Archery is one of the world’s oldest, most beloved sports. Billions of people still practice the sport worldwide and others join the ranks every day.
If you’re interested in getting into (or returning to) this primitive art form, see the guide below for crucial information on equipment such as the recurve bow and arrow details, what category of archery you may be interested in, and how to shop for your core items.
What to Know as a Beginner in Archery
Archery is one of the most rewarding outdoor activities that has been shared by cultures throughout the world for tens of thousands of years. In fact, it is one of the oldest sports that has persisted into the modern era, with possible beginnings as far back as 20,000 BCE during the Stone Age.
Over time, the sport has gradually diverged into several different subdivisions, each of which plays to the archer’s specific strengths or skill and can be applied to varying sporting conditions. The two most popular types of archery are discussed below.
This variation will differ significantly based on where you are in the world, and it is crucial that you respect the local laws and regulations before venturing out into the land to snag your cart full of harvest.
Bowhunting is not restricted to recurve bows. It can involve the use of any of the bow types listed below:
- Recurve bows: The unique aspect of the recurve bow is that it functions by storing energy as the archer pulls back, which flexes the ends of the bow in the pull direction. When released, that energy propels the arrow forward at 225 ft/sec.
- Takedown bows: These can be modified from a recurve bow to feature mounts for sights and other products to improve efficiency and travel at about 200 ft/sec.
- Longbows: One of the most popular styles that has existed for hundreds of years. It’s wooden and consists of a fiberglass coating to improve efficiency. The arrow travels at about 150 ft/sec.
- Compound bows: They can reach up to 350 ft/sec and include a quiver in the design, along with protective equipment, sights, shock absorption, and other products to protect the archer and improve efficiency.
Keep in mind that you’re not restricted to shooting territorial targets only. Many people enjoy taking their bows to the water and shooting some fish instead of reeling them in with a fishing pole.
This is the most widespread sub-type practiced by sportsmen and -women throughout the world. Many archers practice this competitively, so you might find that the sportsmen you interact with take their equipment and technique a lot more seriously than others.
There are many different classes of competition to choose from; however, most people choose to engage in freestyle with either barebow (with recurve bows) or longbow shooting.
Target archery can be further divided into two sub-categories:
- Outdoor Target Shooting: Typically takes place at greater lengths.
- Indoor Target Shooting: Normally uses a smaller target face at an average of 20 yards.
Why is a Recurve Bow Better for Beginners?
The recurve bow can be used in more than the style of shooting. This flexibility is the reason why recurve bows are best for beginners.
The bows’ recurve enables it to adapt to many different shooting styles, from the most popular types such as hunting and target archery to lesser-known categories like clout, ski, and run. Starting off with recurve bows gives you the power to find your preferred style without having to buy more than one bow to explore the sport thoroughly.
Basic Equipment You’ll Need to Get Started
The quality of your gear can make or break your experience when you’re learning how to handle a bow and arrow for the first time or are just returning to the sport after years of rest.
The essential items you need to get into the sport and guidelines on how to search for them are discussed in detail below, so get your shopping cart ready.
Bow: Considering Draw Weight for Recurve Bows, Compound Bow, and More
Bows are the central pieces of equipment you’ll be using as an archer, whether you’re experienced or new to the sport. With this in mind, you can’t afford to take any shortcuts when shopping for your bow and will need to keep a careful eye out as a customer for the following features and design elements:
- Draw weight, draw length, and related features: The draw weight and draw length directly influence the power of your shot and should be decided by your level of physical strength. Some bows feature “humps” that will keep you informed of your strength progression throughout the draw cycle.
- The higher the draw weight or length, the greater the speed.
- Back wall or limb or cable stops: Engages at the end of the draw cycle. These can improve or interfere with the efficiency of your draw.
- Axle-to-axle (ATA): This refers to the bow’s height at the cams (for compound bows, specifically) or general bow length, which is essential to determine whether the size and length are appropriate for you.
One of the best bows you can shop for to get started in this sport is the OEELINE Airobow. With a 62″ left- and right-hand orientation it is the perfect option to help you get comfortable with your preferred shooting style.
