You’ve probably noticed that the days are getting shorter, and it won’t be long before the leaves fall off the trees – ready or not. Luckily, the cooler weather doesn’t mean you have to stop shooting your bow. An indoor range is your winter oasis! Even better, these facilities are great places to try some competitive archery.
An archery league is a weekly tournament with a running score. At the end of the league, the archer with the best cumulative score wins. Most indoor leagues are shot at 18 meters or 20 yards.
These leagues are an excellent way to make friends and get involved in the local archery scene. They’re ideal for new shooters because many leagues adjust the scoring to reward archers that improve through the season. This is to encourage participation and keep the league competitive across all skill levels. Ask the person running the league about the scoring system or beginner divisions.
Signing up for an archery tournament might seem intimidating, but they’re actually very approachable. You’ll find the archers welcoming, and the egos turned down. That’s because in archery, you’re competing against yourself, not the other archers. Like leagues, indoor tournaments are usually shot at 20 yards. You can quickly become proficient at indoor distances, especially with instruction and proper gear.
At leagues and tournaments, you’ll keep score, which is a great way to track your progress as a shooter. Scoring varies depending on the tournament format. The two most common indoor archery formats are the USA Archery and National Field Archery Association rounds.
USA Archery uses a multicolored target that has a gold center, with red, blue, black and white in the outer rings. The rings score from 10 points to 1, with 10 being the innermost circle. Archers in USA Archery indoor competitions shoot three arrows per “end,” which is one round of shooting. Check out this video to learn about the scoring rings.
The NFAA target is blue and white, with the white being the center circle that’s surrounded by blue outer rings. The rings score from 5 points to 1. NFAA competitors shoot five arrows per end.
In both formats, if an arrow touches a higher-scoring ring, you get the higher score. For example, if most of your arrow is in the nine-ring but the arrow is just barely touching the 10-ring line, you can take the higher value.
While scoring, it’s against the rules to touch the arrows or targets. Doing so could change your score if you accidentally shift the arrows into a higher scoring ring. Another scoring protocol is to write down the arrow scores from highest to lowest value. Once the arrows are scored, you can pull them from the target and get ready to shoot.
Many indoor ranges are connected to an archery shop, making it convenient to pick up the necessary gear to gain a competitive edge at your next big shoot.
What to buy
Need to get set-up with gear for your indoor archery experience? Time to capture that same feeling as when you walked through a toy store as a kid – mesmerized by packaged happiness – only this time at the archery shop.
Here’s everything you’ll need to get started in indoor archery.
Bow – This might seem obvious, but you have many options when choosing a bow. If you’re just starting, you can rent a bow while you save to buy your own. If you’re already a bowhunter, you can shoot your current bow in the bowhunter class for tournaments. Or you might want to buy a separate bow that’s tricked out for target shooting.
Arrows –Your standard arrows will certainly work, but most serious indoor shooters opt for indoor arrows. What’s the difference? Because archers aren’t battling wind inside and the distance to the target is generally less than outdoor shooting, serious competitors alter their equipment to maximize their results. They’ll shoot a larger diameter arrow, with a heavier point and larger fletching. These features make the arrows more accurate at indoor distances. The large diameter shaft helps catch lines for extra points.
Quiver – You’ll need a quiver that is worn at the hip and capable of holding all the arrows you need for the competition. Some quiver accessories include a release pouch and sturdy belt.
Sight – A sight with fine adjustment options will help you precisely zero your bow. Target sights have tool-less adjustments so you can quickly move your arrows into the 10-ring.
Bow Stand – When you’re done shooting and have to retrieve your arrows, you’ll need to a place to set your bow. A bow stand is a portable device that keeps your bow off the ground while you pull your arrows.
Arrow Puller and Lube– Sometimes pulling your arrows from the target is more work than shooting. Both arrow lube and an arrow puller can help. Arrow lube is applied to the tip of the arrow before shooting and makes the arrows much easier to pull. An arrow puller is a piece of rubber that improves your gripping power on the arrow shaft. These two tools will save your energy for shooting.
When the weather gets chilly, head indoors for climate-controlled archery fun. With help from your local archery shop, you can shoot in indoor competitions to both test yourself and make new friends.