Archery is a team and individual sport in which competitors use bows to shoot arrows at targets. Archery dates far back in terms of human history, with humans in ancient times using it for sport and hunting. Archery is performed by loading an arrow into the bow and releasing it at a target, earning a better score for being closer to the center of the target.
Archery is the only sport that requires a bow and arrow, as well as any of their accompanying accessories. Unlike other target sports that rely on guns or human arms to launch projectiles, archers use the tension of the bowstrings to force the arrow into a target.
There are many additional items that professional archers use to improve their bows and arrows. These accessories are not absolutely necessary, but they can help an archer shoot more accurately and organize their materials. It should be noted that most professional archery competitions will require standardized equipment to ensure fairness. Archery accessories include:
Arm guards are attached to the forearm area just below the elbow of the shooting hand. They are considered to be an extremely important piece of safety equipment, as they protect the archer from any bruises or other injuries that might occur as a result of backlash from the arrow being shot from the bow.
Arm guards come in all different sizes and forms, so it is important to pay close attention when purchasing this item. For example, some guards are one-size-fits-all whereas others are specially defined for bigger/smaller forearms. In addition, some are made of leather and some are made of a mesh material. Each individual archer has different preferences, and choosing the most comfortable and safe arm guard requires a decent amount of practice with each piece of equipment.
Archery arrows are long rods with feather-like attachments at the back end and sharp, pointed tips at front. Most arrows are made out of a specialized carbon fiber because the material rarely bends or cracks, although aluminum, fiberglass and wood can also be used. Arrows are an essential piece of archery equipment, as they are shot at the target in order to accumulate points during an archery competition.
Many organized tournaments have specific requirements with regards to the size and weight of each archer's arrows. When participating in the sport recreationally, however, each archer's individual experience with the sport must be taken into account. Experienced archers may be more inclined to use heavy-duty arrows with a decent amount of weight behind them, while first-timers are better off using lightweight arrows until they become more comfortable with using a bow and arrow.
Arrow cases are used to store any arrows that are not actively being used. It is important to properly stow the arrows in a case, as placing them on the ground will result in the arrows becoming damaged or bent over time. Most cases are designed the same, with several pockets designed to securely hold each arrow and a handle for easy transportation. They remain close to each archer during a competition, so that spare arrows can be easily removed from the case and attached to the bow.
Arrow lube is a liquid substance that is used to grease the arrows. It is normally squeezed out onto a cloth and applied to the shaft and pointed tip of the arrow. Failure to use arrow lube can result in the arrows becoming rusted. This should be avoided, as rusted arrows are harder to shoot and generally do not stick to the target as well. In order to prevent having to buy a new set of arrows, any archer should be sure to have a bottle of archery lube on hand. Since this is a special piece of equipment that is specific to the sport, arrow lube is generally sold only at stores that specialize in the selling of archery equipment.
Arrow pullers are used to properly extract an arrow that is lodged into an archery target. While most arrows can be safely pulled from the target by hand, sometimes they are deeply lodged into the target and pullers prevent the user from getting hurt by the force of ripping out an arrow.
Arrow pullers are small, hand-held, and are similar in design to a stapler. There are two main elements, one of which is a grip for a human hand, the other is a narrow opening that perfectly encases a normal-sized arrow.
Arrow rests are small, rectangular accessories that attach to the rear of the bow. When an arrow is attached to the bow, the very tip sits gently atop the arrow rest, providing additional support for the arrow and preventing it from slipping off the bow as the archer pulls back the string and prepares to shoot. Most bows come already equipped with an arrow rest for safety reasons. If for whatever reason there is no rest attached, it is important to purchase one from a store that sells archery equipment to ensure a smooth shooting experience. Usage of arrow rests is permitted for most competitions and tournaments, although certain types and models are recommended based on the form of archery taking place. For example, a special model called the "drop away" rest is preferred for target archery since it has little contact with the arrow and does not impair the archer's shooting ability.
The shaft of the arrow is the long, carbon portion that extends from the back end of the arrow to the sharp tip of the arrow. It is the middle and arguably most integral part of the arrow from a structural perspective, holding the arrow together and allowing it to move through the air seamlessly.
Arrow shafts can be adjusted to meet various weight and length requirements depending on the rules of each individual competition. Archers must be wary of the general wear and tear that can occur, as the shaft is extremely susceptible to warping (gradual bending over time).
The tip of an arrow is the sharp, metal peg located at the frontmost end of each arrow. Since arrow tips are just as sharp as a conventional knife blade, it is important for the archer to handle them carefully, as not doing so can result in serious injury. The design allows the arrows to become embedded inside the target and stick there so that points can be awarded based on how close to the center of the target the arrow landed.
