How to Get Back into Archery

Archery lesson

After a long, short, medium time away from archery, you are now looking to make a comeback and kickstart your archery journey again. Or, you have been a parent in the sport and you now want to give it a go and give your child a run for their money! Getting back into a sport can be daunting at times, you might not feel like you are ready, or strong enough, or might even question if you are too old to get back to it.

However! It is probably a lot easier than you think to get back into the wonderful sport. Whether it is an Olympic recurve bow, compound bow, longbow, crossbow or barebow that you want to get back to, we are here to help. Age is irrelevant with this sport, you can be old, middle age, or young to get back into it. As cheesy as it sounds, it is like riding a bike!

In this article, we will explain how easy it is to get back into shooting arrows and doing what you have loved before, if you tried it once or were an experienced archer. We will give you some hints and tips to make it easier to get back behind the bow.

We have put together some simple and frequently asked questions about getting back into archery for all levels of archers. Our ArcheryUP instructors are ready and waiting to get you back into this great sport and on your journey!

What do I need to know before returning to archery?

So you have done archery before, whether you were a child at summer camp, or trying it at school. An adult doing it on a weekend vacation, trying it at a local carnival, popping into a local pro shop to have a look, it does not matter how you have tried archery, or participated, archery is such an inclusive sport that anyone can pick up a bow and arrow and shoot!

If you have shot a bow and arrow before, you will understand that safety is paramount in the sport. While archery is meant to be fun and enjoyed, it is important to listen to all instructions that your ArcheryUP instructor gives you before, during, and after your sessions. You might remember them from before when you tried shooting, but safety aspects might have changed, so keep your ears open and prepared to relearn rules and safety!

Range safety is essential

You might be thinking you need to join an archery club in order to get back into archery. This is not one hundred percent true. If you are looking to get into tournaments, ArcheryUP will be able to get you shooting whichever type of bow you want and up to a great tournament ready standard. We are able to teach absolute beginners, through to experienced archers.

It might be worth looking through some online forums, videos and social media to see if and how much archery has changed since you last picked up a bow. It is an ever evolving sport, and might look very different, or very similar, to the last time you participated.

While archery ranges will pretty much be the same, being at camp and trying archery as a child is very different to shooting arrows at a professional archery range/club. The rules, the distances, the shooting rounds will probably be different. Reading up on it will prepare you very well before your first session back.

I have not shot a bow in years, does that matter?

No, it does not matter if you have not shot a bow in years, months, or even decades. Regardless of your age, upper body strength, whether you have been involved in archery for a long or short time, we can get you shooting again.

We strongly advise not going to an archery store or pro shop and buying equipment before you have your first few sessions back with an ArcheryUP instructor. We will be able to advise what equipment you should be buying for your level, your strength level, your age, etc. It would not make sense to go and buy equipment that is not right for you, so it is advised to wait until you know what set up you need before heading out and spending the money.

If you remember some of your measurements, such as draw length (provided this is recent ish), your draw weight, anchor point position, this could help set you up quicker in your first session back. It is not necessary though, all of our ArcheryUP instructors will be able to find this out during the session.

What will happen in my first session back?

During your first session, our ArcheryUP instructors will take you back to basics. Ensuring you are shooting the right way around (right or left handed), the bow style you want to shoot, whether it is compound, recurve or barebow. You do not need to bring or have any of your own equipment, we will supply this for you. From arm guards, bowstrings, finger tabs, risers, we have the equipment that is right for you.

We will assess what poundage you should be on to start back in the sport. Do not be alarmed, concerned or upset if the poundage is lower than you used to shoot. Archery muscles are very different to normal ones. You might be able to bench press a lot, but that does not necessarily mean you can have a high poundage bow.

Your ArcheryUP instructor will start you at a shorter distance to ensure you can hit the target face constantly. This will help build confidence back in the sport and help progression happen at your level and safely.

All of this can be done from the comfort of your own home as well. We will come to your house, set up safely in your backyard and get you back onto your archery journey with a programme that fits around you and your schedule.

I want to do archery for fun, is that ok?

That is definitely ok! We want everyone who has lessons with ArcheryUP to have an enjoyable, relaxing and fun time. If your goals are to shoot archery for fun, to relax outside of work and life, then this is perfect for you!

Girl shooting balloons at archery target

There are so many games and fun sessions to be had in archery, for all ages and abilities. Have a read of our blog post about archery games to see how much enjoyment you are in for!

Just because archery is a sport in the Olympics and Paralympics, that does not mean everyone who participates needs to be competitive in tournaments. There are different types of archery that can be done recreationally, target shooting, bowhunting, traditional archery. There are elements of the sport that everyone and anyone can enjoy.

It does not need to be done every single day in order to participate for fun. Shooting a bow every week or every other week can be very therapeutic and calming. It has the same attributes to the mind as meditating does. The calming energy, the focus required, the concentration. It all feels the mind to take away all other stresses and worries in the real world.

