In my opinion, there are two ways to get started with archery. Either getting start from scratch in the sport, or getting started with Olympic style archery.
We are going to look at both routes to get started, some people like me, prefer to try out both forms of the sport, and some people decide to go straight into the Olympic style training.
Lets first look at starting from scratch, and then we’ll check my experience with archery. Hopefully, from my experience, you get a good idea of how you can get started and what kind of budget you may need..
Getting Started from Scratch
I’m going to assume that this might be as extreme as potentially not even knowing what archery is.
In a way, you’re looking for a place to start since you’re not even sure what to buy or do.
This was me years ago, I always wanted to try archery, but it wasn’t something my parents were that supportive of when I was younger.
Their idea of a sport did not involve a weapon, but a ball and a hoop or anything like that. But my father and I always watched the bows in the armoury and other stores for hunting, they looked so badass and my father always talked about getting one, but he never did since we weren’t sure how to use it or even if it was safe and legal!
As I grew up and became financially more independent, I looked for places to learn archery and I found the club I’m at now.
I started from scratch with no intention to go and buy a bow blindsided by my emotions.
So I joined the regular classes, where they give us weak bows and a limited amount of arrows in front of a 10 meter target.
Now that I think about it, the arrows they gave us were actually not very pointy! They gave us an entire class about security, theory and how everything worked, then teaching us how to use the bow and work on our technique.
This is starting from scratch, you don’t need anything but a club with classes. And of course, the motivation to actually take yourself to your classes. This isn’t what most people immediately think – most people assume you at least need a bow and some arrows, but I actually think that unless you’re sure you want to shoot regularly it can be a waste of money buying all the equipment you won’t be using.
Now let’s talk about the real equipment.
Getting started with Olympic materials
Now this is when everything gets interesting and where your wallet gets involved.
When you’re not just tacking classes as a hobby and you either wish to train for participating in competitions or take your hobby a lot more seriously and to the next level, that’s when you require proper equipment. Now, the basic materials for these are the following.
The raiser is the middle of the bow, it’s heart.
It is the metallic part that goes in the center, unifying the limbs and being the place where the rest of the parts in a bow are attach to.
Raisers are essential, and they come in different brands, colors and prices. Also, they are made to hold a specific amount of weight from the limbs when you draw the bow, so be sure to decide what your initial draw weight will be before buying.
Just like the raiser, you can’t do archery without limbs.
They are the ones that put the pressure and strength to the shot.
Limbs also come in different brands, colors and weights or in other words, strength.
Make sure to take into consideration the amount of strength which you can work with before buying it, and also buy a raiser that can hold more strength than your limbs. For example, I have 30 pound limbs, and my raiser can hold until almost 40, that means that when I get stronger, I am going to be able to buy stronger limbs and keep my raiser for some time.
it should be obvious, without a string you can’t shoot. I am not going to explain this a lot since it is simple, just be sure to buy a string that matches your limbs and raiser size.
Those three things are the basic equipment you need to begin, plus consumables. Which are arrows and feathers. You can’t shoot if you don’t have anything to shoot. For a beginner almost any arrow will be suitable, just take note of the length of your drawn and the arrow length you pick.
Now, some other stuff that I consider necessary specially when aiming to do competitions are the following.
This is something needed at competitions unless you are trying to go back to historic archery, guided just by your instincts.
Sights come in different colors and brands. Of course, the better quality of the sight, the more accurate it tends to be. Choose a reliable brand and take special care of it since it is a pretty delicate part of the bow.
It is a long stick that attaches to the raiser and puts weigh in front of the bow. It is meant to stabilize the bow once you release the arrow.
The strength from the shot can make your bow go in the wrong direction after the shot, making your arrow trajectory change from where you were aiming.
This weight counters that power from the shoot, keeping the bow stable for some seconds giving the arrow time to leave the bow in a proper trajectory.
This little piece of metal helps you place the arrow in the perfect position and improves accuracy when shooting. It helps your shots become more effective and consistent.
If is a piece of metal and leather that protects your fingers from the strength of the string. I shot for two weeks without my finger tap and my finger got badly hurt, I even lost some skin from the ends of my fingers as the bow string slid past on release. So, it is actually something you should buy no matter what.
This is a protection for your forearm. I consider this to be a good acquisition since it will keep your arm safe in case of a little mistake or bad luck. Sometimes the string hits your arm and believe me, it hurts!
What does the wider internet recommend
I had a browse on some forums to see what others recommend, most places give similar lists to mine above.
The first ones that I mentioned are the essential things you need to buy, but considering competitions and proper training, a number of people also recommend some of the following depending on why you are shooting.
Common recommendations are, a clicker, chest guard and in some cases, sunglasses and hats. A lot of archers choose to use these other pieces of equipment but I am not much of a fan of hats and all that stuff. Sunglasses can also cause people a problem as you may need prescription sunglasses if you need glasses normally which can be a significant added expense.
The other thing to watch out for as a new archer is compound vs recurve equipment.
