Getting Started in Archery

Archery is a Sport that can be accessible to almost anybody. Modern Equipment is very ‘forgiving’ and ‘fast’ – skill is more important than strength. This means that everyone – Old & Young, Strong & Weak – can get good results. The sport accommodates men and women quite literally from eight to eighty years old. And younger, and older. It’s also accessible to people with physical disabilities or impairment of many kinds, including amputations and paraplegia, and various visual impairments including total blindness; and has also proved hugely beneficial and enjoyable to autistic and dsypraxic archers. It’s a non-contact sport which in some parts of the world is thought of almost as a meditation, where aggression and physical exertion and the will to succeed are balanced against mental relaxation and control.

A fair number of Archery beginners have had some kind of introduction, for instance on a Centre Parcs Holiday, or at a Country Sports Fair. We strongly advise you to resist the urge to buy a bow and arrows until you have attended a Beginners Instruction Course. This gives the opportunity to use specially selected equipment that will allow you to develop your style, posture, and muscles in a safe controlled way, so that your shooting will be a rewarding experience. You will be given advice on purchasing equipment, which should prevent mistakes that could spoil your enjoyment, and you will be helped to purchase equipment that can grow and adapt as your body adjusts to the new activity.

The best place to start is at your Local Club. It will probably have at least one Certified Coach, which means that as well as being competent the Coach has access to support from local, regional and national coaching organisations. You will be introduced to the various branches of Archery and to the various bow types, ranging from the Primitive and Traditional to the very High-tech.
Click here to see much more information about shooting in Sussex.

If specialist skills are required, for instance if the beginner has a physical impairment, there are several Sports Associations for the Disabled in the County who can help with protheses or modified shooting equipment if required, and there is of course the iconic St Dunstan’s where Visually Impaired Archery began in this country. The local coach is usually able to arrange support from these various sources, but in all cases the more information provided by the beginner or Carer about the exact nature of the disability, the better the coach will be able to devise an appropriate training regime.

Coaches have received training in Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, but will ask that parents or guardians attend while a child is being taught or is shooting. As Archery is very much a family sport, this often results in the parents joining in too. Clubs have a Child Protection officer, and assistance is also available from The County Child Protection Officer.

Your local club may be able to arrange a ‘taster’ session. Lessons should be in accordance with the recommendations of the Governing Body, and will generally comprise six ‘modules’, with a total lesson time around twelve hours. Once the course has been completed, the next step would be to join a Club, to get access to the shooting field and the ongoing support of the Coaches and other club members.

At this stage new Archers will often start to attend Local Competitions. And after enjoying the sport for some time, many novice archers improve their skills by attending a Coaching Workshop arranged by the Martlets Guild of Coaching

There is no need to be particularly strong to be a good archer, but it certainly is advisable to practice quite frequently. Many ‘club’ archers only shoot once a week, but most mid-level archers would agree that twice a week during the ‘season’ is the minimum required to achieve reasonable consistency. A little more practice time can be enough to raise the archer to County or Regional level – half an hour a day exercise and another hour or two of shooting every week makes a huge difference.

While nearly all Sussex Clubs follow the same Discipline as Olympic Archery, known as Target Archery, the sport takes several forms and not all clubs engage exclusively in Target Archery. Several clubs have Field courses that simulate hunting in rough woodland. Many clubs have facilities for shooting indoors.

And there are many choices in equipment and Bow Style to give variety and new challenges.