As with any skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to archery. Getting enough practice is essential for being a good shooter and maintaining consistent results. But for someone who is new to archery, knowing things such as where to practice, how often to do it, and what to practice can be a challenge.
Where to Practice Archery
The part of a good practice session is finding an adequate place to shoot. You will need a location that will give you enough space to shoot. It should also be safe, meaning nobody will be stepping onto the range and there is a secure backstop to stop stray arrows.
Archery Practice at Home
Your home can provide a great place to shoot your bow. It will most likely be the most convenient place to practice and the best part is it’s free! The biggest challenge will be finding an area with enough space to shoot. This might be found in the backyard, in the garage, or even down a long hallway in the house. Just ensure that it is safe and that nobody is going to cross your line of shooting.
The distance you get to shoot will depend on your home and your goals. You will most likely get longer distances in your backyard, while your garage or house will limit you to shooting around 10 yards or less. If your goal is to simply work your shooting muscles and send some arrows downrange, this can be adequate.
Archery Practice at the Range
One of the best places to shoot a bow is at a dedicated archery range. They are set up specifically for archery and will have enough space and resources to do so safely. Archery ranges come in all shapes and sizes. They can be indoor or outdoor ranges, run by archery clubs, or at the local shop. Some archery ranges are free while others require a fee to shoot.
The biggest advantage that archery ranges offer is the ability to shoot at various distances. This includes longer distances that you would not otherwise get to shoot at home. Even with a big backyard, you may not get to shoot past 50 or 60 yards like you would at an archery range. Some outdoor archery ranges even have targets out to 100 yards, allowing you to practice at extremely long ranges.
Archery Practice By Skill Level
In addition to finding a good place to shoot, you should also consider the type of practice that you do according to your skill level. Complete beginners are going to practice much differently than someone who has been shooting their entire lives.
Archery Practice for Beginners
Beginners will want to focus on the basics when they practice. You do NOT need to go out and shoot every day. The goal for beginners should be to have fun and get comfortable shooting the bow. Shooting once or twice a week will give you enough time to practice while also allowing your muscles to heal after each shooting session. You want to avoid getting tired as this will result in poor accuracy and a poor shooting experience. Enjoy the shooting process and try to have as much fun as possible. The most important thing to work on is your form and consistency while enjoying archery to the fullest. Try to shoot at least 50 to 100 arrows downrange during each of your practice sessions.
Intermediate Archery Practice
Once you have been shooting for a little while, you may want to start implementing new things into your practice sessions. This could be competing against other archers or taking more challenging shots. At this point in your journey, you should also start practicing more days per week. Instead of one or two times a week, increase your practice sessions to three or four times per week. This will help to increase your physical stamina, as well as mentally prepare you to compete against others. You should be firing 100 to 200 arrows per practice session to build upon your muscle memory and shooting skills. This should also be used to fine-tune your form and technique.
Advanced Archery Practice
At the advanced level, you will most likely be shooting 5 or 6 times a week. The actual volume of arrows that you are shooting per session will largely depend on the type of competition that you are training for. For example, if you are practicing for fun or for bowhunting then you will most likely be shooting fewer arrows than someone who is training for an all-day shooting competition. Try to shoot at least 100 arrows, however, in order to maintain the stamina that you have built up. At this point, you will also know what exactly you need to work on as far as form, technique, and skill in order to improve your accuracy. Just remember, even at an advanced level that shooting should be enjoyable so don’t forget to have fun!
How Often Should You Practice
How often you practice is going to depend on your personal goals and the amount of free time. When just getting started, getting out once or twice a week might be enough to learn the basics of archery and have fun. As your skills improve, you may opt to start shooting 3, 4, or 5 times a week as your schedule allows. This can help prepare you to accomplish your goals such as competing in a competition or having a successful bow hunt.
Another important aspect that is often overlooked is the physicality of archery. You may only practice a few times a week due to the fatigue you get after a practice session. As your stamina and physical strength grow, you can then begin to incorporate more practice into your regime. Of course, your busy schedule will also determine how often you get to practice. Even a quick practice session where you can only fire a few arrows is better than no practice at all!
Archery Practice Routines
In addition to regular shooting, mixing in some practice routines and drills can help take your skills to the next level. Not only will they help to improve your shooting, but they can be a fun and exciting way to break up an otherwise monotonous and dull practice session. Here are a few simple drills to get you started:
1. Blank Bale Shooting
This drill requires a blank hay bale or large target to shoot into. Stand 6 to 8 feet away from it so that you are close enough that it is impossible to miss. Close your eyes and draw your bow. Put all of your focus into your stance, grip, posture, and breathing. Closing your eyes will force you into putting your attention to all of the other aspects of shooting instead of aiming. After finding your anchor point and going through your shooting process, you can release your arrow into the blank bale. Just ensure you are facing your target before beginning this drill and that you are in a safe shooting environment.
2. Angle Drills
This drill involves nocking an arrow and shooting a target normally. What is different, however, is that you will be shooting at different angles that you would not normally practice. Most archers will shoot from the same angle every time. This drill will change this up and allow you to practice at angles that will test your abilities. Mix up the different angles for even more variety and challenge. This drill will help to improve your accuracy and make you more comfortable when you return to shooting your target head-on. This drill can also be extremely valuable for bowhunters who will shoot at various angles out in the field.
3. Long Distance Shooting
Shooting at a long distance can be helpful in identifying flaws in your technique or form. Even if you do not intend to shoot at long distances in competitions or hunting scenarios, practicing at these ranges can improve your shooting at every distance. Long distance amplifies flaws in your shooting, making them more noticeable the further you shoot. These problems can be addressed and fixed, allowing your regular shooting accuracy to be improved.
4. Count Down Drills
This drill will require the help of a friend or shooting partner. Start by getting ready to shoot at a target. Before drawing your bow, your friend will call out a random number. Once they do, draw your bow and hold. Your friend will now start counting from one. When they get to the number that they originally called, you will shoot your arrow at the target. This drill is done by many archery instructors and teachers in order to help improve concentration and control. It requires you to stay focused on the target and your form while simultaneously waiting for the opportunity to shoot. It can also help with hand-eye coordination.
5. Shoot the Clock
This drill involves a paper plate or a round target. Instead of trying to hit the center of the target, you will aim for just the outside. Aim for 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock to begin with, although you can change up the actual positions as you become comfortable with the drill. The point is to shoot at parts of the target that you are not accustomed to. This drill helps overcome and reduce the chance of acquiring target panic. You do not want to get too dependent on shooting at the same circle on a target, as this can make it difficult to become accurate on anything else.
Archery practice is one of the most important aspects of becoming a good shooter. It will give you the time necessary to improve your form, stance, posture, and other shooting techniques that will improve your accuracy and consistency. As long as you don’t overdo it, practice will make a world of difference and be the highlight of your day!