Archery has long been used for generations for hunting at first and then as a weapon in war.
Why archery is good for you?
Professional archery is a great adaptation of the generations-old art. It requires the archer to be keenly focused, display strong nerves and skills in the game. Daily training for professional archers benefit them with several health gains. If you think archery is too stationery for you; think again. Here are several health and entertainment perks associated with archery that can help you in the long run.
- Increases eye-hand coordination
Aiming an arrow requires locking the target firmly with the eye and releasing the arrow at the right time. Doing so is only possible if you have strong eye-hand coordination. Apart from video games, archery is something that improves this skill considerably. With constant training, archers know exactly when to let the hands go as the eyes indicate to do so. This not only helps in scoring more in archery but aids in other sports as well.
- Strengthens muscles and upper body
Pulling the string back to catapult the arrow is no mere easy task especially if your target sits far apart. As you draw the bow, tension builds up in your muscles at arms, shoulders, and chest. You also hold the string back for few seconds while aiming which further exerts your muscles. Over time, your muscle conditions considerably and your upper body strength increases accordingly. It is pretty much similar to the rope workout in the gym.
- Available to all
Unlike other physical sports, archery can be enjoyed by both fit and disabled people alike. In fact, there is a separate category in archery competitions for disabled people where participants with varying disabilities even such as blindness can participate. People with no arms or hands can too join the game by using their feet for archery.
- Inexpensive sport
Archery is not an expensive sport that asks you to have pricy subscriptions. In fact, you can find a ton of tutorials on the internet on how to make a bow. Next, just place a target and you are good to go; showcase your inner Robin Hood. If you are going for professional archery, you can be charged more. However, these expenses are the same as you would sign up for a gym, swimming, or boxing classes. Once you rise to the national level as a professional archer, you can forget all such expenses and leave them to your government.
- Better flexibility
Archery makes your hands stronger and fingers more flexible. As you bend the string with your bare hands, it’s all raw strengthen into action that develops more as you practice. Your fingers bend a lot more too and become more flexible. Note that flexible hands prevent any injuries during sports since they can take greater pressure. That’s why athletes normally warm-up before any rigorous exercise to avoid any muscle strains or pulls. Flexible hands, just like other body parts, are safer from aching joints and soreness.
- Increases focus
If you are a type of student who can’t concentrate on study for more than 20 minutes, archery can actually help you a great deal. Our focus is a lot like our muscles. Just like we spent time exercising to grow our muscles, our brain muscles too grow as we concentrate more on something. The more we stress our nerves, the stronger they become. Archery requires us to focus deeply on every breath and every move while aiming. Over time, our concentration timespan increases as we shut down all the distractions to focus on our target. This trains our brain to concentrate better and comes handy in other life situations such as studying or working long hours at the office.
- Grow socially
Whether you are a professional archer or visiting an archery club, you interact with a lot of new people every day. Whether it’s your instructor, student, friend, or teammate, you build new relationships and learn to coordinate with each other. It’s a wrong perspective that archery is a mere single-person game. You can form teams and compete with one another or represent your club or country on the national and international level with your team. Secondly, since archery is not a widely played sport as compared to other sports, you are sure to find like-minded folks that can get along with you.
Although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be pulling out a bow to target a robber looting your local superstore but archery can actually save your life. Remember, archery has long been used for hunting. So, if you find yourself deserted or lost in the wild, you can make a bow and hunt for food. Bow fishing is also a pretty common technique to hunt fish. In the worst-case scenario, a bow can be used as a weapon against a predator or potentially a human. Archery is a skill that can save you in unwanted situations and help you protect yourself and your family.
- Easy to make
It’s a one-day job if you have the right equipment and knowledge to do so. If you don’t want to spend money on it, it’s totally okay. Additionally, you can also learn archery online if you don’t feel like reaching out to an instructor. However, I would highly suggest you join a club or academy for the best hand-on experience and better socializing.
- It’s fun
You can’t say it until you try it. The joy of hitting the bull’s eye exceeds those of hitting a six in cricket. Archery is a fun sport and a great stress-reliever as you smash the target. It can be made much more enjoyable if done with friends or in a group. That’s the ultimate goal of a game; to have fun. Archery provides a ton of that as you train, learn, and try and finally reach a level of the game you always wanted to.
Not only archery is fun but it also conceals several health benefits and therefore, it is a widely recognized sport; a part of the Olympics. Look for the nearest store or join an archery club. Hone your skills to become a master hunter or relive as the modern-day Robin Hood.