Applicants in archery include anything that can be applied to maximize the performance of bows and arrows. They include lubricants to keep the equipment from rusting and other accessories such as decals, stickers, and additional grips. Although applicants are by no means required to be a successful archer, they are often used by a number of archers to increase maneuverability and make the overall firing process more comfortable.
Aside from the arrows, archery bows are among the most essential pieces of archery equipment. They hold the arrows in place prior to being shot, and are held in place by the archer's non-shooting hand in order to properly aim at the target. There are two main types of archery bows. The first is a recurve bow, which forms an arch that extends away from the archer. Compound bows are the other type, with rigid vertical shafts that contain a low-suitated notch to rest the arrow atop.
Archery bow lube is applied in the same fashion as arrow lube, and is used for the purpose of keeping the bow from becoming rusted or bent out of shape. Not only does bow lube help the bow look shiny and good as new, it also helps with keeping all the crucial components in working shape. Failure to apply the bow lube on a consistent basis may prevent the arrow from staying properly attached, which in turn causes inaccurate shots that lack the in-air speed required to stick to the target. Archery-specific stores (either physical or online) are more likely to sell bow lube rather than regular sporting goods shops, since it is a secondary item that is generally purchased only by avid archers.
Bow releases provide a safer and more efficient alternative to shooting the arrow by hand. One end of the bow release clamps onto the tail end of the arrow and holds it firmly in place, while the other end contains two grips where two fingers can be placed on either side. Bow releases can help to neutralize the brief stinging sensation that sometimes occurs when the string is pulled back to prepare the arrow for release. However, they are banned in some competitions, so it is important to know whether each tournament permits archers to use a bow release prior to purchasing one.
Bow sights are attached to the front end of each archery bow, with a small circular scope extending off to the side of the bow. They are primarily used to help archers aim each of their shots by putting the target into perspective, and function much like the scope of a rifle. Once the string has been pulled back to prepare the arrow for firing, the archer closes one eye and looks carefully through the scope. Once the tip of the arrow has been aligned with the center of the target, the archer can confidently release the arrow in hopes that it will land close to the desired target. Bow sights are completely legal under official archery rules and regulations, although they are considered optional accessories because the landed cost ranges anywhere from $60 to $100.
Bow slings are another piece of safety equipment that help to prevent any unaccounted for mishaps when shooting at a target. Generally made out of rope or elastic, they function much like a bracelet, attached to the archer's wrist at one end and secured to the bow at the other end. The main purpose of a bow sling is to keep the archer from losing control of the bow and maintain a steady hand throughout the shooting of the arrow. Loss of control over the bow can be extremely problematic, as it may very well result in the arrow being shot in the completely wrong direction if the bow does not remain in a stable position pointed towards the target. Since bow slings are used for safety as opposed to heightened shooting accuracy, they are permitted as optional accessories for virtually every form of archery.
Archery bow strings represent the link between the bow and the arrow. An arrow cannot be fired without first pulling back the string, providing the momentum necessary for the arrow to eventually shoot forwards towards the target once the string is released. Proper technique is crucial when dealing with bow strings. Failure to pull the string far enough back will result in the arrow not traveling the necessary distance, while too much stress on the strings may result in the very same issue. In addition, the strings must be pulled back and released in a safe and methodical manner to avoid a snapping sensation that will hurt the fingers.
Bow stringers allow archers to properly attach a string to their bow. There are two loops, one at each end of the stringer. The larger of the two loops attaches to the top part of the bow while the smaller loop is placed atop the bottom portion. Once both loops have been securely fastened to the bow, the archer must then apply pressure to the long, belt-like portion of the stringer with the bow in hand. The process is similar to tightening a backpack strap, with the archer pulling until the string is tightly attached to the bow, but still remains flexible enough to pull back and release with ease. Without a bow stringer, it is nearly impossible to attach the string so that it functions in an optimal manner.
Bowstring wax is similar to bow and arrow lube in that it keeps the strings well-oiled and prevents them from becoming overly tough or rusted. Bowstring wax is important in that it helps archers pull and release the strings with ease. Natural wear and tear from frequent usage, as well as harsh weather conditions make even newly equipped strings extremely susceptible to damage. If you want to make sure your bow stays in the best condition you should have plenty of bowstring wax on hand.
Archery cases are a protective means designed to prevent bows and strings from being damaged while being transported from one location to another. The inside is typically lined with felt or another material similar in softness to safely store the equipment and prevent it from being scratched. Inside of the case are clearly labeled areas for each piece of equipment. The outside contains a hard, rugged shell to withstand any potential drops or other blows to the case, as well as a carrying handle for easy relocation of the case and its contents.
