Interested in archery? The best way to get started is to find someone willing to teach you to shoot. This can be done in several ways, either with a group or on your own. Hopefully these ideas will inspire you to get to the range and pick up a bow.
One simple way to try out archery is to attend a local event where instructors are running demonstrations, often referred to as a “Try Archery” event. Keep your eyes peeled for events run by local archery shops, parks and recreation departments, or state wildlife management agencies. A quick Internet search revealed to me that there are adult archery classes taking place less than 10 minutes from my house, run by a neighboring town’s recreation department. And even if the program you find looks like it might be oriented for kids, it is worth asking if adults can try archery too. If your local parks and rec department doesn’t have a class, ask if they could put one together. You’re probably not the only person in your town interested in picking up new archery skills.
Another option to seek out is the Explore Archery program run by USA Archery and the Archery Trade Association. I learned about Explore Archery in a recent archery instructor course, and it sounds awesome. New archers learn how to safely handle a bow and arrow while they try a few different “fun” shoots, including shooting at flying foam discs. Follow this link to find a local event.
If bowhunting is your ultimate goal with archery, then definitely check to see if a Field to Fork program is happening in your area. The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) ran the first FTF program in Kentucky a few years ago, and they’ve been expanding the program ever since. In one weekend, experienced volunteers will help you go through hunter education, learn deer-hunting tips and tricks, and learn bow or crossbow safety.
The culmination of all that training is a mentored hunt on the last day of the weekend. Not only will you learn a lot and meet like-minded folks, but you’ll gain an appreciation for why bowhunters do what they do. You can learn more about QDMA’s Field to Fork program here. And if you want to help get a FTF program going in your neck of the woods, contact QDMA’s Hank Forester.
If you already have your own equipment, or access to arrows and a well-fitting loaner bow, then USA Archery’s Adult Archery Program is worth a look. The AAP is set up to help adult archers learn how to shoot an archery competition. My club runs one AAP shoot a month; it’s set up like an official archery match (but without the pressure). All of us adult archers show up and shoot through a scoring “round”—three arrows per scoring “end,” and either 10 or 12 ends, depending on whether we’re shooting indoors or outdoors. These competitions are all about having fun and setting goals. USA Archery awards pins based on achieving certain scores, and it’s nice to have those goals to work toward.
My husband and I have found a great community of friendly folks who have helped us tweak our technique and improve our gear setups. This group has also hooked us up with good-quality used gear, which helps our budget and our scores. If you are competition-minded, this is a great program to look in to.
These organized options might not be your cup of tea—and that’s just fine. Ask an archery-oriented friend you trust, or get in touch with your local pro shop to find out if there is someone willing to teach you. In my experience in the shooting sports, you’ll be able to find someone who will not only help, but encourage and inspire you to keep going with archery.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, grab a bow and try a new sport! You can also find more archery tips at The WON here.
This Retro WON first appeared June 14, 2017.
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