Hello everyone, this topic is going to be a little more personal than others, since there are a lot of different prices you can find easily online, So I am going to talk from my personal experience.
I am going to walk you through the process I went through when buying my first recurve bow. To be honest, it was a whole new world getting started with archery, most of the other sports I play are much easier to shop and the range of equipment is much smaller! But with archery, there are several parts of equipment to buy depending on your objectives, long term goals, and budget.
Each subtitle is going to review different scenarios and questions I had when I was just getting started.
What’s the basic equipment I need?
Some people decide to buy bows already assembled, the first thing they taught me at my archery club was not to buy those when you’re looking to do recurve archery in the modern way.
Those tend to be more expensive and have inferior quality on some specific parts.
The basic things you need are a raiser, limbs, string and arrows.
This is the basic equipment to shoot and start working on your technique. For someone just getting started, that’s a good point. Stores like Amazon, Lancaster or Alternative are the best at selling different parts separated so that you just have to assemble all.
If you are looking to do Olympic archery, practice to compete in different leagues and regulated competitions, then there are two more things that become basic to not be on a big disadvantage at the competitions.
Those items are the sight, and the long road stabilizer. Those items can make a huge difference especially as the target gets further and further away from your stance position.
Normally these competitions start at 20 meters away, and I believe a sight is almost required, at least for me. Nevertheless, there is a category in world archery called bare bow archery which consist in using a modern recurve bow without those two items and many more.
What is it like to buy separated parts?
Well, it’s not that bad, although you might want to get some recommendations and orientations from your fellow archers, especially the ones that already purchased their own equipment.
Not all parts work with every brand, there are also different measures and weights to consider.
Begin by knowing your draw length and the weight you want to train. Then select the raiser and from that point choose all the other parts making sure they fit with the raiser since it is the center and heart of your bow.
Keep in mind that, if you’re bringing parts from another country, you might want to consider buying for the long run.
Although you will not start right away using the sight or other pieces of equipment we will check later on this article, you could buy them and keep them saved to pay just one shipping. I am doing that, my clicker is saved in my closet waiting for my time to need it, before that, my coach recommended to have it there. It would be awful to pay the delivery just for a little piece. At least that’s on my mind.
What else can I have to complement my archery?
If you’re interested in practicing Olympic recurve bow archery, then there are several other elements that can complement your equipment.
Some of them are more of a requirement as you keep practicing and extending your range. For example, a couple of things I think you should invest some money on are an arm guard and a finger tab.
The arm guard is found to protect your fore arm in case of any kind of distraction and in case of just simple bad luck, it will prevent the string from hitting your arm and leaving you with a nasty bruise.
On the other hand, the finger tab is also pretty useful to keep your fingers working. With every shot, your fingers will get a little hurt from the strength of the string.
Now again, from experience, I got a little cut on one of my fingers and it was pretty painful to keep practicing. Archers in the old days used to use simpler finger tabs, so this is not something too modern for anyone who wants to practice bare bones archery.
Some other equipment that might be pretty useful over time is a chest guard, again for mistakes and bad luck for getting hit in the chest by the string.
Other useful pieces of equipment are the clicker and the plunger, as well as a holder for your arrows.
The clicker will be useful once you get to your farthest draw length, that’s when the clicker enters the competition.
It is used as a reference for archers to know when they reach their perfect draw to release, this improves your consistency. Then the plunger is pretty good to ensure your arrow is proper stabilized and straight for the shot. The holster or arrow holder is easy to know what its use is for.
There are some other pieces of equipment that I consider more like a thing of taste rather than complementary.
For example, there are special hats, gloves, back packs and different kinds of stabilizers.
Like I said, this all depends on your budget and what you think is necessary as well as what you feel you might actually need over time.
For example, I bought the plunger and clicker in advance knowing I was more likely to use it eventually.
With my first competition I had to start using the plunger, although I still have my clicker waiting for me in my room, I am probably going to need it in a couple of competitions time, probably when I move to the next shooting range. But I am not ever using a hat, I do use the arm and chest guard, not every archer uses a chest guard, but I have hit myself, so I started using it at every practice and competition.
Is it expensive to do archery?
Now again, it depends on the type of archery you want to do.
If you just want to practice it as a hobby and you’re not interested in competing then it could be pretty cheap.
The basic equipment could be either a recurve base bow, raiser limbs and string; as well as a wooden cheap to practice it in a more traditional way.
Raisers can start at $60 and go up to $600 or even more.
We are talking here about quality as well as brand recognition. The same happens with limbs and the rest of the parts. While an already made bow, a one-piece bow, comes from $200 to $600 or more in some stores. It all depends on your budget, objectives and research.
In my town, people can start archery at our club for $8 per class, it is two hours and we give you a wooden and PVC bow which you can use to shoot at a 10 meter range. Several people go and just practice like that in our classes.
