Video tour of an Archery Range.
Instinctive Shooting and Sight Shooting
Instinctive shooting is the common style for longbow, stick bow, and recurve bow. As a recurve bow owner, I enjoy instinctive shooting because it's a more traditional way of using your own natural senses to aim. It takes a lot of practice and repetition to be able to develop your own accuracy through consistent shooting. The aiming method for instinctive shooting relies on where you position the tip of your arrow in relation to where your target is, and will take developing a skill of where to place the arrow to aim at different distances. This will definitely take some time to learn, and you will possibly have more missed shots and broken arrows when you're beginning.
Sight shooting is faster to learn because its aiming method relies much more on lining up the shot similar to using a rifle. Compound bows are used for sight shooting. Aiming is done by lining the target up trhough the peep sight on the string, the sighting circle, and the aiming pins at the front. Depending on the distance of your target, you can move the bow slightly up and down to place the correct pin on your target. Sight shooting works well with a compound bow because the weight required to hold the string is reduced after you initially draw it all the way back. This allows you to take your time lining up the shot, whereas with a recurve bow you would be holding the full draw weight the entire time.
I find it relaxing and exciting to develop my archery skills through instinctive shooting, but others prefer the precision of sight shooting. Find which style works best for you!
This is my recurve bow. It's a 62" Sammick Sage brand recurve with 50lb limbs. I bought it as an introductory bow for learning archery, and it has turned out to be an excellent value for a novice bow!
I chose the recurve because I wanted to get the natural feel of ancient archery and shoot instinctively. A longbow would be very traditional, but takes up significant space to carry around. Recurve bows provide the same power in a smaller frame.
When selecting your own recurve bow, the two main numbers that you want to look at is size, and draw weight. The size (measured in inches) of the bow will help you determine which draw length will suit you depending on your frame. The draw weight determines the amount of weight drawn, measured in force. It's recommended to start with limbs around 35 lbs for an adult, and work your way up. I started with 50 lbs. but it took a few weeks before I got used to pulling that kind of weight comfortably without muscle fatigue.
Where to Shoot
Most cities have either indoor or outdoor archery ranges. Some are private-owned and part of a business, while others are provided by the city. I've found recreational archery parks and ranges in every city that I've been to.
I will be working on providing resources to help you get connected to your local range and groups.
(pictured left) Indoor ranges provide an air conditioned range for shooting, which is excellent during Arizona's hot summers. This picture was taken at Archery Headquarters in Chandler. They charge a small hourly fee, and there are limited lanes, so it's a good idea to get there early.
Paseo Park Archery Range in Chandler, Arizona is a great example of a free place to shoot outdoors. The targets are already provided by Parks and Recreation, and all you need to bring is your own bow and arrows.
I would recommend going on a day that isn't windy, or finding a range that is set up to shield against crosswind. This can easily throw off your aim.
Most ranges have rules to ensure safety and understanding of equipment allowed. Some may have targets that aren't made to withstand broadhead arrow tips, or the use of crossbows. Be sure to check your local park's rules online or posted signs first.
Some have established safety rules for when to retrieve arrows, while others rely on archers giving a verbal "range clear" acknowledgement to make sure all archers are finished shooting before walking across the shooting line.
Now you're ready to set out and find your local sporting goods store and get started with archery! It truly is a rewarding sport.