Practicing archery in bad weather – what you should know

If you like to practice archery outdoors, you are at the mercy of the weather. That might not be an issue if you live in sunny California but in many other places, you will have to deal with bad weather.

I have a lot of experience with shooting a bow in bad weather. I live in The Netherlands and just like the UK, we get a ton of rain, wind, and overall nastiness here. As a matter of fact, it is raining right now while I am writing this.

In this article, I will share my tips on preparing for bad weather and what you should consider. But first, let me discuss some frequently asked questions, about shooting in bad weather

Can bow get wet?

Bows are built for the outdoors and can get wet. Although it is not recommended to keep your bow in the elements if it is not needed. Also, make sure to dry your bow before you store it.

Although all the parts of the bow are weather-resistant, it’s still a best practice to keep your bow as dry as possible. Everything you leave in the elements will deteriorate faster.

Especially the bowstring will deteriorate faster when it stays wet for a long time. To minimize this issue, you should always keep your string waxed and dry your bow when you store it. I will give more tips on how to do this, later in the article

Water is not necessarily bad for your bow, but you should dry your bow before you store it.

Can you shoot in rainy weather?

Bows can be shot in rainy weather just fine. But if your bow gets soaking wet, it will be more difficult to shoot it accurately. So, if it rains very hard, you might want to take a break.

Shooting in the pouring rain is not a lot of fun. When all your gear gets wet, it will be much more difficult to shoot well. Your hand can start slipping on the bow and your sight will get unclear. Also, pure discomfort will distract you from shooting well.

If there is only a drizzle don’t feel discouraged from shooting your bow. If you bring some additional gear, you can still shoot your bow and enjoy your time on the field, as I discuss later in the article.

Can a bow get cold: below-freezing temperature?

A bow can withstand cold freezing weather, but some parts of the bow might deteriorate faster. One example is the bowstring, which will need to be replaced sooner when it has been used in freezing temperatures.

If you shoot with a compound bow with peep sight tubing, you might also notice that this will break a lot sooner. Synthetic rubber cannot handle extreme temperatures well. If you often shoot below-freezing point temperatures, you might want to switch to a peep sight without tubing. I discuss the pros and cons of both options in more detail in the article below:

Tube vs tubeless peep sight – what is better

How to prepare for bad weather archery

When you go to the archery range and you expect rain, you of course should bring some rainproof clothing. A cheap rain suit can do the trick in a pinch, but if you shoot in bad weather more often you might want to invest in a solid outdoor jacket.

Apart from keeping yourself dry, you should also think about your bow. Although your bow can get wet, it can get rather slippery when it’s soaking wet. Therefore, when you retrieve your arrows, keeping your bow under shelter would be better.

There are many ways to keep your bows sheltered from the elements. I, for example, have a car with a lift-up trunk which I use as a shelter. But I have also seen people use a tarp to keep their bow dry.

An archer at my local archery club has this fishing umbrella from king carp and it is much better than a tarp. You can not only keep your bow dry but also your bags and tools. And you can also take shelter yourself to wait out some heavy rainfall.

How to dry a bow

Even though you will try your best to keep your bow as dry as possible, it will inevitably get wet. Therefore, you should bring some towels or rags to dry your bow before you store it in your bag. I often do this in the car if it still rains.

In my experience, some small sports towels will do the job perfectly. They dry very fast which is very convenient. Also, they tend to be a lot smaller than large bathroom towels. This means that you can easily fit one or two in your bow case.

I have been using these towels from the Youphoria brand for a few years now. And I am very happy with the results. The mesh bag is very convenient for storage, and I often use the loop to hang it to dry.

By the way, even if you have dried your bow with a towel, always dry your bow more extensively when you are home. Just keep the bow out of the bag for a few hours in your living room. Also, keep the bag open so even the bag will completely dry out. Otherwise, you might get mold or bacteria in your bag.

Archery in freezing/snowy weather

Shooting in bad weather is a real challenge but shooting during freezing weather is even more difficult. You will need a lot of thick clothing which can interfere with your bow while shooting. Some parts of your bow like the string or peep sight tubing will wear out a lot faster.

This makes shooting in winter weather a lot more difficult. Therefore, I have written an in-depth article with tips on what to wear and how to care for your bow. You can read the article by clicking the link below:

Archery in the winter: what you need to know

Tips for shooting in bad weather

Before you go, let me quickly some final tips for shooting in rainy weather:

  • Bring some sports towels: you will not only use these to dry off your bow afterward. They are also very convenient between shots. Shooting with wet hands can be very uncomfortable, so it’s always nice if you can dry your hands and the grip of your bow.
  • Wear gloves while shooting: although this might not be possible in all situations, consider buying some gloves while shooting in rainy weather. The moisture will eventually get through the glove, but you will have much more grip than without a glove. It will also keep your hand warm which prevents muscle cramps.
  • Bring a fishing umbrella/shelter: this will provide shelter for you, your bow, and your luggage while on the field. No sports fisherman goes without his fishing umbrella and that is with good reason. If you don’t have a vehicle nearby, it’s the only way to keep you and your gear dry in heavy rain.
  • Don’t store your bow while it’s still wet: always dry your bow before you store it, otherwise your bow might start to smell musty. Just keep it out of the bag in a room-temperature place for a few hours.
  • Take shelter in extreme weather: when it’s pouring rain outside it’s no use shooting your bow. When your bow gets soaking wet, it will be very difficult to keep control and shoot accurately. Therefore, you better wait until the weather has cleared.
  • Shoot with a sight without glass: if you shoot with the magnified sight you might want to consider removing the glass. The glass will start to get wet which will cause a blurry sight picture.
  • Use a peep sight with a sun shield: Water can easily collect in your peep sight. To keep the rain out of your peep sight, you can use a sun shield. This device is normally used to shield your peep sight from the sun, but it can also keep the rain from getting in.


Although it would be better to shoot indoors when it rains a lot outside, I prefer shooting outdoors over indoors. I hope these tips help you to enjoy your time outdoors even when the wetter is not optimal.

If you have any tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments section down below. Also, feel free to ask any questions. I will reply as soon as possible and send an email once I have left my comment.

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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