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Getting started with [Archery]

TurksonTurkson Near the mountains of ColoradoRegistered User regular
edited June 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Good evening to you all!

I'm finding myself with excess free time over the summer and am thinking of pursuing a new hobby. Archery came to mind, though I do not know why. The problem is, I have no idea where to start!

Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Turkson on
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Posts

  • RaekreuRaekreu Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    First off would be to find a good place to set up a practice target. Shooting the neighbor's dog/kid/sternum would be a terrible faux-pas. A bail of hay should do the trick for backing and paper targets are, oddly enough, as cheap as paper. Check local ordinances, too - some cities, such as where I live, allow you to practice archery on your property if you take proper precautions. Other places treat firing a bow the same as firing a gun. Go forewarned and avoid a citation.

    Second, pick your weapon. Most likely, you're not going to be able to find a non-compound bow easily. Compounds are all over the place and catered to many levels of skill and depth of wallet. Anecdotally, I got a longbow at a pawn shop for $15 and then spent almost 5 months tracking down a place that sold bowstrings that would fit it. If I'd bought a compound bow, I could have literally walked into the sporting goods department at Wal-mart and bought everything I needed in one trip.

    Next up are arrows. Don't use hunting arrows. They're expensive and you will definitely lose or break a few arrows while learning. Practice arrows are cheap - they're made out of fiberglass, nylon 'feathers', and crimped aluminum for an arrowhead. Easy to distinguish from the pricy hunting broad or diamondheads.

    A wrist guard is also a good investment when you're starting out. Bowstrings don't so much 'slap' your forearm as they tear the skin off in a wicked display of what happens when you taunt rugburn's angry, steroid-enhanced older brother. With practice you might find that you don't need one anymore, but it, like, WICKED hurts when you mess up and catch yourself. Ounce of prevention, etc...

    That's basically it. Google can help you with the actual mechanics and techniques of shooting, which are pretty straightforward. Getting good just takes a whole lot of practice. Good luck!

  • DeebaserDeebaser Lead Frog Rammer Fake Board GamerRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    see if there is a range in your area. I did it as a goof last year, and the staff was really helpful.

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I would recommend going to range first before you buy any equipment. You may not even like it.

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  • RaekreuRaekreu Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Hmm, I jumped the gun in my post. By a huge amount.

    Dhalphir and Deebaser are both right. Try before you buy is a very good idea.

  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    All good advice in this thread so far. I'll just mention a couple of other things. I haven't shot a bow in over 20 years, but hopefully some of this is still relevant.

    For other equipment:

    You'll probably want a quiver. You should be able to get something pretty cheap. They're not totally necessary, but useful.

    A release. Some people like them (me), others don't. This is entirely up to you. It's a thing you hold in your hand that clips to the string and releases it when you press a button.

    Sights. Again, some people like them (me), others don't. This and a release really depend on how "pure" you want to go. If you ever plan on competing, be aware that others will use these things and it will give them a slight edge.

    Seconding the wrist guard. Ouch.

    I would recommend a compound bow, for the reasons mentioned and just because they're easier for target shooting. I would check Craigslist and the like as you can find them pretty cheap used. You'll want to take it to a hunting store to get the pull weight set. They'll be able to tell you exactly how much, but you'll want it to where you can just barely pull it back. You don't want to strain, but you also don't want it to be weak. Your arm will get stronger through use.

    For targets, what we had was a large block of styrofoam. You can either attach paper targets, or just do what we did and spray paint some targets on there.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Compound bows are easier to use if you just want to shoot. They only require you to exert force to draw, and you can practically hold the arrow out all day.

    Recurve bows are the typical robin hood style bows, they're cheap to get, and you can get them custom designed for your draw strength, and are typical the cheapest bows to get up and running. They require muscle to draw and hold.

    Longbows are a bit of a novelty. They're hard to use, require a lot of upper body strength, and are difficult to fix and find parts for. For instance I could outperform someone with my recurve from the get go when they've been using a longbow for a few months. Just from the sheer strength it takes to fire it. If you're not shooting invaders from afar, there's really no point in having it if you're looking to just shoot.

    A typical recurve bow can run you anywhere from $60-$300. This is pretty much the bow I have: http://www.pse-archery.com/products/category/Optima/445.5.1.1.16352.55037.0.0.0
    Compound bows are going to run you a bit more, but if you plan to hunt, it'll be worth it because with a recurve unless you're built like Hulk Hogan, it's going to get tiring after a half hour or so, and not be as good.

