If you’re considering taking up archery, trying to figure out what equipment you need, where to get it, and how to compare the options can be intimidating. Once you start looking into the sport, one glaring question will inevitably come to mind, how much is this going to cost me?
What it costs to practice archery depends on several factors, but for beginners, archery can generally cost between $150 to $500 to start. After the initial costs, you could expect to spend between $10 to $60 a month from recurring costs depending on how often you practice.
Here’s a quick reference chart to give you an idea of equipment prices for someone starting out in archery. I go into more detail about each of these items, and how to save money on them, later in the article.
|Need a bow
|$150 – $300
|Need a bow
|$100 – $200
|$10 for a few
|Finger Tab or
|$5 – $10
|~ $50 one time
|~ $20 an hour
|~ $80 an hour
There are other considerations to keep in mind, too. Knowing where and when you’ll practice, how you plan on learning, and what kind of equipment you want, will all help calculate your costs, so keep reading to learn more.
Will Archery Be Your Hobby or Your Sport?
Before I get into specifics about how you’ll be practicing the sport, one of the first things you need to consider is what direction you plan to go with archery.
Practicing archery can be an enjoyable, albeit challenging, hobby, but many people choose to go further and decide to pursue competitive archery. There are many regional competitions that anyone can enter, and aiming to compete one day can add exciting ambition that can help you focus in practice.
In addition to motivating you, knowing if you want to compete can help you choose the right equipment, decide how you want to learn archery, and influence other decisions as well. Planning your archery practice with competing in mind will generally increase costs but knowing that ahead of time can help you budget for your future expenses.
As you continue reading, keep in mind if you might want to compete. Of course, you don’t have to make that decision from the beginning, and you can always change your mind as you gain experience and skill as an archer.
Why Can Practicing Archery Get Pricey?
When you decide to look into practicing archery, it can be overwhelming to find out how many different types of equipment are out there. If you ask different archers the price of the equipment they use, you can get a wide margin of responses. That’s because there are so many options out there when it comes to which equipment.
The two main pieces of equipment, your bow and arrows, will also be the most expensive. As a beginner especially, most of your investment into starting archery will come from purchasing equipment.
Part of the range of equipment costs comes from the fact that there are three main types of bows. There are many other types of bow, but these three are most commonly used in archery.
- Recurve bow
- Compound bow
Knowing which bow you’re going to get will help you estimate the price of starting to practice archery, and help you when choosing between all the other available equipment.
What Are The Differences Between Each Bow?
Archery can be a highly personalized sport because each archer chooses the style and combination of equipment that’s right for them. Choosing between the three most common types of bows, recurve bows, compound bows, and longbows, is the first equipment decision to make, and it will potentially guide all the others that follow.
Each type of bow has its pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one fits your archery goals.
A recurve bow is the most common type for beginners to purchase and can be great for starting archery for several reasons. They are very user-friendly, which is why many ranges or clubs that offer beginner lessons will use recurve bows to teach their students the basics.
Recurve bows are very simple and light pieces of equipment, with parts that can be easily pulled apart and carried in a gym bag or backpack, which can make traveling to lessons or your practice ranges much easier.
Additionally, you can get a quality recurve bow for much less than other types of bows. Since recurve bows are mechanically simple, they don’t cost as much to produce, but it’s still important not to get the cheapest option out there.
Experienced archers often recommend you don’t get anything cheaper than $100, so expect to spend between $100 to $200 on the high end for a new recurve bow. This will allow you to have a bow that will last long enough for you to develop a good base level of skill before you’re ready to switch to something new.
Here’s the short list of my Favorite Recurve Bows to give you an idea of what you’ll spend on a quality starter bow. For an inexpensive, but high quality, recurve bow for beginners, I suggest the SAS Spirit Recurve Bow on Amazon for around $90. This is a strong solid bow that I’ve used for years in my backyard archery range.
There are a variety of more advanced or niche recurve bows, including the target bows, which are used in competitions up to the Olympics, and hunting bows, which are more compact and designed for practical uses and comfortable handling.
While recurve bows can be relatively inexpensive to purchase and to maintain, especially when compared to compound bows, they’re more expensive when it comes to any equipment damage. Recurves have fewer parts than compound bows and will most likely have to be completely replaced if anything breaks.
Compound bows will be your most expensive option, with many of the popular professional models running more than $400. This is because these bows have more technical components compared to recurve bows and longbows. Compounds bows are made to shoot arrows precisely and at high speeds.
They also are equipped with mechanical releases that hold the arrow in place until you’re ready to shoot and magnifying lens to make aiming easier. While the bow and its parts are more complicated than other options, improving accuracy can progress relatively quickly, especially in initial learning stages.
