Statewide Archery Programs
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow. While archery is facing a resurgence in popular culture and youth sports, it is filled with a rich history and tradition enjoyed safely by all ages and sizes regardless of physical ability. The following information is designed to help you find your archery pathway whether you are a Yeoman or a Toxophilite. Despite the Hollywood excitement and portrayals, this information is to teach you the safe and appropriate use of bows and arrows, including their nexus to hunting and wildlife conservation. Enjoy and remember the magic of archery can only be felt through actions, not explained through words.
Types of Archery
Target Archery: This type of archery is featured in the Olympic Games and consists of shooting at bull's-eye type, multicolored target faces at a distance. Generally, target archers shoot 18 meters (about 20 yards) indoors and between 30 and 90 meters outdoors, depending on the archer’s age and equipment style.
USA Archery is the national governing body of target archery in the United States, and provides youth and adult programming, instructor certification, and local as well as national competition opportunities.
Field Archery: Field archery is often enjoyed on a roving course set through the woods, or in Arizona’s case through the desert, with paper targets from 20 feet to 80 yards away. This is a great discipline for those who love nature, as you’ll definitely do some hiking. Targets are often set at up and downhill angles. Indoor field archery events are also available.
The National Field Archery Association (NFAA) oversees field archery in the U.S., hosting numerous well-attended national events and conducting instructor certification as part of a joint certification program with USA Archery.
3D Archery: In these events and tournaments, competitors walk an open course, shooting at three dimensional foam animals at different distances. These events are conducted by the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) and the Archery Shooters’ Association (ASA).
Traditional Archery: Traditional archery means different things to different people. For some, it means shooting a longbow or recurve without sights, stabilizers or other tuning equipment. Others feel that to shoot traditionally means you must shoot bows and arrows made only from natural materials such as wood, horn and bird feathers.
Bowhunting: Bowhunting consists of harvesting game animals (big and small) using a bow and arrow. It is the oldest style of archery, as well as one of the most ancient models of hunting. Bowhunting in Arizona requires a state-issued license and is allowed only during certain seasons. Bowhunting seasons are typically longer than gun hunting seasons because the harvesting, or success rate, is much lower for archers than for rifle shooters.
Types of Bows
There are four main types of bows with several subgroups.
Recurves were historically used by horsemen and now are used in Olympic events. Many archers also use recurves to shoot field archery and 3D archery. If an archer uses a recurve for Bowhunting, they typically use higher poundage.
There are four main parts to a recurve bow: the riser, the upper and lower limbs, and the string. The name comes from the limbs curving out or “recurving” from the center.
Mongol bow: This is a type of composite recurve bow renowned for its military effectiveness.
Compound Bows: Compounds are known for their widespread use in field and 3D archery, and Bowhunting. Many archers shoot compounds in target archery as well.
Compounds were first produced in the 1960s and involve an innovative system strings and cables around cams to reduce force in the limbs. This system allows an archer to hold the string back for a longer period of time before releasing without causing muscle fatigue.
Compounds are less affected by changes in temperature and humidity than other bows.
Traditional Longbows: Longbows are one of the first types of bows to become popular appearing back in the 1200s during battles and were the dominant weapon on the battle field until the mid-16th century. Today, longbows are used in all major types of archery including target archery, field archery and 3D archery, and even some are used in Bowhunting.
Traditional longbows consist of a long, slightly curved piece of wood the same height as the archer and do not have any arrow rests or sights. This makes longbows more difficult to aim. These types of bows also do not have as much power as some of the other bows.
English/Welsh Longbow: a powerful type of medieval longbow that is about 6 feet long used for hunting and medieval warfare.
Kyudo: The Japanese asymmetrical longbow used in the Japanese martial art of archery.
Flatbow: a type of longbow used by Native American tribes such as the Hups and Karok of California, or the Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts. This bow has non-recurved, flat, relatively wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section, which makes it different from a traditional longbow.
Self bow: This type of bow comes from native cultures in Africa, Central and South America, Oceana, and Australia. A self bow is made from a single piece of wood with extra material such as horn nocks on the ends or built-up handles.
Crossbows: Crossbows are believed to have originated in China and commonly used in battle in the Greco-Roman and Medieval ages.
Crossbows have the appearance of a firearm but really are a short bow horizontally attached to the muzzle. The crossbow is drawn by way of a crank mechanism and released by a trigger mechanism. Crossbows have short firing ranges unless equipped with a heavier draw weight. These bows are frequently used for target archery, but can also be used in hunting. However, be advised that regulations on crossbows can vary between states and some can be quite strict.
Determining Eye Dominance
Knowing which eye is your dominant eye will help in choosing a bow as well as allow you to keep both eyes open while shooting. Both eyes open provides better depth perception, peripheral vison and balance. Eye dominance is not determined by which hand you use to write with.
