West Midlands Archery Society
Before you join a club or buy any archery kit, most people attend a beginners course. These are typically two hour sessions once a week over five or six weeks. The sessions will be run by a qualified coach and include essential information on safety and technique. All the equipment you need is provided on these courses so it is not necessary to purchase anything to get started.
If a beginners course is more than you want to do initially, then some clubs offer 'taster' events, often running 'have-a-go' sessions at their club or local fetes.
You can find out about beginners courses or 'have-a-go' sessions by contacting your local club. Look on the map on the clubs page and then get in contact with them for dates and availability. Some of the archery retailers either offer their own beginners courses or can advise you on local clubs that run them, so its worth checking out your local retailer on the links page.
Types of archery bows
Four basic types of archery bow are used.
Firstly the traditional wooden longbow (Robin Hood and all that), which is great fun but somewhat inaccurate. Then there is the Recurve (or Olympic) bow - similar to a longbow, but made of metal & composites, and much more accurate. Next there is the compound bow, which is much more compact and uses cams and other mechanisms to improve accuracy still further. Finally there is the crossbow family, although this is seldom seen at a target club.
Beginners courses usually teach the basics using the Recurve bow as this is the most popular bow type, however you may well decide that you want to settle on one of the other types once you are more familiar with archery.
Types of archery clubs
Two basic types of archery clubs exist. Target Archery clubs,
where we stand in line and shoot at targets at a set range like in the
Olympics. The other popular type is Field Archery, where the
archer walks round a field course shooting at targets (which may be
conventional round targets or they may be animal shapes) located around
What happens in Winter?
Most clubs have facilities to shoot indoors during the winter months when it is too dark to practise outside in the evening and the weather can be somewhat inclement.
How much does it cost?
As you might expect, you can spend a little or a lot! You might get a basic beginners kit for around £100, but in most cases a decent recurve kit which will allow you to become quite proficient and is good enough to use in competitions would be around £250.
On top of that you will have to pay membership to the club you belong to. Check with the club you are going to join on their costs but for an adult this will be around £100 per year and for a junior perhaps £40 a year. These fees cover the costs of providing the shooting ground, the targets, affiliation fees to the county, regional and national archery bodies and the all important insurance.
You may need to pay additional costs if you shoot during the winter months for the hire of the indoor hall that is used - check with your club.
How old do I have to be?
Any age really, as long as you can prove your competence, although some clubs may not have members under 10.
What about disabilities?
Archery, more than most sports, is accessible to disabled individuals. In general you need good upper body strength in both arms and steady hands. Eyesight is not an issue - we even have an association for blind archers (see the links page). Wheelchair users tend to use compound bows because of their compact nature, and can compete successfully on equal terms with able-bodied archers.
Is it dangerous?
Yes and no. Remember, the bow and arrow is essentially a weapon so it is, of course, dangerous. Because of this GNAS affiliated clubs, as listed on this website, are strictly run under very stringent safety rules. Thus the sport of archery boasts one of the lowest rates of injury of any sport in the UK. You are much much less likely to be injured participating in archery than, say, soccer.
What is a round?
A round is a specified number of arrows at a set range. For example the round known as a York is 6 dozen arrows at 100 yds, followed by 4 dozen at 80 yds finishing with 2 dozen at 60 yds. - all shot at the 120cm face. There are many rounds covering a huge range of distances and number of arrows.
What about tournaments?
Tournaments are organised shoots, which can be Closed - i.e. for the club only - or Open. At a tournament one of the recognised rounds will be shot, with variations in distance for ladies & juniors. For instance a York (100 / 80 / 60 yds) is normally accompanied by a Hereford (80 / 60 / 50 yds) for Lady Archers, and the Bristol series which go to even shorter ranges, but all with the same number of arrows. Archers will be placed in the round appropriate to their age and gender. Some archers like tournaments - some don’t. It does not matter either way, but you should try it at least once. Many archers, particularly novices, think that they are ‘not good enough’ to go to a tournament, but this is not so. Provided they are safe, and follow the basic rules of etiquette, there is never any criticism of archers shooting low scores. It is quite common to see members of the County (and even national) team shooting on the same target as a relative novice: what better way to learn?