Santa Brought Me a Bow...What
Should I Do With It? Santa Brought Me a Bow...What Should I Do With It?

Archery is hot enough this year to earn a spot on many wish lists. Opening a box from your archery retailer should send a new archer into mach-10 levels of excitement. What should you do after opening your archery presents? We’re here to help.

First, take inventory. Did you receive a bow?

If so, look in the box for directions or a handbook, and start reading. Does your bow have cams and/or wheels on both ends? If so, it’s a compound bow, the choice of world champions and bowhunters alike. What if it has no cams or wheels, but curved, elongated limbs? In that case, it’s a recurve bow, used by Olympians, world champions and traditional bowhunters.

Next, make sure you have all the accessories you need.

The most vital accessory is arrows, but don’t be alarmed if you don’t see any. Many archery retailers tell gift-givers to return with the archer so they can be custom-fit for arrows. Many variables go into selecting arrows, including price, material, length, spine (how much the arrow flexes) and diameter.

Continuing your inventory, you’ll probably find an arrow rest installed on your bow.

The rest guides the arrow when it’s snapped onto the bowstring. Speaking of which, your bow should have a string. If it’s a compound bow, it’s already strung. If it’s a recurve, the string is likely in the box or on the bow. If your recurve bow is not strung, though, don’t try it yourself. You’ll need a bow-stringer, and instructions or a lesson on how to use it safely

Finally, many archers use a sight, an aiming device that mounts on the bow to give you a reference point for shooting a target.

A sight is an optional accessory for many archers, especially beginners. You can always buy it after you’ve learned to shoot your bow correctly.

To shoot recurve bows, you need two safety items whether you’re a pro or beginner.

1) The first is an armguard, a piece of leather, fabric or plastic that protects the arm holding your bow.

2) The other necessity is a finger tab, usually a piece of leather that protects the fingers drawing the bowstring. If you didn’t find a finger tab, you might have received a shooting glove. If you found neither, your bowstring might be reinforced with a rubber piece in its center. Either alternative is OK.

What other items did you receive?

A quiver holds your arrows, and usually hooks onto a belt you’ll wear that fits over your hips. (You can use any belt for this purpose, but some archers get super fancy with belts, and that’s an option, too.) If you received a target, you’ll have a convenient way to practice, even at home.

The human touch

However, before setting up your bow and taking a few shots, it’s important to visit your archery retailer. Ask them them to show you how to set up your bow correctly, including stringing it safely if it’s a recurve bow, and custom-fitting the bow to you if it’s a compound. You’ll need to select arrows if they weren’t included. And if they were included, ask a bow technician to make sure they fit you.

One vital “accessory” every archer needs: a lesson or two from a coach or expert at your club. Lessons in archery’s fundamentals help prevent injury and teach the steps of correct shooting from the start. Lessons help ensure success and build your confidence quickly.

Once you start shooting, you will find many ways to enjoy the sport by yourself or with friends and family. Leagues, clubs and tournaments are just a few ways to feed your archery addiction. You can join a national association, and participate in archery on the local, national or even international level! Wherever archery takes you, your journey begins with that first visit to a pro shop.

Find a store near you.