Why archery is so much fun (and sometimes frustrating)

If you are reading this article you are probably thinking about starting with archery. You might wonder whether you would even like archery as a sport or whether this is the right sport for you. In this article I will discuss all common questions beginning archers have and I will explain what makes archery fun. That way you can make your own informed decision on whether you want to start with archery.

Short answer

Archery is all about improving your accuracy by perfecting your technique. Archery is a good individual sport which has a lot of social elements. Getting into archery is quite easy, but shooting really accurate is a huge challenge. When you are shooting don’t focus too much on your scores, because it can kill your joy when the scores are disappointing.

Why I like archery

I have been an archer for at least 4 years now and I really loved the sport. Below I will discuss a few characteristics of archery that I really like.

Individual and social

Archery is an individual sport, meaning that you don’t need a team to participate in a competition. Archery is even such a individualistic sport that you can even train completely on your own, which is different from other individual sports like table tennis. I really like to be able to go to the training field and shoot whenever I want when I just want to clear my head.

On the other side I sometimes actually like to socialize more. Archery is quite a social sport, I have met a lot of people and formed great friendships. Even though you are all progressing at your own pace, everybody likes to help their fellow club members. I actually believe that the individualistic nature of archery makes the overall ambiance even better. You don’t have to worry about what other people think if you shoot low scores, because they won’t get affected by it.

If you really like to shoot in a team you can even partake in group competitions where the points of all group members are added. I actually prefer to shoot for my own scores because I have done other team sports where there was a lot of disagreement on other peoples performance.

Outdoor and indoor

With archery you can choose to shoot either outdoor, indoor or both. I really like outdoor shooting, because I like to shoot longer distances, but I also like to be outside. I also know a lot of archers that actually prefer to shoot indoors, because it can be quite cold or hot depending on the season. Based on the current weather it’s always nice to be able to shoot indoors or outdoors, which is quite unique for a sport.

Constantly striving for a better score

Archery is a challenge, I will discuss this later in more detail, but I really like to constantly improve my scores. The progress you make in archery are very measurable. If you shot 250 in the last training and 240 in the training before, you can easily see that you are improving. With other sports this can be way more difficult. I have Volleyballed for at least 5 years and I never really had a moment that I thought: ‘’I really improved this month’’. With archery I have felt this feeling a lot because it’s so easy to see how much you have improved, which makes it really satisfying.

The technical side of archery

There is a big technical side to archery. I know many people see this as a big hurdle but I actually like it. I like to try different techniques and products to see what fits me best. I find this is way more complex than many other sports. For example with Volleyball, you of course learn your basic technique, but the most time you are just practicing. With archery everything relies on your technique. You can practice all you want, but if your technique is not right, your scores will be bad.

Is archery a hard sport to learn?

A common question people ask me is ‘’isn’t archery a tough sport to learn?’’. The answer on this question depends on your own expectation. If you want to compete in the Olympics, yes archery is a though sport. But if you want to shoot reasonably accurate it isn’t. The first few weeks, you will see tremendous improvement, until you reach a point where progress goes slower. I think this is the same for all sports.

Do you have to be really strong to learn archery?

In general I would say no, although it helps to have trained arm and back muscles, you don’t have to be really strong. In the contrary having the body of a bodybuilder will be a disadvantage. When you are drawing the bow you need to be able to place your fist under your chin. For bodybuilders this can be hard, because due to their huge biceps they can’t fully bend their arms.

When I started with archery I wasn’t trained at all. I didn’t play any sports for at least a year, so I wasn’t really fit. Since I am quite long and slim, I needed quite a light bow. But even with a very light bow you can compete in most competitions.

How to make archery even more fun

I really like archery, but still shooting at a target can get boring at times. Luckily there are a lot of things that you can to spice things up.

  • Popping balloons or eggs: Popping balloons is really satisfying especially when it’s due to a perfectly aimed shot. If you want to increase the challenge, you can use small water balloons or you can even use eggs.
  • Shoot at fruit: Do you have some fruit laying around that you don’t intend to eat? Make your practice extra fun by shooting at different fruits.
  • Have a competition with a friend: have a competition with a friend by shooting on a small challenging target. You can of course use fruit or balloons to make it even more fun.
  • Shoot at a moving target: you can make the target more difficult by making it move. You can for example hang a tennis ball on a string and give it a swing. You will see that this is quite a challenge.
  • 3D archery: buy or make a 3D target and create a hunting experience. You can make it more difficult by hiding the target behind bushes or changing the distance.

Why archery can sometimes be frustrating

Although archery is really fun, it can sometimes be very frustrating. Sometimes you get shot after shot in the 10, while sometimes you won’t get any in the 10. This can be really frustrating and demotivating, especially when you don’t know what you are doing wrong. This can eventually lead to you quitting archery altogether.

I had this exact situation 2 years ago. I was shooting with an olympic recurve bow and every session I shot at least 240 points (with 30 arrows). This means that you mainly shoot 8’s, 9’s and 10’s. So my mind was that only scores above 240 were acceptable. When I shot approximately 210 a few times a got frustrated and couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. This continued two months, because I didn’t see any progress, I tried some different techniques. While I was changing my technique the scores dropped even below 200. I decided to quit archery for a while because it was way more frustrating than fun.

After about 2 months without shooting, I decided that I wanted to try compound archery, to change things up. Because this is completely different I had no expectations about scores. I was just focusing on improving my archery without focusing on the outcome. I really liked it and I still shoot compound till the day I wrote this article. I may switch back in the future, but this switch made archery fun for me again.

If you are in a similar situation it might be a good idea to stop keeping scores. Instead of focusing on the outcome try to focus on the technique. If you are really burned out, you might want to try a different shooting style.

Closing remarks

If you are interested in archery, whether you want to do it in your backyard or at an archery range, I would advice to just try it out. If you need to buy any equipment, I would advice to go for affordable options. Read this article, if you want to get into olympic recurve archery, for detailed information about what you need and my recommendations.

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