If you’re interested in comparing lower-priced compound bows for beginners, many people recommend that you stick to a budget of between $150 to $400 to make sure you’re getting a bow that’s worth your money.
I recommend the GenX Compound Bow (link to Amazon) for beginners because this bow can still be used as your skills improve from beginner to intermediate level. This will save you money because you can use this bow for years, and it’s a well made quality bow.
Since compound bows are engineering to be very efficient and mechanically optimal for shooting, there’s less risk of shooting wildly off target if you have the basic form down when compared to using simpler bows. The recurve bow and longbow require tighter control of your form to get similarly accurate results.
Starting on the compound bow can be great if you want the early improvements to motivate your progress in the sport. However, compound bows can be significantly heavier than recurve bow and can be more inconvenient to carry, especially if you have it with you while using a bus or other shared transportation.
If you’re interested in competing, while they’re not allowed in the Olympics, compound bows have their own competition divisions. Keep in mind, however, that many of the fancy gadgets that you can attach to your bow aren’t allowed to be used while you’re competing.
Longbows are a popular option, but as the name implies, they can be significantly bigger than other bows. They can be over five feet in length, so longbows are not the most portable option.
Despite how much bigger they can be compared to recurve bows, longbows are fairly similar in price, so expect to spend between $100 to $300 if you want to use a longbow to start. Since many people like the traditional style and look of longbows, they might be tempted to go with this option.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting the look of an ancient hunter while you practice archery, keep in mind that longbows can have a much steeper learning curve than other options.
The length of the bow can require additional precision in your technique to improve compared to learning on the recurve or compound bow. If you’re looking to compete down the line though, there are also competitions for longbow shooting.
Since longbows are also significantly quieter than recurve and compound bows, they’re a popular option in hunting as well. That can also influence your decision depending on if you decide to practice at home, an archery range, or a club.
Here’s a cool video explaining the make up of a long bow and how to use it.
How to Budget Your Bow
Be sure to do the proper research into your bow, as this is the most important equipment for practicing archery. Avoid going for the cheapest option out there because you want your bow to last you at least your first year of practicing archery.
For example, if you search online, you can find fiberglass bows for under $30. That might sound like a great deal, but these bows are meant for small children to try archery in limited uses. It won’t be saving you much money when the bow inevitably breaks, and you have to replace it with a longer-lasting option.
The absolute best for your money options I’ve been able to find so far are these. I didn’t include longbows here because I wouldn’t suggest them for a beginner target practice archer.
What Other Equipment Should You Get?
Beyond your bow and arrow, there’s a long list of additional equipment you have to consider. I’ve listed some of the most common types of equipment here to explain to you what each does and whether or not you need it when starting archery.
An arm guard, also called a bracer, is a partial sleeve that protects your arm from getting repeatedly hit with the recoil of your bow’s string after you release an arrow. I wrote an article about Why Archers Wear Arm Guards that goes into more detail about the safety reasons for arm guards.
While some think an arm guard isn’t a necessity for beginning archers, the repeated strikes on your arms can get pretty painful over time. It’s up to you if you want to grin and bear it, but keep in mind arm guards can also help keep your clothes from snagging when you shoot.
That’s something to keep in mind if you’re going to be shooting outdoors and are likely to wear long sleeves. If you’re not sure if you need one, wait until after you’re bought your bow and test it out first. Arm guards are commonly used with recurve bows and can cost as little as $10.
I recommend everyone wear an arm guard, especially beginners or when shooting a strong bow. I suggest this SAS 8″ Arm Guard (link to Amazon) to start, because it’s good quality and under 10 bucks. I also wrote a guide on How To Make Your Own Archery Arm Guard for people that like to customize their gear.
This is a really helpful video explaining arm guards, their uses, and how to wear them.
Arrows are an obvious necessity, but there’s a wide variety of options out there, and you’ll need to take the bow you choose into consideration. You’ll also need to know the draw weight of the bow, which will determine how stiff of an arrow you need.
You can also choose between arrow length, the weight of the arrow point, and the arrow’s material. Luckily, arrow manufacturers often make it easier to choose the right option and provide arrow charts to help you match your bow’s draw weight to the right arrow length.
When beginning, don’t worry about all the other specifics of the arrow you can get, and unlike with your bow, go for the cheaper option. Arrows aren’t meant to be long-lasting tools and will get worn and damaged over time. The less you spend the easier it’ll be to replace them.
Once you get more experienced, you can upgrade to fancier, more specific, arrow types. The basic arrows you’ll use to start should cost you less than $10 per arrow, and you only need a few. These will last you several years, you can always upgrade them later if you feel the need.
