Your First Archery Lesson:
Fun = Success! Your First Archery Lesson: Fun = Success!

My first archery lesson wasn’t a lesson at all. I was 20 years old and in college. I tried a friend’s compound bow that wasn’t the right size or draw weight. It felt overwhelming and a little scary, so I put it down with an embarrassed smile. The chances of me trying that again? Slim to none.

But 17 years later, I’ve shot recurve and compound bows for over 10 years, and I now coach archery. In fact, I was a full-time instructor for four years, teaching over 200 kids and adults each week how to shoot. How did I get from “no way” to full-time coaching? I took a real lesson.

Photo credit: Coach Derek Davis

Photo: archer Sachiko Keane practices during a television interview. Photo credit: Coach Derek Davis

People try archery for many reasons. Maybe a friend is into it, or it’s offered in camp or in school, or it just looked fun in the movies. Those are great reasons to try archery, but you don’t need any reason beyond this: Archery is fun.

It’s a challenging but not frustrating sport. Anyone can become great at it, regardless of their athleticism or natural talent. And you get an amazing confidence boost when hitting your target. It’s also a great workout and an awesome stress reliever. Best of all, you can shoot with friends and family, or just have fun shooting by yourself. Your options are endless.

So why take lessons? First, you’ll learn to shoot safely and correctly. Yes, we know you have common sense and you’ll keep your bow and arrow pointed at your target. But will you use the muscles that ensure a great upper body workout? And will you learn how to release the arrow for maximum success? That vital stuff comes from coaches.

Photo: Coach Mel Nichols assists archer Frankie Waters. Credit: Waters & Waters Photography

Photo: Coach Mel Nichols assists archer Frankie Waters. Photo credit: Waters & Waters Photography

You don’t need Olympic-level coaching to get started. The top archery organizations certify their instructors, and you can find one at most archery ranges and pro shops. If you don’t live near an archery retailer, try looking for an archery club or program. Either can provide options for learning how to shoot.

When you call to schedule a lesson, you might have the option of a private lesson with an instructor or a group lesson in a class. Both choices deliver great information in fun, relaxed settings. Check ahead, but you should be able to rent equipment when you arrive. For your lesson, wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Casual is perfect for archery.

Expect your instructor to first cover safety basics, and then the parts of the bow and arrow before explaining how to shoot them. Archery is usually taught in an easy, step-by-step process, so you can ask questions along the way. Once finishing the explanations, instructors often demonstrate a shot to show what you’ll be doing. Then, it’s time for you to try archery!

Photo: Coach George Ryals gives a little encouragement to Alan Holtsinger. Photo credit: Archery Learning Center

Photo: Coach George Ryals gives a little encouragement to Alan Holtsinger. Photo credit: Archery Learning Center

Remember to relax and have fun. Your first goal isn’t to hit the middle of your target, although that’s a fun part of it. For now you want to learn a good technique for shooting a bow so you can enjoy archery as often as you want. Most archers find that when they relax and focus on their shooting technique – also called “form” – they hit the target’s bull’s-eye more consistently.

Hopefully, your first lesson will be fun and interesting, and you’ll come back for more! Be sure to ask at the range, club or pro shop how you can stay involved and shoot again. Many archery clubs or businesses offer group classes, leagues or open practice times. You’ll be amazed how many cool people you’ll meet through archery. The first step to a lifetime of archery fun is a quick call to schedule your first lesson.

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