You’ve probably noticed the days are getting shorter, and it won’t be long before the trees are bare – ready or not. Luckily, the cooler weather doesn’t mean you have to stop shooting your bow. An indoor range is your winter oasis! Even better, these facilities are great places to try some competitive archery.
Indoor Practice Session
When winter comes, hone your archery skills indoors. For an hourly fee or membership dues, you can access an indoor archery range that gives you a warm and well-lit environment to work on your shooting technique.
At your local indoor range, you’ll also meet other archers and become part of the local archery scene. As a new archer, you might be worried about shooting in front of other people, but put those fears aside. All archers were new once, and we’ve all missed our share of targets.
Once you’re feeling confident, consider joining a league or try a competition. Indoor archery is an excellent introduction into the world of competitive archery because the distances are close. You don’t have to pull a high draw weight or have specialized equipment to participate in indoor competitions.
An archery league is a weekly tournament with a running score. At the end of the league, the archer with the best cumulative score wins. Most indoor leagues are shot at 18 meters or 20 yards.
Leagues are an excellent way to make friends and get involved in the local archery scene. Many leagues have handicapped scoring, which is like grading your archery score on a curve. It’s great for new shooters.
Signing up for an archery tournament might seem intimidating, but they’re actually very approachable. You’ll find the archers welcoming, and the egos turned down. That’s because in archery, you’re mostly competing against yourself. Indoor tournaments are usually shot at 20 yards. You can quickly become proficient at indoor distances, especially with instruction and proper gear.
At leagues and tournaments, you’ll keep score, which helps you track your progress as a shooter. Scoring varies depending on the tournament format. The two most common indoor archery formats are the USA Archery and National Field Archery Association rounds.
USA Archery uses a multicolored target with a gold center; the outer rings are red, blue, black and white. The rings score from 10 points to 1, with 10 being awarded for hitting the innermost circle. Archers in USA Archery indoor competitions shoot three arrows per “end,” which is one round of shooting. Check out this video to learn about the scoring rings.
The NFAA target has a white center circle that’s surrounded by blue outer rings. The rings score from 5 points to 1. NFAA competitors shoot five arrows per end.
In both formats, if an arrow touches a higher-scoring ring, you get the higher score. For example, if most of your arrow is in the nine-ring, but the arrow is just barely touching the 10-ring line, you receive the higher value.
While scoring, it’s against the rules to touch the arrows or targets. Doing so could change your score if you accidentally shift the arrows into a higher scoring ring. Also, archers write down their arrow scores from highest to lowest value. Once the arrows are scored, you can pull them from the target and prepare to shoot again.
What to buy
Need to get set up with gear for your indoor archery experience? Time to capture that same feeling you had as a kid when you walked through a toy store – mesmerized by packaged happiness!
Here’s everything you’ll need to get started in indoor archery.
Bow– This might seem obvious, but you have many options when choosing a bow. If you’re just starting, you can rent a bow while you save to buy your own. If you’re already a bowhunter, shoot your current bow in the bowhunter class for tournaments. Or buy a separate bow that’s tricked out for target shooting.
Arrows– Your standard arrows will certainly work, but most serious indoor shooters opt for indoor arrows. What’s the difference? Because archers aren’t battling wind, and the distance to the target is generally less than outdoor shooting, serious competitors shoot a larger diameter arrow. This arrow has a heavier point and larger fletching. These features make the arrows more accurate at indoor distances. The large diameter shaft helps catch lines for extra points.
– You’ll need a quiver that is worn at the hip and capable of holding all the arrows you need for the competition. Consider adding a release pouch and sturdy belt.
Sight– A sight with fine adjustment options will help you precisely zero your bow. Target sights have adjustments that don’t require tools, so you can quickly move your arrows into the 10-ring.
– When you’re done shooting and have to retrieve your arrows, you’ll need a place to set your bow. A bow stand is a portable device that keeps your bow off the ground when it’s not in use.
Arrow Puller and Lube– Sometimes pulling your arrows from the target is more work than shooting. Both arrow lube and an arrow puller can help. Arrow lube is applied to the tip of the arrow before shooting and makes the arrows easier to pull. An arrow puller is a piece of rubber that improves your gripping power on the arrow shaft. These two tools will save your energy for shooting.
When the weather gets chilly, head indoors for climate-controlled archery fun. With help from your local archery shop, you can shoot in indoor competitions to both test yourself and make new friends.