Archery Equipment For Beginners: Essential Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated April 6, 2021

Archery is a great way to build confidence and self-esteem. It’s a lifetime sport that will help you to make many good friends.

You can do it as a hobby or compete in competitions. 

If you’re ready to take up archery, read this guide to learn what essential equipment you’ll need to start.

What Does an Archery Beginner Need?

As a novice archer, you need to understand the basic terminology of archery and what equipment you need to start. The table below provides you with an explanation of crucial archery equipment and its purpose.

Equipment

Purpose

Bow

Recurve, compound, or longbow to shoot your arrows

Arrows

Consists of a shaft, nock, fletchings, and a pile used with a bow

Arrow Rest

Place for the fletching to lean on while aiming

Quiver

Store and organize your arrows

Bracer / Arm Guard

Prevent bowstring from making contact with your arm

Finger Tabs / Gloves

Protect fingers when drawing the string

Bowstring

Sends arrow towards its target

Bow Stringer

Deflect the bow to install or remove the bowstring

Target

Use a bag or 3D target to shoot at during practice

Release Aid

Hold the bowstring when pulling back to shoot the arrow

Broadheads / Field Tips

Use broadheads for hunting and field tips for target practice or competitions

Sights

Mounted on the bow to improve your aim

Required Archery Equipment 

Suppose you aren’t sure which equipment you need as a new archer. This section describes the advantages and disadvantages of the equipment you need. 

Bow

A bow is a flexible piece of wood with a string tied to its end and is used to shoot arrows. Archers can choose between the longbow, recurve bow, or a more mechanical compound bow. 

The type of bow you choose depends on the kind of shooting you will do, like target practice, bowhunting, or competitions.

Advantages

  • Compound bow: Better accuracy and power over longer distances. Requires less physical strength. More customizable than the traditional bow.

  • Recurve bow: Light and easy to carry. Requires minimal additional equipment.

  • Longbow: Ideal for taller archers. Look and feel more like a traditional bow. The bow’s length spreads out the energy. Reduced friction makes it easier to release and more gentle on the fingers.

(Photo credit: huntingmark.com)

Disadvantages

  • Compound bow: More complex and requires more gadgets and skills to maintain. Have a set draw. Ensure you buy the correct size bow. Much larger and heavier.

  • Recurve bow: No additional mechanisms like wheels and pulleys to make shooting more comfortable. Requires more force to draw. Needs more upper body strength and more practice.

  • Longbow: Large and heavy. Hinder your mobility when bowhunting. The stiffness limits the speed of your arrows. Excess energy stored in the bow travel back and cause hand shock. The draw weight is not adjustable. Not many competitions are available for longbow archers. Need unique ranges or courses for practice.

Best For

  • The compound bow is the perfect entry-level bow for beginners to practice landing an accurate shot and improve their bowhunting skills.

  • The recurve bow is ideal for more experienced archers who like a more traditional bow for hunting and survival exercises. A longbow is a good option for beginners or stealth shots during bowhunting.

Arrows

Arrows are long-shafted projectiles. Manufacturers use wood, fiberglass, carbon, and aluminum to make them. Different types have distinct features and benefits affecting their costs and performance.  It consists of various parts: the shaft, nock, fletchings at the back, and the front pile or point.

You can buy cheaper arrows ready-made, although custom-made options are more effective. You can get the fletchings in different colors and single or multiple wings for your tips.

Advantages

  • Wooden, fiberglass, and aluminum: Most affordable option for beginners to replace lost and broken arrows. Bows made from fiberglass are consistently the same and readily available.

  • Carbon, aluminum, and composite arrows: Custom-made. Many  options for the spine, diameter, and specific sizes.

  • Aluminum and composite:  Accurate shooting over long distances. 

Disadvantages

  • Wooden and fiberglassHard to get uniform. Weaker and can easily break, warp, bend, or splinter.

  • Composite: Costly to replace. Need a professional archer to help you match this arrow with the right spine of a specific bow.

Best For

  • Fiberglass and aluminum are best for beginners. Wooden arrows are ideal for traditional archers, while bowhunters prefer wooden and carbon.

  • Composite arrows are the choice of Olympians and World Champions. Use aluminum and composite arrows designed for long-distance accuracy.

  • Recurve bows can use wooden and fiberglass arrows only, while longbows can use only wooden arrows.
     
