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What is Archery?

Do you fancy yourself to be the next Robin Hood, with the ability to use a bow to shoot an apple off of someone’s head? While this stunt is certainly not recommended for any archer, beginner or professional alike, archery is quite the fulfilling sport. 

Archery is a technique that has been practiced by humans for thousands of years, as the invention of the bow and arrow is estimated to be 64,000 years old by some accounts. From hunting to warfare, archery has evolved into a modern competitive sport. Archery is a great sport for beginners to learn how to practice discipline, improve hand eye coordination, and continue a millennium-old tradition.

How to Participate in Archery

Like many activities, archery can be enjoyed recreationally or at a competitive level. The main requirement to participate is learning how to properly shoot a bow and arrow. For those who have never tried before, we recommend signing up for an archery class or private instruction taught by a qualified instructor to learn the basics of archery, and give you the confidence needed to hone your skills.

Types of Archery

Broadly speaking, the most popular categories of archery include target archery, field archery, and 3D archery, although there are several other types of variants. The World Archery Federation (WA), which is the international governing body for the entire sport of archery, lists nine distinct types of competitive disciplines for archery, including:

Outdoor Archery

Outdoor archery is one of the most traditional types of competitive archery, and a form of target archery that is held outdoors. Targets are set at a standard distance to the shooter.

Indoor Archery

Indoor archery is another type of target archery that features indoor competitive events that are typically held with shorter shooting distances than outdoor archery.

Field Archery

Field archery is another popular type of competitive archery that also uses circular targets, but the targets are setup at different distances and angles from the shooter. The terrain also varies in field archery, presenting an additional challenge to shooters.

3D Archery

3D Archery is an archery discipline rising in popularity over recent years. Targets take the form of three-dimensional animal shapes that are placed at different heights and distances.


This discipline makes archery accessible to participants with disabilities and impairments, and allows the use of archery assistive devices.

Clout Archery

A variant of archery that shooters aim to shoot at long distance targets on the ground.

Flight Archery

A specialized form of archery with historical roots in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire that scores points by shooting arrows as far as possible.

Run Archery

Similar to ski archery, run archery requires that participants race between shooting stations on foot.

Ski Archery

Ski archery is a combination of cross-country skiing and archery which requires participants to ski between different target stations, and uses a recurve bow. This discipline is similar to sport of biathlon which combines target shooting and cross-country skiing.

These disciplines are further divided by classes and divisions based on age and type of bow. Some examples of divisions include Recurve, Compound, Barebow, and Longbow.

Summary of Archery Rules and Scoring for Beginners

Besides the equipment used, the different disciplines vary wildly in rules and scoring. For example, some factors that vary between different disciplines include:

  • Shooting distance from target
  • Time limit
  • Number of arrows shot
  • Point values assigned to each shot

Where To Participate in Archery

Archery can be practiced at indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. Beginners can reach out to local archery clubs and associations for help finding a place to shoot.

In the United States, another great option to discover an archery shooting range is the US Archery “Find A Club” directory of archery shooting ranges.

Additionally, if you live on a suitable plot of land, many archers develop their own shooting ranges and targets, especially for practicing. Make sure to follow proper safety protocol if choosing this method.

Archery Equipment for Beginners

At the most basic level, the equipment needed for archery beginners consists of something to shoot, i.e. arrows, something to shoot from, i.e. a bow, and something to shoot at, i.e. a target. Other equipment required include something to hold arrows, i.e. a quiver, and basic protective equipment. Of course, particular equipment needs will vary depending on the specific discipline of archery.


Common types of bows include traditional, recurve, and compound, although there are more specialized bows such as the longbow. For beginners, the recurve bow is recommended due to being affordable, forgiving to learn, and versatile in a number of archery disciplines.

Traditionally, bows were fashioned out of hardwoods such as maple or cedar, while the bowstring was often made from animal sinew. Many modern bows are now primarily constructed from carbon fiber or fiberglass, although they may incorporate other materials such as aluminum or bamboo.


The four parts to an arrow are the arrowhead, shaft, fletching, and nock. Arrows are most commonly wooden, fiberglass, aluminum, carbon, or composite. Composite arrows are often the most durable and accurate type of arrow, but also the most expensive.


In competitive archery events, targets will be supplied by the hosts or organizers of the tournament. 


The quiver is a piece of equipment that holds extra arrows.

Hand and Arm Protection

Archery gloves or finger tabs are recommended to protect fingers during shooting.

Common Mistakes for Archery Beginners

Learning how to shoot a bow and arrow for beginners can be intimidating and difficult. Correct archery technique is essential for success in archery, otherwise you risk inconsistency and injury by making mistakes if you are an archery beginner. Some common mistakes that beginners should avoid include:

  • Using a Bow with Too Heavy a Draw Weight
  • Gripping the Bow Too Tightly
  • Incorrect Archery Stance or Body Positioning
  • Not Following Through on Shots

Archery Resources

World Archery Federation

National Field Archery Association

International Field Archery Association

US Archery