    Find an archery range nearby, their expertise is invaluable if you want to learn how to use, string, and upkeep a bow. I would treat it like a bike. Sure you can go to wally world and pick one up, but, it's shit and you'll get pissed off at it 3 weeks from now.

    Also if you plan to fish with your bow, you'll want to get a different type. Recurve can be used for all types (as it's not machinery based) but compound bows need special pulleys and such.

  • ForceVoidForceVoid Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    Also if you plan to fish with your bow...

    Whoa, that's a thing people do? This is the most bad-ass thing I have seen all week.

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  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    ForceVoid wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    Also if you plan to fish with your bow...

    Whoa, that's a thing people do? This is the most bad-ass thing I have seen all week.

    I thought it was pretty common, but I also grew up in East Texas. My dad has done it a few times, but every time we'd go fishing I'd see some dude standing in a boat firing a bow into the water. They use special arrows that hang on to the fish.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    If you're in an area where you can see fish through the water, fishing with a bow is more likely to get you food so long as you're a good shot. It is pretty amazing to see it.

    Also, get your draw strength measured. There's nothing more frustrating than a bad draw strength in a bow. I remember my school's bows, I could hold it like a compound bow because of how ridiculously low the draw was. And it went about 30 feet.

  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    A typical recurve bow can run you anywhere from $60-$300. This is pretty much the bow I have: http://www.pse-archery.com/products/category/Optima/445.5.1.1.16352.55037.0.0.0
    Compound bows are going to run you a bit more, but if you plan to hunt, it'll be worth it because with a recurve unless you're built like Hulk Hogan, it's going to get tiring after a half hour or so, and not be as good.

    For what kind of hunting? My brother exclusively uses longbows and recurves, and he hunts Javelina and feral hogs. I imagine he gets no more than 3 or 4 shots in a hunting session. I imagine the difference must come down to location and animal, where some hunting will require you to sit with a bow drawn more than others?

    Personally, I've thought about taking up the hobby, but I just can't see myself investing the time and money without spending a lot of time practicing, which in my mind correlates with having a yard and my own target. I'd echo the recommendations to go to a range, so you can get a feel for how much time you're likely to spend on it and whether it's worth the money.

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  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    It all depends on your budget, the bows available to you and what you happen to fancy.

    If you want to do classical, Robin Hood type archery, get a longbow. They tend to have a good price-quality ratio, although shooting with one will take more strength and you need to develop a feel for the bow to shoot reasonable accurately without any of the gadgets associated with modern archery. It's the closest to what archery has been for 99% of human history. Use wooden arrows with a longbow for the right feel. Fiberglass doesn't feel right with wooden longbows at the launching moment. (I shoot a longbow, and would never go back to a recurve now)

    If you want something reasonably close to classic archery, get a recurve. It'll be easier to hit with it, and they are more compact with the detachable limbs. They're probably more easily available as well. Fiberglass arrows, fairly standard stuff.

    Compound bows are plentiful, although good ones cost more than longbows or recurves. The ones you see in supermarkets and such tend to be shit, but if you just want to plink at some targets without any aspirations to make this a more permanent hobby, or without much care for actually hitting what you aim for, go for it. Personally I detest compound bows, and they don't qualify as real bows in my opinion. With the trigger release and sights and all the other gadgets, not to mention circumventing the sensation of flexing the bow, they are closer to muscle-operated rifles than bows in nature. Could just as well stuff an arrow in a shotgun. They do provide the highest performance though.

    Also, a good point on the draw strength. The longbow I shoot with routinely is only 36 lbs, so that I can shoot all evening if I feel like it. I'll at some point get a 55 lbs bow or something like that for fewer serious shots, but for now I'm good.

    Don't forget to get the arm guard and some sort of a shooting glove, as the string hitting your forearm can sting like hell and fingers do get mighty sore after a while unless you have a farmer's hands.


    To recap:

    Price for a good bow from cheapest to the most expensive: Longbow - Recurve - Compound
    Ease of learning to shoot: Compound or Recurve - Longbow is most difficult
    Authenticity: Longbow - Recurve - Compound (irrelevant if you're not a history buff like me :P)

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Septus wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    A typical recurve bow can run you anywhere from $60-$300. This is pretty much the bow I have: http://www.pse-archery.com/products/category/Optima/445.5.1.1.16352.55037.0.0.0
    Compound bows are going to run you a bit more, but if you plan to hunt, it'll be worth it because with a recurve unless you're built like Hulk Hogan, it's going to get tiring after a half hour or so, and not be as good.

    For what kind of hunting? My brother exclusively uses longbows and recurves, and he hunts Javelina and feral hogs. I imagine he gets no more than 3 or 4 shots in a hunting session. I imagine the difference must come down to location and animal, where some hunting will require you to sit with a bow drawn more than others?