  • Vanes: Makes the arrow heavier and offers less wind resistance.

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest fits the bow’s riser and gives the fletchings on the back of the arrow a place to rest while you aim. It holds your fletchings in the correct position, and it’s flexible enough not to interfere with your arrow when it takes flight.

They’re available for left and right-handed bows. There are five categories: shoot-thru, containment, pressure or plunger, 3D, and specialty arrow rests. Manufacturers make them from hair, leather, or rug material.

Advantages

  • Holds the arrow in the correct position before shooting, regardless of your bow’s orientation.  Available for left- and right-handed shooters.

  • Consistent launch and draws. Minimal contact with the shaft, feathers, and vanes.

  • Pressure button: This allows you to center the arrow on the bow. Adjust the plunger to absorb some of the bends in the arrow.

Photo credit: rangerexpert.com

Disadvantages

  • Shoot-thru design:  Feathers of the vane might come into contact with the prong. Disrupts the flight of your arrow. Leads to damage of the feather or vane.

  • Drop-away rests: Complex. Many moving parts can let you down in the field.

Best For

  • Drop away rests are best for hunters since they allow minimum contact with fletchings or vanes and hold the arrow regardless of the bow’s orientation.

  • Prong-style launch rests are ideal for target archers who need consistent launches, easy adjustment, and minimal contact with the arrow.

  • Finger shooters benefit from pressure or plunger rests, which allows them to adjust the tension the rest exerts on the arrow for the best possible tune.

Quiver

The quiver holds your arrows. Different types can be worn on the hip or slung on your back. If you’re target practicing or participating in competitions, you can also use a ground quiver that stands on the ground next to you. 

They usually have compartments to separate them. Archers made it originally from leather, wool wood, fur, or other natural materials, but today it is made of metal or plastic.

Advantages

  • Target quivers: Keep your arrows readily available on your hip. Easily select from various types. Plenty of extra pockets and clips to store accessories. Tubes to separate them.

  • Field quivers: Lean your arrows backward and prevent them from catching on branches during a field shoot. Light and customizable for efficient arrow management.

  • Back quivers: Won’t distract you while walking. Holds a lot of arrows.

Disadvantages

  • Bow quivers: Reduce mobility for bowhunters. Overcompensate on their shots due to the extra weight.

  • Target quivers: Sway and hit your side when walking during field shoots.

  • Field quivers: More difficult to quickly select an arrow since you have to look behind you.

  • Back quiver: Need to reach over your shoulder and feel for the arrow, requiring practice. Easy to lose your arrows if you bend over. Lose count quickly of the number left.

Best For

  • Target quivers are ideal if you need to see and sort through different arrows.

  • Use a Field quiver on 3D ranges in wooden areas to prevent your arrows from catching on branches.

  • Back quivers are preferred by traditional archers and those who like 3D ranges and are suited for right- or left-handed shooters.

Bracer / Arm Guards

Bracers or arm guards fit over the inside of the arm, holding the bow. They’re made of different materials like suede or leather and protect you from bruising if the string hits your arm. They also keep clothing from catching the bowstring.

Photo credit: quicksarchery.co.uk

Some bracers have mesh for additional ventilation in extreme heat conditions. A full-length arm guard provides better protection for beginners but can restrict movement. Standard bracers cover only the forearm and should be sufficient once you are shooting using good form.

Advantages

  • Protects your arm from getting slapped by the string. Prevents injury and skin rashes.

  • Available in various sizes. Allow for quick adjustments.

  • Different materials like vinyl, suede or leather,  ensure that they will last longer. Suitable for use in any weather conditions.

Disadvantages

  • Extra layer can cause excessive sweating on hot days. Cause discomfort for those prone to skin allergies.

  • If fastened too tight, it can affect proper blood circulation.

  • Lower-priced options: Inferior fasteners that can loosen when you shoot.

Photo credit: targetcrazy.com

Best For

  • Recommended for beginners, full arm guards cover the arm from the shoulder to the wrists and offer protection over a larger area.

  • Braces with breathable mesh provide additional ventilation, making it the perfect option for those who sweat a lot.

  • All archers can benefit from simple to adjust braces for lasting comfort while they shoot.

Finger Tabs / Gloves

A finger tab is a simple piece of leather that fits between the fingers of your draw hand and the bowstring. It can also have additional backing, a spacer, a ledge on top, and fasteners to keep it secure.

