The best way is to find someone who can teach you.
Archery is a little like learning martial arts. It’s about taking full control of your mind and body, and learning how the two link together. Whoever teaches you will have learned the principles – and perhaps one day you will teach them to someone else.
Beginner’s courses vary, but most will be between four and ten weeks in length, coming for a session once a week. Most of them are taught with a recurve bow, but may be taught with compound or traditional bows too.
(Even if you want to shoot a different type of bow eventually, a beginners course on any type of bow will get you underway.)
Don’t buy a bow or arrows, or any equipment yet! Usually, the first place you try archery out will lend you everything you need.
Find your local archery club
If you Google for your national archery federation, they will have a list of archery clubs on their website. Look for the one nearest you, and make contact. Many clubs will have details of any beginners courses on their website, or the dates of the next have-a-go. Don’t be afraid to email and ask – archers are a friendly bunch.
Find your local archery shop
Many shops run beginner’s courses, and if they don’t, they will certainly know people that do. Visiting an archery shop is an excellent idea, and may be a good way to try out different types of bows, too.
Have-a-go (also known as a come-and-try)
Most archery clubs and ranges have short sessions (often a single afternoon or evening) to try out archery and shoot their first arrows. Many Olympic archers have started out this way. Booking a have-a-go session is a great idea.
Find a coach
National archery federations often have a list of coaches, too. If there really is no club nearby, you may still be able to find a coach who can teach you the sport somewhere. And if you continue on your archery journey, a coach will eventually become essential.
Can’t I just buy a bow and teach myself?
Many people these days are familiar with learning in different, digital ways. You may be used to picking up tips from YouTube on making or fixing things, or perhaps doing an online course.
However if you are just starting out, there is a lot of information about getting the form correct, and about shooting safely, that really needs to be taught first-hand.
That doesn’t mean you can’t learn about archery from the internet. There are some amazing resources for the sport, and we’ll cover some of them in Part 5.
Something becoming increasingly common is remote coaching, which involves sending data – usually including video – to a coach who could be anywhere in the world, them analysing your skills and form, and making recommendations. One archer, working with a (mostly) remote coach, won the US national championships in 2020.
But the beginning of the journey will usually require somebody to be hands on. Some other sports and hobbies, you can play around and eventually start getting serious. Archery is better if you are taught the right principles from the very start, and it’s vital to shoot safely. A little later down the line, you can start working on your own.
More importantly, archery is a collective experience. It’s a great way to make friends for life. Seek out, and learn.
Bow International is the world’s only dedicated target archery magazine, and since 1996 we’ve been letting archers improve, enjoy and find the best equipment for their sport. In association with JVD Archery, Easton Archery and the Easton RX7 arrow. If you’ve ever wondered about starting archery, come with us on this journey.