How To Learn Archery

Table of Contents

Step 1 – Decide How To Start Learning Archery

You have 2 main options when it comes to starting archery. You can try to find an archery club or beginners course near you, or you can learn archery by yourself.

How To Find a Local Beginners Course

Learning by yourself and doing a beginners course both have their pros and cons, but if possible I do recommend getting some instruction in person to make sure you’re shooting safely. Depending on your country, there may be a search tool like the Archery GB Club Finder for archers in the UK.

Here are some tips to help you find a nearby archery club or range to start archery:

    • Clubs often run Beginners Courses a few times per year, so you might have to wait to get started.
    • It’s good to call or email ahead rather than just turn up.
    • Search on Google for terms like ‘archery beginners course’, ‘beginner archery class’ or ‘archery club near me’.
    • If you still can’t find somewhere, contact an archery shop in your area or country. They’ll be able to help you find a club, and some also offer lessons.
    • If you still don’t know how to get started, don’t worry! This is why I created Online Archery Academy so I’ll show you how you can learn at home, by yourself and do so safely.

How to Learn Archery By Yourself

It might seem intimidating but it is definitely possible to learn archery by yourself, and my resources here are something I only wished I had. To start with, although you might not understand every detail it’s good to learn the basics of the recurve archery shot. The video below provides a great introduction to recurve Olympic archery for beginners.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDlLPWyKJwY

The video shows the 6 stages of the recurve archery shot, which we call the Shot Cycle. At the moment it’s only important to get an overview, but these stages are covered in more detail throughout my detailed Technique Guides: Stance and Posture, Set, Setup, Draw and Full Draw, Expansion, Release and Follow Through.

Finally, my Recurve Technique Basics page will help you understand how everything fits together more fluidly. And the video below shows some essential tips for beginners to help you learn faster. Now you’ve learnt the basics, let’s talk safety.

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STEP 2 – HOW TO LEARN ARCHERY SAFELY

There are some key things when it comes to archery safety. Most of them are common sense but I should highlight some below to get started.

    • Wear comfortable but tight fitting clothes.
    • Remove any face piercings.
    • Only place an arrow into the bow when you’re on the shooting line and no one is downrange.
    • Never point your bow at a person. Even without an arrow.
    • Never release your bow without an arrow.
    • Check your entire range area is clear every time before you shoot.
    • Make sure you have the correct length arrow. Arrows that are too short are very dangerous. If in doubt, get an arrow longer than you need.

How To Learn Archery At Home

If you’re planning to learn or shoot at home, there are some really important extra safety tips.

    • Make sure you have a target which can fully stop your arrows and is large enough.
    • No one should ever be behind the target area. Even if they’re far away.
    • Only shoot in a place where you can guarantee no-one will accidentally walk between you and your target.
    • Consider what happens if you miss the target. Accidents can happen. For example, if you miss you need to make sure the arrow won’t pass through a thin stud wall or window and potentially injure someone.
    • Again, if you’re shooting in your garden make sure that the arrow won’t fly into someone else’s property if you accidentally miss.
    • You can buy specially made backstop netting to prevent stray arrows going too far.
    • Consider purchasing shooting insurance and public liability insurance in case something does happen.

Finally, if you learn with the proper form and equipment from the start you’ll improve faster, enjoy archery more and be a much safer archer!

STEP 3 – LEARNING WITH BEGINNER EQUIPMENT

One of the biggest mistakes beginner archers make is to use a bow which is too heavy for them. Or not learn the basics of good form before increasing the bow weight or distance they shoot. I can’t stress how important it is to avoid this mistake!

To put this in perspective, let’s take a look at South Korea, by far the world leader when it comes to archery. New archers learn how to shoot with just a stretch band for 3-4 months before they can even touch a bow. Even then, archers normally only shoot up to 30m until they’re strong enough to move to longer distances.

Dominant Eye Test for Archery

Eye dominance is important for archery as it’s best to shoot with both eyes open. So you’ll need to know how to find your dominant eye before you start learning. Here’s a simple test:

    • Open both eyes and look at a distant object.
    • Raise your arm in front of you and place your index finger over the object in your vision.
    • You should be focussed on the distant object. Your finger should be blurry and almost see through.
    • Now alternate between closing each eye, while keeping the other eye open.
    • Note what happens to the image of your finger.
    • The eye which is open when the image of your finger DOESN’T move is your dominant eye.

What handed bow do I need – right or left handed?

