It’s Christmas morning and the excitement of the day is palpable. You’re enjoying your time with family and/or friends, celebrating your own traditions in your own way, and you open your gift: It’s a new bow. You’re eager to try archery but admittedly have no idea where to start or what to do next. Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide for what to do after you receive your new archery equipment on the big day.
Step 1: Determine what form of archery interests you the most.
There are many ways to practice and enjoy the sport of archery, and you’re not limited to just one! Try your hand at different forms of archery and see which one(s) you enjoy.
- Practice at a range or in your backyard, if you have adequate room and can put up a backstop, just for your own enjoyment. If you’d like a little bit of friendly competition, join a league to practice with other archers and compete in a relaxed, informal setting.
- 3D, Field, or Target Archery
- 3D Archery: In 3D archery, archers shoot their arrows at foam targets resembling various animals. Each animal target is different and at a different range, which adds to the challenge. And 3D archery has both indoor and outdoor tournament options.
- Field Archery: Field archery is an outdoor discipline in which the archers shoot their arrows at targets ranging in distance and size. Some targets require archers to shoot at angles on hillsides.
- Target Archery: It’s exactly what you think of when you envision standard archery. You’ll be shooting at a traditional 10-ring target at a known, set distance.
- If you’re interested in bowhunting, take a bowhunter education course to learn hunting regulations, the basics of bowhunting and proper safety techniques. Practicing bowhunting will allow you to harvest wild game to add to your dinner table while practicing archery at the same time. You’ll learn how to shoot from elevated angles and under various weather conditions.
Step 2: Visit an archery shop to set up your bow and buy other equipment.
Before you nock your first arrow, you’ll need to visit an archery shop to set up your bow. They’ll make sure the bow is properly adjusted and fitted to you. If you have a recurve bow, they’ll make sure it’s strung properly; and if it’s a compound bow, they’ll adjust the draw weight and length for you.
If you received only the bow, you’ll need to get a round of arrows. The bow technicians will let you know what kind of arrow is needed for your specific bow, based on your specifications and whether you’ll be hunting or target shooting, indoors or outdoors. If you’re shooting a recurve, a bow and arrows are really all you need to get started, but there are optional accessories.
Sights attach to your bow and provide a precise reference for aiming. Stabilizers attach to the front of your bow and will help balance the weight of the bow. A compound bow set up for hunting will need an arrow rest of some sort, a sight, and a release aid for most shooters. You’ll also probably need a peep served into the string, and a D-loop nocking point. Your shop technician can assist with all of these things.
Technically optional, but incredibly handy, are quivers. Quivers hold your arrows and hook to a belt over your hips (many hunters use quivers mounted to their bows). This helps keep your arrows at arm’s reach at your side as you’re practicing so you can quickly nock your next arrow. They are also a fun way to express yourself. You can attach pins or other items to your quiver and make it uniquely yours.
Step 3: Practice.
If you chose archery: Practice regularly at your archery range to continue growing your skills and connect with other archers. When you’ve strengthened your muscles and are ready for a higher draw weight, the bow technicians will help you adjust your bow.
If you chose bowhunting: All of the above applies, and you’ll want to find a hunting mentor to take you out on your first hunt. Reach out to a friend who bowhunts or see if there’s a Field to Fork or similar program nearby for aspiring bowhunters in your area.
Step 4: Go for it!
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your bow, you might want to take your skills to the tournament circuit. Tournaments are a wonderful way to meet other archers and gather valuable advice. Many tournaments offer multiple divisions: recurve, compound, bowhunter, etc., so whichever discipline you choose, there’s a competitive route for you. Learn everything you can from the more experienced archers. While tournaments give you the platform to test your skills against other archers, remember not to dwell too much on how well others are doing compared with you. You are always competing against your own personal best, first and foremost.
We hope that now that the wrapping paper has settled and another holiday has been enjoyed, you’ll know exactly what the new year will bring: archery. Receiving your new bow will be the start of something great. As you start your journey, lean on the pros at your archery shop for advice and never hesitate to ask questions. Let this gift and the new year bring you a new hobby you can enjoy year-round.
Visit our store locator to find a range near you and begin your journey.