Is archery hard to learn? – the full answer

When you have tried shooting a few arrows at an event or camp, you might think that it’s near impossible to learn. On the Olympic games, you might see archers hit 10 after 10 at 90 meters like it’s nothing. That makes it seem quite easy, doesn’t it? Well, if you are thinking about starting with archery, you want to know what you are going to get into. Therefore, in this article, I discuss the question: ‘’is archery a hard sport’’ First a quick answer in case you don’t have time to read on:

Archery is not a hard sport to learn. You can learn basic technique within the first few weeks. Therefore, most people increase their accuracy fast. To compete in archery competitions, need to be accurate and consistent. Therefore, in most cases, it takes at least three years to compete in high-level tournaments.

In the remainder of this article, I will discuss things that make archery difficult to learn and some things that make it a lot easier. I will also explain how long it takes to learn archery.

Things that make archery hard to learn

Some things make archery such a unique sport but also a difficult sport. Let’s discuss these things in more detail.

The technique is difficult

Archery seems simple right; you nock the arrow, draw the bow back, and shoot. Well, the technique behind archery is a lot more difficult than that. To fire a bow accurately you need to use the right technique.

If you are not using the right technique, it will be much more difficult to draw your bow back and replicate your shots. Archery is a very technique-focused sport, more so than soccer, rugby, and a lot of other sports. In these sports, you can often compensate for your lack of technique with stamina.

Since there is so much technique involved you might be overwhelmed by the number of things you have to remember while shooting your bow. This is even more difficult when you are getting tired because your muscles will start to cramp which often causes you to forget your technique.

A lot of archers struggle with finding a consistent anchor point. Click here, for more information on anchoring.

Many things can cause you to be inaccurate

There are probably thousands of different things that can cause inaccuracy. Bad hand placement, wrong form, or incorrect stance just to name a few. Since you can’t see yourself while you are shooting, it’s difficult to correct these mistakes.

Not only you can cause your bow to be inaccurate, your bow can become inaccurate as well. Sometimes a screw might come loos, or your string might stretch, which can cause differences to your bow which affects your accuracy.

These things are so minor, that it’s impossible to keep track of. Especially as a new archer, you probably won’t feel the difference when something is off.

It’s all about consistency

Archery is all about consistency. If you are inconsistent with your form and draw, it will be impossible to aim your bow. To aim the bow, we need a reference point. When this reference point keeps changing you can’t reliably aim.

Sadly, as a new archer, you will be inconsistent. That is a fact. I have never seen a new archer that was consistent with his/hers form from day one. Becoming consistent can some archers take a few days, while it might take months for others.

Even professional archers sometimes experience issues with the consistency of their form. All inaccuracies caused by the archer can be traced back to this simple thing: consistency.

Getting the right gear

In archery, we often talk about a concept called ‘’bow fit’’. This refers to how good a certain bow fits your shooting style. Even professional archers will not be able to shoot every bow accurately. We need a bow that fits our needs and body type.

As I discussed in this article, it’s not that certain bows are much more accurate than others. We simply all have different needs. This can be about small things, such as the shape of the grip, the color of the string, or the finger protection you use. Getting the right gear is, therefore, very important for an archer. That’s why I wrote multiple articles on how you find the right gear.

When you are just getting started, it might be a real challenge to find the right gear that fits your shooting style and bow.

When you have your beginner’s gear, the journey isn’t over. Sometimes you notice that you have to upgrade your gear because you have changed your technique, or something just doesn’t cut it.

Working on your bow

You could almost say that archery is one big do it yourself project. Some archers visit an archery shop for almost everything that needs to be done on their bow. When you are buying your first bow, this isn’t a bad idea. But most experienced archers start to do a lot of things themselves.

It’s quite common for a bow to need repairs. The serving of your bow might come loose, or a screw of your bow starts to untighten. In those cases, you can of course always go to an archery shop, but in most cases, it’s way easier and faster to do it yourself.

Doing your own repairs, assembling your own arrows, and tuning your bow is also cheaper. Some archery shops don’t ask a fee for minor repairs, but you still have to drive there which also costs time and money.

Your mind plays a big role

Some archers call archery a mind game because your mind plays a big role in how good you shoot. When you are not focused on the target, you often don’t shoot well. You need quite a lot of concentration to use the right technique and aim properly.

A common issue amongst archers is flinching, which is often called ‘’target panic’’. This often happens when you focus too much on when you release. Therefore, it’s quite difficult to find the right balance between concentration and focusing too much on your release.

If you want to know more about target panic, read the article below:

How to prevent flinching in archery (aka target panic)

Things that make archery easy to learn

Although the previous points make archery seem super difficult, there are a lot of things that make archery a whole lot easier.

