According to the Archery Trade Association, nearly 24 million American adults participated in archery in 2016. Of that, 36 percent were female, a number that has been increasing year after year. For beginners, archery can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of choices when selecting equipment, getting your bow sighted in can be frustrating and you have to accept that every shot won’t be perfect. But still, archery has so many benefits and once you get set up and start practicing, you’ll likely be among the millions that fall in love with it!
Why should you shoot archery?
Archery is open to anyone, and can be enjoyed by both children and adults, as well as people with disabilities
Shooting a bow helps with physical development by increasing upper-body strength and core muscles
Archery teaches growth mindset by focusing on improvements
Archery helps improve mental toughness by teaching focus and patience
Archery teaches goal setting
Shooting a bow provides a sense of accomplishment, especially when you achieve your goals
Archery can be practiced all year with both indoor and outdoor archery ranges available
Now that you know WHY you should shoot archery, here are some tips to make the most of your experience.
Practice! Practice! Practice! – Seriously, it can’t be said enough. The only way to improve at archery is to practice. If you can get out daily, even for just one quiver full of arrows, it will help. Practicing consistently helps you get used to shooting your bow and will help you build muscle strength so you can increase your draw weight.
Start your practice sessions close to the target – When you first start shooting, it’s okay if you don’t immediately start shooting at 50+ yards. Start at 10 yards, practice from there until all of your shots are consistent, then move back to 20 yards. Keep doing this until you reach your desired distance. And even once you’ve worked your way back, you should still shoot at closer distances too.
Start at a comfortable draw weight – Most modern bows have a wide draw-weight range. If you’re new to shooting, start at a draw weight you can easily pull back without straining. If you can’t draw straight back, and have to lift your bow up into the air, your draw weight is too high. As you build muscle, you can adjust the weight up. Female hunters typically average a 45-55 pound draw weight for hunting. My Mission Craze bow adjusts from 13-70 pounds, which makes it the perfect choice for kids, young adults and women, so the bow can be adjusted as they grow and progress.
Hold the right stance – The proper archery stance is standing up straight, with feet shoulder width apart, with your toes at a 90-degree angle to the target. Your body should form a “T” shape, with your arms forming the horizontal line and your body forming the horizontal line. Even in different positions, such as shooting from a platform or tree stand, seated or kneeling, you should hold this stance.
Get the right grip – If you don’t have the proper grip, your shooting will be inconsistent. To properly hold the bow, place the bow grip in the bend between your index finger and thumb, and relax all of your other fingers. Your hand will have very little contact with the bow grip, but the tension of pulling back on the string will ensure it doesn’t fall.
Use a consistent anchor point – When at full draw, the string should touch the tip of your nose while you look clearly through the peep sight. The placement of the release hand varies person to person, but it’s important to keep it consistent each time you shoot. Some archers bend the thumb into the fist and anchor the knuckle on their jaw line, some anchor the thumb on the back of the neck, others turn their hand palm out. The type of release you may will impact how you position your hand.
Aim small, miss small – Whether you’re practicing archery for sport or for hunting, the goal is to hit a specific spot—not just anywhere on the target. Place small round stickers on the target to give yourself a smaller target to aim at.
Release with care – The string release must be smooth, without a jerk or flinch. Using a mechanical release makes releasing the string easier, but you must remember not to yank or pull the release. Once anchored and aimed, slowly squeeze the release trigger with just your index finger.
Follow through until the arrow hits the target – What happens after you release is just as important as what happens before. If you drop too soon or jerk left/right after release, your arrow will feel the movement and will likely be steered off course.
The more you shoot your bow, the more familiar with it you’ll get and the more consistent your shooting will be. Again, it takes practice and repetition. Every time I shoot, I go through the list in my head and check myself: stance, grip, anchor, aim, release and follow through.
Sarah Honadel is an avid outdoorswoman from Kentucky, now living in Idaho, who enjoys hunting turkey, deer and elk. She is a Team Member at Huntress View and Brand Champion for ReelCamo Girl, two organizations that work to support, encourage and empower women in the outdoors. Follow her on Instagram @waddysarah and @arrowridgecreations