Many new archers are lucky enough to receive the guidance of an experienced mentor, who can assist in answering any questions they might have. While receiving feedback of this type from a mentor is certainly valuable, the sport of archery also does not exclude those forced to learn on their own accord.
Though not without its challenges, those with great determination can teach themselves the sport of archery, even reaching a relative level of mastery with sufficient time and practice. However, one must also understand that success does not come overnight and that perseverance is a guiding principle of archery.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
As mentioned, it is certainly possible to teach yourself the sport of archery. However, before ever delving into such an endeavor, one must first select the best bow for their particular needs before ultimately having it set up to specification.
This process begins by deciding whether you would rather take up traditional or compound archery. For most intents and purposes, compound archery tends to be easier to grasp, especially without guidance.
It is equally important to avoid selecting a bow with too high of draw weight, as this can have detrimental effects on shooting form. Remember, increasing a bow’s draw weight or switching to a heavier poundage bow at a later date is far easier than correcting bad shooting habits developed while shooting a heavier bow than one is comfortable with.
From this point, a trip to a reputable archery shop will be in order. The archery tech on staff should measure your draw length and set up your bow accordingly. They can also assist with additional matters, such as mounting a sight or arrow rest, as well as installing a D-loop.
It is also important to purchase arrows of the correct length and weight for your particular needs. Again, this is something that an experienced archery technician can assist you with. In fact, most archery shops will be able to cut your arrows to length on-site.
Understand The Basics
Armed with a fully outfitted bow of your choosing, it will now be time to dive into the learning process itself. For many without a mentor of sorts, this can be rather intimidating. However, in truth, there has never been a better time to be faced with such circumstances.
In the past, those attempting to learn archery without any guidance were forced to rely upon a substantial amount of trial and error. This could lead to significant aggravation and likely cause more than one prospective archer to abandon the sport altogether.
Luckily, the technological age that we now live in proves ideal for those wishing to learn any type of discipline, including archery. One can now download an endless number of E-books onto their mobile devices and search the internet for useful information pertaining to archery basics.
While conducting research of this nature, focus intently on every point of proper archery form. This is the single most significant cornerstone of archery success and should not be overlooked. It is immensely important to develop proper form from the start, as accuracy is then guaranteed to follow.
There are many useful videos on YouTube regarding proper bow handling and archery form. Seek out videos of this type from reputable and knowledgeable sources, watching each as many times as is necessary to commit each detail to memory.
Practice Makes Perfect
Now, with your bow in hand, and a solid idea of proper form fresh on your mind, it will be time to log some range time. This can be done at home, space permitting, with the use of a basic bag or block-style archery target. Initially, such practice should be conducted at a distance of no more than 10-yards. At this point, the development of form is far more important than effective range.
Upon drawing your bow, focus on that which was gleaned from your prior studies. Make sure to square off your shoulders, bend only at the waist, anchor consistently, and follow through. At first, it might be necessary to talk yourself through each step of this process. This, in itself, is completely normal and will help develop long-term muscle memory.
You should practice frequently, as often as 5-6 days a week if feasible. This ensures that each detail of your form becomes fluid, requiring little in the way of thought to replicate with each shot. Shooting with relative frequency will also produce noticeable gains in accuracy, far more rapidly than only practicing on rare occasions.
Taking The Next Step
Once your accuracy at close range has improved, you can begin considering practice at further distances. However, this is only advised after becoming extremely comfortable when shooting at your current practice distance.
One trick taught to me by the gentleman who initially instructed me on how to shoot a bow pertains to creating a benchmark that must be met before practicing at further distances. I was told to pick a certain point on my target that was approximately identical in size to the bottom of a soft drink can, in which I would attempt to group my arrows.
Whenever I could successfully place 30 shots in a row within this particular circle, without any errant arrows, I could then extend my practice distance another 5-yards. This not only proved to be a great system to learn under but also made for some interesting competition with myself, as I strived to obtain such goals.
While learning to shoot a bow without additional guidance from a mentor is certainly difficult, it is nowhere near an insurmountable task. However, you must have ample persistence and determination to succeed in this endeavor. You must also avoid getting discouraged when you inevitably experience instances of poor shooting from time to time.
Archery is not a sport that is mastered overnight, regardless of whether or not you receive first-hand mentorship. Instead, hard work yields eventual success, which will become evident with time. Nonetheless, you will find yourself taking great satisfaction upon each triumph along the way.