If you’re right handed and right eye dominant, then you’ll need a right handed bow. This means you’ll hold the bow in your left hand and pull the string back with your right hand. If you’re left handed and left eye dominant you’ll need a left handed bow. This means you’ll hold the bow in your right hand and pull the string back with your left hand.

If you’re right handed but left eye dominant, or left handed but right eye dominant this is called being cross-dominant. I have two different recommendations here depending on your goals.

If you think you’ll want to shoot up to a competitive national level, then go with your eye dominance. For example if you’re right handed but left eye dominant, choose a left handed bow. If you’re left handed but right eye dominant choose a right handed bow.

However, if you seriously think you want to compete internationally, and possibly become an olympic archer, go with your hand dominance and close your dominant eye. This is because you’ll need the super fine motor control that you have on your dominant hand to be on the side that you pull the string with.

What size bow do I need?

In truth, for beginners the size of the bow doesn’t matter too much as long as it’s roughly in the right area. The draw weight is much more important, which I’ll get to later.

Don’t try and guess your bow size from your height. This is not accurate. Eventually you’ll find the proper size of bow depending on your real draw length but for now it’s ok to choose your bow size from your wingspan. This is simply the distance between the end of your middle finger when you reach your arms out to the side.

Below is an approximate guide you can use to choose your bow length from your wingspan.

    • Wingspan larger than 197cm: 72 inch bow (27 inch riser and extra long limbs)
    • Wingspan between 185cm-197cm: 70 inch bow (25 inch riser and long limbs)
    • Wingspan between 173cm-185cm: 68 bow bow (25 inch riser and medium limbs)
    • Wingspan between 160-173cm: 66 inch bow (25 inch riser and short limbs)
    • Wingspan less than 160cm: 64 inch bow (23inch riser and short limbs)

What bow weight is good for beginners?

Less than you think. As I’ve said many times, shooting a draw weight which is too heavy is the single biggest mistake beginner archers make. And often it’s not their fault as they’re forced to shoot long distances that are too far for them.

If it was up to me, everyone would begin learning with stretch bands before they touch a bow. But I understand this isn’t very fun.

In reality, it’s almost impossible to recommend a bow weight without assessing your strength. Draw weight tables based on age, height or sex are misguided at best.

So what draw weight do I recommend for beginners? You want a bow that you can comfortably hold at full draw for more than 60 seconds. This might sound excessive, but this will mean you’re shooting a bow that you can actually control. You’ll thank me later. If you’re taking a beginners course at a club you can easily test this using different bow weights they have.

But what do you do if you want to learn archery by yourself? Simple, buy a set of varying strengths of stretch band (these will be essential later anyway) and a luggage scale. The total cost is just $30. Once you have the bands, find one or a combination of a couple that you can hold comfortably for 60 seconds or more. Then use your luggage scale to measure the weight when you’re at full draw. This is the draw weight you should start with.

You can see how to use a stretch band properly below.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHg-nDLz4og

STEP 4 – HOW TO LEARN ARCHERY AND GET BETTER

You’ve got a great overview now, so it’s time to put everything together and start learning the basics. I’d recommend going through each of my detailed Technique Guides on this website using a stretch band. Or if you’ve got a bow you can go through by just doing draw ups. This is when you draw your bow without an arrow and practice technique, without releasing.

Keep a Diary

Focussing on 1 thing at a time and keeping a diary to see how you’re improving is really useful. You can find a training diary template and lots of other helpful tools on our Resources page.

How to learn archery by self coaching

Practicing your form in a mirror, or using a video delay app on your phone like BAM – Video Delay is a great way to learn faster and check your form. I recommend this app to every one of the archers I coach and they use a tripod attachment to hold their phone or tablet.

You can also find a complete library of archery exercises, and archery drills here. These exercises will massively help you improve as they break down your shot into manageable chunks.

How to learn archery with private coaching

Self coaching is essential to learn so you can progress on your own, but getting expert coaching can really take your archery to the next level. You can read about my online archery coaching here and apply if you’d like to work together. I coach archers all around the world from international team members to complete beginners, so don’t exclude yourself for being a beginner. I love coaching enthusiastic and proactive archers, regardless of level.

Another option is to ask around at your local club if someone can recommend a good coach. Just look out for a couple of key things. It’s important to look for a coach who has also shot at a high level so they understand the principles of proper technique. Too often coaches follow what they’ve read or learnt without adjusting it to an archer’s individual needs. A good coach will take their time to get to know you, and work collaboratively with you. Lastly, you should definitely avoid any coach who takes the ‘my way or the highway’ approach.