Getting Started in Archery Getting Started in Archery

So, you’ve seen or tried archery, and you’re wondering how to go from fan to competitor. Or perhaps you wish to go from observer to casual archer.

Whether you plan to shoot just for fun in your backyard, ascend the podium at an Olympic stadium, or land somewhere in between, there’s a place for you in archery.

Archery is a fun sport in which you use a bow and arrows to shoot at various types of targets. It can be done many ways, but at its core, it’s three things: fun, challenging and addictive. It’s also a great upper-body workout and, especially with outdoor shooting, provides a little cardio work by walking to and from the target to retrieve your arrows.

Archery features three primary disciplines, or games you play: target, field and 3D. Each discipline has at least one organization to help you find classes, a coach and competitions, including the chance to compete on national or international teams.

Target, the type of archery featured at the Olympic Games, consists of shooting at bull’s-eye style, multicolored targets at prescribed distances. Generally, target archers shoot 18 meters (about 20 yards) indoors, and 30 to 90 meters outdoors, depending on the archer’s age and equipment. Target archery – administered internationally by World Archery – features its own world championships and the popular World Cup series.

USA Archery is the United States’ governing body for target archery. It provides instructor certification, youth and adult programming, and competition opportunities locally and nationally. More information:

Field archery is often shot on a roving course in a woods with paper targets 20 feet to 80 yards away. This is a great discipline for nature lovers. You’ll hike and shoot targets at uphill and downhill angles. Field archery events are also available indoors.

The National Field Archery Association (NFAA) oversees field archery in the United States. The NFAA hosts many well-attended national events, and conducts instructor certification as part of a joint program with USA Archery. More information:

3D archery events are tournaments in which competitors walk a wooded or open course, and shoot at lifelike three-dimensional animal targets at different distances. These tourneys are conducted by the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) and the Archery Shooters’ Association (ASA).

These organizations offer many tournaments, including a Pro/Am circuit for the ASA, and a Triple Crown for the IBO. Both organizations also offer national championship events, and local competitions. More information: or

Once you’ve researched which types of archery you’d like to try, contact a coach and archery club to help you start on the right path. USA Archery offers an online coach and club locator to help you find a USA Archery/NFAA-certified instructor or coach. Finding a club near you is also quick and easy.

By joining a club, you can participate in nationwide programs for youths and adults that are competitive or purely recreational. These programs offer weekly classes, consistent coaching, and access to leagues and tournaments to help develop your skills. This access to expertise can also help you choose equipment, fine-tune techniques and shoot competitively.

Which type of bow should you shoot? It’s best to check with local experts who can help you try different equipment. In basic terms, your options are the Olympic recurve bow, a compound bow or, for traditionalists, a longbow. What you choose depends on what feels good to you as an archer, and the discipline you prefer.

Are you ready to start? Welcome to archery, one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. We’re glad you’ve joined us!

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