Participating in sessions with either just you or friends and family with your ArcheryUP instructor means you can set your own boundaries. If you want to set goals for yourself, you can, if you just want to learn archery, this is also what you can do.

The sport itself if very specific to each individual. Whatever you want to achieve, is what you do and set the bar at. It can be as small or as big as you want. Archery is limitless with goals. With games that can be played on the (safe) archery range. Everyone can find something within the sport that they will enjoy.

I am not sure which type of archery I want to do, does that matter?

As long as you know you want to start archery again, you want to give it another go, your instructor will be able to guide you through what types of archery are available. Bowhunting, target archery, field archery, traditional archery all take different skills. Which we can teach you throughout your sessions, depending what discipline you want to try and experience.

Our ultimate beginners guide explains the different types of archery that are available to participate and compete in. Field, 3D and target archery are the most prominent types around the USA.

While target and field are the biggest tournaments in the US, 3D is very up and coming, with a lot of competitions around the country. Target is the one you will probably recognise easiest, with the round colorful target faces. Field and 3D archery are explained easiest as golf but archery, around a forest or woods.

USA Archery Coach

Bowhunting is very popular as well. This is done with a compound bow, and requires a specific license in most states. Our instructors will be able to help you learn compound archery, which can also be used in field, 3D and target shooting. All of the disciplines are interchangeable as well, so once you have learnt one, you can switch in between. You do not have to pick one and stick to it. You can learn any of them at any age as well, a 7-year-old can learn to bow hunt with their parents, or target shooting or field or 3D. It is a very versatile sport.

How do I know which bow style is right for me?

Choosing the right bow style for you is not really something that can be taught. It comes down to personal preference. While many people who shoot recurve shoot compound for bowhunting, it is rare that compound archers will shoot recurve or barebow. They are very different bow styles, so they do have different components that need to be learnt for each.

Recurve bow is probably the most well known, with Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold shooting it at the Olympics and World Cups. Barebow is very similar to recurve, it just does not have a sight on it. There are many different types of recurve bow available, from riser color to different manufacturers. Compound bows are a more ‘aggressive’ type of archery. They are normally higher draw weight as well, but that should not deter you because this can all be learnt.

All three of these disciplines are competed in at tournaments, all at state, national, and international level. So if this is what you are aiming for (pun intended!), then these are the right disciplines for you.

On the other hand, there is also crossbow. This type of archery is a very different type of sport to compound, recurve, and barebow. While they are pretty cool, there are not as many places where they can be shot, due to the arrows that are required. The technique required is very different, due to not holding it at full draw, unlike the other three disciplines.

Our ArcheryUP instructors will be able to talk you through the different disciplines and bow types that are available within the sport, to help you get a better understanding. You need to make the right decision for you and your archery journey, however, so we cannot tell you which to shoot. Once you start on a bow style, that does not mean you have to stay on it forever. A lot of the technique can be interchangeable among the bow styles, so keep an open mind if you want to try or prefer the look of another one, there is nothing wrong with changing!

I hit my arm a lot when I was younger, will that still happen?

There are comments about hitting your arm with the bowstring as a child or as a beginner. This is usually because an armguard is forgotten by instructors at summer camps or carnivals, etc. An armguard is the piece of equipment that is designed to avoid hitting the arm and leaving bruises from the bowstring.

Archery armguard

ArcheryUP instructors will also help build a technique that works uniquely for you, as everyone is built differently, technique can change depending on the individual. Recurve archers and barebow archers are the most likely to wear an armguard. Not to say compound archers do not, but it is less common. If it is needed, then there is nothing wrong with this.

Another reason this could be happening is the bow is not tuned. The arrow rest could be in the wrong position. Our instructors will be able to assess this if you have your own equipment, or if the equipment you are using needs setting up.

The hand position on the riser can also affect this. So being aware not to grip too much and torque the bow when you start back shooting. Torquing the bow will make the bowstring react differently to its natural flow, thus potentially causing the arm being hit.

Additionally, the draw length could be too long. Using a communal bow at a have-a-go, or camp, or carnival could mean the draw length is not right for each individual.

Equipment set up for you by us will be right for you. The correct draw weight, length, poundage, etc for you specifically. This will make the sessions more enjoyable, more relaxed, and show progression on the journey.

I have my own equipment, but have not shot in ages. What should I do?

You have already got equipment from when you shot your bow before, that is great! You are close to being ready to go. There are just some key things to check and look for if you have not used the equipment in a while.

Compound bow in bowcase

Make sure your bow is safe to shoot. This means the bowstring is in good and shootable condition. Are the nocking points on and in the right place? Check the brace height as well, this could have changed over the time of not using it. Make sure the limbs do not have any cracks in the tips or along them. The riser still has all of the bolts in it and in a shootable condition. This goes for all types of bows. Any local archery store or pro shop will be able to help you have a look over your bow if you need.

