Fun Challenges to Improve Your Archery

People need roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become experts, according to author Malcolm Gladwell. His theory has worked its way deep into pop culture. And although his time requirement might be inaccurate, almost all practice improves performance.

After you learn the basics of archery, improving your skills requires hours on the range. For some archers, the simple thrill of improving keeps them at full draw and flinging arrows. Other archers, however, grow bored with routine practice.

If you want to sharpen your skills and spice up your archery routines, try these fun ways to practice:

Popping Balloons

This is one of the simplest and most satisfying ways to practice. Balloons make great targets for all ages. Blow up different sized balloons and fasten them to a target. For even more fun, fill them with water, glitter or paint. And talk about even more fun: Some archery-loving families shoot glitter-filled balloons to reveal their baby’s gender before it’s born.


Create competition with a friend. Blow up two balloons of different colors and fasten them to one target. Next, each pick a color. Take turns shooting at your color. You score 1 point for each balloon you hit, but lose 1 point if you hit your opponent’s balloon. The archer with the most points wins.


In folklore, Swiss archer William Tell used a crossbow to shoot an apple from atop his son’s head at 80 paces. Definitely don’t try that at home! However, fruit can make a fun target. Choose fruits in several sizes and shoot from different distances.

Tic-Tac-Toe and Darts

Friendly competition can improve performance. Challenge a buddy to a game of tic-tac-toe with your bows. Several targets work great for this game, or you can just grab a marker and make your own. If you hit a square, it’s yours. If you miss the square, it’s still up for grabs. Complete a row first, and you win.


Darts can also be adapted for archery by simply enlarging a dartboard. You can usually buy these targets from archery dealers. Standard dart rules apply.


Enjoy a good old-fashioned poker night with your buddies and your bows. Tape a deck of cards facedown to a target. Each archer takes five shots. Turn the cards over, and the archer with the best poker hand wins.

Video Shoot

Virtual-hunting simulators put you into hunting situations in which you have precious seconds to analyze the shot angle, shot placement and shooting opportunity before releasing your arrow. Photo Credit: Scott Einsmann

Shooting at 3-D targets helps bowhunters practice where to aim on animals. However, archers who want to take it one step further should check out virtual-reality shoots. Many archery shops have video-based shooting ranges. Archers shoot arrows with special tips at animals projected onto a large screen. Aim as you would in the field. The projector detects whether each shot missed, injured or killed the animal. These ranges provide great practice for learning where to aim, and identifying and taking ethical shots.



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Learn the basics here, from the different styles of archery to how to choose the bow that’s right for you.


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