Archery has been with us for over four thousand years. From the need for sustenance to the weaponry of war, archery has evolved into a wonderful sport and hobby that can be shared with the family. Now we can enjoy competition and sport with family and friends. A method to find a form of quality time is right at our fingertips. I was very blessed to be introduced to both the hobby and sport aspects as a young man.
As a beginner you should first choose what aspect of the sport you’ll be starting with. Then choose the proper bow and accessory equipment. I cannot express how deeply the bond was that developed as my Uncle George took me on the following journey.
Selecting the Proper Bow
1). The first step in selection is determined by which of your eyes has dominance. Point to any object, such as a light switch on the wall while leaving both eyes open, then close your left eye. If the switch is still in alignment, then you are right eye dominant and should purchase a right hand bow.
2). Select the bow that meets your purpose as a beginner. Since you will be doing target practice at an indoor or outdoor range, you will need a bow with a draw strength of 60-80 pounds. I would suggest a ‘recurve bow’ for a beginner. There is no reason to buy a fancy competition or hunting bow until you’ve mastered the sport.
3). Each person’s ‘draw length’ is unique to a degree. This difference is because it is determined by the length of your arm and width of your chest. I suggest being measured at a pro shop. Once determined its time to shop online for the best selection and price.
Selecting the Proper Arrow
1). There are many types of arrows based on intended use. An aluminum or wooden arrow will suffice for any beginner. I suggest wooden arrows for target practice because arrows are easily damaged when they sometimes pass through a target. Making your own arrows can save money and allow you and your children to engage a fine hobby you can do together. Custom arrows are fun to make. They can be very decorative and more accurate. Also, you will have acquired tools needed for arrow repair when you buy the things needed to make your own.
2). The important things to consider when buying arrows or blanks are “spine and length”. The definitions are as follows below:
a). Arrow spine is the relative flexibility of the arrow shaft. Generally, flexibility need is determined by the foot pound rating of your bow. The higher the rating, the stiffer the arrow should be. An intermediate flexibility is sufficient for a beginner using a bow rated at 60-80 lbf.
b). Arrow length is derived by your bowstring draw length plus approximately two inches. A fully drawn arrow ready to fire should sit about one inch from the leading edge of your bow grip.
Selecting the Proper Sight
For the beginner, a sight is not really needed. I first learned by eye, judgment of distance and windage considerations alone. A progression occurred to using various sight systems as I later became involved in ‘field archery’ and ‘game hunting’. Having said this, realization is that a bow looks more esthetically correct to its owner when it has a sight. If you desire a sight for whatever reason, don’t be tempted into selecting one with high-tech features. A basic optical 3-pin composite sight with twin pin tracks is sufficient for any beginner. Shop directly online for the best selection, as most Pro Shops carry limited models and brands.
Proper Comfort and Safety Gear
Finger tabs are used on the index finger and middle finger of the hand used to retract the notched arrow and bowstring. Even a 60-80 lbf recurve bow is painful, especially when done repetitively. A ‘compound bow’ rated at 160 lbf exerts tremendous punishment on fingertips. Your index and middle finger will become very sore, blistered and even torn during avid practice and competition. I suggest a good pair of finger tabs, even for a beginner.
An arm guard is a simple device used to protect your forearm from the snap return of your bowstring. Selection is a matter of cost effective choices. A good selection is always easily found online. I personally went for several years without using one, and paid a sometimes painful price. The heavier the bow strength, the more necessary an arm guard becomes.
My involvement in this sport and hobby came at the age of fourteen years. This is a great family sport and hobby, however, involvement of young children should be avoided. A teenager, fourteen to eighteen years of age, has maturity and the needed upper body strength. Obviously, the older your children are, the better it is for safety. If you introduce your family to archery, you will have a great opportunity to spend priceless quality time with them. This will always leave lasting and enduring memories for all.
Good luck and have lots of fun!