There have been many people ask the team at Shoot Like A Girl, “How do I get started in archery?”. To borrow Nike’s slogan, “Just do it”. I remember my introduction to shooting sports. The first time I went to an archery range I felt the awkwardness of doing something new. I was excited and terrified all at the same time; especially since I was in my early 30s. I don’t mean terrified that I would be hurt (badly). I mean terrified that I would look stupid and mostly, terrified I would fail. You know the feeling, like when you started a brand new job, drove a car for the first time or the first time you stayed the night in your own place by yourself. However, like all of those other first experiences, with time, you become accomplished and are left with the overwhelming feeling of Confidence.
Many of you know, that is why I started Shoot Like A Girl in the first place. I wanted every woman to feel the confidence that comes from aiming at a target, and hitting it right where you were aiming. I’m a broken record here, but that feeling of self-satisfaction will transcend to every part of your life. There are studies that show, people who “win” in sports, win in life. Every time you hit the target; you are a winner!
Here are my recommendations from personal experiences on getting started in archery.
- Ask if anyone you know shoots a bow. If they do, ask to meet them at the range they shoot at. I say meet, because finding the right range can be like a first date…you may want to duck out early.
Do an internet search for “archery ranges near me” or “archery classes near me” or “archery near me” or visit your local Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s and ask them for recommendations. You can also use the “Where to Shoot” finder at Archery 360. Call and see if they have a program for new shooters or a ladies’ night.
- When you get to the range, walk right up to the
counter and tell them, “I’m new to shooting and want to learn.” You will be amazed at how helpful the employees of the store will be, and if it is a range, their customers are normally helpful, too. If you don’t feel comfortable or like the atmosphere, leave and try the next place or go back at a different time.
- Take a class or hire a coach. This is very important, because those helpful customers that I mentioned above, can sometimes derail your learning process.
Like everything we do, there is a technically correct way, a way that works for me, and a way that works for you. A coach will keep you focused on what you need to work on. I attribute much of my archery success to my first coach, Kurt Geist. (RIP, Kurt).
- Have one person work on your equipment. I still remember, my league partner, Jon Overton helping to fine tune my bow to get the most out of it. Many bows come out of the box ready to shoot well, however you’ll want to tune it for your arrow set up. Our friends at GoldTip have a great resource at this link. Anyway, Jon had spent hours tuning my bow. I was shooting, and someone said, “let me put a twist in your string so your bow will shoot better”. Well, it didn’t work, and all the work Jon had done was ruined. He wasn’t very happy with me. It’s funny, I still remember him telling me, “If, I EVER let someone else touch my bow, he would not help me anymore.” He is the second person I attribute my archery success to.
- Invest in good equipment. If you think this will be an activity you will spend a good amount of time doing, then invest in good equipment to begin with. When I got my first bow, I made the mistake of buying the least expensive bow from not the best place. The salesman at the little store I was at sold me what he had on the shelf, and the bow didn’t even fit me. I had no ideal, you can order most bows in the exact specification to fit your draw length. At a time in my life, where I was counting pennies, I ended up purchasing another bow to have it fit me correctly; so that I could continue to improve. Read our article on Selecting a Bow here.
- Lastly, practice. Practice as much as you can, without shooting becoming a chore. It is supposed to bring you joy and happiness. Also, stop practicing if you are not doing well. For example, if you start off practicing and you have a tight shot group, but then after 20 arrows or so, you start
shooting bigger groups, it is time to quit. You should not practice bad habits. If possible, end on a good shot, and remind yourself, “I am a winner!”