By - Alicia Bricker, Gun Vault Specialist
Ladies, are you interested in archery, but aren’t sure where to get started? Don't have someone who can take you out and show you the ropes? I'll get you started. Archery is a fun and exciting sport and anyone can get involved.
First off, you'll need a bow that fits you - you need to be comfortable with how it feels when you shoot it. Go out and try several different bows. I suggest a bow that can grow with you as you get stronger. Two aspects that are important are the draw weight and the draw length. They make a variety of bows with different draw weight variations that you can try.
Draw weight - The amount of weight you will have to pull when drawing back your bow.
Draw length - The length you will draw your bow back. This varies with your "wing span" (length of your arms) and you will want to get this calculated before picking out your bow. Your draw length is determined by measuring the distance between your arms and you will need someone to help you measure.
1. Hold your arms straight out to your sides, palms facing forward.
2. Measure from the tip of your middle finger to the other tip of your middle finger then divide by 2.5.
This will give you an estimate of your draw length, but it may need to be adjusted depending on how it feels to you when shooting. Our archery experts can always help you determine what the best draw length is for you.
A couple of good beginner bows, both of which offer quite a bit of growth in draw weight are:
The Quest G5 Radical, which ranges as low as 15 Lbs up to 70 LBS draw weight with a draw length of 17.5” up to 30”
The Diamond Infinite Edge which ranges all the way from 5 LBS up to 70LBS for draw weight and a draw length from 13” up to 30”
As an adult, your draw length will stay the same. However, kids that are still growing will be able to take advantage of the draw lengths being so versatile in the above listed bows allowing them to get comfortable with a bow and get it adjusted as they continue to grow.
The varying weights are a plus for women. It allows you to start out at a lower draw weight as you begin, then increase poundage as you grow stronger and more used to using those muscles as you continue practicing with your bow. There are many bows to choose from, but one of these could be a good place to start as you are learning the sport.
I suggest buying a bow package. That way everything you need to get started is already with the bow, instead of buying each individual item that you need. Packages vary with the bow models, but will typically come with a: rest, quiver, sight, peep sight, wrist sling, and possibly a whisker biscuit. Some will come with a stabilizer and string stop as well.
You don't necessarily need these items on your bow and can always add them later on if you decide that you do want them. Let's take a look at what each of these do.
A stabilizer will help balance the bow and even out the weight in the front of the bow. The string stop is just what it sounds like. It stops the string from going forward after you release the arrow reducing some of the string vibration. This, in turn, seems to help reduce some of the excess noise. Neither a stabilizer nor string stop are must-haves, but are more of a personal preference.
String Stop Stabilizer
A whisker biscuit is a good idea to use as a rest for beginners. It holds the arrow in place, so there is less chance of the arrow slipping off the rest. You can change this out in the future for a drop away or other type of rest once, you get more comfortable shooting. The whiskers of the rest will eventually wear out as you shoot more arrows through it, so eventually you will need to replace it or buy a different rest.
The Sight - Before we talk about the sight on your bow, we need to talk about YOUR sight. You need to determine which is your dominant eye. Your dominant eye is the one that is dominant over the other when focusing on something. This will be the eye that you use to sight in your target. There is a simple tick that you can use to determine which eye is dominant.
1. Hold your hands out in front of you in a triangle placing your two index fingers together and your thumbs together.
2. Keep both eyes open and focus on a target or object about 10 yards away.
3. Close one eye then open it and then close the other then open it. The eye for which the object stays in the same place is your dominant eye.
If you have trouble with this exercise, try holding your hands in the same position as you just did and focusing on the object again with both eyes open. This time keep them open and slowly move your hands to your face while you are focusing both eyes on the object. The eye that your hands naturally go to is your dominant eye.