Is archery safe?
What if you accidentally shoot someone? Some people might be reluctant to pick up a bow and arrow for the fear that archery might be too dangerous. However, statistics suggest that archery actually is one of the safest sports on the planet. Let alone basketball, football, and other physical sports, archery is safer than even golf. Stats show that chances of an injury in archery are only 0.57 people per thousand participants. This means that out of two thousand archers, only one of them might be injured.
These numbers are eye-opener as your child is safer doing archery rather than going for a gentlemen game like golf. Therefore, archery is widely recognized as a safe sport with low chances of injury. Secondly, the injuries related to archery are mostly slight bruises and cuts caused by the string rather than getting hit by an arrow. Such injuries are very frail and can easily be shaken off.
So, we can confidently conclude that archery is safe.
How to keep archery safe
It is worthwhile to mention that archery, like every other sport, has certain safety measures to observe to keep it harmless. If you think placing the bullseye in the middle of a busy road is safe then well, you might be in for a terrible surprise. Remember that you are dealing with a weapon after all and you must be careful all the time.
Below are some precautionary tips to observe all the times to keep the archery safe.
- Have a bird’s eye view of the range
If you are a newbie, your instructor might take to you a walk-through of the entire facility. Doing so familiarizes you with the archery range, their Do’s and Don’ts, general safety measures, rules & regulations, and use of their equipment. Watching others and memorizing the layout of the range, you subconsciously remember how to be safe the next time you are in for archery.
- Look for the instructor’s guidance
First and foremost, every new student must be undertaken by a certified instructor who oversees their every action and suggests the best. An instructor provides directions on how to ensure the safety of yourself and others while still having fun. If you have any doubts related to archery, ask the instructor rather than risking others’ safety. Moreover, an instructor also teaches you the right use of equipment like gloves, etc. to avoid getting yourself a cut or bruise.
- Examining a bow and arrow
Alright you just got a detailed lecture by your instructor on safety and he just handed out a bow and arrow to you; so now what? Whether it’s your first time on the archery range or you’ve been doing it or years, an important first step is to always have a detailed inspection of your bow and arrow. Make sure that all of your equipment is safe and working perfectly. Look for any cracks, tears, rust, or warping that can potentially cause the equipment to dysfunction in action.
- Dress accordingly
Don’t worry; you don’t have to wear metal armor like in medieval times. The dressing guidelines for archery usually ask to not wear anything that may get twisted in the bow when shooting. Avoid wearing extra loose dressing, mufflers, scarves, and jewelry items like bracelets and necklaces. You could get injured if any of your dressing gets tangled with the arrow as you are shooting. Additionally, it’s best to wear gloves to avoid getting cuts and bruises on your hands from the bowstring.
- Retrieve arrows at the right time
If you’ve been to an archery range previously, you know there is a specified time for shooting arrows and then retrieving them. When some instructor blows the whistle once, it indicates to shoot the arrow. When the whistles blow the second time, it signifies to retrieve the arrow. Strictly follow the whistle system to avoid getting caught in the fire. Also, make sure no one is retrieving arrows on the range as you get ready to shoot.
Other safety tips
- Keep your bow pointed downwards when not shooting at the range.
- Never mistakenly or intentionally point your bow at anyone whether or not there is an arrow in it.
- Wear arm guard and hand gloves for the best practice
- Before shooting, have a look at the front, back, and sideways of the target to ensure there is no one in the way.
- Only shoot when you are in a shooting range. Avoid drawing your bow at any place other than the range.
- Never shoot an arrow pointed upwards in the air as it could hurt someone when falling.
- Follow the prescribed drawing limit of your bowstring. Pulling back excessively can damage the bow and could potentially injure you.
- Use bow cases and quivers to store your bow and arrows respectively.
- Repair any damages in the equipment before using them.
- Take off any loose piece of cloth and jewelry before shooting.
Buying your first archery equipm
Now let’s come to some technical stuff; buying your first archery gear. It can be daunting at first to choose the right one for you with so many options available out there in the market. Finding the perfect match needs several factors to be considered along with your style. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
Coming to the most vital piece of equipment, a bow is primarily of two types; a longbow and crossbow. A longbow is further divided into a recurve bow and compound bow.
Longbow vs. Crossbow
Before moving any forward, let’s first solve the dispute between the longbow and crossbow since both have a long history of use in warfare. Both types of bows have prominent differences that affect their technique, design, effectiveness, and results. Let’s explore them.