Wearing finger tabs or gloves protects the fingers from injuries like blisters and long-term damage from the repeated pulling back of the string. It also prevents you from that numb feeling caused by the string constricting blood flow in your fingers. Gloves allow you to adapt to many different environmental conditions.

Advantages

  • Gloves: Protect your fingers from blisters, pain, numb fingers, and long-term nerve damage. Allow you to adapt to any situation.

  • Finger tabs: Reduce friction to ensure smooth release of the string.

  • Finger tabs: Provide more sensitivity to feel where your fingers are to determine your anchor point.

Photo credit: thebowguy.com

Disadvantages

  • Finger tabs: Intrusive and easy to lose. Double layers provide extra protection.

  • Finger tabs:  Need a different one for different shooting types.

  • Gloves: Deep padding prevents you from getting a deep hook. Develop string hooks from regular use.

Best For

  • Gloves are ideally suited to archers who like hunting and 3D ranges.

  • Finger tabs are best for single-style shooting like for the Olympics or style archery.

  • Finger tabs make practice more manageable and pain-free for novice archers.

Bowstring

The string maker uses linen, hemp, sinew, silk, or rawhide to make a bowstring. The delicate strands make it lightweight and robust. You select your string colors, material, and string length. The span depends on the required finished measure, material, and the number of twists in the finished string. 

Photo credit: bowhunting.com

Bowstrings are connected to the top and bottom of the bow and provide resistance for launching the arrows. They need to be regularly treated with beeswax to keep them supple and prevent fraying. 

Advantages

  • Synthetic materials: Bows more reliable. Shoot faster and more accurately.

  • Add a personal touch by choosing strings from a range of colors.

  • Choose more or fewer strands for your string depending on the type of shooting.

Disadvantages

  • Need to store it properly and apply wax regularly to keep it soft and flexible.

  • Need a climate-controlled environment for optimal storage.

  • Exposure to water will damage the fibers.

Best For

  • The best strings for recurves and longbows are the Flemish twist and endless loop.

  • The aesthetics of the Flemish twist appeals to traditional archers.

  • Target archers prefer the precise construction of endless-loop bowstrings.

  • If you use a compound bow, you need a particular string consisting of the main bowstring and one or more cables connected to the cams.

Bow Stringer

Flemish twist bowstring (Photo credit: bobleebows.com)

The bow stringer flexes the bow safely for effortless removal of the bowstring when storing your recurve or longbow or adding it back before a practice. Various types are available for use with separate bows. 

It’s the safest way for an archer to string or unstring his bow. Always follow the instructions to ensure your safety and avoid damage to your bow. 

The bow stringer takes over the draw weight while you slip the top loop into the string grooves. Always make sure that the string is secure in both tracks before using your bow.

How to use a bow stringer (Credit: nockitoff.wordpress.com)

Advantages

  • Removing the string when not practicing extends the life of both the bowstring and the bow.

  • Safest way to remove the string for storage or to restring your bow.

  • A simple tool to flex the bow to slide the bowstring into place easily.

Disadvantages

  • Prone to wear and tear and need to be replaced every six to 12 months.

Best For

  • A limb block stringer is a sturdy and straightforward option for beginners.

  • An adjustable stringer with two limb blocks is perfect for stringing different size recurve or longbows.

  • A stringer with two limb cups is perfect for more extended and oversized bows.

Target

A simple foam target consists of a face, the outer part generally made from paper, and the boss, the inside part filled with foam that catches and holds the arrow when you shoot. You use the stand to secure the face and the boss in place. 

3D targets look like animals. Bag or burlap targets have woven outside covers, are stuffed with plastic or fabric, and are cheap and perfect for recreational shooting.

Advantages

  • Primary bag target: Has a  large surface. Efficiently stops your field point arrow. Prevent arrow damage. Easy removal of the arrow.

  • Foam layer block: Light and portable. Economical. Uses friction to stop your field point arrow.

  • 3D foam targets: Represent many animal species. Can have overlay options like showing vitals or point values. Provide for actual feel bowhunting practice

Disadvantages

  • Bag target: Broadheads easily shred the bag target’s outer cover. It won’t last long if not stored properly.

  • Foam layer block target: Points bury too deep in the foam layer when using a heavy draw weight. Challenging to remove.

  • 3D targets: Wears out quickly. But you can replace the mid-sections to prolong its life.

