Archery 101: Beginner’s Guide To Bows, Arrows, And Targets

archery at the farmstead in nc

Looking to make an introduction to archery but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you!

It can be overwhelming trying something new and growing a skill. So many new terms to learn and best practices to pick up.

In this blog, we will dive into complete archery 101 and discuss the types of bows, the different parts that make up an arrow and bow, and tips for getting started.

Types Of Bows: How To Choose The Right Style For You

From sleek and modern to traditional and timeless, each bow type caters to different preferences and skill levels. Let’s delve into the three prominent bow styles and the unique characteristics that make each one a distinctive choice for archers.


Sleek and streamlined, these bows incorporate cutting-edge technology, featuring cams that allow for a higher draw weight. While they come with a higher price tag, their superior performance justifies the investment. 

Compact bows, however, require more frequent tuning to maintain peak efficiency. If you’re drawn to modernity, advanced features, and a bow that delivers top-notch performance, the compact bow is the choice for you.


For archers who want to connect with the rich history and tradition of archery, the longbow stands as a timeless choice. Characterized by its classic design, longbows have limbs that curve gracefully backward and are typically taller than other bow types. 

Crafted from wood, longbows exude elegance and simplicity. While they may lack some of the technological advancements of modern bows, the connection to tradition and their beauty make them a compelling option for those who appreciate the roots of archery

Recurve Bow

Recurve bows strike a delicate balance between tradition and modern innovation, making them an excellent choice for beginners. Their limbs curve forward, enhancing shooting efficiency. 

Despite their traditional roots, recurve bows incorporate modern elements such as stabilizer rods, balance weights, and sights. The versatile bow is easy to use, making it an ideal starting point for beginner archers seeking to refine their skills and build a solid foundation.

Instructor teaching Archery 101

All About Arrows: Feathers, Shaft, Arrowhead

Several parts make up the anatomy of the arrow. Learning them can help you better understand how to use an arrow more precisely. 

Nock – Split ending at the back of an arrow that acts as a clamp to hold onto the string until ready to be released. Without it, you have to hold the arrow yourself.

Fletching – Keeps arrow straight by creating a drag if going off course. There is a feather on the fletcher that is a different color that shows which direction the arrow should be. 

Shaft – This is the main body of the arrow and can be made out of all types of materials including wood, steel, and carbon fiber. 

Tip/Arrowhead – Lies at the end of the shaft and can be switched out. There are two types, a practice tip and a broadhead.

While most of these come with your bow there are other items you may want to get.

Types of Arrows 101

What To Wear To Participate In Archery

There are a few additional archery equipment you can get to level up your game and comfort.  

  • Sight – Line up your eyes with one of the pins, each indicating a specific distance, to help with aiming at the target.
  • Release aids – Finger release or finger tabs help reduce friction and protect your finger
  • Arm guards – Keep your arm from getting bruises during miss-releases  
  • Range-finder – Helps you know the distance between you and the target to help with aiming
  • Grip – Acts as your point of contact with the bow, allowing the bow to balance on your hand during the shot.

Now that you have everything you need to get started, let’s string your bow.

How To String A Bow

The way you string your bow depends on the type. Be careful during this step as it can damage your bow or mess up your shot if done wrong. 

How To String A Recurve Bow

Begin by choosing a reserve bow stringer. Lay the bowstring over the tips, ensuring a secure fit in the notches. Place the larger stringer pocket on the lower limb and the smaller one on the upper limb for stability. 

Hold the bow horizontally to facilitate a smooth stringing process. Step on the bow stringer, applying controlled pressure to bend the limbs for stringing. Draw up on the bow to create tension, allowing space to secure the bowstring. 

Slide the larger loop onto the notch on the upper limb, checking alignment. Remove the bow stringer to complete the process, leaving you with a taut and ready-to-use bow.

How To String A Longbow

Identify the nocking points on the bow and place one of the double loops onto the lower nocking point, ensuring a secure fit. Step on the bottom limb while holding the top limb to create tension, allowing attachment of the second double loop onto the upper nocking point. 

Gradually release the pressure on the bottom limb, letting the bow straighten and achieve proper tension. Confirm alignment with the nocking points and check the brace height according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

How To String A Compound Bow

Due to the bow’s more complex and modern nature, the stringing of this bow is more difficult. You need a bow press and other specialized tools to perfectly string the bow so we recommend having a professional do it. 

Teacher stringing a bow for Archery 101 class

It’s All About Your Stance: How To Hold Your Bow And Arrow

Now that you have your bow all strung up, it’s time to perfect your stance and start shooting!

How To Stand

The archer’s stance is the cornerstone of a successful shot. Begin by standing shoulder-width apart, facing completely sideways to the target. Your toes should form a perfect 90-degree angle with the target. 

It’s crucial to maintain a straight back, avoiding any unnecessary bending or leaning. This solid foundation not only provides stability but also sets the stage for a fluid and controlled shot.

How To Load Your Arrow

Start by examining the fletchings on the arrow. Two of them share the same color, while the third is unique. 

Position the arrow so that the distinctive fletching faces toward you, away from the bow. Place the nock of the arrow onto the string, pushing it until you hear a click. 

How To Aim With Precision

Pull the arrow back under your eye, allowing you to look down its length. The goal is to achieve a straight angle where the arrow’s front and end align seamlessly. 

This alignment is the archer’s visual guide, leading them towards accuracy.

How To Shoot

Hold the bow with three fingers in front of you, maintaining a slight bend in your arm. As you pull back the arrow, guide your fingers to meet your face, positioning them by your cheek and mouth. 

The key here is to achieve a consistent release. Relax your hand and let the bowstring slip away from your fingers, allowing the stored energy to gracefully propel the arrow towards its intended destination. A smooth follow-through ensures a complete and controlled shot.

Introduction to archery 101 class learning how to shoot

How To Remove Arrows From The Target

Congrats you hit the target! So how do you remove it safely? First, make sure there is no one else shooting nearby. Then approach the target and remove the arrow from the target’s butt. 

Grasp the arrow shaft with one hand close to the target, then with the other hand place it flat against the target butt with the shaft between your thumb and index finger. Then pull in a swift twisting motion while pushing the butt with the other hand.

Learn Archery At The Farmstead at Mill Springs 

Are you looking for a retreat from the world where you can reconnect with nature and learn how to do archery?

Whether you’re with friends, family, or coworkers, learning a new skill together can create memories and build bonds. 

At our farm, we have several outdoor activities to enjoy including archery. We have all the equipment you need to get started and our team can guide you in safely learning how to shoot. 

Then you can enjoy the night looking at the stars and stay at one of our cozy accommodations, choosing from a tiny barn to larger cottages. 
Unplug and enjoy North Carolina’s great outdoors in our Farmstay lodges and campground. Book your stay today!

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