Archery Equipment 101

Archery Equipment 101

Equipment is a necessity for every sport. From having the right footwear for running to needing a net, knee pads and ball for volleyball, being equipped with the appropriate gear and apparel for your sport is a must.

Archery is a very equipment-intensive sport and knowing what you need to get started can be a little overwhelming. Here’s a breakdown of some of the basics of buying archery equipment from the coaches at WSC’s Archery Program.

Where to Shop
There are many places to acquire target archery gear (bows, arrows, etc.). Some experts offer the advice that beginners avoid the major sporting goods outlets as the odds that they have staff knowledgeable about target archery are not high. Spend some time researching archery-specific shops in your community.

Some Dos and Don’ts
DO consider getting a fitting before shopping.
DO call ahead.
DO check out their websites.
DO NOT go ahead and buy if you are not sure.

Shopping Strategy
If you go to an archery shop, let them do their job. Tell them what you are interested in and see what they show you. They should measure your draw length, etc. If they can’t come up with a bow to test shoot, or everything is camouflaged, find another store.

If you have gone through a bowfitting, keep your Bowfitting Form in your back pocket. If the shop’s recommendation and your bowfitter’s agree, you can have confidence you are getting the right equipment. If they disagree significantly, one of them made a mistake.

For arrows, if you are a beginner (this is your first buy of archery equipment) be sure to instruct them to fit you with extra long arrows (+2˝). They will be on the long side (needed!), but also stiffer to compensate. This is an important safety consideration.

Important Q&As

Tab or Shooting Glove?
We strongly recommend a tab over a shooting glove. We also strongly recommend the Wilson Brothers Black Widow tab for its features and cost. Ask your coach or pro shop about what size tab you may need. The tab needs to fit so that some of the material overlaps the top and bottom fingers.

Bowsling or Wrist Sling or Finger Sling?
This is a matter of personal preference: most compound archers use a bowsling; most recurve archers use a finger sling. We recommend using a shoelace finger sling until you develop a preference. Cost to you: $0 if you use an old shoelace.

Arrows: Feathers or Plastic Vanes? What Weight Points? Should I Have Them Cut?
We strongly recommend you get a bowfitting, which includes an arrow fitting as well. In general we recommend 3˝ plastic vanes (feathers are too fragile) and 80-100 grain target points in extra long (an extra 2+˝) aluminum arrow shafts. This supplies high quality and durability (and safety) at a lower cost. Beginners are really hard on arrows and since your form will evolve you will be shooting different arrows in the future, so currently the emphasis is on being sturdy and less expensive.

Release Aids
Again, this is a matter of personal preference and release aids are quite expensive, so consult other archers and coaches a lot before buying. Try as many release aids as you can borrow (using a rope bow, not your bow).

What Should I Get Now?
We recommend that you do not buy everything all at once! If you go out and buy bow, arrows, sight, stabilizers, release aid, etc. and then find you prefer to shoot barebow, you will have wasted a lot of money. We think you should start with bow + arrows + armguard + tab. Then add extras in the order: stabilizer, bow sight, release aid (compound only). Accessories like quivers and bow slings can be purchased at any point.

Do I Get to Choose Colors?
Often yes, but the most important choices you need to make are left-handed or right-handed (recurve limbs and arrows, no, but bows/risers, yes), what size (S, M, L, XL), what length (recurve bows, stabilizers, arrows), etc.

Should I Order by Phone?
We think so. There are often choices to be made. If you want a Cartel Carbon Stabilizer you need to specify which length (26˝, 28˝ or 30˝). If you want MTO (“made to order”) arrows: what shaft, shaft length, vanes (type and size and color), point (style and weight). If you don’t know which to order, sales service representatives can talk you through making the right choices.

World Sport Chicago’s general public archery classes and open lane practice sessions are now offered in partnership with the Chicago Park District on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the archery range located at the lower level of Pulaski Park in the West Town community:1419 W Blackhawk St, Chicago, IL 60642.

For more information, email archery@worldsportchicago.org or call World Sport Chicago’s main office during normal business hours Monday through Friday at 312-861-4949.

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