Archery Frequently Asked Questions

How young can my child take up archery?

The answer is complex and will vary from child to child depending on their physical size, their state of development, and the maturity of the child together with the effort that needs to be made by one or both parents.

As a general rule we do not accept children under the age of 12 for a number of reasons:

  1. Archery is a weapons sport and arrows can kill – even out of children’s bows.  We are not resourced to provide child supervision and we are not a child minding service.  Twelve in our experience is about the minimum age for responsible self-regulation on the shooting line in circumstances where club members shooting and enjoyment of the sport can be ruined by the need to constantly supervise “other people’s children”.
  2. While it will vary significantly from child to child, 12 is about the minimum age in general terms where a child has the physical strength to be able to draw and aim a bow.  Non archers understimate how hard it is to draw a bow.  Ask yourself could you pull, say 40 lbs in weight with your arm and fingers 144 times in about 3 hours?  That is what’s required to compete in archery.  Many adults have physical difficulty in drawing and aiming a bow.  While a child’s bows draw weight will be less, to be competitive it will likely need to be in the range of about 23 – 28 lbs depending on bow type.  While it is possible to purchase special bows for younger children, we as a club are not resourced to buy them as club equipment, and we have no such equipment available for beginners to try before taking up the sport.
  3. There are significant orthopaedic and developmental risks in taking up archery too young.  In medieval graves archaelologists identify archers (who were required by law to practice from the age of 6) by their spinal deformaties and shoulder growth plate damage at the acromioclavicular joint.  These chronic problems which lead to arthritis later in life are totally absent from modern sports archery because we are sensible about ensuring the sport is not “overdone” too young.

Obviously there are exceptions – some children at age 12 these days can be large and physically developed.  If you consider you child under 12 is large and strong enough, and importantly is not going through “a growth spurt” when the risks are proportionally greater, then consideration will be given to waiving the general rule on condition that:

  1.  The club coaching staff are satisifed that the child can manage the club equipment; and
  2.  A parent is always in attendance to supervise the child.  Preferably that parent should also join the club and learn with the child.

Is archery dangerous?

Archery clearly has the potential to be dangerous. That is why there are simple but fundamental rules governing the standard of knowledge and conduct in the setting up of targets and shooting. It is actually one of the safest sports.

Am I too old for archery?

There is no maximum age for archery and plenty of people take up the sport after retiring.

I have poor eyesight, can I still do archery?

Yes. It is a common misconception that good eyesight is required. In fact, some argue that poorer eyesight will improve your shooting as the archer will focus less on aiming and more on technique (the more important part of archery).  The great Korean Archer Im Dong-hyon, who has won 4 gold medals and a bronze medal at the Olympics and has held several world record scores, is legally blind and is unable to qualify for a drivers license.  He cannot read a newspaper held at arms length and describes the target when he is aiming as looking like drops of coloured paint in a bucket of water.

I have access requirements, can I still shoot?

Yes, within certain physical parameters, we are able to help people with access requirements become archers, provided they are supported by a carer depending on the level of assistance needed.

How much does it cost to do archery as a sport?

Equipment Costs:

Equipment starts at about $300 for basic Barebow (Recurve or Longbow) equipment up to around $4,000 or more for high end recurve and compound equipment. 

There is a good market for second-hand bows, and you might expect to recover up to half of their new value or even more if sold. 

Cost of membership

Archery is one of the lowest fee sports. Details of the current fees for Newcastle City Archers (whihc includes membership of Archery Australia and Archery NSW can be found by clicking here.

A good comparison sport is golf.  Equipment costs in archery are very similar to golf.  A set off golf clubs, of comparable quality levels, is about the same as a bow.  Arrows cost more than golf balls, but you won’t lose as many arrows ! However, archery annual club membership costs are signficantly lower for archery.

Does the Club Charge Shooting Fees?

Newcastle City Archers does not charge a fee for members to shoot at the club – it is included in the membership along with the costs of target faces.  Visitors from other clubs must pay a fee of $10 per visit.

I have heard that Archery Australia spends a lot of money on sending a few top level archers overseas and hiring expensive international coaches. I am never going to get to that level, so why should my membership fees pay for all that?

This is completely untrue – no members fees go to the elite program.  In fact they don’t even go to the salaries of those employed in the Archery Australia Office.

As recurve archery is an Olympic Sport, the Archery Australia elite program for recurve archers, including the sports CEO, office staff, coaches, training programs and international travel and accomodation, is funded separately by the Australian Sports Commission. No money contributed by members goes to support international campaigns.

The Archery Australia elite program for compound archers is funded by the archers involved or selected, although where possible attempts are made to piggyback on the government funding for recurve (for example by sharing accomodation).  No members funds go to the compound program.

Every Archery Australia member archer shooting in an international bow class (recurve, compound, barebow recurve) has the potential to represent the country in a national team. While most don’t aspire to this, the existence of these teams and the fact that the members of those teams shoot among us on local club shooting lines is an inspiration to new and up-coming archers. We all need heroes and these are ours.

Many new archers begin with the aspiration of following in Simon Fairweather’s footsteps of winning Gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics or being part of a team like the Australians who won Bronze in Rio 2016.  Without this elite program and the affiliation with international archery that Archery Australia has, this dream would not ever be possible.

