So, you want to try shooting the ol' bow n' arrow, huh? Great. With the popularization of hunting all across the globe, more and more people seem to be reverting back to our prehistoric roots and are trying to learn archery. It's an awesome activity, because as long as you're 18 or older you can go out and practice without professional supervision, and once you're avid enough, you can even teach some young-uns the ways of the art.
Many people seem to prefer archery to gunning these days, especially with all the controversy surrounding firearms. With archery, you can practice almost anywhere, and as long as you're careful, risk of harm is generally low. It's also a lot harder to illegally distribute bows and arrows, especially to minors, since equipment is almost always sold and stored in a controlled and safe environment. Plus, it just looks really cool.
Now, you've found your hobby. But how do you start? Do you take lessons? Do you buy the most expensive equipment on the market? Do you start hunting immediately? My answer to all of those questions is no, you really don't have to.
As far as teaching goes, I was self-taught. I first discovered archery when a friend introduced it to me, and he taught me some of the basic techniques and whatnot. As soon as I got my first bow, I tried to teach myself as best I could, and it worked out pretty well. As long as you have a basic understanding of the sport and some kind of access to the internet, you'll have no problem teaching yourself. Over time, you'll probably get pretty damn good at it, too. But if you want to ensure that your skills are polished to perfection, you might want to seek professional help. For the first few years of your endeavor, though, you should be alright flying solo.
When buying your first equipment, you want to make sure that you don't buy poorly-made products (which will inevitably crack, snap, or disintegrate), but you definitely don't want to break the bank. Most people tend to begin with traditional recurve bows to teach themselves at a beginner level, in which case you can probably find a good one for about 50 bucks. If you're going to start with something a little more complex, such as a compound bow, then you may have to cough up a little more, since full-sized compound bows can range from 100 to 3,000 dollars. Make sure to check your recommended draw weight and draw length before you buy anything prematurely, because those two tiny details can make a huge difference in your success.
Carbon or aluminum arrows (which are standard in this day and age) tend to be a little more costly, but most of the time you'll be able to find a set at about $50 for 6. As long as you're shooting recreationally at a target, 3D or otherwise, you don't need any broadheads or fancy fletchings. If you've got sturdy arrows and strong shafts, your target practice is bound to be pretty successful.
If you're doing archery to start hunting, then that's great. But you can't jump into it right away. You have to gain experience shooting targets before you can go out and kill some deer. The last thing you want to do is hurt an animal and let it suffer out in the woods. Hunting also requires a lot more equipment, such as sights, tree stands, camouflage vests, boots, and other pricey gear. You also have to make sure that the draw weight on your bow is strong enough, and that the points on your arrows are sharp enough. If you come unprepared, then be ready to walk home empty-handed with a sad feeling in your gut.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't hunt, because I think that it's something we should all do at some point in our lives, but you've got to be sure that when you go to kill something, you really finish the job. Plus, don't let the body go to waste. If you're hunting deer, be sure to know how to dress it so that you can take advantage of the kill. Otherwise, it's kind of a waste of Mother Nature. If you go on hunting excursions with professionals, there should be a little leeway, because you're with someone who actually knows what they're doing.
When you do archery, just remember that, as long as you're safe, it's a sport like any other. As long as you're prepared to put in the necessary time and effort, then it's truly an activity that anyone can conquer. Be smart, and be persistent. This is all you need to master one of the beautiful sports that our ancestors mastered, so get in touch with your inner caveman. Just make sure not to go balls-deep and start shooting tigers.