Essential gear: All you need to start archery (buyer’s guide)

You may be thinking about beginning doing archery and you are wondering what’s the essential gear you need to start shooting. You came to the right place.

If you were visiting any local archery shop or browsing online, you probably noticed that there’s a lot of equipment for sale. Even more, for each different piece of equipment, you have several brands, sizes, types, etc. There’s a complete zoo of stuff to choose from. Luckily, for starting, you don’t need to buy one of each. Keep reading this post and I’ll show you what you need.

To whom this post is targeted

Before we go through, I want to mention that this post is mainly targeted for those who are looking for shooting with a recurve bow. Although in this blog there’ll be posts dedicated to compound bows and longbows, this post can be read for any person who wants to start in archery, to have a glimpse of what’s available. And, who knows, if you are still not sure which type of bow you want to use, maybe this post will help you decide.

Why focus on recurve bows?

There are many reasons why I picked to focus this post on recurve bows, but my intention is not to start a war between the different bows’ supporters. This is just my point of view (and several other instructors). 

Surely each type of bow has its advantages (and also disadvantages). However, I’d like to list here those corresponding to recurve bows.

The main reason I focused on recurve bows is for learning reasons. It’s in the midway between the simplicity of a longbow and the complexity of a compound bow. Certainly, on the one hand, a recurve bow can be used barebow, i.e. without any accessory (like sights, stabilizing bars, clicker, etc.), only the essential gear listed here. Using it in this way has its similarities with a longbow: you can focus only on your form. Using the recurve bow this way (without a sight) is called barebow shooting. If you want to learn more about how to aim without a sight, please follow this post, where I explained in a detailed way, how to shot on a barebow style.

On the other hand, we can add a handful of accessories to a recurve bow (Olympic style), getting closer to the set of accessories a compound bow had. Let me clarify that a recurve bow with all the accessories is not similar to a compound bow. A compound bow has a different way of drawing, anchoring, etc. It’s a completely different shooting style. By “getting closer” I meant from the complexity point of view to a longbow (or a barebow recurve). The main disadvantage of starting with all those accessories is that, instead of concentrating on your form, you will deviate your focus to all those things, like paying attention to the sight, your ear focused on the clicker, etc.

Learning curve

Another good reason why I recommend starting with a recurve is that you can have a learning curve when using it. As we saw in the previous section, you can use a recurve bow both as barebow and as Olympic. Thus, we can start as simply as possible, i.e. barebow and, when you got your form correctly, you can opt to start adding equipment and move to the Olympic style. Or, if you are pleased shooting barebow, you can stay there. But, at that point, it’s completely up to you.

What’s the essential gear you need to start shooting?

Below I’ll list the basic equipment I consider you need to start shooting. This selection will be useful for a good amount of time (a year, minimum). After that, you might think about upgrading some of your equipment, or not. That’s your choice. I’ll try to give a summarized version of each item, since each one of them requires, at least, a whole post (or more), to address every aspect of the choice.

Essential Gear #1: The bow

This one is the most obvious of the list. However, there are several configurations and choices from where you can choose. Let’s try to simplify it a bit.

In my opinion, as I stated before, I recommend you to start with a recurve. After said that, you have to think of your budget. If you are a bit short of money and don’t want to (or can’t ) spend too much, then the best option for this is the Samick Sage. It’s a relatively affordable bow, it comes the complete package: the riser, limbs, and a string, so you can assemble it and start shooting. There are two variants online: one with only the bow and the other with a starting kit. This last one is especially useful if you are just starting and don’t have any of the other accessories.

If you are planning to start hunting with recurve, then this is probably a good starting point for the budget. However, if you are planning on something more professional, or even do some target practice, then the Samick is a bit short for that with its 62″ (unless it’s the proper length for your height). In that case, you might want to look for a 25″ riser with some limbs that match your size, according to your height. In that case, the overall price of the equipment will be a bit higher. 

If you are a person with an average height (~5′ 7″ – 5′ 11″, or ~1.70 – 1.80 m), then a 68 inches bow is right for you. There’s a kit from Topoint, the Topoint Endeavor, that includes all the basics, just like the Samick kit, i.e: the riser, limbs, and a string. It even includes a bag for storing the limbs (which is an excellent accessory if you don’t want your limbs to scratch. Finally, it also comes with a stringer, to easily string and unstring your bow. If you want to learn how to easily string/unstring your bow, check this awesome post.

These are excellent choices for initiating in the world of archery.

Essential Gear #2: Arrows

The bow would be of no use if you don’t have some arrows to shoot. 

When the time for buying arrows comes, there are a lot of features to take into account, as the spine (hardness of the shaft), its length, the point’s weight, you name it. Arrows are, perhaps, the most customizable piece of equipment in archery, more than the bow. You can have the best bow, perfectly tuned for you but, if you don’t have the right arrows, then your chances of progressing will be capped. However, as a beginner archer, don’t worry about this. If you use more generic arrows will be fine while you’re learning. Then, with time, you’ll upgrade them.

As with the bow, knowing how to choose the correct arrows for you requires a complete post. Since you are starting, your first set of arrows doesn’t need to be picked in such detail. This is mainly because you’ll probably change in your first months of practice. You can even increase your draw length as you perfect your form, and you’ll need to get larger arrows. Or increase your draw weight, and you’ll need to pick arrows with a lower spine (harder shaft).

