What Is Archery And How Do I Get Started?

Dec 20, 2021Archery Basics

If you’re currently looking for a new hobby and interested in learning more about archery, you may be wondering what is archery exactly? Even though it may seem like all you need to do is grab a bow and some arrows and start shooting, there’s a lot more to it than you may think. Only once you understand what archery really is can you then decide on whether or not archery is right for you.

After learning what archery is, you may determine that you want to give it a try! From there, your next step is to learn how you can get started. First, you must start by learning the basics of archery, as the basics are what make up your foundation as an archer. Even if you don’t know the first thing about archery, this article will not only help you understand what archery is, but help you understand what you need to do to get started.

What Is Archery?

So, what is archery? Archery is a sport in which participants use a bow to shoot arrows. The bow generates power once pulled, propelling an arrow towards its target upon release. When an archer pulls back a bowstring, this flexes the bow’s limbs and stores energy. When the string is released, the limbs snap forward, transferring energy into the arrow for flight.

Archery requires both physical and mental strength, making it a sport that is beneficial for both body and mind. If done correctly, archery can be quite calming and support a number of health benefits.

The History Of Archery

Archery dates back to around 20,000 BC when the earliest evidence of arrowheads were found. While the bow and arrow was initially used for hunting, over the years they transformed into tools of war. Bows took many forms depending on the need in the geographical area. For example, Asian warriors often rode horses, making shorter bows much more functional. The Middle Ages in England saw the military use of longbows because they were faster than crossbows and provided good power at distance.

Once guns were invented, bow and arrow lost favor in war and archery was established as sport. In 1583, England held one of the first archery competitions, which had an estimated 3000 participants. Archery was first introduced to the Olympic Games in 1900 and didn’t become a permanent part of the Olympics until 1972.

The Benefits Of Archery

Archery offers a number of physical and mental benefits. Some of the benefits include building strong muscles, improving muscle memory, building hand-eye coordination, boosting energy levels, increasing blood flow, and many more. Archery has been called active meditation due to its ability to improve one’s mood, as well as minimize anxiety and depression. In a world of overwhelming distraction, archery helps clear the mind and build strength, offering a healthy way to escape and recharge.

Styles Of Archery

There are four main types of bows. While recurve bows tend to be ideal for new archers, you can choose any bow that you like. Here’s a brief introduction to each of the bow types.


The longbow is a traditional bow with limbs that gradually curve back toward the archer. A longbow’s limbs are narrow yet thick, with most longbows measuring more than five feet long. Because longbows are so long, they can be slightly cumbersome. They also tend to generate more hand shock compared to a recurve bow, but are the most traditional option.


The recurve is the most common type of traditional bow. A recurve bow’s limbs are wide and flat, and angle back towards the target (hence: recurve). This differentiates recurve bows from longbows because the bowstring sits against the limbs for a few inches after looping into the string grooves. Recurves are available in lengths from four feet to six feet and often break down into pieces for easier storage and transport.


Compound bows are the latest evolution of archery. This bow type is one that uses a system of cables and pulleys to bend its limbs in order to generate more shooting power. Invented in the 1960s, compound bows are more mechanically efficient as they store more energy and shoot much faster than other bow types of its size.


The crossbow doesn’t require archers to pull back their bowstring and hold it in place before firing. Instead, crossbows use a crank to pull the string back where it’s mechanically locked in place. This mechanical hold doesn’t require physical strength and because crossbows are fairly simple to use, they’re easier to get started with. Crossbows are also very powerful with some over 500 ft/s. It’s for this reason, crossbows are not allowed at most archery ranges, so keep this in mind when making a purchase.

Types Of Archery

Once you’ve chosen the type of bow you’d like to shoot, there are a number of archery disciplines you can choose from. You don’t need to pick any one discipline, but most find one they tend to enjoy most.

Target Archery

Target archery is the type of archery that people are most familiar with. It’s a discipline of shooting that requires archers to shoot at stationary targets from specific distances. Shooters are judged according to the accuracy of their arrows. It’s the only type of archery allowed in the Olympics, along with recurve bows.

Field Archery

Field archery is a type of archery that requires archers to shoot outside, at paper targets, and at various distances. Outdoor terrain tends to be in rough woodland areas, making it a more challenging environment. Field archery is a type of archery that imitates real-life hunting situations. This is my favorite type of archery because it’s outside, provides variety, and challenge.

3D Archery

3D archery is a type of archery in which archers shoot at a three-dimensional target. More often than not, this target looks like an animal to simulate a real-life hunting experience, i.e. deer, elk, turkey. Each 3D target is set up in a way to create a different shooting scenario, preparing hunters for any real-life scenario they might face. This is the most popular type of archery for hunters and I.B. O. competitors.


Bowhunting is a type of archery for those who want to hunt live animals using a bow and arrow. Because bowhunting involves a live animal, archers must first have state tags, and the experience necessary to know how to take ethical shots.

Getting Started With Archery

Before you can get started with archery, you’ll need to learn more about the equipment and rules you’ll need to follow. You’ll also need to perfect your shooting process and learn how to practice good form. Here’s an overview of the basics to help you get started.

1. Learn The Equipment

Yes, it can be easy for new archers to get overwhelmed with all of the archery equipment, gadgets, and gear available nowadays. What you should do is buy the basics and then as you become a more proficient shooter, you can add or upgrade your equipment. Common basics includes a recurve bow, bow stringer, bow sight, arrows, a quiver, an arm guard, a release aid, and targets.

2. Learn The Rules

You must learn the rules of archery in order to be safe. There are general archery rules you must learn, as well as range rules, so be sure to focus on learning both. Some of the more important rules of archery include always shooting using your proper form, only pointing your bow and arrow in a safe direction, only nocking your arrow when it’s safe to shoot, always wearing appropriate protective gear, never using damaged gear, and never dry firing your bow. We have an entire article dedicated to archery safety, so be sure to check that out before heading out to the range.

3. Learn The Shooting Process

There are 11 steps you’ll need to learn to perfect your shooting process. Even though 11 steps may seem like a lot, with a little bit of practice you’ll find that all of the steps link to the next, making for one smooth shooting process. Eventually, these steps will become second nature and you won’t have to give them as much thought.

Eleven Step Shooting Process:

  1. Stance
  2. Nock
  3. Hook & Grip
  4. Posture & Alignment
  5. Raise the Bow
  6. Draw down
  7. Anchor
  8. Transfer to Hold
  9. Aim
  10. Release/Follow Through
  11. Feedback
  12. Practice Good Form

You must practice good form to shoot your very best. Great form is essential to your ability to shoot consistently accurate. Many new archers seek out guidance from experienced archers to make sure they learn the right form from the beginning. This is important because if you learn improper form, it becomes increasingly difficult to break in the future. Once you learn proper form, it must repeat it until it becomes completely natural.


Whether you’re choosing archery as a fun hobby or a competitive sport, you must first understand what archery is. Now that you’ve read and understand more about archery, you have all of the information you need to get started as a new archer. Again, don’t become overwhelmed by all of the information you need to learn to get started in archery. With proper guidance, you can pick things up rather quickly.

While archery is easy to learn, it’s not easy to master. Whether you choose to teach yourself or hire an archery coach, your main focus should be on learning the proper fundamentals to excel as you improve.

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