    Personally, I've thought about taking up the hobby, but I just can't see myself investing the time and money without spending a lot of time practicing, which in my mind correlates with having a yard and my own target. I'd echo the recommendations to go to a range, so you can get a feel for how much time you're likely to spend on it and whether it's worth the money.

    Stationary hunting where you have to line up a shot and be ready to fire in a fraction of a second. I mean I could hold my recurve for a good minute or two but it gets exponentially hard after a few times of that.

    A good recurve bow is a really great free weight exercise for your upper body. Also why bowflex is a great idea in concept.

  • SnackbarSnackbar Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I also considered taking up archery as a hobby somewhat recently.

    I went to a local shooting range/archery store a few times to try shooting some of their bows and found it to be reasonably enjoyable. Some things I noticed were that their loaner bows were in generally pretty poor repair and did not reflect the actual draw weight listed on the bow (that is to say, a 30# bow felt more like a 20# due to wear and tear from being loaned out) and that I began to tire of the hobby after going shooting 3-4 times for around two hours each. Eventually, it stops being fun to shoot six arrows, walk up and pull them out, walk back, shoot more arrows, walk up, pull them out, walk back, etc.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is that if you're using rental equipment owned by the archery shop, be sure to try multiple bows with varying draw weights to try and get an accurate feel for what would really work for you, should you decide to buy a bow. Also to go shooting more than a few times before buying, because you might get bored with it faster than you think.

    Lastly, my personal opinion on bow types (compound, recurve, long) is that compound bows, with all the gadgetry (sights, counterweights, releases, scopes, etc.) start to become more closely related to a full-on gun, whereas recurves/longbows are more like archery. This is why I personally always used a recurve. I'm sure they're all fun, but it seems to me that a plain recurve/longbow (I never shot a longbow) is going to require more skill, which is what target shooting is all about, in my opinion.

    Edit:
    Almost forgot - I wanted to mention that some states/counties/whatever may have limitations on the use of bows. Be sure to check your local laws to determine if you're allowed to set up a bail of hay in your backyard to use as target practice.

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  • TurksonTurkson Near the mountains of ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Thanks all!

    I'm currently living in an apartment, so I think the bail of hay is out. I'm also a student for the next year and a half to two years. My budget is going to be small, and I think I only want to target shoot at this point. I'm going to start looking for local ranges later today.

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  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Everything in here is perfect advise, but I'm going to add one small thing...

    Unless you're living on a home with like a three acre spread, don't set up a target in your back yard, even if it's legal. You'll inevitably have some neighbor jogging by that decides to complain. (that's all just personal griping and opinion, but in my opinion it isn't worth it)

    Find a good range, you should have one within 20 miles of your house, especially if you live in the South East where Deer Hunting/Fishing with a bow is pretty popular, and do your shooting there.

    Good luck! It's a lot of fun

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Well I wouldn't say that much space, 50 yards should do it. Unless you're fighting a siege or something.

  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Turkson wrote: »
    Thanks all!

    I'm currently living in an apartment, so I think the bail of hay is out. I'm also a student for the next year and a half to two years. My budget is going to be small, and I think I only want to target shoot at this point. I'm going to start looking for local ranges later today.

    I am also living on a student budget, which is the reason I bought a longbow. The other option was a recurve. You should realize that if you have more or less two options in general, with one being longbow/recurve, and the other being compound. The mechanics in shooting differ between all three types, but the most drastic difference is with the compound bow. It works more like a point and shoot type of a deal, and the flexing behavior is very different due to the pulley systems and whatnot, so if you learn to shoot well with a compound bow, you might find out that you can hit bugger all with a more classic bow. Recurves teach you actual archery skills, as you need to learn to judge the trajectories better than with a compound bow, as well as requiring you to master the release with your fingers instead of a trigger. Longbows are more or less the same deal, except exaggerated further, as wood behaves quite differently from the composite materials used in recurves, in addition to a different finger positioning and shooting position.

    Don't buy a very cheap recurve, as they tend to become inaccurate easily due to warping in the limbs and other such headaches. It's better to invest a little bit for a bow that isn't detrimental to your enjoyment of the sport. A longbow is probably the cheapest option, and the reason I went for it. The price is usually low for the quality of the bow you're getting, but one of the most annoying things about longbows is the difficulty in transporting them without a car, as they don't collapse to several pieces like recurves, so there's that bit about convenience. Good compound bows are hideously expensive in comparison.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Like, thousands expensive.

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