This tool allows you to string or un-string recurve bows or longbows safely, and can help you avoid damaging your bow. Often, these will come with the bow when you purchase it, but you might want to consider getting a better quality bow stringer for the sake of your bow’s longevity, which will cost between $5-$15.
It’s generally recommended to un-string a recurve bow if you plan on storing it for more than a few days. If you use the bow everyday, it probably won’t hurt to leave the string on.
Here’s a cool video showing the proper way to string a recurve bow using a stringer. This really is the safest and easiest way to do it.
Finger Tab or Shooting Glove
Wearing a finger tab or shooting glove will help to protect your hands from more than just getting sore. In some cases, archers who have been shooting for a long time have gotten nerve damage from repeated acute pressure that bowstrings will place on your fingers. At less than $10, this protective gear is well worth it.
If you’re only going to be shooting occasionally, and with a low draw weight bow, you may get away with not using hand protection. But if you plan on practicing archery for years to come, you’ll be better off making the investment in hand protection sooner or later.
When you picture an archer taking a shot, you probably imagine them dramatically drawing an arrow from the quiver hanging off their back. However cool it may make you look, if you’re on a tight budget, consider skipping these, as they’re not necessary for a beginner simply practicing on a target range.
I’ve had a hard time finding a quiver I liked, and usually don’t even use one to be honest. Instead I made some bow stands to put near the shooting line in my backyard range. The bow stand holds arrows for me, right where I need them to be anyway.
A nocking point is a small ring, usually made of metal, that is attached to the bowstring. The nocking point is used to make sure that you’re always shooting from the same position and height since consistency is key in developing your shooting accuracy.
You can get several of these for less than a dollar, but it’s important to have them professionally installed so they’re at the right height. Try to get them from an archery store in person if you can.
String wax is a very important tool that improves the performance of your bow. Over time and with continual use, your bowstring will start fraying, so keeping it in good condition is essential. Whatever type of bow you choose, you’ll need to buy string wax to maintain it. Luckily, it’s an inexpensive necessity and only costs between $5 to $10 for a supply that will last for months of use.
Here is my favorite Archery String Wax (link to Amazon) to give you an idea of what to look for. It’s suggested to use after every 5 shots, but I think that’s excessive, I just apply a little bit to the bow string before I start shooting for the day.
Deciding between what’s a luxury and what’s a necessity at the start of your archery practice will help you keep costs low. You can always get equipment later as you realize you need it, which is a much better option than buying something you’re unfamiliar with, only to regret it later when you realize it didn’t impact your performance much at all.
Where will you practice?
Having a set place to practice will make it much easier to commit to improving your skill as an archer. This will also impact the overall cost to practice archery. If it’s available to you, the cheapest option would be to practice at home, but shooting ranges have their advantages, too.
I was able to build an archery range in my backyard for around $50, about the cost of one visit to an archery range. Not only am I saving a fortune, I can be practicing archery within minutes of deciding I want to shoot my bow.
Practicing at Home
If you have space, indoors or outdoors, setting up a shooting area at home is a convenient way to ensure you’ll be getting in enough practice to improve your archery skills. I wrote a complete guide to Building An Archery Range In The Backyard that will cover everything needed to practice in your yard.
You’ll need to either purchase an archery target, or make one yourself by combining a paper target and a variety of solid materials depending on your needs. I cover the most popular options in my short list of Best Archery Targets, if you’d rather just buy one. I also created a step by step guide to Making Your Own Archery Target, if you’d like to try making your own.
Make sure to practice appropriate safety precautions whenever releasing your arrow. This is more important when practicing in your own yard because you won’t have range rules to follow, you’ll have to make your own. In my article about Archery Safety I go into more detail about how to stay safe practicing in your own yard.
Here’s an example archery safety rules sheet I hang outside my backyard range for everyone to see. I’ll add a download link so you can print this out yourself if you’d like.
Practicing at a Shooting Range
If you practicing at home doesn’t work for you, you can check if shooting ranges are an option in your area. There are a variety of places you can look, including:
- Public archery ranges: These may require a hunting license – average $30.
- Indoor ranges: These will have hourly, daily, or membership prices, which can get expensive.
- High schools and colleges: You can practice here for free if you can find someone to give you access.
- Local archery shop: Some archery shops will have indoor shooting ranges for their customers to try out bows they want to buy. They may also rent out space the way that normal indoor ranges do.
What Else Should I Know Before Starting Archery?
Apart from knowing what equipment to get and having a place to practice, you should also know where you can seek out opportunities to check out different equipment before buying your own and get help and advice from experienced archers.
