Archery – a sport of shooting at some type of a target using a bow and arrows – can be done lots of different ways, but at its core, it’s three things: fun, challenging and highly addictive. It’s also a great upper body workout, and especially with outdoor shooting, walking back and forth to the target to pull your arrows from the target actually provides an excuse to get a little extra cardio.
There are three primary disciplines – games you play – in archery:
For each discipline, there’s at least one organization to help you find archery classes, a coach, competition opportunities – and even the chance to compete on a national or international team.
1. Target Archery
Target, which is the type of archery competed at the Olympic Games, consists of shooting at bullseye-style, multicolored target faces at distance. Generally, target archers shoot 18 meters (or about 20 yards) indoors, and between 30 and 90 meters outdoors, depending on the archer’s age and equipment style. Target archery – facilitated internationally by World Archery – has its own world championships as well as the popular World Cup series.
USA Archery is the national governing body for target archery in the United States, and provides youth and adult programming, instructor certification, and local as well as national competition opportunities. More information: http://www.usarchery.org.
2. Field Archery
Field archery is often enjoyed on a roving course set through the woods, with paper targets from 20 feet to 80 yards away. This is a great discipline for those who love nature, as you’ll definitely do some hiking, and targets are often set at up and downhill angles. Indoor field archery events are also available.
The National Field Archery Association (NFAA) oversees field archery in the U.S., hosting numerous well-attended national events and conducting instructor certification as part of a joint certification program with USA Archery. More information on the NFAA: http://nfaausa.com/
3. 3D Archery
3D archery events – tournaments in which competitors walk a wooded or open course, shooting at three-dimensional foam animals at different distances – are conducted by the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) and the Archery Shooters’ Association (ASA).
The IBO and ASA both offer extensive tournament opportunities, including a Pro/Am circuit for the ASA, and a Triple Crown for the IBO. Both organizations also offer national championship events, and local competition opportunities. For more information, contact http://www.asaarchery.com or http://www.ibo.net.
There’s also bowhunting and traditional archery, which you can learn more about in Archery 360’s “New to Archery” section.
Find the Right Bow and Gear Up
So, which type of bow should you shoot?
It’s best to check in with a local archery shop or resource that can give you the opportunity to try different kinds of equipment. In very basic terms, your options are the Olympic recurve, the compound bow or, for traditionalists, the longbow. The bow you choose will generally depend upon what feels good to you as an archer, and the discipline on which you want to focus.
Find a Club, Find a Coach
Once you’ve researched which types of archery events you’d like to try, it’s time to think about finding an archery club and coach to help you get started on the right path. USA Archery currently offers an online coach and club locator that will help you to find a USA Archery/NFAA-certified instructor or coach. Finding a club in your local area is also quick and easy.
By joining a club, you can take part in nationwide programs for youth and adults that provide clear pathways for recreational and competitive archery, with weekly classes, consistent coaching, and opportunities to try leagues and tournaments.
From there, you can develop your archery skills with the help of experts who can assist you with technique, learning how to compete and optimizing equipment.
Ready to get started?
Welcome to the sport of archery, literally one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. We’re so glad you’ve joined us!
If you’re ready to take the next step, consider finding an archery shop in your neighborhood to try out your options. Archery 360 has also collected resources and how-tos from archery organizations such as USA Archery and Easton Foundations. This “New to Archery” guide introduces you to archery and gets you started.