, middle, and ring finger, but keep your thumb down. Draw the bow back using three fingers around the string and the arrow, pulling it back to your face near your mouth. The point is to be able to look down the arrow to aim. Do not tense up too much. Instead, relax your shoulders. Then release the arrow from the draw hand, but do not move the bow until you have cleared the shot. Doing otherwise will mess up your aim and could have dire consequences. Slouching while shooting will also run the risk of poor aim.

Archery really is a sport that anyone can take up. You will discover health benefits, camaraderie, and get to immerse yourself in a skill that has been part of human history for as long as we can remember. Just be safe out there and practice your aim. You will be having fun in no time at all.

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