Because of that, I’ll outline here the basics for choosing your first set of arrows. Then, with time, when you progress your form and aiming, you can upgrade them and get a new set, more suitable for you.

For your first set of arrows, it’s ok to buy those that come for the dozen. They’re not expensive and can give you something to use for the first couple of months. Generally speaking, for the average archer, a spine of 500-600 for a 30-40 lbs draw weight is fine. For lower poundages, you’ll have to consider a spine of 700 or higher and, for higher poundages, spines lower than 500. However, choosing a spine of 500-700 will be fine for your first set of arrows. 

For the arrows’ length, you’ll have to choose it to be 2-3 inches longer than your draw length. Then, as you progress, you can cut them to your proper length, especially if you start using a clicker (but forget the clicker for now).

Regarding the material, among the most common are aluminum and carbon. I, personally, prefer carbon arrows since aluminum ones tend to bend if they hit something hard (like the wooden backstop frame). For traditional shooters, they usually like to choose wooden arrows.

Below I’ll show you my recommended set of beginner arrows.

Essential Gear #3: Quiver

Where do you plan to put your arrows?

The next item on our essential list is a quiver, so you can easily organize and carry your arrows when shooting. Choosing a quiver doesn’t have much mistery. The only thing to pay attention to is if you are a left or right-handed shooter to know on which side of your waist (or your back for some traditional shooters) it will be.

For recurve and compound shooters there’s this model from Pellor which can be used on the waist. It also comes with a strap to hang it around your shoulder. It has two pockets, which are very handy to store other accessories like an arrow puller, or your archery notebook. As an alternative to this, you can opt for this Legend quiver. This model is a bit smaller, for those who think large quivers are a bit clumsy. A great feature for those that care for the looks is that it can let you choose from 8 different colors, to match the rest of the equipment.

For those who prefer a more natural touch, there are really beautiful leather-made quivers. They’re usually handmade, with a bit of personal style. Toparchery has a really nice model of a hard, cylindrical, cow-leather quiver. This design is mostly for the shoulder back. A good thing about it is that it can be used by left or right-handed alike.

Essential Gear #4: Target

If you are planning on practicing archery on your own, then you’ll need something to shoot at. Either you are planning to do target archery, or bowhunting, it’s good to have a target to practice. If you want to practice archery in your backyard, I recommend you, after reading this post, to continue your reading on this other one, where I share with you all you need to know if it’s safe to practice archery on your backyard, together with some solutions.

For choosing targets we have several designs. 

Morrell has an excellent target bag, made with strong materials. It has two sides. On the one side, it has a scoring ring and, on the other side a 4-spot target. It can be either placed over a backstop or hanging.

Block, has its Classic model which can also be shot on both sides. It’s made of several layers of unglued foam. In this way, the arrows slow down by friction and not by force, reducing the damage the point can get. The Block Classic comes in three different sizes: 18″x18″, 20″x20″ and 22″x22″. It also has a more economic model, the GenZ, which is mainly designed for a draw weight of 40 pounds or less, that why it’s also perfect for youth archery.

For those in love with the traditional, Dostyle designed a rope target, scoring-colored. It’s about 20″ in diameter, and made with 3 layers of rope. For those who care about the environment, it’s made of degradable straw. And, best of all, if it doesn’t work for you, or you simply don’t like it, they’ll refund you the money.

Finally, for people interested in hunting, of 3D archery, there are some animals 3D models. Shooter makes some cool animal models for you to practice, with interchangeable cores, to replace it when it’s too used. They make several animals, like deers, or hogs, to name a few.

An optional addition to the targets

With each day, the number of people that want to start practicing at their home keeps growing. For them, and for you, there’s a safety net that’s placed behind the target, just in case an arrow misses the target. They come of several sizes. It’s not too expensive, and it may give you an additional safety measure. You can check the price here (affiliate link). Let me give you a word of advice. The manufacturer suggests that this net should be used with 45 pounds bows or less.

Essential Gear #5: Protective gear

This last essential item is, in fact, more than one. This protection set is comprised of pieces of equipment designed to protect the shooter. Among them are finger tabs or gloves, for protecting your fingers after several draws. There are also arm guards, to protect your forearm from string slapping. And, lastly, there’re chest guards. This last piece of gear is mostly to avoid deviating the shot in case the string rubs your clothes, more than protecting you. Nevertheless, it’s very useful.

For this protection equipment, I invite you to read our post where we describe all the essential protective gear.

Conclusion and summarized list

Throughout all this post we shared with you all the essential equipment to start shooting. Of course, this list is not complete since there is a lot of other equipment you can use, although they’re not mandatory to start practicing.

For your convenience, I’ll list below all the equipment I described in this post.





Protective gear:

Finger tabs and gloves

Arm guards

Chest guards

If you have any other essential gear to suggest, please, leave your comment below. We appreciate very much your participation. If you think that there are some items on each category that are missing, we want to hear about them, and we may add them for further readers.

Remember that if you are thinking to start practicing archery, I recommend you to visit our two-part guide to learn all the basics and start shooting in minutes. We also suggest you pay attention to these common beginner mistakes. There we show you them and also how to correct them, so you can keep improving your forms. To help you improve your forms, I also suggest visiting this post, where I share with you some basic tips to be a couple of steps ahead of other beginners.

Good arrows!


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