Take a look at the arrows. Are the nocks and fletchings in good condition? No cracks in the nocks, the fletches are still glued down and there are three of them that are in full working order.

Check your arrow rest, is it in the right position? Has it got caught on anything coming out of where it was stored? Making sure the arrow rest is in the correct position is essential. As explained above, the wrong position can cause injury or damage your arrows and fletchings.

Make sure you warm up and cool down properly and are ‘bow fit’ enough for your old poundage and draw weight. Just because you ‘used to be able to’ do it, does not mean you can now!

Also remember that the volume of arrows you used to be able to shoot, might be higher than you can do now. Even if you are in your prime, shooting a bow uses different muscles every day or even some gym muscles.

If you are shooting at home, make sure the target/boss that you are using is in the safest condition it can be. Targets and bosses can wear out over time, especially if they have been left outdoors. Put up a safety barrier behind the target, something that will stop stray arrows if necessary.

If at any point you are not sure about a piece of equipment and its safety, take it to any pro shop, your ArcheryUP instructor, they will be able to take a look and give you advice if needed.

I do not have that much time to train, does it matter?

It does not matter. Archery is a sport that you will get out of what you put into it. If you have limited time, you will still be able to enjoy and learn it. It might be at a slower pace than you expect or anticipate, but it is ok. You will be on your archery journey and where you are meant to be.

Using the sport as an outlet and a way to escape from everyday life is a great approach. It means that you have this aspect in life that does not need any stress, any external thoughts, just you and your bow. So, having limited time to participate in it is absolutely fine.

There are a lot of physical and mental benefits to doing the sport. So even just once every so often can help lift mental state. Due to its meditation attributes, the concentration that is needed when practicing, helps reduce stress in other aspects of life. Of course it being a sport, increases exercise and movement throughout the time you spend shooting.

Even if you can only afford 30 minutes here and there, that is better than no exercise at all during your week. So participating for 30 minutes, or several hours, you will see an improvement in your mental state and physical state (to a degree!).

Having something during your week that helps create a good state of concentration and focus, can help in real life situations. So just 30 minutes of archery during the week can help with your job, your studies, or anything in life really. Purely because you will be better at focusing and concentrating, because you will have learnt that through your practice sessions.

I have limited space, can I still shoot my bow?

You do not need acres and acres of land to be able to practice shooting your bow. Even short range targets in the backyard or around your house/flat can help increase your performance. Archery is a spot of repetition, so just being able to shoot your bow and creating a repetitive shot process and sequence is what is important.

Backyard archery needs to be safe

While it is advantageous to shoot at the distance that you want to, or if you are competing, short range has benefits too. You do not have to focus on the distance and aiming as much at short range. You can focus solely on your technique and shot process without the extra focus on aiming.

It is sometimes advised to have a scaled (smaller depending on the distance you are shooting) target to aim at, so you are not always shooting ‘blank boss’. Blank boss is where you are shooting at a target boss without a target face. This could cause issues when you come to aiming on a target face because you are not used to it. So make sure you mix it up, it is ok to shoot without a target face from time to time, just to work on technique.

There are many places to put a target if you are short for space. For example, in the garage, in the living room (provided it is safe and everyone in the house knows you will be shooting from one end to the other), down a corridor.

Even just 5 yards can be far enough to shoot your bow. Just make sure that your target is strong enough and not too shot out that your arrows will stick properly in the target. You do not want lots of arrow holes in your wall! Which brings us to the point of having your target a little way away from the wall, just in case an arrow goes far through the boss. Always make sure there is a safe wall or net behind the target. It is advised to not have a window directly behind, because a broken window is not what anyone needs!

Always advise anyone in the vicinity, house, flat, etc, that you are shooting your bow and not to come in, or that they should announce themselves before entering the space you are using to shoot.

What next?

So you have decided you want to start your archery journey again, that is awesome! The next thing to do is to head over to our website and book in with an ArcheryUP instructor near you. They will be able to get you up and going in no time. Our instructors work around your schedule, your level, your abilities and what you want to achieve.

We bring all equipment to you, so do not worry about getting anything yourself. Or, if you already have equipment, our instructors can check over it and make sure it is still safe to shoot and the right equipment for you.

We are going to assume that you are pretty excited about getting back into archery, because who would not be! We have some great articles that will get you up to speed on what you need to know. Especially our archery in movies and TV shows blog, that will give you that extra buzz ahead of your first session!

Mimi Landstrom

I have shot since the age of 7, after starting archery at a summer camp. As a junior I won National and county titles, whilst breaking county records throughout the years. As a senior, I still compete at a national level and travel to compete at the Indoor World Series.  After university I went to Summer Camp in Pennsylvania, Camp Westmont. I taught summer to all ages throughout the summer and loved every second!  Being able to stand on the shooting line and have myself, my bow and arrow is my idea of heaven. It’s peaceful, calming and an escape from work and life stresses.