Archery has a long and rich history that has made it a popular sport for the backyard archer, hunter and Olympic athlete. Using a bow to launch an arrow to hit a specific target is a rewarding experience that only requires a little bit of physical coordination—and quite a bit of mental focus. Archery sets are easily available to get the beginning archer started with a matched set of a bow, arrows and protective gear.
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Deciding what type of archery set to get for a novice archer can often provoke a decades-old debate between traditional and modern archers. Traditional archers advocate the use of longbows or recurve bows instead of compound bows with sighting systems and pulleys that give the archer a mechanical advantage.
"Which system to use is the big question, isn't it?" says Johnathan D. Karch of 3Rivers Archery Supply in Ashley, Ind. "I recommend beginners start with recurves because they are easier to learn on. They also offer more of a point-and-shoot approach."
Karch recommends beginners starting with a 30-lb. recurve bow with a draw length that is matched to the archer. The bow weight refers to the amount of force required to pull the string back to the archer's anchor point where the string hand touches the corner of the mouth or cheek. The draw length is the distance the string must travel from rest to complete draw at the anchor point, and is measured by taking the distance of the archer's arm span and dividing by 2.5.
Arrows are available with wood, aluminum or carbon fiber shafts with turkey feather or plastic fletching. Wood arrows are the least expensive of the three types and are suitable for beginners. The stiffness, or spine, of the arrow has to be matched to the weight of the bow to ensure the appropriate flexibility when launched. Look closely at any slow motion video of an arrow in flight and you will notice that it bends around the center riser of a recurve and then flexes side to side on it's way to the target. Wood arrows with real feather fletching provide the most forgiveness to novice archers.
Pulling a bow string puts a lot of pressure on the tips of the archer's fingers. For this reason, most archers use a leather or synthetic glove or finger tab for protection. The glove or tab also allows the string to slide off the finger tips, ensuring a smoother release.
When launching an arrow, there is a slight rotation of the bow in the archer's hand that will cause the string to hit the forearm of the bow hand. Many archers choose to wear a leather arm guard to protect the inner forearm from that snap.
Archery can be a dangerous sport if you don't take adequate safety measures. Always make sure the space between the archer and the target is clear, the target backing material—foam or straw—is adequate to stop arrow, and the area behind the target is clear.