Learning Archery Through Games For Beginners

Having fun with a sport as a beginner, whether you are a child or an adult, is essential. Learning does not have to be serious and boring, being able to enjoy archery from the start is key to success. There are many ways to have fun whilst learning archery, while the games are not Indians and cowboys, but more educational games, they will enforce the right technique, whilst creating a fun and enjoyable environment. 

In this article, we will explain different games and fun educational learning methods to learn archery for beginner youth and adult participants up to competition level archers and how to improve their skill level. 

Games can be done to help improve skills, but also to help teach about archery equipment, different types of archery and enjoyment within the sport.

What is the purpose of games in archery?

Just like in normal teaching, creating a fun and enjoyable environment will help keep participants engaged in the archery lessons. Creating a competitive edge within the games will help balance learning and progressing with a focus and competitive edge to gain precision.

Games can be used to also pick up on where an archer needs to work harder on, whether that’s draw length, draw weight, aiming or focus in general. While not everyone wants to go into the competition side of the sport, being able to hit the target and get that satisfaction and enjoyment is essential.

The games we will discuss will help with all of these elements, with progressions for the more experienced archers.

Games for fun

Popping balloons

This is as simple as it comes for fun archery games. It creates fun, enjoyment, whilst also teaching aiming for all types of archery, target archery, 3D archery, bowhunting, target shooting. By putting a balloon in different places on a target, the beginner archer will learn to aim at the balloon and get an instant reward when they hit it.

To create this game, inflate balloons to different sizes and, using target pins, pin them to the target in different places. Adding in cornstarch, glitter, baby powder or water-based paint can add an extra element of fun. It adds a visual element to the instant reward of hitting the balloon.

The best way of doing this skill is with a few archers, creating a competitive edge. The archers can take it in turn to shoot at balloons, make it a race to see who can shoot the most, or timed trial where each archer has X amount of time to hit as many balloons as possible.

Balloons can be placed on every type of target, to help with aiming. So 3D targets can have the balloons on the kill zone, to help promote aiming at the smaller targets. Ring targets, such as target or field archery targets can have the balloons placed around the target to promote aiming under pressure, not just in the gold.

For experienced archers, using balloons placed around the target in different places, other than the gold, will teach aiming off. For compound bows and olympic style recurve bows, aiming off to compensate for the wind or rain is essential. Aiming off means aiming on a different part of the target to the gold, to avoid moving the sight to ensure the arrows hit the gold.

The skill levels that will be increased through this game is aiming under pressure, controlled aiming and increased focus and concentration for all levels of archer.


While this game is usually played on a basketball court, the archery version of this game will teach precision under pressure. To start with, each archer takes a shot at the target, the closest arrow in the target gets to start the game first.

The first archer (the one who shot their arrow closest to the middle of the target in the first end), decides on the conditions that all archers shoot in. This could be, the distance, the angle, where the arrow needs to hit on the target.

Each archer takes one shot before rotating to the next archer. If the first archer makes the intended shot, each of the other participants needs to make the shot or they will receive the letter to spell HORSE (the first letter obviously being H).

If, however, the first archer misses their intended shot that they specified, then the next archer that was closest to the middle in the first end will pick their shot.

The archer who spells HORSE first (by missing shots), is out. When there is only one archer left, they are the winner!

This game can be played at an archery range, in a backyard, or anywhere that has enough space to participate safely, whilst having fun. It also gives the participants full control of their shots, where they want to shoot from and the difficulty level. It will test their skills and build on accuracy, making sure there are lessons to be learnt but also help develop progressing archers with different angles and distances. It also means that archers are not always aiming at the bullseye, but around the target, helping develop aiming skills.

Olympic Game

This game is far more straight forward and realistic to archery itself. There are two archers who can participate at one time. Each archer will shoot five arrows into a standard target archery 10 ring target.

Stand the archers at a set distance away from the target, for beginners try starting at around 15-20 yards with a 122cm ring target face. It does not matter what type of bow is used, as long as both archers are using the same one.

Once each archer has shot their arrows, add up the scores and the one with the highest score, wins. If there are more than two archers, this can turn into a head-to-head tournament setting.

This is a great way to get target archers used to competition and tournament pressure, whilst enjoying fun archery games. Creating a competitive head to head environment would help youth archers ahead of JOAD tournaments as well. Any ArcheryUP instructor will be able to help guide youth archers through this path.


TicTacToe is a great childhood game that can be adapted for archery and fun archery games. Whilst very simple to set up, you will need cardboard, or tape to put over the target itself to create the game board.

The simple hashtag game board design can be put on either cardboard or the target itself. Make sure each square is equal in size and 3-by-3 (so 9 squares in total). To begin with, each archer shoots 1 arrow from the set distance, the closest to the center wins.

Two archers will take it in turns to shoot at the game board. If an arrow hits the line, it counts as a miss. The same if they hit a square that already has an arrow in it as well.

Just like the normal game of TicTacToe, the first player to get three squares in a row takes the win. The row could be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

To make the game harder, move the archers back and create a longer distance to shoot at the target. This will help with accuracy.


While this is not the ‘conventional’ pool game, it is a lot of fun! Simply blow up 8 balloons in one color and 8 balloons in another color. Tape them around either a field archery or target archery face. Each archer, like with most games, to shoot closest to the middle of the target will start.

