The popularity of archery has soared since the release of two films, The Hunger Games and Brave. Both movies feature lead characters with masterful skills in the art of using a bow and arrow. Because of the movies, people of all ages are now taking interest in archery. But before you take it up as a new hobby you should know that there are four different types of archery: target, field, traditional, and bowhunting. Which one is right for you?
Target archery is the most popular type of archery because you can practice it in a variety of settings. During the summer months you can shoot outside in a field. And when winter rolls around, you can shoot inside at an indoor range. Archers stand at a specific distance and shoot a fixed number of arrows at a circular target with 10 concentric rings. The white outer ring has a score of 1 while the gold inner ring has a score of 10. After shooting a group of arrows, scores are added up. The archer with the highest score wins.
You can use a longbow, barebow, recurve or compound bow in target archery. Every round is timed with archers following a large digital clock, a series of flashing lights, or an alarm or bell sound. Any one of these signals tells an archer when it’s safe to shoot. Many tournaments draw spectators and fans who cheer on their favorite archer.
If you like golf, then you’ll like field archery. People are attracted to this type of archery because of the varying course layouts. Targets are set at a marked distance over rough terrain, often in a rural or heavily wooded area. A target can be from 20 feet to up to 80 yards away, flat or 3-dimensional at a marked or unmarked distance. Archers shoot from painted pegs in the ground that have different colors for the distances corresponding to each division.
Most archers use a compound bow but a recurve and traditional bow is also acceptable. No matter which bow you use, all archers must shoot arrows with field tips. Shooting is tightly controlled by a Field Captain. This person ensures arrows are shot within a specified period of time and that all archers collect their arrows and tally their scores together.
Field archery is appealing to those people who want to spend a day out in the woods. Much like golf, archers will be walking from one target to the next. This gives you a chance to experience a wide variety of terrain. And if you’re looking to physically exert yourself, you’ll get a good deal of cardio in unlike target archery. Also, field archers shoot in groups so if you want to make friends then this is a great place to start.
Are you a fan of the Renaissance fair? Then traditional archery might be right for you. If you’re fascinated by archery because you watched movies like Robin Hood, The Hunger Games, or Brave then you’ll be looking at a bow without any modern technology. In this type of archery, you’re challenged by a lack of sight, stabilizers, or other tuning equipment. Some people take it a little bit farther than this too. Archers will insist on using bows, arrows, armguards, gloves, and quivers that are only made of natural materials. There really is no right or wrong way to enjoy traditional archery. You can make up your own rules or go for historically accurate equipment. It’s up to you.
Traditional archers can choose a very simple or a very complex kind of bow. A simple version is the self bow. The self bow is carved from a single piece of wood called a stave or from two pieces of wood, called billets, joined at the handle by a splice. From this stave or spliced billets a bow is made by tillering the limbs out and then shaping a handle. A more complex traditional bow is the composite recurve. This bow has a classic C-shape when unstrung and consists of three main parts bound together by animal glue: a wooden core, a layer of horn, and a layer of sinew on the back.
Traditional archery gives some people an exciting connection with history. This type of archery is appealing because it focuses on the primitive equipment rather than relying on modern materials. And there is a strong community with literally tens of thousands of traditional archers around the world. If you want to do it “old school” then traditional archery is right up your alley.
Bowhunting is the practice of harvesting an animal using a bow and arrow. Thousands of years old, bowhunting dates back to the Stone Age. Today bowhunting uses complex equipment that is stronger and lighter than ever before. Arrows fly faster and penetrate deeper, but essentially the other skills needed for bowhunting have remained the same. For example, bowhunters still must outsmart the animals they hunt by masking their scent, staying out of sight, and remaining quiet. Many people prefer using a bow opposed to a rifle because they believe it requires more skill. Still others enjoy the simple peace of mind nature brings when they’re out hunting in the woods.
For this type of archery, you will most likely be using a compound bow. You can identify a compound bow by its multiple strings and system of pulleys. Compound bows are more accurate, faster, and penetrate deeper than other bows. What classifies a compound bow are the cams located at either end. The cams allow you to “let-off” or hold less weight once the bow is drawn. This allows you to take more time in aiming and is especially useful in hunting situations.
To bowhunt you need a little bit more planning than in other types of archery. You will need a state-issued license that allows you to hunt certain animals during certain seasons. The rules and regulations differ for each state, so you will need to look up your state’s wildlife department’s website for more information.
After reading about each type of archery we’re certain you can find one that’s right for you. Remember, target archery is the easiest step into archery for beginners. It’s easy to find a local archery club with rental equipment. This way you can try out the sport before you invest any money. The other types of archery require more planning and commitment. But if you’re already, say, a hunter, then diving into bowhunting is something you’re likely to enjoy. Whatever type you choose, we’re sure you’ll have fun. Happy shooting!