Some thoughts on the first bits and pieces a new archer should buy

Quick break from my series on target panic to revisit a topic which I think will be of interest to many.

Several years ago I wrote a post offering advice on what equipment newbies should consider purchasing, before buying their first bow. Since I have been working with several new archers in the recent months I thought it a good time to revisit this post and update it where necessary.

As a coach I often get asked by my students about buying a bow. How much do they cost? What should I got for?  Where do you recommend I go?  I’ve seen one on E-Bay is it any good? I always reply by saying wait a few weeks or even a couple of months before you buy one. In that time use the club equipment for until you have a better idea of what is suitable for you.
But sooner or later your students will want to purchase their own bow (which is great don’t get me wrong) but there are a few things that might be worth getting first. So I have put this post together to offer some thoughts.

First things for any new archer to buy (before a bow) should be
Whistle – What a whistle? What’s that got to do with archery? Well put simply it’s for safety calls and is a necessity for insurance on some club sites including ours. All members of the NFAS should have a whistle on them so they can signal if necessary.

A tab or glove of their own. Normally I recommend a beginner starts with using a tab to protect their fingers. As they progress I have them trying both a tab and glove, along with trying different sizes and shapes until they find something they prefer. Recently I’ve found several students opting for a glove which I think is partly due to the colder weather.

This is the single thickness tab

This is the single thickness tab


Personally I think a tab is best, though it took me ages to find one that I was completely comfortable with. I feel tabs are easier on their fingers and promotes good finger position on the string.

Quiver, you can pay a small fortune for some quivers, but when you are starting out go for something simple. So long as it will hold 4-6 arrows and is comfortable to carry on your belt it’s a winner. Quick note about back quivers here. I’ve tried back quivers, several in fact and never found one I was happy with so have stuck with a field quiver. I know some people  love them but for your first quiver, keep it simple.

simple quiver image

simple quiver

Some quivers will have a pocket or pouch on them which can very be useful for holder a whistle, stringer, spare string.

Top Top – pick up an arrow tube to store arrows when not in quiver. I carry 3 or 4 arrows in my quiver and the rest are in an arrow tube on my back. Safe, dry and there if I need them. You can use an extendable poster tube, which are cheaper, just make sure you drop some foam in the bottom of the tube to protect it and stop arrows puncturing the plastic. 

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

An arm bracer or arm guard that fits. What I mean is it doesn’t fall down the arm or is so tight it cuts off circulation to your arm. Like quivers there are loads of different designs, some that go all the way up the arm, others that only cover the forearm. Some are plain others are covered in intricate designs carved into the leather. At the end of the day function is more important, so get one that fits, works and you like.

Arrow puller, while not the most glamorous of archery elements they do makes life easier for drawing arrows, allowing you to grip the shaft more easily, especially on cold days.
Arrow rake – no matter how good you are, sooner or later you will be needing one for finding those arrows that fall short (a cheap decorating roller can be used, once modified for the purpose )

What kind of bow should I buy?

I will cover this in more detail in a separate post but what I will say is in my opinion for a first bow the most sensible option is the take down recurve practise bow.
They are relatively cheap (£55-£75 depending on where you get them), so if they don’t stick with the hobby it’s not such a huge investment. Also you might be able to pick one up from club member who has progressed. The advantage of a takedown is the limbs can be upgraded to heavier poundage as archer develop their strength and skill (I did this after a few months myself, with some shops giving a discount if you trade your old limbs in). Worth noting that not all limbs fit all bows, but I will go into more details in a future post about fittings and ILF bows (International Limb Fittings).
I have found the bows are forgiving to use which is what you want as a beginner.
Such bows come in a vast variety of sizes, shapes, poundage so good for all abilities, heights, draw lengths etc. so are easy to find one suitable for all shapes and sizes of archer.
As I said I will cover this in more details in the next post.

Thanks for reading

Shoot Report – Liberty Archers – July 2014

Liberty woodland

Liberty Archers woodland

This was the first time we had made it to Liberty Archers shoot. This made us Liberty newbies and  we weren’t exactly sure what to expect, as the stories of robo deer had spread along with the tall tales of huge steaks and wild turkey (the drink not the bird).
Add to this was that the shoot was to be themed winter wonderland which was kind of ironic, since it was probably the warmest weekend of the year so far with temperatures hovering round the low 30 degrees centigrade. This would also be my first real test of shooting with a glove rather than a tab of for any real duration.
We arrived Friday afternoon following a three hour drive, some times crawl along motorways. Many archers had arrived  a day or so before including a couple of members of the SVF club who had been kind enough to take our tent along with others tents to pitch, this meant we were all located together.
So after unpacking the last of the camping gear and a quick run to local takeaway we settled down for a couple of drinks and an early night. Friday night / Saturday morning saw a huge thunder storm overhead with a very impressive light show, visible even through the tent and tree canopy. It left us wondering if a travel lodge  might have been a better plan, if this was to be a taste of the weekend weather.  Fortunately the rain didn’t last and we were left with a dry warm read very warm day come morning.


