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 fletchings, kisser buttons, peep sights, string wax, spotting scopes, and vibration dampeners.
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.
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.
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 called recurve bows and compound bows. Recurve bows form an arch that extends away from the archer. Compound bows have rigid vertical shafts that contain a low-suitated notch to rest the arrow atop. You can read more about the types of archery bows and their differences.
related: A look at the Best Archery Bows of 2021.
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.
Gloves are 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.
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.
Spotting scopes are not directly equipped to the bow. 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.
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.
related: A look at the Best Archery Targets of 2021.
The basic equipment of archery includes one bow and multiple arrows per person, as well as targets to the arrows toward. The arrows are stored in a quiver or arrow case.
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.
A simple recurve bow is the best for beginners. That bow is the easiest to shoot for beginners and is fairly simple to use.
Beginner bow and arrows will cost about $200 to $400. High end bows can cost upwards of a thousand or more dollars. Arrows can cost anywhere from $30 for a dozen to $85 for a six pack or even a few hundred dollars for one arrow. A good bow will cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000.