Crossbow: A crossbow’s design resembles that like a rifle but with a bow attached on top in a horizontal position instead of a gun barrel. A small bow rests on top of the holding and therefore, the archer doesn’t have to draw and hold the bow while aiming. As a result, it is much easier to aim at the target and shoot. The bowstring is held back by a small bolt that releases the arrow as we press the trigger. So, it makes it much quicker and smooth to simply aim the crossbow and shoot without worrying about drawing the string or holding the arrow in its place.
Longbow: Mastering the art of longbow requires a lot of training and patience. Though a longbow has a simple design, there are a lot of factors in play as you shoot the arrow. However, note that there is not much difference between the two bows when it comes to the ease-of-use. With a little practice and right lessons, you can learn them both easily.
Crossbow: Hands down, a crossbow is simply more accurate when shooting as opposed to a longbow. As the bow is firmly attached on top, you only have to worry about pointing the crossbow at the target rather than dealing with other factors as we do in the longbow. Shooting a crossbow is more like shooting through the crosshair of a gun.
Longbow: Comparatively, It’s a bit demanding to aim perfectly for the bullseye when using a longbow since it doesn’t work on simply point and shoot mechanism as a crossbow does.
Crossbows, unlike its counterpart, are not widely used either at archery ranges or competitions. The reason for this is that crossbows make it very easy to aim and shoot the target thanks to its tactical design. This quality may come in handy but also acts as a setback for a lot of archers as they have to exert only minimal effort. Archers may want to keep archery more ‘natural’ and depend only on their instincts; it’s surely more fun this way.
Longbow: For all the above reasons, a longbow is mostly used in archery facilities, Olympics, and other archery competitions. It makes it more challenging and fun at the same time for the archer to cope with all the pressure and considering all the factors while aiming.
Longbow generally costs less than crossbows due to its minimalistic design. However, the price also varies from brand to brand.
Longbow weighs considerably less than crossbows and therefore, it is much more mobile and easy to carry around.
Crossbows are a very powerful weapon made in medieval times with a goal to have siege and armor-piercing archery capabilities. Luckily, we don’t live in that era. Therefore, if you are taking up archery as a sport or recreational activity, there is no need to invest in a costly, bulky crossbow that robs you of all the fun and potential health benefits. For the same reason, you’ll mostly find a longbow, or any of its variants, in archery facilities. Therefore, from now onwards, we’ll cover only the longbows and its features.
Types of longbows
Most people place longbow in a separate category of bows, apart from recurve and compound bows. However, both the later bows are derived from the good old longbow which dates back to thousands of years. Let’s have a brief overview of each of these bows.
These kinds of bows are made with a long piece of carved wood with no sights or arrow rests. Longbows are the most simplistic and early form of bows around.
- Recurve bow
Suitable for the newbies, a recurve bow is designed to withstand maximum pressure at the middle which points towards the archer. It is easy to use and provides great projectile to the arrow even with less strength. Therefore, beginners are taught archery with recurve bows.
- Compound bow
It is the latest and most advanced form of a bow that promises better accuracy and high speed. Compounds bow are generally shorter than recurve bow but its ‘let off’ helps in lowering the pressure while holding back the bowstring when aiming. There are also a lot of adjustments and accessories to equip your compound bow with. However, note that compound bows are quite expensive as compared to a longbow or recurve bow.
Since compounds bow is the most latest and reliable form of bow, most of the people may have them on their wishlists. Therefore, we’ll be discussing the rest of the technicalities related to a compound bow. Some of these factors are common in recurve bows too so buckle up.
What to consider when buying a compound bow
- Draw length
Draw length can be defined as the maximum distance a bowstring can be pulled back before it stops and goes no further. Draw length plays a key role in affecting the accuracy and speed of the arrow. Generally, a shorter draw length increases the chances of inaccuracy since there is more torque to the bow.
Likewise, a very long draw length can make it difficult for the archer to maintain a straight or right posture when shooting. This not only leads to backaches but also you can’t easily peek through the peep bow sight which leads to bad aiming too. It’s worthwhile to note that more draw length leads to greater power stroke to the arrow which increases its speed. However, you’ll need to choose a bow with a draw length that is fit for you.
