Archery is an art that has been practiced by women throughout the history. In feudal Japan, female samurais and the kunoichis were extensively trained in the art of archery using the traditional Japanese bow, known as a Yumi. Even the famed Joan of Arc was considered to be an experienced archer.
In modern times, archery is depicted in different movies and series, many of which cast female figures as archers. Notable examples are Katniss from the Hunger Games and Speedy from the Arrow. Recently, these figures and movies have sparked a renewed interest in archery among many young women. If you’re one of those women, first of all: go for it, we’ll be here with you throughout your journey. Second: This guide is meant for you and will arm you with the necessary knowledge that you’re going to need to start out.
First Things First
Before starting out on your journey towards being an archer, you’ll have to acquaint yourself with a bow and some arrows. If you don’t learn about the equipment you’re about to use, you’ll make a mistake. Check out our articles on the types of arrows and the basics of bows and the archery mechanics. Once you’ve prepared yourself with the right knowledge, the mechanics of archery and then familiarized yourself with the terms related to archery, you should be ready to move on.
Bow Assembly and Maintenance
If you’re going out to learn archery using a traditional longbow made of wood, the most you’re going to need to do in terms of assembly is to string it. However, if you’re going for a modern-day recurve bow or a compound bow, you’re going to have to learn how to assemble them, string them and care for them. And remember, all bows are unisex: there is no womens compound bow.
Read the instruction manuals for your bows carefully when they come. When in doubt, check out a few videos on youtube, such as the ones here and here. Assemble and disassemble them a few times to get used to the process and familiarize yourself with the problem areas.
After that, you’re going to learn how to provide your bow with some maintenance and care. The bow as well as the string needs some form of maintenance or other in order to last long. For example, bowstrings can be enveloped using a serving coiled around it. Servings can help protect the bowstring’s main fiber, improving the longevity of the bowstring. When talking about bowstring maintenance, you’re often going to have to remove the servings and replace them with new ones in order to protect your bowstrings from wear and tear.
For the bowstave, you’re going to have to consistently take care of the bow stave by waxing them and keeping them in a tip-top shape. If you’re into DIY fixings, you could even try your hand at arrow maintenance too, sharpening the broadhead tips and replacing the feathers on the fletchings. Regardless, caring for your bow is one of the most important parts of being an archer. You can’t shoot if your bow goes out of order.
There are some workouts that you’re going to have to do if you’re want to get used to shooting arrows and drawing the bowstrings. Despite how easy it might look on the television, drawing a bowstring requires a lot of effort. Some bows can have draw weights as high as 200 lbs. For the average women, this would be too difficult to draw, let alone effectively aim with it.
The general idea is to start off with lower draw weights and as you keep practicing archery, your strength keeps increasing through the exercise and you’re able to shoot with greater draw weights. However, it’s always worth spending some time at the gym, building your laterals, pectorals, deltoids and your biceps/triceps, so that you can hit the ground running.
Once you’ve prepared your body in this way, you’re going to find it a breeze to shoot using even higher draw weights than the beginners. This way, you can practice for longer without being fatigued and thus become a master a lot sooner. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but you’re definitely going to get a headstart.
If you just want to try your hand at archery and see whether you’d advance from there or not, it’s better not to go and enroll at an archery club. You should rather find an archery camp and shoot for fun. From there, you can decide whether you want to pursue it further or not.
However, if you actually are serious about archery and want to master it for real, you should definitely consider joining an archery club. Archery camps are just for fun where you could just shoot to your heart’s content without much restrictions. It might sound like a better option, but trust me: archery is a discipline. It has some techniques to improve your aim.
So, whatever your reasons are for taking up archery, you should keep that in mind when going for an archery experience. But we’re just going to assume that if you’re reading this article, you’re actually seriously considering this. In that case, you should definitely get enrolled at an archery club. They have qualified instructors who can guide you in the right way and help you advance your archery skills and knowledge.
Few Things to Remember
There are a few key points that a budding archer should know. These are the issues that, we’ve seen from experience, are usually caused by beginner archers. The most important of them all is that they do not follow the instructor’s instructions properly. So, for example, if the instructor is asking you to use three fingers, be certain that you aren’t using three fingers and try to listen to what the instructor is trying to teach you. Most beginners, at this point, feel like “I am using three fingers. What should I change?” Well, if you were, the instructor wouldn’t have asked you to.
Similarly, if your instructor asks you to lower your bow or take the anchor point to your mouth or even asks you to let go, do it. Trust them because they’ve been through those problems as well and they know how to do it safely.
Among other things, what you should never worry about is missing the target. As a beginner, you should never be concerned about hitting the target or missing it. You’re going to just keep practicing and learn to shoot a bow properly before you can worry about your aim.
And finally, you should always consider the draw weight that you can handle and work with for a prolonged period of time without getting fatigued. Sure, you might be able to pull a draw weight of 60 lbs, but if your arms get tired after two or three shots, this probably isn’t the weight you should shoot with. Go for something lower like 20 or 25 lbs for a women’s compound bow in the beginning.
Bowhunting for women is becoming a popular sport in some regions of the world. However, some practice bows are not fit for bowhunting. So, when going to purchase your first recurve bow or compound bow, it’s better to choose a bow that can help you with both practice and hunting.
It’s a common misconception that women should always start with a lower draw weight than men as a beginner. But the fact is, both men and women should and do start with a low draw weight and keep increasing them as archery increases your fitness level. And as such, there are no specific “womens compound bow” or a “mens compound bow”.
So, don’t worry about looking for a specific bow for women when shopping for one. Just look for one that preferably has a very low draw weight. If you’re browsing for compound bows, look for one that has a great adjustable weight range, from very low to a high one. That way, that bow would be able to serve you for a long time.