Your dominant eye may be the same as your dominant hand or you may be "cross eye" dominate. These means you are right-handed and left eye dominant or left-handed and right eye dominant. If you are dominant on the same hand and eye then that is the bow you will need. Ex: right eye and right hand = right handed bow. If you are cross eye dominant, you may want to try getting a bow that goes with the eye that you are dominant with, since it is easier to train your hand than your eye. If you try this, but cannot get used to it, then you will have to train your eye if you opt for a bow for your dominant hand and non-dominant eye. To do this you will have to make sure that your dominant eye is either closed when shooting or covered so that your other eye is able to focus.
A sight has pins in it that you will use when shooting a target at different distances. The top pin will be for the closest distance and the bottom pin for the furthest distance. Different sights offer a different amount of pins. You will set the pins for about 10 yards difference in each. Some people set the first pin at 10 or 20 yards. You can also start at 10 yards and then later adjust it to 20 yards, once you become more accurate. Sight pins are typically fiber optic and some are even lighted, which helps in lower light settings. Some come with a bubble level, so you can judge when you are tilting your bow and when it is level. When you first set up your bow you will need to adjust the pins for the distances that you want, which means you will need to shoot from each distance to set each pin. Our archery experts can help you get this set up and will get the pins set as close as possible, but some tweaking may be necessary once you start shooting more accurately. Then you can tell if you are off target either up and down or right and left, which you learn by the grouping of your arrows. Example: If you are shooting tight groups (the arrows all land in the same general area close together), but they are always to the right of where you are shooting, then your sight needs adjusted.
A peep sight is set up in your string and is just a small circle with a hole in it. When you have your bow at full draw, it should line up at eye level, so you can look through it and line it up with the pin on your sight. There are different colors and styles to choose from on these.
A quiver is what holds your arrows when you are not shooting them. You can get one that stays attached to the bow or one that is detachable. There are also quivers that you can sling over your shoulder or clip onto your hip. Most bow packages include a quiver that mounts to the bow. The amount of arrows that a quiver can hold varies usually around 4 to 6. They just clip in fletching down with the point up in the foam to keep the tip or broadhead from cutting anything.
A wrist sling also usually comes with a package, but is not a necessary accessory. This can help prevent the archer from torquing the bow with their grip when shooting. You want a loose grip when at full draw with your fingers open and the bow resting between your thumb and index finger - resting on your palm, so you don’t flinch the bow with a tight grip. The wrist sling is attached below the grip on the bow and goes loosely around your wrist. You still want to grab your bow before it fully falls, but this allows you to let your arrow leave your bow before you grip onto your bow again (follow through). Grip it while you are pulling it back but relax your hand before you shoot your arrow.
A kisser button is not a necessary accessory, but is an inexpensive one that you can add in order to help build your consistency when drawing back your bow. It helps you anchor your string in the same place every time when shooting. I recommend it for a beginning archer, since it helps you feel where your string is anchored and will get you used to anchoring in the same place. An anchor point is where you rest your hand or release every time you draw back your bow. Consistency in anchoring is important since that will increase your shooting accuracy. When drawing back the bow, you will want to place the kisser at the corner of your mouth. The person setting up your bow will set this where it needs to be for you. It will be placed above your D-loop on your string.
(This picture shows the placement of the kisser button at the corner of the mouth.)
A D-Loop is something that not all archers have put on their strings, but is something that most release shooters use. It is just a small loop added on the string where you will nock your arrow and then use the loop to hook your release onto. The arrow will nock between the two knots holding the D-loop to the string.
Our archery experts can assist you in chosing the right bow for you as well as setting everything up and getting you ready to shoot. All the accessories discussed here come in a variety of styles and colors as well. Do some research on different bows and all of the other items to see what you like first, before making a final purchase. There is a lot of information available to help you make a decision on picking out what is right for you. You can also come in and talk to one of the archery experts and they will help guide you on this first step of your journey.
The example below will help show the different accessories I've discussed and where they are located at on the bow, once it has been set up.
Next up - The Stance