Chest guards, generally strapped to the body and worn over the archer's shirt/uniform, keep the chest area protected in the event that a misfire results in an arrow or string contacting the body of an archer. The guard is fasted around the archer's body using an adjustable strap. It extends from the archer's non-dominant shoulder to the opposite pectoral muscle for maximum protection. Unlike other forms of padding, archery chests guards are extremely lightweight so that the archer is uninhibited when performing a shot. They contain a soft mesh layer which is enclosed by a harder, padded area that absorbs the blow following a mishap.
Compound bows are one of the two principle types of archery bows. They stand vertically when suspended in the air, with two distinct curvatures separated by a middle portion that is gripped by the non-shooting hand of the operator. The string and arrow rest just above the grip, allowing archers to maintain a strong handle on both the arrow and the bow prior to attempting a shot. While compound bows are generally not recommended for beginners due to their significant size and weight, they are required to be used by all competitors engaging in competitions sponsored by the World Archery Federation. A quality compound bow costs an average of $120, although cheaper models can be purchased for closer to $100.
Crossbows are designed much differently than compound bows and other forms of conventional shooting equipment used in archery events. The main difference is that crossbows are configured horizontally and mirror the design of a long gun such as a musket rifle. Arrows can be easily loaded onto a crossbow and shot in a rapid sequence. For this reason, crossbows are widely considered to be a form of weaponry used for sports such as hunting as opposed to archery.
Finger tabs serve the same function as bow releases for the most part, helping the archer to maintain control of the bow string while also preventing any shock associated with the release of the arrow. However, finger tabs fit more like a glove, with three designated pockets for the pointer, middle, and ring fingers. There is also a small notch in between the pointer and middle finger where the very tip of the arrow slots into to prevent any part of the hand from interfering with the arrow once the bow string is released.
Fletchings are the feathery attachments positioned at the back end of the arrow, opposite of the tip. The fletching on each arrow helps with in-flight aerodynamics, allowing the arrow to pick up wind gusts as it travels through the air towards the target. Without fletchings, arrows would not remain in the air for enough time and would simply fall to ground shortly after being shot. Most fletchings are triangular and multicolored, which also helps with visibility as the archer tracks each arrow's flight path.
Similar to many other sports, gloves are a common accessory used to assist with grip and comfort in archery. The main function of archery gloves is to protect against minor finger injuries such as blisters, although more serious injuries such as nerve irritation can occur over time without proper protection. Most archery gloves are made out of leather to ensure long-term durability. The most important thing to consider when purchasing archery gloves is the overall fit and feel of each pair. Archery gloves should fit fairly snug, while also having enough wiggle room in the fingers to easily handle the equipment.
Kisser buttons are small, plastic accessories that attach to the bowstring. The name 'kisser button' is derived from the fact that the attachment makes contact with the archer's lips when the bowstring is pulled back fully. Kisser buttons assist with proper head orientation. If the button does not touch the archer's lips, it is likely that their head has either drifted off to the side or is not level with the target. Thus, the buttons help with accuracy, as improper head positioning leads to inconsistency and arrows being shot in all sorts of different directions. For this reason, kisser buttons are generally recommended for beginners. It is important to note that competitions sponsored by USA Archery outlaw the use of kisser buttons.
The limbs are simply the arch-shaped portions of the bow opposite to the bowstring's starting point. Not only do the limbs help the archer to maintain a sturdy grip on the bow, they are also curved so that the bow does not inhibit the arrow from being seamlessly fired. Limbs are the most integral part of any archery bow in terms of both structure and functionality.
Nocks are the small, aluminum spikes directly behind the fletchings on each arrow. Much like the fletchings, they allow the arrows to be more aerodynamic and resistant to severe wind gusts. Most importantly, however, nocks contain a small opening where the bowstring is attached. Without nocks, the arrow could not be connected to the bowstring, which is used to pull the arrow back and eventually release it towards the desired target.
Peep sights are a special form of archery scopes. Unlike a conventional scope, they are attached to the bowstring rather than the bow itself. Curved in shape, peep sights come in all different sizes. Similar to cameras, each peep sight has an aperture (a small hole in the center) that can be small enough to focus only on a portion of the target or large enough to bring the entire target into picture. The great thing about peep sights is that they improve accuracy by aligning the target, bowstring and tip of the arrow all at once. With the exception of a few states, usage of peep sights is completely legal.