When first learning archery, having a professional teach you everything you need to know about both your equipment and the fundamentals of the sport itself can be an invaluable leg up in the process.
Clubs and shooting ranges will often have instructors available or will have recommendations for one in your area. Individual lessons can help set you up for making swift progress once you’re practicing on your own.
The downside is that one-on-one coaching can get very expensive, costing as much as $80 or more per hour.
If you want to be taught by a professional but are intimidated by the cost, group lessons are an excellent compromise that allows you to get the foundational training you need at a manageable price. Many are under $30 per class, so you can take as many as fit in your budget while you get comfortable with your bow.
You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with other archers who are at the same stage as you, which can be helpful if you want to have someone with whom you can practice, trade tips, or just have a good time.
If you want to practice archery, before you make the financial commitment of buying all the necessary equipment, you should seek out opportunities to see if the sport is something that you’re interested in pursuing.
Whether you decide to practice at a club, a professional facility, or on your own at home, finding a club for your first foray into the sport can be a strategic way to test out archery for a nominal fee.
Many clubs want to promote interest in archery and will provide beginners with free or low-fee rental equipment. This is a great way to see if you’ll even like practicing archery.
If you’re committed to developing your skill in archery, finding the right archery club to practice in can also be a great start to learning the sport. Clubs often have experienced archers who are happy to help you learn the basics of archery.
As you get more advanced, you can easily pick up more tips and tricks from your peers in the club. Additionally, if your increasing skill outgrows the equipment you started with, you’ll have plenty of first-hand resources to ask for advice about upgrading your gear.
Another way to test out your options is to check if there are any archery stores locally. Most stores will let you test out equipment, so you can get a feel for which options you want to purchase. Once you make a decision, the people working there will be able to set up your bow and get it properly aligned and fitted.
Also, stores can be great resources for talking to knowledgeable archers who can help you with any troublesome sticking point you have. You can find instructors or references to local ones if the store themselves don’t have any. If your equipment becomes damaged, you’ll have a place where you can get it repaired instead of replacing it entirely.
What Other Ways Can You Improve in Archery?
While nothing will beat repeated practice, don’t discount the value of archery instructional books in helping you establish a solid foundation in the sport. If you think a physical book to read will help you, I suggest this Archery Steps To Success book on Amazon.
To improve in any physical activity, you need repeated practice to build up muscle memory, but, if all those hours are spent using poor form, you’ll have an uphill battle relearning the right techniques as you try to advance your skills beyond the beginner level.
Here’s an article I wrote about the Proper Way To Shoot A Bow where I cover these 10 basics steps to shoot a bow. Form is very important to get right when you start.
- Gear And Equipment Check
- Correct Shooting Stance
- Nock The Arrow
- Grasp The Bow String
- Check Your Hand And Arm Placement
- Draw The Bow
- Find Your Anchor Point
- Aim At The Target
- Release The Arrow
- Analyze Your Shot
While the pros might make shooting an arrow seem like one fluid motion, there’s plenty of solid technique that goes into getting good. Make sure that all the money and hard work you’ll put into practicing archery doesn’t get wasted on poor foundational learning.
If you’re more of a visual or active learner and need help that the pages of a book can’t provide, getting involved in a club or having lessons from a professional can help you iron out the kinks in your form and set you up for future progress.
Experienced archery hobbyists and professionals all started where you are, so they’re the most likely sources to give you cues on how to employ what you’re learning to the actual skill.
Strength training can also help you advance in archery later down the line. This is something you don’t need to worry about right away, as proper technique is generally the deciding factor when it comes to skill in archery.
However, if you’re serious about advancing as an archer and potentially want to compete, you’ll eventually need to incorporate strength, especially for your upper body and core, to gain a competitive edge. Consider the future costs of having a gym membership and/or home equipment that will add up down the line if you intend to stick with archery.
Once you’ve got your equipment and are ready to begin, make reasonable goals that will keep you engaged and encouraged to continue practicing. Archery is a physically and mentally challenging sport that can take years of dedication to reach proficiency.
Don’t set yourself up with unreasonable expectations that will make the sport less enjoyable. Whether you’re practicing at home or an archery club, enjoy the process and focus less on the end goal.
If you learn to love the process of developing your skills in the sport of archery, you’ll get less frustrated when your progress inevitably stalls, and you’ll be more likely to power through and get even better.
As you advance, you will know more about which types of bows, arrows, and other equipment you’ll really want, and you can make informed choices when upgrading any basic equipment that you used when first learning. You can always sell your old equipment or look for trade-in old programs at archery stores to save some money.