Do I need to dress like Robin Hood?

If you want, we don’t like to judge.  However, casual clothing is all that is required, preferably reasonably close fitting (so it doesn’t catch the bow string).  Closed footwear is mandatory for safety reasons as arrow tips are sharp and the rolling target buts are very heavy.  No barefeet, thongs or sandles.

Am I a right or left handed archer?

This mostly depends on your eye dominance. To test simply hold out either arm and form a circle with your thumb and index finger. Look through this circle at an object not too far away and slowly bring the circle towards your face while you keep focussing on the object in the circle. When this circle touches your face it will be up to your dominant eye.

If your dominant eye is on the right then you will be right handed archer; meaning you pull the string back with the right hand and hold the bow with the left. This is because your dominant eye should be in line with the string, arrow, and sight if there is one on the bow. Left eye dominant archers will pull the string back with the left hand and hold the bow with the right.

This is the general rule, however some archers will choose to shoot the other way because it suits their body.

Why does archery use mixed measurements – metric and imperial?

This is largely an accident of the historical development of archery.

Organised archery began in England with the Grand National Archery Association (using imperial measrements and a coloured target designed by King William IV, an archery enthusiast, of gold, red, black, white, and a scoring system commencing with 9 as the largest score and descending in increments of two per ring).  Shooting was militarily based – shoot as many arrows as possible in a time.  That changed on August 15, 1835 when the United Bowmen of Philadelphia first shot the Philadelphia round which was a fixed number of arrows per distance.  Nine years later the Grand National Archery Association followed suit with the York round and the foundation of the modern sport of target archery as we know it today began.

When archery became an organised international sport on 4 September 1931 at a meeting at Lwow, Poland (now known as Lviv, Ukraine) the Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc or FITA (now World Archery) attended by seven countries (France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland, USA, Hungary and Italy).  The meeting adopted the English target face (adding an additional blue coloured ring at France’s insistence and dividing the colored zones into two rings making a digitally correct 10 scoring zones from 10 to 1.  The metric system was adopted for distance measurement and target face sizes for international events. However most archery equipment was manufactured in the USA and United Kingdom which used imperial measurements.  The use of imperial measurements for equipment continues to this day with most equipment still being manufactured in the USA, as well as and Korea (whose manufacturers comply with American standards to ensure component interchangeability).

Accordingly, distances and target sizes are metres and centimetres, but arrow speeds are feet per second (as this is a favourite advertising metric of American bow manufacturers for a specified arrow weight measured in grains (not grams) and usually 300 grains.  Bow specifications are always imperial with draw weights in pounds and draw lengths in inches.  Yet sight movement is metic – 1 turn of the knob for 1 mm of movement, but the thread in the sight that acheives it is 24 threads per inch !

Go figure, but get used to it as it won’t change unless the USA ceases to be one of only three countries on earth that are not metric.

What is draw length?

Draw length is the distance from the throat of the bow handle to the string at full draw. This will be different for each archer due to the length of their arms and size of their chest. Draw length will determine the length of your arrows.

What is draw weight?

Draw weight (sometimes known as ‘poundage’) is the force needed to pull the bowstring to a certain draw length (usually full draw). The industry has a standard for comparison purposes which is measured in pounds at 28 inches, therefore, if a bow is rated at 30lbs draw weight, your fingers will be holding the equivalent of 30lbs of weight at 28? draw. If your draw length is longer than 28? you will increase the poundage on the same bow, if your draw length is less than 28? you will decrease the poundage. ‘Heavier’ bows offer faster arrow speed, but will tire the archer more quickly, affecting ‘form’ and accuracy.

What is form?

Form refers to the stance of an archer when they shoot. In simple terms, the ideal ‘form’ is to stand up straight, perpendicular to the target with an outstretched but slightly flexed bow arm and a horizontal and flexed bowstring arm. An archer at full draw will resemble the letter ‘T’. The trick is consistency as variations, particularly when the archer is tired, will cause inaccuracy.

Can I shoot in my backyard?

We are not lawyers but there appears to be no law currently in place in Australia that prevents a person shooting in their backyard.  Formal legal advice should be sought before you undertake such an activity.

Points to consider: is the property a rental property, units or housing complex or a privately owner/occupied dwelling? For rental properties, units and housing complexes check with the property owner or body corporate. This may vary from State to State and there may be specific laws regarding types of properties.

You should also check your personal household and public liability insurance policy; you may not be covered for such an activity.

You are NOT covered by the Archery Australia’s insurance policy when shooting in your backyard. Archery Australia’s insurance only covers current financial members when engaged in archery activities at approved venues detailed in the Certificate of Currency and accompanying documents.

Be aware, when engaged in archery activities on private property, although there appears to be no specific laws covering this activity, action could be taken by Police following a complaint resulting in charges for Making a Public Nuisance, Discharging a Weapon or Endangering Public Safety.

You should also be aware that, if an arrow enters another person’s property, you could be changed with Trespass and if the arrow strikes or damages another person’s property further charges and/or damages claims could be follow.

The recommendation from Archery Australia is that you DO NOT shoot in your backyard. However, if you do, you must ensure you have the appropriate permissions from the property owner and that you have appropriate property and personal insurance cover. Also you should undertake an appropriate Risk Analysis of the planned activity.