Archery is for everyone. It’s accessible and low impact, and there are so many different disciplines to choose from. We spoke with Linda Ochoa-Anderson of Team USA at the Hyundai Archery World Cup and World Championships in Yankton, South Dakota, and asked her how an aspiring archer can get started in the sport.
How Linda Ochoa-Anderson’s Journey Began
Ochoa-Anderson’s journey into archery began in her home country of Mexico — she competed for Team Mexico for 17 years — and was inspired by her dad. “He loves hunting,” Ochoa-Anderson said. “He used to rifle hunt and then he found archery. So, he started hunting with archery and he loves it. In Mexico at that time — this was like 20 years ago — we didn’t have as many archers as we do now, so they were really excited to get me into archery.”
So, how did that initial spark lead her to the competitive target archery circuit? “I have an older sister and she got invited to tournaments, so that’s how I got into target archery,” she said. “But it was mostly because of my dad.” Ochoa-Anderson sticks mainly with target archery but has enjoyed her dad’s passion for hunting and has gone on hunts with him before. “I will always cherish those moments,” she said.
When she started competing in tournaments, it was immediately obvious that the talent for archery runs in the family. “My first tournament was in Mexico City, and it was nationals,” she said. “I had no idea how everything worked, but I always wanted to be like my older sister. … She was really good, so I just wanted to get a medal. I got a bronze medal, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.” She would later go on to break the compound women’s world record for most X-ring shots in a 50-meter match in 2018.
Competing in your first tournament can open a world of possibilities, no matter how big or small the tournament.
Start by Finding a Range, Shop or Club
Find a club or league where you can shoot regularly to practice and hone your technique and connect with other archers. “Everyone was so welcoming here in the U.S. and archery is huge here, so I feel like it was very easy for me to find a club,” she said. “We lived close to a club in Utah, so we just went there and started shooting league night. And everyone goes to the same bow shop there and they helped a lot. If you find a club, they will guide you to whatever is best for you.” After you’ve practiced for a while and feel like you’re ready, talk to someone and see if there are any tournaments nearby. Start small, then work your way up the circuit.
“Ask the local club which tournaments they have locally, then go to state tournaments,” Ochoa-Anderson said. “Once you get into that environment, they will guide you and say ‘OK, we have these state tournaments, then do you want to go to nationals or do you want to be on the U.S. team? Then you need to shoot this one.’ It’s always nice to shoot the local tournaments, too, because that’s where you get the most information.”
It all begins with a question. You won’t know what’s out there and available to you until you ask.
Use Our Store Locator
You can use our store locator to find archery ranges and shops in your area: All you have to do is put in your ZIP code. The list has helpful icons that show you what the range or shop offers, at a glance. Browse for shops that offer lessons, a range, coaching, equipment, or club activities. You can filter the search even further, by category, and view only the places that offer simulators, equipment rental, etc. The guide helps you easily identify which shop or range will fit your needs.
Beyond learning which tournaments to go to, gathering advice from other archers is one of the most valuable things an archer can do to prepare for a tournament. That advice can come from other competitors, the bow technicians at your archery shop or your own personal coach. Ochoa-Anderson notes that she had an excellent coach who gave her great advice. Her personal advice: Enjoy it. “I’ve been doing it for so long that if I didn’t enjoy it, I would have been miserable for those 20 years,” she said. “Do it because you like it.”
When you’re first starting out, it’s important to get your information from someone who’s an experienced archer and/or someone who has already been in the tournament circuit. “I’ve seen so many archers that have the wrong draw length or a different bow or different arrows, like if we’re shooting indoors, they have skinny arrows,” she said. “If you go to your local bow shop, they’ll help you out. They’ll ask you ‘Where are you going? Are you shooting 3D, indoor, or outdoor?’ Because there’s different setups for that. So go with someone that knows and they’ll help you out.”
It’s hard to know every detail of the process right off the bat. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can. You may not realize there’s something you’ve missed until you talk to someone. Ochoa-Anderson encourages new archers to ask questions of other archers or people in the bow shop. “The more you get to know your own equipment, the better it’s going to be for you and the easier it will be to fix it,” she said. “Sometimes at tournaments we have equipment failure, and if you know how your equipment works it’s going to be easier for you to fix it instead of finding someone to fix it.” She notes that the archery community will be there to answer your questions.
What Do You Take to a Tournament?
It’s important to go into a tournament with the right mind-set and right equipment. Ochoa-Anderson shared what equipment she brings to every tournament. “I have two of everything. I have a spare bow,” she said. “I carry two dozen arrows. One tournament I had bad luck in official practice. It was super windy, and my target was the only one that fell on the ground … it took seven arrows and I only had one dozen, so I had to borrow arrows from another guy. It was fine, but ever since then I carry two dozen arrows.”
She also reiterated how important it is to know your equipment. “Tying a D-loop is basic. You have to know how to do that, and a lot of people don’t,” she said. “I try to encourage people to learn how to do that.”
Archery Is for You
Archery is a great sport for anyone looking for a new hobby or something they can pursue professionally. Whether archery’s already in your family or you’re looking for a sport to call your own, take that first step and see if archery is the one for you. Visit your local archery shop and ask a bow technician to help you choose your first bow. Continue practicing at the range and meet other archers who can give you advice and help you find the right path. Archery is a community, so find those community members.
Check out our store locator to find an archery range near you and start your journey into archery!