To enjoy archery, all you really need is a bow, some arrows and a target. But the sport comes in many forms. Shooting at targets can be laid-back or competitive. And archery can be a quiet, solo endeavor or enjoyed in a group. Sometimes, hunting is involved. Here’s a look at different forms of our sport and organizations that represent each area. If you’re looking to enjoy archery even more, consider trying some of these variations.
Indoor Archery Leagues
Leagues are a great way to hone your shooting skills in winter, when cold weather might prevent you from practicing outside. A few different tournament formats exist, such as NFAA targets or USA Archery targets, but they all involve shooting at 20-yard circular targets. The closer to the center ring, the more points you score with each shot.
National Field Archery Association: National Field Archery Association (nfaausa.com)
World Archery: World Archery
The National Archery in the Schools Program has brought indoor archery leagues to youths. The program introduces archery to a diverse group and is taught by certified teachers, often as part of a physical education course. Although teams and individuals may qualify to shoot at state and national competitions, the primary focus is to teach archery skills in a safe manner.
National Archery in the Schools Program: NASP Schools – National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP)
Field archery involves shooting at outdoor targets, often in a somewhat realistic, wooded hunting situation. Depending on the event, you might be shooting at two-dimensional circular targets at known distances or realistic 3D targets shaped like game animals at unknown distances. The outdoor factor, including changing weather and lighting conditions, gives the sport a unique twist over indoor competition.
USA Archery: USA Archery (usarchery.org)
Archery Shooters Association: Premier 3-D Pro/Am Archery – ASA Archery
Extreme archery is like playing dodgeball or paintball with archery equipment. Players don safety gear and use low-poundage bows with soft-tipped arrows to shoot opposing players in a paintball-style course. Points are scored for shooting other players and for actually catching arrows fired at you.
International Extreme Archery Federation: IEAF – International Extreme Archery Federation
Mounted archery is a unique twist on the sport in which archers fire arrows while on horseback. The sport developed from warfare and hunting excursions that took place centuries ago. Learning to shoot from a horse develops a whole new archery skill set.
Mounted Archery Association of the Americas: Horseback Archery | Mounted Archery Association of the Americas
In archery golf, you’re essentially playing golf with your bow and arrow. Like golf, you try to shoot the target with the fewest shots. The game is played outside in a golf course-like setting. One fun aspect of archery golf is that you’re often required to take much longer shots when teeing off than you would in typical target shooting.
If you’re a great shot with a flair for entertainment and overcoming the impossible, you might attempt trick shots. These skilled archers take radical shots that require incredible skill, such as shooting an aspirin tablet out of the air, shooting arrows around an object to hit a concealed target, or even launching two arrows at two targets at the same time. If the phrase “don’t try this at home” makes you want to do the opposite, becoming a trick shot might just be your thing. Only try trick shots if you’re able to practice in a safe location, such as an open area. Do not try trick shots around other houses.
This is where fishing meets bowhunting. Bowfishermen target rough fish, many of which are nonnative invasive species, and some of which are great table fare. Besides being exciting, bowfishing helps control carp and other species that muddy up the waters and compete with native species for limited resources. Some bowfishermen simply stand along a stream or wade and shoot rough fish as they swim by. Those who have seriously committed to the sport may own specialized boats equipped with bright lights for night bowfishing. Depending on the state, you may need a fishing license or hunting license to participate.
Bowfishing Association of America: Home – Bowfishing Association of America
Bowhunters pursue game such as deer, turkeys or elk with archery equipment. Bowhunting is even more challenging than target archery because your quarry may spook and run away. You have to outwit a game animal’s senses of sight, hearing and smell — and get within effective range — before you can even take a shot. Regular target archery practice is essential to becoming a proficient shot before shooting at live animals. A hunting license is required, and depending on the state and species, you may be able to buy it over the counter, or you might have to apply for a tag.
Bowhunters United: We Are Bowhunters – Bowhunters United
International Bowhunting Organization: Home – International Bowhunting Organization (iboarchery.com)