Archery Basics For Beginners (All You Need)

Posted by Andy Ryan
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A picture of a bow and a arrow. The picture shows the different nocks and two blue targets in the background.

The Different Types of Bows

There are a few types of bows when we are talking about archery, but there are two most common types that you will see the most off. That is the compound and the recurve bow. There are a few key differences which I will walk you through with these bullet points and some explanation.

Recurve Bow vs Compound Bow

Pros – Benefits of the Recurve bow

  • Lighter and more comfortable to transport

The recurve bow is a lot simpler built with fewer parts and less string making it lighter and easier to transport. Some recurves can be pulled apart and can easily fit a backpack. This is something I recommend you to look for if you are planning to travel a lot with your bow or need to take public transport to either your club or competitions. So you don’t have to look like robin hood on the train, but only on the range where a feeling of being robin hood is always nice. The weight of the bow we recommend for beginners is about 2. Lbs.

  • Cheaper to buy

The recurves are cheaper. Which makes sense because of fewer parts and simpler mechanics. This doesn’t mean they are worse, just simpler. This is great for a beginner because when you are starting out you want to keep the prices low, until you know that archery is something you will do for a long time. Then you can invest more because you know its something you won’t just quit after a few weeks.

If you haven’t bought your first bow, yet I recommend you not to go super cheap either. You want something in the middle, around 200$ this will provide you with a decent bow you can use for an extended period without feeling it is useless or out of your skill level. I had mine for the first year, and then I was sure that archery was something I wanted to do and I was ready for advancing my gear.

  • Easier to understand and Use

The Recurve bow is a lot easier to use and understand. Not saying the compound bow is hard to understand either, but there are less things to take care off and have in mind. There is less equipment needed with a recurve you are basically set with just the bow and a few arrows.

  • A more “robin hood” feeling

Well this is maybe a silly point, but it wasn’t for me. I wanted to be more “hands-on” and shoot in a more traditional way. I watched a lot of series with archery heroes and I really just loved the simplicity and the art of the recurve. You, your strength and posture is what will make your shots good or not.

Cons – Negative Aspects For The Recurve Bow

  • More expensive to replace parts

The Recurve is cheaper when you buy it, but more expensive if something break. Because there are few parts that makes up the recurve and if any of these parts break a big repair and you probably have to replace the whole part to fix it. But don’t worry, we will give you a few tips and guide you through how to maintain and take care of your bow to prevent this further down in this article.

  • Can Be Hard to Draw For a Beginner

Since there are no parts helping you increase the draw weight. The draw weight is the power needed for you to pull the string towards you. In a compound bow you have the two wheels that helps you to increase the power, but in a recurve bow you have to do all the hard work yourself.

This can be hard for a beginner or a kid when first starting out, but if you purchase a bow with the correct draw weight fitting to you this problem won’t be a major one. You will also get stronger over time and you will adjust to the draw weight. You will even increase it after time because your strength will grow naturally

  • Used In the Olympics

Just going to mention this quickly. Recurves are the only bow allowed in the Olympics for now. This may change in the future, but its something to keep in mind if you are committed to go all the way.

  • Easier To Maintain

I won’t go in-depth here since I am going to write about this in more detail at the bottom of this article. But it is an important keypoint for choosing the recurve.

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Compound Bow – Pros and Cons

Compounds bow – Pros

  • More Powerful with less strength
  • Easier to Aim
  • Easy to adjust
  • Best for Hunting
  • Best for Kids
  • More Powerful with less strength

The compound gives you the possibility to have a heavy draw, but at the same time to use little strength and energy on holding it. The design of the compound bow will make it easier for you to hold more power resulting in less shaking and making it simpler for you to aim and shoot.

  • Easier to Aim

Its easier to aim because of the bullet point i mentioned. When you are aiming with your string close to your face you will have a much easier time holding it there for a longer time because the design of the bow helps you to do so.

  • Easy to adjust

The draw weight is easier to adjust on a compound bow than a recurve bow. To change the draw weight for a recurve how you need to change out the limbs, but on a compound bow all you need to do is to adjust a screw using a special tool. This can be great in the start because your strength will increase then you naturally want to increase the draw weight.

  • Best for Hunting

Because of the power that the compound bow provides it is really suited for hunting. When you are hunting you are not only shooting from your regular stance, but also from sitting position for example in a tree stand. In those situation the help from the compound design is really a neet feature.

  • Best for Kids

Because of the availability to change the draw weight simply and the help from the design the compound is a great bow for a kid. The kid will grow and his strength will too = the want for more draw weight will too.

Different Parts And Equipment Explained

There are a lot of equipment and parts used in archery that can me hard to remember and to understand. Here are two pictures giving you all the information on the parts on the bow. if you have any questions or wondering what other equipment you need and what to buy we have a very in-depth article on this here (Link to article, what you need, and cost breakdown for all parts)

Archery Basics For Beginners (All You Need) 2
Archery Basics For Beginners (All You Need) 3

What Arrows To Use For Archery

There are different kinds of arrows used for different types of archery and usage.

  • Fiberglass
  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Carbon
  • Composite

I am only going to talk about a few because they are the only types you need to know about.

Fiberglass Arrows

Great for starters who want to experiment with archery without having to invest to much. They are usually used in used camps and in different training places because of this. They are inexpensive and work well at short distances. Here are a few pros and cons:


  • Training Camps, fiberglass is great for any training camp.
  • Inexpensive and “medium” straight.
  • Ready to be shot straight after purchase, they are usually pre-made in the store.