Each archer takes it in turn to shoot at the balloon that is their color. The first person to hit all of their balloons is the winner. If a balloon of the opposition is hit, that counts towards the person’s balloon, not necessarily who shot it. For example, if there are blue and pink balloons, the archer who shoots the blue balloon but is aiming for pink, the point goes to the blue balloon archer.

To progress this and make it a higher skill level, add in different color balloons that would make minus points for anyone who hits them. If a balloon is hit, that archer could have another go, much like pool rules. Adding an ‘8’ balloon that has to be shot to end the game last to win. The distance the archers have to shoot at the target can also be lengthened to create a harder game.

Archery Tag

Archery Tag is a whole separate section to archery – but if taught properly, will teach archery technique well. The arrows have rubber tips on them, so that no one gets hurt, and the bows themselves have a lower draw weight, again to avoid injury.

The arena where archery tag is done has blown up obstacles to hide behind, a bit like paintball. The game is played with two teams of five players, they can be any age. Within the arena, there are three zones, two of these are ‘attack zones’ that are at opposite ends of the field to each other. There is a ‘safe zone’ that is between the two attack zones.

In order to hit opponents, arrows can only be shot in their attack zone, and no one can be hit in the safe zone intentionally. The attack zones have blown up obstacles that can be used for shelter and seeking cover from enemy fire.

Within the safe zone, archers can pick up stray arrows, catch a breath, to be ready to attack the other team. The safe zone can only be entered by leaving their own attack zone through their end lines, and can only return through the end lines as well.

The safe zone can only be used for a maximum of five seconds at a time. Referees are required to give warnings if the time is extended past five seconds by any player. A second infringement will result in a loss of points or elimination from the game, depending on the style of game being played.

The game itself is usually only played for five to 10 minutes, or two five minute halves. In order to protect themselves, all players need to have a helmet/face shield or protective masks.

So, how does this actually help archery? Being able to make an accurate shot quickly will help any archer. Being able to draw, aim, shoot and hit your desired target is what archery is all about. Archery Tag just increases the speed at which this is all done. Making an archer quick at aiming and probably more accurate as they are aiming at moving targets (people) throughout the game.

How to reward in archery games

Much like the JOAD scheme, the participants of the fun archery games could win a badge. These could be like the JOAD Achievement Award Star pins and have a greater value as the difficulty of the games increases.

Fun things such as stickers, chocolate bars or even bragging rights are great way to award the winner of the games as well. It will encourage progression and increasing skill levels by getting a reward for winning. Also remember, if they are beginner archers and young, participation should be rewarded as well.

Enjoying archery with your ArcheryUP instructor is part of the step-by-step way to improve within archery. Applying games and fun environments to archery lessons will help embed improvements made, potentially without the archer even realizing.

Games for archery equipment knowledge

Having knowledge of the equipment that you are using is great to understand and know. There are a few games that could help beginners have a better and greater knowledge of archery equipment.

Naming game

This game is pretty self explanatory. Simply show parts of the bow, the bowstring, cams, right handed or left handed, nocking point, stabilizers, traditional bows, crossbows, and get the participants to name them. If they get it right, they get a point. The first person to a certain amount of points wins.

Or, have the parts of the bow laid out on the floor and give each participants labels and get them to label all parts of the bow. The quickest one to get them all correct wins.

While it seems simple, it will get each archer thinking about what part of the bow, or type of bow it is in front of them. By doing this every so often, they will learn quickly what they are using and what archery equipment is. The instructor could even do this on a participant’s own bow, whether it is their first bow or they have been doing archery for a while. Just to make sure they understand fully what they are using and what they own.

Demonstrating correct posture

While this is not a game as such, getting beginners and archers to demonstrate correct archery posture before shooting can help engage their brain to ensure they are aware of what they need to be doing.

Making sure they are stood with their feet shoulder-width apart, they have their index finger above the arrow and two fingers below (for under the chin anchor), they have the arrow nock in the nocking point properly, the cock fletching facing away from the bow to avoid contact. All of these are just pointers to make sure correct posture is obtained.

Any ArcheryUP instructor will be able to guide a beginner through this and ensure they are ready to participate in any archery game or archery lesson. But, by getting the participant to do it by themselves first, the instructor can come along and correct them or praise them on what they have done correctly. Meaning they have done it by themselves and remember what they are meant to be doing.

Setting up their own bows

Again, not a game, but could be made into a competition. Who can get the bow set up correctly the quickest, but the safest. Any ArcheryUP instructor will check the bow that has been put together by a beginner before they shoot it, to ensure that it is safe and good to shoot.

Setting up a bow themselves will help teach the different elements that are required to participate in archery. Knowing where everything goes, if the beginner wants to continue in the sport and become competitive, they will know if anything goes wrong with their equipment and potentially be able to fix it themselves, rather than relying on someone else.

Do you want to start archery?

If you have thought about starting archery, but not sure where to begin, have a look at ArcheryUPs social media channels. We are here to help you and get you on the right archery path for you. Whether that is at an archery range or in your backyard, we are here to teach you archery!

We also have a range of blogs around beginner archery, history of archery and buying your first bow. Have a look here at our blog posts and get started in archery today!

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.