What to Look for in a Quiver
When you search for a quiver, look for abundant storage space, as well as multifunctional attachments that can reliably keep your quiver on you and in place.
Remember that the necessary storage space will depend on what type of hunting you plan on doing.
If you’re going to be out hunting, you might want a quiver with a higher capacity. However, in competitive settings like target archery, you may not need such a high storage capacity, since gear is likely to be highly accessible in this setting.
How to Shop for a Stringer
The stringer is one of the most crucial tools for archers, especially those using recurve bows and longbows. This component allows you to string your bow in the safest possible form, preventing possible damage to your bow or string (or limbs).
The main things a customer should look out for when they shop for a stringer (all elements that are present in the KESHES Recurve stringer) include:
- Material: You need to be able to rely on the fabric and be confident that it will not snap or break during use.
- Limb block: The KESHES stringer features rubber limb blocks that prevent any incidental damage to bows.
- Pre-knotted: Although this isn’t a make-or-break, it is nice to have the stringer knots already tied to the string. This way, you can save some time and effort when preparing your bow.
- Note: The only potential drawback of a pre-knotted stringer is that you may not do as good of a job tying it up as the manufacturer would, which could potentially lead to an incident when stringing your bow.
Is It OK to Keep a Recurve Bow Strung?
Some prefer to unstring their equipment when it’s not in use to eliminate the tension and prevent any unnecessary wear between shooting sessions.
When strung, the wood is under tension. Leaving it under this tension when you could choose to do otherwise will inevitably shorten its lifespan, as it could be relaxed while not in use, preserving the flex and structural integrity for your next outing.
Some don’t see a problem with it since they shoot so frequently. Though the choice is up to you, you should consider the lifespan of your bow when deciding whether you’ll unstring after shooting or not.
Essential Gloves for Hand Protection
Too many archers overlook the importance of gloves. These are critical protective items that all archers need, no matter the level of expertise.
Many websites carry the ArcheryMax handmade leather 3-finger gloves, which show a great example of the balance you’ll need between durability and sensitivity to achieve the appropriate level of safety and accuracy in the draw.
Why You Need an Arm Guard
- Lacerations; these make up about 62% of injuries in this sport
- Puncture wounds to your limbs and body, 8%
- Contusions and abrasions, 6%
What to Know About Choosing an Archery Target
The type of target you choose will depend on the style of shooting you’re doing.
All you need to do is make sure your chosen target can stand up to the elements and your shots, and support your sights wherever you choose to use it.
Getting a Target Stand for Practice
The target stand is necessary just so you don’t have to lean your target up against a wall or somewhere else that may be relatively dangerous. Mounting it on a stand using the necessary tools instead will help improve your shooting and keep others’ and their property out of harm’s way.
Make sure that your stand has a stabilizer pin and carabiner attachments, so the target doesn’t go flying every time you hit it.
The Best Arrows for Recurves and More
These are the lifeblood of your archery setup. You’ll need to do all you can to ensure that as a customer you shop for the best possible ammunition for your bow and specific type of archery. To do so, keep an eye out for the following details:
- Material: Aluminum is the most common type of material you’ll encounter, as they are the most versatile. If you’re using a compound bow, please avoid wooden arrows, as the force is likely to split or otherwise break them.
- Weight (and how it interacts with draw weight): The weight will determine the speed and power of your shot. Generally, you can stick to the rule of multiplying 5 grains per pound of draw weight to determine the arrow’s overall weight.
- Flex: How much the arrow bends will determine how it flies out of your bowstring. The level of flexibility you need will depend on the type of archery you’re practicing. Plus, the type of flex may vary, too. For example, recurve bow arrows tend to flex left and right, while others will bend up and down.
With all this in mind, these Fleetwood arrows are best for beginners who are just learning how this balance of factors works for them.
Archery can be a bit intimidating to venture into, given the immense amount of details to be considered in your gear choices, but it has several benefits. With this guide, you can determine which category of archery is best suited to you, and the best gear to go along with your chosen style.