  • Difficult to change the size and style custom to your wants.
  • The fiberglass can break and create splinters which can be dangerous.
  • The weight, they are heavy and this will affect the accuracy on longer distances
  • Fits only for Recurve bows.
Archery Basics For Beginners (All You Need) 4

Carbon Arrows

Carbon arrows are the favorite for hunters. They are straight, priced in the middle range, and is straight. They come in different sizes and diameters. If you want they can be custom made for your needs and wants.

great arrows for hunting and archery. But they can splinter which is dangerous. So if you want to use them for target shooting. Shoot at a long distance, that’s why we recommend aluminum for this.


  • Fast and lightweight
  • Can be custom made, fletched, and wrapped
  • They are straight, good material and in a good price range.


  • Can splinter, which can damage the shooter and people around. If used, shoot at a long distance and stay safe. Recommended for: Hunters.

Our Favorite, Aluminum Arrows

Aluminum arrows are well priced and competition worthy. It’s the perfect arrow choice for a beginner wanting to perform at a high level and not break the bank at the same time.

Aluminum arrows come in endless variations and sizes. They are straight and very durable. The reason I love the aluminum arrows so much is that they are well-made arrows and safe. You can shoot at a close distance without having to worry about the arrow splintering. They can bend. If this happens to you, just read this article on how to fix them or what to do.

The next level after that is composite arrows, but since this is a guide focus for beginners the only arrow you have to think about buying, for now, is aluminum arrows.

These are the arrows I personally use, you can check out the 6 pack of Aluminum arrows here (Link to Amazon)

How To Shoot Accurately In Archery

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When you are first starting out your shots will be flying a little bit all over the place. To ensure the best performance possible at the start there are a few main key points to learn and remember. If you do those right you are set on a path to success.


The stance is something you will be improving for years in your archery carrier. If you have the world’s best bow and a terrible stance your shots will still be flying all over the place.

A few guidelines to a correct stance:

  • Your head should be at a 45-degree angle towards your target.
  • Keep your feet parallel
  • Keep the feet spread with a distance between 18-24 inches depending on your length.
  • Your toes should be pointing towards the target not like a lot of beginners do ( 90-degrees. It can feel a bit weird at the start, but it will give you a better balance point and better accuracy after some practice.

The grip

Keep your hands loose! A lot of starters sequence their hand as hard as they can because they think the bow will either fly or drop down on the ground. It won’t, and it will just decrease your control and aim.

If you have watched Olympic archers they swing their bow after a shot. That’s because they don’t hold the bow at all and the bow falls into a “sling” when after they have shot.

The point is to keep your grip loose, use just your thumb and pointing finger in the start before you start to get the hang of it.

The Draw

There are not many components needed to do a shot, but they need to be performed well to shoot accurately.

In the draw, you need to keep your “holding arm” straight, don’t move it closer or extend it when you draw the string. If you need to help with your other arm to draw the bow you have to high draw weight. Adjust it until you and your muscles are prepared for it.

The anchor

The anchor is like the back sight on your rifle. To ensure that you shoot accurately from the same position every time choose yourself a point where your drawing hand will be every time. A common place to anchor the hand is putting the index finger beside the mouth or under the thumb under the chin.

when finding an anchor point it should make your eyes aligned with the string. Find an anchor point that feels comfortable and use it every time. You need the least amount of changes for each shot. They should be as similar as possible to ensure perfection over time. If you do have a flaw or are doing something wrong then, of course, fix it.


This is something you will learn over time. If you have a sight its a lot easier and not as challenging. After shooting a few rounds of arrows you will starting noticing where to aim and what result that give you.

A few common mistakes

Aiming too high. It can feel like the bow is pointing straight to the middle, but it really is pointing far up. If you find yourself shooting over everytime adjust accordingly.

Holding the string for too long. The longer you hold your bow when it is in shooting positon the harder it will be for you to aim precisely. Your muscles will get tired and you will start shaking.

The follow-through

This is an important part of the shot as well and is often overlooked. Don’t move your bow after the arrow is fired. Keep your aim and stance until it has for sure left your bow.

So stay in the same stance and keep the aim and your shot will start to show some extraordinary results as well.

What Equipment You Need For Starting Out

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What you need:

  • A bow and Arrows
  • Nocking point
  • A target
  • A bow stringer
  • Gloves

If you have any questions according to price or what equipment is the best to buy take a look at our article

The nocking point is a thread you will make on the string to ensure you have the arrow in the same place every time you shoot. Having everything set up equally as the last shot is crucial for improvement and improving your aim. The nocking point will help you with this.

A target. You can make a target yourself or buy one. It depends on if you have time or money to do either. As I said go to the article above if you have any questions regarding what to buy or build. But a target is something you need for practicing. A target can last for years if you build it well or purchase a great target. There are different types, but we recommend the blocks.

A bow stringer. This is something you need to string your bow. You need to do it in a safe manner without damaging any parts of the bow. They are really cheap and can save you a lot of trouble and money.

Gloves. Protecting your fingers is super important. Shooting one shot without gloves or finger tabs is fine, but you should practise for long without it. The smallest damage is blistered, but if you shoot for an extended period of time you can get nerve damage. We are talking about months or years without gloves, but its something to remember.

Make sure to buy archery gloves. They have a extra layer of protection in that and has a unique design optimised for archery.

Andy Ryan is the founder of ArcheryPower and has been in the archery industry for many years. He is an instructor and maintains a certification. His mission is helping more and more people each year with archery and bow hunting.

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