I am talking with my experience which is almost entirely around recurve archery, but be sure to read carefully so you won’t mix compound elements when you’re trying to shoot recurve. Also, if you’re looking to compete, take some time to ensure any material you read online is permitted by World Archery. In the list I mentioned before, they are all essential and permitted parts for official competitions.
My journey with archery
I’ve already told you some parts of my journey with archery. As I said, I didn’t get much support from my family when I wanted to start, and especially with my first months of shooting. So, I had to start completely from scratch. Let’s check how it was and how the transition to Olympic training started.
Starting from scratch / Personal experience
As I said before, to start from scratch you don’t need anything but motivation and a club or academy.
I found a club with an academy for beginners regardless of age. So I entered the academy and learned everything and worked on my technique.
With just 10 meters of distance and many weekends of training, I showed my discipline and motivation. We even did some match simulation between each other and some of the guys from the club. They gave me everything to train and eventually, with around 3 months of nonstop training, they asked me if I was interested in joining the team.
The only thing I needed, was to buy my own bow and equipment to start training, especially since I am left handed for shooting, so no one could even lend me their bow just to practice.
Now the Olympic training / Personal Experience
Before buying my own bow, some guys lent me their right handed bows to try the strength of it.
That’s how I discovered if I was going to be able to practice with 30 pounds of strength, and the proper draw length for me.
They help me choose the parts according to my budget, and I bought everything listed at the start of the article. My raiser, limbs, string, sight, stabilizer, Plunger, finger tab, arm and chest guard as well as my consumables which are the arrows and feathers. By the way, I have been living with just nine arrows. I did recently buy 12 more, but for several months and my first 2 competitions, 9 arrows did just fine.
Also, for the Olympic training it is good to consider buying some resistance leagues.
They are great for warming up and also training when you can’t go to the shooting range.
My Olympic training became much more physical than the academy. We needed to shoot something close to 120 arrows per training day, after working out with the elastic bands for training leagues, and closing the day with some physical training like abs, planks and push ups.
In my case, I could only train for 2 days a week. So I had to work extra hard those days and practice with the bands during the weekdays every morning.
The equipment I bought works just fine, and it is perfect for me shooting at 20 meters, and now being promoted to 30 meters.
According to my coach, I can probably survive with it at 40 meters. But as soon as I reach 50 meters I will have to buy stronger limbs and a new string to replace the one I have been using for a long time.
Buying from international shops
My teammates helped me choose the proper equipment, they showed me how to buy in online archery stores and to choose equipment that will work between each other.
It is still fairly hard, but if you are not sure of anything, just ask a teammate or look for a review before you buy.
That’s what I do all the time when buying lenses for my camera, look if the lens fits the body, do the same for the limbs of a bow, make sure it fits the raiser which should be the first part you choose. Everything else should come after and work with the raiser.
There are several pieces of equipment available on amazon, but it is not the best shop for archery equipment.
The two stores I love the most are Lancaster Archery Supply and Alternative Services. Those two shops have a lot of things and both have international shipping.
Lancaster is my favourite talking about diversity and friendly website. What I mean is that it works as any other shop you have seen. It is well divided into categories and has a proper description of everything as well as being a user friendly website. It is great, especially if you are picking alone.
Why do I say that? With my first buy, I used Alternative, but with my fiends help since they have been buying there for years.
It is cheaper than Lancaster and has a lot more options with cheaper brands. The thing is that the website is not as user friendly neither simple to surf. It is easy to get confused and not be sure if you added the right thing at your shopping cart. If you do use this site, make sure to pay close attention to everything you’re doing to make sure you add everything you want and don’t end up with extras you don’t want or need.
In my case, we used Alternative and selected the post service, my budget wasn’t that big and it took a while to get here, but every package arrived at my home, in a secure box.
Personally, I would recommend what my teammates recommend me. $500 of equipment, without considering shipping.
That might sound like a lot, but it should last you for a long time and you’ll be able to fire thousand of arrows with this equipment.
If you can share the shipping with a friend who is also trying to buy something, that will help you a lot. For example, I had 2 friends trying to buy arrows, so I divided my package which was huge, into 3 different packages. Two of them had the shipping divided with my friends, so I only paid for one full shipping. Shipping prices can catch people out as archery equipment can soon add up in weight and size.
What you buy is going to depend on your objective.
Either just have fun, or just the idea of competing requires more materials and training. Either way, the important thing to consider here is that the most important decision you’ll make is the raiser.
It is the heart of your bow, and the rest of your parts should be around it to make sure everything works.
I strongly recommend to begin from scratch, at an academy or club.
Just to confirm if you actually like archery and you want to invest in buying a proper bow. It’s the best way to decide what your objectives are, and also to get help before buying at an online store. It is the long way, it takes more time, but it is also the more gratifying way to learn archery and prepare for true competitions.
Investigate, enrol in a club and start shooting your way up to the competitions.
Happy shooting everybody.