Best For

  • Bag targets are more suited for indoor ranges where they can be hung and left in place.

  • Foam layer targets are ideally suited for outdoor practice because they’re light and quick to set up.

  • Use field points with 3D targets to prepare for real-life hunting situations and get used to shooting at a silhouette.

Release Aid

You never anticipate a smooth release. If you do, it’ll cause slight movement while you brace for the shot and minimize your accuracy. A release aid helps archers to release the arrow smoothly and consistently. 

Photo credit: gohunt.com

Hinge-style releases work by rotation. Since archers don’t know precisely when the arrow will release, they help you focus and hold your aim steady. Trigger releases are better for a hunter who needs to control the exact moment of release.

Advantages

  • The wrist strap or caliper type: Holds most of the draw weight. More comfortable to relax the index finger to squeeze the trigger.

  • The hinge-style release: Use rotation to fire. You can’t anticipate when the shot will go off.  Maintain focus and hold steadier on the target.

  • A back tension: Apply gradual, steady backpressure. Calms the shooter. Improves accuracy.

Disadvantages

  • Caliper type: Trigger finger serves as the anchor point on the face, affecting accuracy because your anchor point can shift when squeezing the trigger.

  • Caliper and thumb-button releases: Cause inaccuracy. The trigger doesn’t allow for a gradual release.

  • Back tension release: Requires additional training and practicing time to use it effectively.

Photo credit: bowhuntingmag.com

Best For

  • The surprise element of the hinge style release makes it perfect for beginners to prevent target panic.

  • Thumb-trigger releases clip onto the string, making it perfect for hunting where you need to load and shoot fast.

  • String loops are popular with target and 3D shooters because of good arrow flight and their long-serving life.

Broadheads and Field Tips

A field tip is a simple shaft with a single-point use for target practice and competitions. Use broadheads when hunting big game. Broadheads have multiple wings and can be fixed or mechanical. A mechanical broadhead has the wings folded and opens on impact. 

When hunting small animals, you can use small-game points, blunts, or judos with smaller blades. You need to tune your bow when using broadheads, otherwise, the edges will compete with the fletching for control.

Photo credit: wildrevelation.com

Advantages

  • Fixed-blade broadheads: Penetrate well. Can have them sharpened when it becomes dull.

  • Mechanical broadhead: Folding blades improve flight by creating a low profile.

  • Field points: Narrow design saves wear and tear on targets. Easy to remove.

Disadvantages

  • Need to tune the bow every time you change from field tips to broadheads.

  • Mechanical broadheads: Kick to the side. Lose energy in the process of opening the blades.

  • Multiple blades of broadheads affect the arrow path and impact accuracy.

Best For

  • Fixed-blade broadheads, with their classic design, are suited for large game hunting.

  • Mechanical broadheads require extra energy, and crossbow hunters and archers pulling higher draw weights prefer them.

  • Beginner archers can use field points for target practice and eventually for competitions.

Other Recommended Equipment (Though Not Required)

Now let’s look at additional equipment beginners can get. 

Sights

The sight is an aiming device that clips onto the bow. It helps the archer move the sight pin to the spot you need to hit on the target. You can mark its black surface with a pencil to indicate specific distances. 

A compound bow has a series of holes on the riser, and any sight you buy can be attached using those holes. The sight extends in front of the bow and a circular housing. It can have a single or multiple pins or a lens with a centered dot inside the housing. 

Target archers use sights with magnifying lenses to aim for a specific point. It magnifies every movement and is an excellent way to see how steady you hold your bow.

Advantages

  • Improve accuracy. Move your sight pin on the spot you need to hit on the target.

  • Top-end sights: Provide better stability and finer adjustments for long-distance shooting.

  • Fixed pin sight: Simple to use. Can adjust in low-light environments.

Disadvantages

  • Fixed-pin sight: Many different pins create confusion about the correct pin to use.

  • Fixed-pin sight: Number of pins you use creates clutter. Obstruct your view.

  • Moveable sight: Increase the time you need to make a full draw.

Best For

  • A single pin movable sight is a reliable setup to cover any situation.

  • A fixed-pin sight is better for ranges and fixed distances.

  • Movable sights are perfect for hunters as they can easily adjust for different distances as their prey moves.