Many props can be added to a standard bow and arrow to help the shooter to be more accurate and useful with their bow and arrows. These include arm guards, arrow cases, arrow pullers, arrow rests, unique clothing, finger tabs, kisser buttons, peep sights, releases, shooting gloves, sights, speed studs, spotting scopes, stabilizer rods, or vibration dampeners. While each prop serves its own unique purpose, most archery props assist with protection or accuracy.
Quivers are very similar to archery arrow cases in that they allow archers to store any arrows that are not in use. The difference is that each quiver comes equipped with a strap, which rests on the archer's shoulder while the actual case dangles off to the side to allow for easy access to the spare arrows. It is for this reason that quivers are often preferred over traditional arrow cases, as they allow archers to keep both hands free in between rounds of competition or target practice.
The term 'riser' in archery describes the foundation of the bow. Risers are without a doubt the most important part of every bow, as they contain the limbs, sights and arrow rests. Since the riser contains all the crucial components necessary to properly shoot arrows, this is often the piece of equipment that archers invest the most amount of money in. Regardless of skill level, it is necessary to find a quality riser that will last for a few years. Archery risers can be found on Amazon for a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $85.
Just as the name suggests, archery silencers lessen the sound created by the bow string as it is released in order to shoot the arrow. Most silencers look like a bundle of pipe cleaners, and they are attached directly to the center of the bow string. They absorb a lot of the motion energy generated by the sudden release of the string, which in turn reduces the snapping sound one would normally hear while also keeping the archer from being shaken up by an intense vibration.
Speed studs, otherwise known as speed nocks, are screw-like accessories that are applied directly to the bow string. The studs add a little extra weight to the string, which can sometimes help to generate faster arrow speeds due to the additional push that is provided once the string is released. They are not recommended for beginner archers, as they make it harder to aim the arrows and require a somewhat intensive installation process.
Spotting scopes are one of the few archery accessories that are not directly equipped to the bow. Instead, they work much like a camera atop a tripod. Using the lever attached to the side, archers can maneuver their spotting scopes across the landscape while looking through a lens that allows for easy zooming in and out. This enables archers to get a detailed, close-up view of the target without having to actually approach the target on foot (an action that is outlawed in most competitions).
Whether the archer is merely trying to get a better look where the bullseye is located or trying to see where holes already exist that might prevent an arrow from sticking to the target properly, spotting scopes can help spot these dilemmas prior to shooting.
Stabilizers are weighted accessories that are added to the exterior of the bow to keep it steady as the archer takes aim and prepares to fire an arrow. The extra weight not only helps to keep the bow from wavering, it also reduces unpleasant vibrations that would otherwise travel through the archer's hands and arms upon release of the bow string. This is important because long-term exposure to pain caused by repeatedly harsh vibrations can force an archer to retire from competitions before reaching their full potential.
Stabilizer rods are simply a type of stabilizing tool that steady the bow and reduce vibrations. As indicated by the name, they are rod-shaped metal accessories that attach to the bottom of the bow and evenly allocate the weight throughout the entire structure. Archers need to be wary of exceptionally heavy stabilizer rods, which make pulling the bow string much more difficult and cause fatigue to set in rather quickly.
The sport of archery could not exist without targets, which are round foam pads that sit atop two wooden pegs. Painted on each target are five rings, which form circles that become increasingly smaller the closer you get to the center. Traditional archery scoring systems are dependent on where the arrow lands within the target. Arrows that stick to the outermost ring result in the fewest number of points being awarded to the archer, while arrows that manage to find the center of the target (known as a bullseye) are worth the maximum 10 points.
Vibration dampener is the term used to describe the overarching category of accessories (i.e. stabilizer rods) that are used to lessen the normally intense vibration that is felt by the archer after releasing the bowstring. Whereas most archery bows produce harsh vibrations and lots of noise immediately following an arrow's release, vibration dampeners limit each of these undesirable effects.
The bow and arrow are the two most critical pieces of archery equipment. It is impossible to compete in archery without a bow and arrows. However, archers may need much more equipment to optimize the performance, maintenance, and transportation of their bow and arrows.
As with most sports equipment, the higher the quality equipment you buy, the more expensive it is. Archery bows are usually the most expensive equipment required, and those typically range from $80 to $200 (although higher-end models can go up into the $300 range). Arrows can be found for $10 to $15, but high-quality ones are around $30 to $80.
Archery accessories can add up to be very expensive. Smaller, simpler items such as peep sights, strings, finger tabs, and vibration dampeners can be found for less than $10. Other items like releases, spotting scopes, and quivers can draw anywhere from $20 to over $100, depending on brand and quality.