A general technique to calculate draw length is to measure the distance between one tip of your middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger while the arms are stretched out sideways. Subtract that length with 15 and divide the result by 2. That’s your estimated draw length. However, you’ll be assisted at the store by the helpers to calculate the right draw length so you don’t need to worry about it any further.
- Draw Weight
Is simply means the force required to pull back the bowstring to its full extent. In other words, it is a measure of the power you’ll be exerting when drawing. There is no universal standard for proper draw weight. The right draw weight for you is a weight where it doesn’t stress your arms too much while holding the string when drawing. When buying, draw the bow and hold it for few seconds up to a point where it seems difficult to carry on. Choose a draw weight that you can withstand for about 30 seconds easily without sweating.
Note that as an archer, at times, especially when hunting, you’ll need to draw your bow constantly for some time. In such situations, a draw weight that exceeds your limitation can make it hard to draw the bow for longer times. Therefore, test the bow in consideration keenly before making the purchase.
- Bow length
Bow length is the length between the two ends of the bow. A right bow length matter a ton for the stability and mobility of the bow. Generally, a shorter bow length offers better maneuverability in the field. Its smaller size makes it easy to carry and store. On the other hand, a shorter bow length also decreases accuracy. Bows with greater length are generally easier to shoot but their bulkier size makes it a nuisance to carry around. Therefore, it’s recommended to opt for an average bow length and not to go for the extremes.
- Brace height
It is the measure of the distance from the string to the grip of the bow. Brace height is inversely proportion to the speed of the arrow released. The shorter the brace height, the farther you can draw it. Consequently, you release the bowstring with more power and the arrow shoots with greater speed. With longer brace height, you can also visualize it, you can’t draw the bow to a greater extent as your arms won’t stretch that much. Also, the arrow stays in the bow for a longer period when shooting and that could greatly affect its speed. Thus, look for an ideal brace height that lies in between or ask the assistant at the store to help you out.
Cams are round-shaped disks at the end of a compound bow. They act as a support to aid you with easy backward bowstring movement. With traditional bows, the more you pull the string backward, the tougher it gets to pull it back as you carry on. In fact, you might not be able to even pull it back after a certain point once your strength runs out. That is where cams come in action and make the compound bows truly unique. They let you draw the string as much as you want without exerting yourself.
Now when it comes to the cams, you may come across a choice between single vs. dual cams for your compound bow. Single cam bow needs to undergo less tuning but provides less speed as compared to dual cam bow. However, single cam bows are more accurate and also less noisy. That is why most of the archers prefer single-cam over dual cam.
On the other hand, dual cam bows are more suitable for aggressive archery as they provide more speed. This is because there are two wheels to store energy when drawing and releasing it when shooting. However, dual cam bows are also noisier which comes off as a nuisance to hunters.
The overall weight of the bow can make a significant difference in your performance. If you plan on showcasing your archery abilities in hunting, you should consider a bow with less weight. Lighter bows allow better mobility in the woods. However, due to a shorter length, they also vibrate more and thus are noisier. Longer bows may not be that easy to carry around but they are quieter. Lastly, it all depends upon your style.
Well, you know how it goes; keep your budget in check and do your research about prices on the internet. The price of compound bows starts from $150 and goes all the way up to $800, depending upon the brand. Meanwhile, recurve bows generally cost less than compound bows and their pricing ranges from $150 -$300.
So here are the top features to look for in a compound bow when buying one. All of these features except cams apply to a recurve bow as well so you can look for other options as well if you think a compound bow might be too advanced for you.
Arrows matter as well
You can’t showcase your inner Robin Hood without equipping yourself first with the right arrows. Arrows, like bows, too come in varying sizes and materials.
- Arrow length
To begin with, you need to estimate the right arrow length based on the bow length. A general way of doing so is to add 0.5 inches to the bow length; that’s your arrow length.
- Arrow weight
Similarly, to calculate arrow weight, we recall our draw weight. Add 5 grain per pound for total draw weight. For instance, a draw weight of 50 pounds calls for an arrow weight of 5x 50 = 250 grains.
- Arrow material
Arrows are generally made up of wood, aluminum, and carbon.
Wooden arrows are relatively cheap but are more prone to breakage and don’t last very long.
Aluminum arrows are great for beginners. They are more costly than wooden arrows but also last longer.
Carbon arrows are heavier and tougher than both of the above. That is why they are used by professionals and hunters. However, they are very pricey as well.
Now you know how archery benefits us, how to have safe archery and a detailed buying guide for bows. So, what are you waiting for?