Beginner’s courses

Probably the best thing you can do when you are just getting started is taking a beginner’s course. Experienced archers can give you a lot of feedback which might take months or years to learn on your own. In just a few hours, you will learn the basic technique.

Starting with the wrong technique can set your progress back for months. Of course, you can do everything via online guides, but they can’t give you feedback. Therefore, I would recommend taking a beginner’s course, it gives you a head start which makes it a lot more fun.

When you have the basic technique down, you often can improve it yourself by training. But if you have the change for regular coaching sessions, I would highly recommend it. Since you can’t see yourself shooting, it’s often hard to improve your form.

Practice makes perfect

Like any other sport if you practice more you will improve. Just the sheer fact of shooting more will make you more consistent and stronger. You will also notice that you start to do a lot of things right automatically, just because it feels right.

Experienced archers don’t have to focus on all the aspects of their technique because it becomes part of your muscle memory. Therefore, don’t spend too much time tinkering with your bow, shooting is way more important!

The gear is optimized for accuracy

There is a lot of innovation within archery. All these innovations are focused on making it easier to shoot your bow accurately. Think for example of the compound bow. Because of the let-off, you can aim longer while still shooting a high draw weight.

That doesn’t mean that accuracy comes naturally, you still have to work for it. But your gear is helping you out big time.

The stabilizer, sight, and clicker all help you to stay consistent and improve your accuracy.

You can practice at home

As mentioned earlier, you can’t see yourself while shooting. But you can practice in front of the mirror at home. This can greatly improve your consistency and form, without having to go to a practice field. Additionally, you can also use an elastic band to train your muscles.

If it’s safely possible (and legal) you can also shoot in your backyard. Even if you are just shooting at short distances. You can simply shoot at a small target and improve your technique.

The archery community

If you practice archery at a club, you will have a lot of conversations with other archers. These conversations can help you to get new perspectives to improve your accuracy. But even if you shoot in your backyard, you can easily contact other archers via forums such as with a lot of passionate archers.

There is a lot of information online available, so in essence, you could learn everything by just googling it.

Competing vs shooting well

Of course, there is a big difference between shooting well and being able to compete in competitions. Most archers will shoot well after only 6 months of training. In the first few months, you tend to see the most progress, because you start learning the technique and improve your form. This is enough to make you shoot well, but not enough to compete at a high level.

When you are just getting started, you might be happy when you hit the center of the target (10 points). But for competition archers shooting a ten isn’t that big of a deal, it’s expected. At some compound competitions almost, all archers shoot about 80% only tens.

At competitions having a predictable shooting pattern is more important. If one arrow misses the target it’s often impossible to catch up. You build this consistency and concentration only by practicing a lot. Therefore, it takes most archers at least 3 years, before they can participate in higher-level competitions.

Most people can shoot decently within the first few weeks. But for competitions need to be very consistent, which you can only become when you train a lot.

Of course, there are also local competitions where the scores tend to differ more. When you are just getting started, these competitions are a lot of fun, because there is less pressure. So, don’t try to become an Olympian from the start! As we mentioned earlier, archery is a mind game. If you are too busy focusing on your scores, it will hurt your performance. Being relaxed instantly makes you a better archer!

How long it takes to improve your accuracy

Thus far, I have been quite vague about what I mean by shooting well. It often helps to illustrate this with a table. Of course, it highly depends on the skill of the archer, but this is the amount of progress I often see at my local club.

Time since starting with archeryAverage score (1-10)
1 week5 or lower
2 weeks6
2 months7
4 months7.5
6 months8
1 year8.4
2 years8.7
3 years9

Note: the table is based on observations from my local indoor range (20 yards, 18 meters) shooting a recurve bow on a 40-inch World Archery target face. It is based on training 2 days per week.

These are rough estimates, of course, at our club competitions this is about the average I see. You can see that most archers start to improve fast in the first few months. But the closer you get to a 10-point average the more difficult it will become.

More about archery

If you are interested in archery, the following articles are worth a read. The more you know the better you can prepare yourself and thus improve your archery!

Questions about archery

Getting started


Final words

I hope this article was helpful to you. The question: ‘’Is archery hard to learn’’ is quite difficult to answer, because what I find hard might be easy for you. Additionally, everyone can shoot a bow and arrow without any instruction, but to shoot accurately you need the right technique. Therefore, in this article, I focused on aspects that make archery hard and aspects that make it easy. Then you can decide whether archery is a hobby that you want to pursue.

If you want to know why I like archery, read the article below:

Why archery is so much fun (and sometimes frustrating)

If you have any questions, feedback, or experiences you would like to share, please leave them down below. I will respond to your question as soon as possible and send you an email with my reply!

Tim van Rooijen

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by archery. First due to its historic significance but later because I like being outdoors. With this blog, I share my knowledge about Archery and how you can improve your shot. More about author…

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