Now talking from my experience, the budget I had for my entire archery equipment was $600 including delivery and taxes.
So with my friends we decided to do a lot of group research, to choose my first equipment. I spent a little more money on the raiser, and save some on the stabilizers.
I bought good quality but normal limbs, I didn’t require anything fancy, and enough arrows to practice and replace them for a competition in case one of them gets damaged.
Now, the first part I know I will replace once I get to a farther range will be my limbs. My shopping cart included riser, limbs, string, sight, plunger, clicker, stabilizer, 12 arrows, arm guard, chest guard, arrow holder and finger tab.
Enough to start training and get to my first competitions. And the best part is, it is a one-time investment. Replacing arrows is not that expensive, and I will use the same equipment until I am able to get to farther categories in the competitions.
Can I do archery at home?
For sure, I’ve been doing that for as long as the pandemic has been here.
It is not the best or the optimal way to get better at archery, but it is still better than nothing.
It all depends on how much space you have available and to take the proper security preparations.
In 2020 I participated in a Colombian online tournament from home. They had three categories: 3 meters, 5 meters, and 10 meters. As you can see, you can shoot if you have 4 meter at home. Why do I say 4 when the lowest category at the competition was 3? It is because you need some space to place your body and to release the arrow. If you have a 3 meter room with walls at exactly 3 meters away, you’re shooting way less than 3 or you’re hitting the wall with your elbow every once in a while.
Then there is a risk that you might hit a wall every once in a while with an arrow if you’re just getting started.
Please, don’t place your target close to a window or anything that could break. Then, remember to buy a proper target at any shop like Amazon, or make your own.
If you choose this last option, be sure to have the proper length on your target so that the arrow won’t go through. Here is a tutorial I like about how to make your own target. It is pretty cheap, and it would be an extra cost in your archery budget if you’re considering practicing at home, rather than at a range.
Here is a more elaborate tutorial if you can increase your budget a little bit and if you are a handy person, because it requires some tool knowledge.
Then, the last thing to consider if you are going to consider home practices and you don’t have a garden or a good space; consider warning everyone that lives with you!
Houses have several ways to enter many rooms, which means that is your target is close to an entry point, someone could get in the way. Try to always place yourself with the back to a door or next to it, that way no one will get in your way without you noticing it. I practice in my grandparents garden; it is surrounded by walls, so my arrow can’t go to a neighbour, but I decided to place my back to the main entrance and close the back door so that no one can get in the shooting range I improvised.
Which supplies do I need regularly?
Arrows, nocks and feathers. The entire arrow is a consumable in archery.
You will loose arrows, and you will break arrows. Every once in a while you will get lucky and will just break the nock, that’s the item in the back of the arrow, the one that attaches it to the string.
That is a simple part you can replace. When the body or the front gets damaged, you probably have to replace the entire arrow. Now the feathers are a whole different story.
To avoid losing arrows, I bought purple ones so that no one confuses and so that they are visible in the grass. The bad thing is that other arrows, bad luck and your own string and bow will take some feathers out of your arrows every once in a while, so be ready to buy a lot more feathers than arrows. Normally the sell by the hundred for this exact reason!
How can I start in archery without Olympic recurve equipment?
Well, this is not that hard, just buy a regular equipment.
I mean, you can buy cheap bows that are made from just one piece, either cheap wood or PVC. In my club regular classes for people just starting and without their own bows, we gave them bows made from plastic and wood.
Those bows are cheap in case they break, and strong enough for beginners that are not going to shoot farther than 10 meters away. Some people in my club even begin making those bows and the strings according to different sizes and strengths.
How expensive is the budget for a serious competitor?
This is a serious topic. When you’re shooting at 70 meters away and competing regular, the equipment budget can go up to $2000+, it just depends on what you want to use and what quality you want.
Of course, the budget for arrows and consumables becomes bigger, arrow materials are a little bit more expensive, and there is also a budget to travel in case you are going to competitions outside of your country. Especially if you get to worldwide competitions. Like most sports, it is expensive in the competitive part but not necessarily to start.
As you can see, archery can be an expensive or cheap sport, it just depends on what equipment you want, how serious you want to take it and what quality you want.
Most of the time, the expense is progressive as you become better and better. Learning is not expensive at all, unlike other sport that require special equipment to avoid injuries from the very beginning. Archery equipment also tends to last a long time, so you won’t get regular expensive items to repurchase.
I believe all you need to actually get started is motivation. Find a place, find teachers, find friends in archery and go to practice.
If you’re like me and you can only go once or twice a week, try to set up your range at home. You won’t increase range, but you can work on your technique and posture, which is a lot. Trust the sport if you like it. Don’t aim for a huge budget at once and see if you like it. Then, when you get in love, money won’t matter once you approach your first competition.
Happy shooting everyone!