The course on both days would comprise 42 targets, more than the normal 40 targets, the extra couple had been added so as not to disappoint those archers on the waiting list. These targets were all 3Ds ranging from small raccoon to huge moose and elk. I don’t think there were any stretched shots with a few lovely set natural looking shots.

An abandoned 3D target reclaimed by nature

An abandoned 3D target reclaimed by nature

The ground is flat, very flat but then again it is next to an airbase (Lakenheath). In fact the grounds are part of the air force base with you camping a stones throw from the runway overshoot. (If you had arrived a day or two earlier you could go plane spotting which I think some people did). Thankfully it’s very sandy ground so the heavy rainfall of Friday night quickly drained away. The downside of this is your arrows burrow themselves into the earth, so searching for any misses can take time. If you aren’t a fan of bugs then be warned there are a few as we discovered when packing the tent up on Sunday.

Sharon shooting on Saturday

Sharon shooting on Saturday

Unlike other shoots this had a really relaxed almost party atmosphere, with the organisers working hard to keep everyone happy. Most noticeable from the shooting perspective was the work they put in to finding lost arrows with marshals having metal detector near permanently attached to their arms. Thanks guys for all that work in that heat it is really appreciated by all.

Saturday - view of the group

Saturday – view of the group

Our shooting group would comprise six of us Theresa, Ben and their two grandchildren  Conrad, Charlie joined Sharon and I. So one flatbow two barebow and three hunting tackle; beginning to sound like Christmas Carol lyrics.

Most groups had between 5-6 archers but it didn’t seem to cause any real delays in our progress round the course. I think the biggest issue was the heat on Saturday, which at times was very uncomfortable. Part of the woodland runs alongside the main road and there we a couple of shots where you could see the traffic in the background which was a bit off putting, maybe some nets would have been a good idea.

By the end of the day we were all tired and looking forward to a relaxing evening.

Saturday Night entertainment

Saturday night was party time and Liberty put on a great show complete with Christmas lights, music, father Christmas a sleigh and of course it was drawn by reindeer. Though saying that the deer were lacking target zones as they were made of polystyrene.  Did I mention the wild turkey, there always appeared to be a bottle being passed round. The theme encouraged lots of archers to enter the spirit of things and to go in fancy dress, with Sharon having made an ice queen costume.

Sharon in her costume

Sharon in her costume, yes that is a blonde wig

The organisers arranged Saturday night as a steak night too, so there was plenty of food to help soak up the alcohol which was flowing. You can see a brief YouTube video of the evening celebrations here.


Sunday morning dawned with bright and clear skies, though maybe not so many clear heads. I’m guessing there were a few sore heads as the camp was a lot quieter first thing with less activity early on.

Sunday would see the same shooting group except for Ben whose s health didn’t enable him to join us. Think he may have overdone it  a bit in the heat of Saturday.
Me preparing to shoot on Sunday

Me preparing to shoot on Sunday

Sundays course was similar to Saturdays with the organisers changing a few of the 3ds and peg positions so you wouldn’t be shooting exactly the same course. The nice thing was there were a few very nicely framed shots between trees, that proved quite decepetive.

Sharon shooting on Sunday

Sharon shooting on Sunday

I also think I got the luckiest shot of the weekend on a 3D boar (glad it was modeled on a male boar).
Lucky shot on boar

Lucky shot on boar

Fortunately Sunday wasn’t as hot as the previous day and there seemed a few less people, so the day flowed well. By the end of the day I was a little happier with using the glove, though there’s still a long way to go before I’m completely comfortable.

Novelty shots  Robo Deer

Robo deer is a somewhat famous or is that infamous target which Liberty is renowned for. Made up of 6mm steel plate cut to the shape of a deer (hence the name) with a 5 inch circle hole to represent the kill area.
It’s a one arrow target with the option of shooting a different target but with a lower score. With it being about 18-20 yards downhill its not the hardest. All yYou have to decide what to go for.

Robo Deer from the peg

Robo Deer from the peg

So you can run the risk of going for the deer and possibility of breaking the arrow if you missed the soft spot. If you hit the metal you get 16 points if you hit the soft spot its 20 points.
By the end of the weekend, the top of the boss saw a collection of broken arrows where people had gone for it but failed and had broken their arrows.

Robo Deer up close

Robo Deer up close

When we got to robo deer on the first day I’d just had an arrow flick off a target and develop a slight bend. Not wanting to use a good arrow I thought Id give this one a go and lo and behold it sailed perfectly into the soft spot.  Sadly this was not repeated on the second day with my arrow clipping the metal and exploding in a shower of splinters and fletchings.

Overall it was a very enjoyable weekend and far more sociable than we were expecting helped by the light hearted party on Saturday night and laid back feel. It was great to see so many SVYF club members out at a shoot too, with many camping.
The club did quite well too, with  Chris and Keith Harley, Debbie, John, Jason and Colin all placing. As for us, Sharon won ladies Hunting Tackle despite not being happy with how she shot on Sunday. Amazingly on Sunday I shot far better than expected, resulting in winning Gents Hunting tackle. Guess I’m getting used to using a glove after all.
As always thanks for reading.