6 Tips for Getting New Archers into the Sport

The best way to introduce others to archery and bowhunting is to start them with the right equipment and show them a positive experience. Here are several ways to do that.

I began shooting a bow at age 5 and loved it immediately. It’s been a huge part of my lifestyle ever since, and my goal is to get as many people involved in it as I possibly can. Of course, I had a positive beginning and good mentorship. Not all women or kids are that fortunate, and that’s why some don’t stick with it.

As with most sports, there are right and wrong ways to go about archery. The six points below were crucial during my early years when I started shooting archery, and they’re why I became an archer and bowhunter for life. They’ll help you put new archers on the right path and show them archery in a way that will make them want to pursue it for the rest of their lives.


1. It Begins With the Right Equipment

Success in archery is so important, and it all begins with having the correct gear. I’ve heard countless women say things like, “I want to get into archery, but I tried my husband’s bow, and I’m not strong enough to pull it back. I guess archery isn’t for me.” Handing a new archer equipment that doesn’t fit is a fast track to failure and frustration.

There is literally a bow out there for everyone. The first step in helping someone shoot archery is to visit an authorized Mathews dealership where a bow technician can properly fit them for draw length and draw weight. Not only will they be able to handle the bow, but everything will feel way more comfortable, too.

Buying a bow from a pro shop sounds expensive, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. You can find great used equipment for a fraction of the cost of new equipment, or you can look at the Mission Archery line or Genesis Archery, which offer quality yet affordable options. Whether you buy new or used, make sure that it fits. That’s the most important thing.


2. Practice Increases Strength

Many people misconceive that they’re too weak to draw a bow. Our 4-year-old, Jax, can shoot a bow, and as I shared earlier, I started at age 5. The key is to start with a lower draw weight and build up from there.

When people ask me what exercises I suggest so that they can increase their draw weight, it’s easy: I tell them to shoot their bows. Yes, core strength is important, too, but I believe nothing strengthens archery muscles, creates better muscle memory and develops motion and technique faster than practicing with a bow. Plus, you get the added benefits of practice time and developing proficiency.

Be aware that shooting with exhausted muscles can lead to form flaws, sloppy aiming and trigger-punching. So, don’t make a new archer keep shooting when you sense that they’re tiring out or becoming frustrated. Assure them that they can always come back later with a fresh mindset.


3. Have Someone Else Do the Initial Teaching

When a new archer is starting out, sometimes it’s best to have someone who isn’t close to them provide instructions on form and technique. Some people, even if they’ve been shooting archery for a long time, don’t have the patience or simply aren’t the best teachers. It can create tension and sometimes push others away from archery. A teacher has to be patient and also accept the fact that progress takes time. Too often, family members or friends want to teach everything all at once, which is more confusing than helpful.

Many bow shops offer lessons, so that’s a good starting point. A professional can really help new archers with the basics and break things down so that they can understand everything. Once they nail down the basics and can handle every aspect of the shot process without instruction, then you can practice together and provide additional tips as needed, but remember to be patient.


4. Be a Sounding Board

New archers and bowhunters have questions. Welcome their questions and assure them that there is no such thing as a dumb question. Whether it’s about the equipment, shooting form or bowhunting, carefully explain how things work, and then let them be a part of the process, too. If they ask a question that you can’t answer, look it up or ask a Mathews dealer. Confidence is a huge part of bowhunting, and confidence comes from learning and experiencing.


5. Make It Fun

A lot of new archers don’t stick with archery because they repeatedly shoot boring spot-style targets from the same distance. Find targets that are fun to shoot. Our family has various Rinehart 3-D animal targets, including a velociraptor (dinosaur) target. Our kids often stalk our targets as if they are real animals. We sometimes put balloons on the targets for kids to pop, and we attend events like BowFest. We also try to create friendly competitions to keep things exciting.

Another important thing is to have them shoot or bowhunt on their terms, not yours. Make the practice session or hunt duration short enough so that they stay comfortable and don’t feel forced to do it. When someone is just beginning, it’s so important to keep things fun and exciting.


6. Transition From Targets to Hunting, But Only When They’re Ready

Remember that bowhunting doesn’t always have to be the end goal with archery. People can enjoy target archery for life without ever going bowhunting, and that’s perfectly fine.

Not everyone will be interested in bowhunting, and even those who are might be on the fence about it. Let them accompany you and be involved. Let them take photos so that they have something to show from the experience. Never push someone to hunt before they’re ready. In some instances, you don’t even need to ask them if they want to try bowhunting; they’ll ask you. Of course, some women and kids are too timid to ask, and they’ll never try it if you don’t offer to take them. Every situation is different, but being gentle is always the right approach as a hunting mentor.


The Road Forward

Once a new archer or bowhunter decides to continue pursuing it, having a mentor is crucial to help them gain knowledge and experience. Many people need someone who they can look up to, someone who they can shoot with, and someone who will guide and instruct them. My mom was very instrumental in putting me on the right path and guiding me along the way, and that helped me to learn and grow.

Bowhunting or just shooting archery with friends or family creates many great bonding experiences. If archery is your passion, it’s great to have others enjoy it alongside you. Get them all set up for success, and the better they do right off the bat, the more likely they’ll become a lifelong archer and/or bowhunter.


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