Photo credit: bowsightguide.com

Factors for Beginners to Consider When Buying Archery Equipment

You now know what essential equipment you need to start with archery. But before you go out shopping, let’s have a look at five factors you should take into account when looking for your equipment.

Choose the Right Bow

The recurve bow is best for beginners because it is easy to learn, accommodates both left and right-handed archers, and includes an arrow rest for the fletchings to lean on.

Your draw length will determine the size of your bow. This simple bow can be used straight from the box and requires minimal tuning. Practicing with a recurve bow can also help you acquire the correct form.

Establish Your Draw Length

Your draw length is how far you pull back your bow. You need the help of a coach or an expert to measure your draw length.

Factors like your shooting stance, poor posture, the type of release aid you use, and not using your back muscles can affect this measurement.  Fine-tuning your bow according to your draw length ensures a better and more comfortable practicing experience.

Establish Your Draw Weight

Draw weight is the amount of force you need to pull a bow. You can find the draw weight on the lower limb of the bow in pounds. The standard is 28 inches of the draw length.

If your bow’s draw weight is 40 pounds and you pull it to 28 inches, the draw weight will be 40 pounds. The further you pull, the higher the draw weight. The best way to establish your draw weight is to have it checked at an archery shop. 

Personal Safety Equipment

To avoid the pain and discomfort from drawing the string, you need a finger tab to protect your fingers.

Buy a brace or arm guard to protect yourself from pain and bruising resulting from being hit by the string because of incorrect shooting posture.

A bow stringer is an essential tool to prevent injury when stringing or removing the string from your bow.

Photo credit: instructables.com

Choose the Right Arrow

You can choose between wooden, aluminum, carbon, or carbon and aluminum combinations. Arrow length is critical because shooting with a shaft that is too short can cause it to fall off the arrow rest and damage the bow or injure you.

Your draw length determines the correct length of your shaft. The fletchings at the back give stability during flight, and the type of shooting you do will influence the type of pile or point you need to get. 

Other Archery Tips For Beginners

Wax your bowstring regularly to prolong its life. It keeps the strings together to keep them from fraying. A good bow wax coats the different mini strings that your bowstring is made of and prevents them from rubbing against each other, weakening your bowstring. 

Bowstring wax also provides a waterproof layer over the strands. Be careful not to get any scented waxes if you love bowhunting. Animals have a  keen sense of smell and will pick up on the scent, which will spook them away.

Get a bow case for protection when traveling since your bow can be damaged if you drop it or accidentally bump it against a car, door, or wall. Sturdy cases, rated for airline travel, give the best protection and enable traveling should the need arise. Some of these cases have wheels and can be locked. 

Photo credit: archerybusiness.com

However, soft cases should be sufficient for most beginners who only need to transport their bow between home and the range. They’re lighter, protect your gear when dropped or bumped, and help organize your gear. Although most of them are suited for road trips, manufacturers rate some soft cases for airline travel.

You’ll also need the correct Allen wrench to adjust the sights and maintenance of your bow. A laser rangefinder, together with a moveable sight, can help you range, dial, and shoot according to the exact distance from your target.

Stabilizers reduce vibration and stabilize the bow while aiming. It can also prevent conditions like tendinitis, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Conclusion 

This guide explained essential archery equipment and terminology. We also looked at additional equipment and accessories you can consider buying. 

People Also Ask

The most significant consideration when starting any new sport or hobby is cost. Unexpected expenses can take you by surprise.  

These expenses may include taking lessons, fees to practice at the range and many tempting accessories. Let’s have a look at some cost implications of archery.

Is Archery an Expensive Hobby?

Archery doesn’t need to be expensive. You can buy excellent quality second-hand equipment online.

 If you need to take archery lessons, pairing up with friends can help you get a group discount. Range fees are reasonable at about $30 for the summer. A beginner can buy all the gear he needs for $500 to $700.

How Much Does an Archery Bow Cost? 

A beginner should start with a recurve bow. These simple bows sell for $150 to $200. Intermediate bows cost from $500 to $700. As you improve, you can opt for a compound bow, selling for $500 to $1,000.

Is It Better to Buy a Beginner’s Kit or Each Piece of Equipment Separately?

As a beginner, you can quickly feel overwhelmed by the various equipment available for archers. Look out for a comprehensive set consisting of your bow, bowstring, stringer tool, arm guard, and at least three arrows. Also, try and get a set that includes a case. 

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.