Whether you have a bow already or you’re interested in trying archery for the first time, your local archery range is the best place to start. “Archery range” refers to a space designed for shooting bows and arrows. Ranges can be found at clubs, retail shops or even park facilities.
Find your local range
To start, search for an archery retailer near you or find your local archery club. Though some public parks have archery facilities, they might not have an instructor or rental equipment. If this is your first visit, you want a range with onsite coaching and rental bows, if you don’t have one.
Reach out first
Before stopping by a retail shop, call to find out when it’s open. Many archery businesses are open afternoons, weekends and select evenings, but individual hours vary. If you’re contacting a club, ask when they offer beginner instruction. Many clubs meet only at designated class times.
What to wear?
Once you know where you’re going, consider what to wear. You’ll want to wear Choose clothes and shoes that are comfortable, since because you’ll be standing while you shooting. Many archers wear jeans for practice, or athletic clothes; tennis shoes, skating shoes or even Uggs are de rigueur for practice footwear.
I’m here. What next?
When you walk inside the archery store, you might not be greeted at the door, but that’s OK. Just head to the sales counter. Think of an archery retail shop as a golf or hockey pro shop. It’s probably a small, family-owned business staffed by people who love the sport.
Get outfitted (you can even rent!)
Once you’ve met a staff person, let them know it’s your first visit, and that you’d like to try shooting. They’ll ask whether you’ve shot before, and if you have a bow with you. If you don’t own equipment, that’s OK. Most archery ranges have bows and arrows you can rent.
Get to know the bow
If you’ve brought your own bow, but it’s your first time shooting, the retailer will probably want to spend a few minutes showing you how to assemble and safely string your bow. Whether you have a compound or recurve bow, they’ll work with you to ensure the bow fits you properly.
Learn to shoot like Katniss (or a world champion)
Many archery ranges will require that you take a “mini lesson” or beginner archery lesson to learn safety basics and correct shooting technique. While shooting, you’ll be required to use an arm guard and a finger tab. These protect the inside of the arm that holds the bow, and the fingers that hook the bowstring.
Scope out the scene
One thing is virtually guaranteed in archery: You’ll make new friends! One of the best things about archery is the people. Whatever your age, gender or background, you’ll find your place in archery. Find out when you can practice, whether you can get lessons if you want them, if there’s a club or team that meets there, and if they offer leagues or tournaments you can try.
Keep an eye out for our next “What to Expect” feature: Your First Archery Lesson.