Left eye dominate
To determine your eye dominance have a partner stand several yards in front of you. Raise your hands eye level to your eyes. Make a small triangle with your hands and look at your partner through the triangle keeping both eyes open (see pictures below). Your partner will see your dominant eye in the triangle. These are depicted below.
Right eye dominate
The 11 Steps to Archery Success
The purpose of the 11 Steps to Archery Success is to learn proper archery form, shot execution, and follow-through. If an archer is able to master this process of shooting they are much more likely to enjoy a life-time of success in archery.
Square Stance: Open Stance = “More Stable”
Nock: It’s important that you keep the bow and arrow always in the direction of the target. Be sure there is a click to ensure the arrow is on the string. Odd color fletch should be facing you as the archer.
Draw Hand Set: 3 fingers under the arrow nock.
Bow Hand Set: Set your knuckles of bow hand at a 30-45 degree angle. Form an “L” shape with your wrist and allow your fingers to be relaxed.
Pre-Draw: Rotate your elbow down to the left (for archers shooting with a right handed bow), this allows for string clearance of the bow arm. Point the arrow at the target at all times.
Draw: Slowly and consistently pull the string back.
Anchor: Place your index finger to the corner of your smile.
Aim: Use the point of the arrow as a reference. Be sure to keep both your eyes open while shooting.
Shot Set-Up: A slight movement from your drawing shoulder and /or arm and elbow to the rear.
Release: Open all 3 fingers to let go of the string.
Follow Through: “Paint your face” as fingers relax back brushing your face with your fingertips.
And Reflect: “How was your shot? What do you need to do differently?”
Where to Learn
Are you ready to let your arrows fly?
Arizona is blessed with many archery shops, clubs and organizations to help you get the hands-on, personal experience your looking for.
Below is a list of places around the state that have introductory through advanced lessons. Starting your journey is just a click away.
Where to Buy
Ready to buy?
So now you are excited, let's get you to the folks that deal in archery equipment day in and day out. From the basic to the extreme this list of archery suppliers below have you covered.
Where to Shoot
Location, location, location.
Iit is not just for real estate anymore. Any archer knows that to truly enjoy the sport you need a place to shoot. Below is a list of ranges around the state to perfect your practice - from regional facilities to lanes at a local store.
If you think shooting a bow and arrow is just hitting bull's-eyes think again. There are many fun, challenging games you can play with your friends and family members. Just be sure to setup a good range, backstop and control the line of fire. Have fun.
Cover the target with a tic-tac-toe target or make the board using painters tape about three feet square. Shoot three arrows trying to get three in a row. Score three points for each. You can also play this head to head with another archer.
First person shoots one arrow and goes to the target to score. This archer and all of that team will aim for that particular color. Each team may be aiming for a different color. Score one point for each arrow in the right color area. Instructor or mediator may select color band archers shoot and score only the hits within that color.
Make target face to represent a Bingo card on a brown paper bag or wrapping paper. A scorecard can be made by filling in numbers on the squares before the shooting begins.
Shoot six arrows; and as they are removed from the target, the corresponding number is crossed off the scorecard. Winner is the first to get any combination of numbers crossed.
Shoot the instructor’s hat
Take your hat off, and hang it on the target for the archers to shoot at.
Balloon elimination shoot
After a scoring round, rank the archers from lowest to highest. Hang a balloon in the center of the target. Starting with the lowest scoring archer, each archer shoots one arrow at the balloon. If the archer pops the balloon, they move to the winners’ circle until all archers in turn have shot three arrows. Prizes are awarded to the balloon breakers.
If shooting during holidays, it is fun to make special targets in the shape of an item that represents the holiday. For example, the archers can shoot at pumpkins, witches, and cats at Halloween, a turkey at Thanksgiving, a bell at New Year’s, a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day, eggs at Easter, and flowers at May Day.
The scoring areas can follow the outline of the target, giving higher values as the arrows come nearer whatever “center” there may be for that shape. At the completion of the event, it might be fun to award silly prizes appropriate to the holiday. For the 4th of July, archers can shoot at balloons filled with flour or confetti to simulate fireworks.
Target: A foam ball four inches in diameter on a wire stand.
Distance: 10 meters
Number of arrows: four
Scoring: 5 points for each hit
Target: a regular target covered with a checkered tablecloth with two-inch squares; squares randomly numbered from one to nine.
Distance: 15 meters
Number of arrows: four
Scoring: as marked
Target: a three-inch string of masking tape placed vertically on the target mat
Distance: 10 meters
Number of arrows: twelve
Scoring: five points for each hit
Use index cards sized accordingly to the ability of the archers. Draw different ships on the cards and assign points from one to five. You can also include blank cards. Each individual or team will pin the cards up with the blank side showing on the target of their competitor. Archer shoots three to six arrows each or 12-15 as a team. Points are scored by the value of the ship they hit.
In groups of 2-3, archers will take turns shooting 3 arrows at the target to add up to 21 points or as close as possible without going over 21. Points are assigned based off of the face values of the standard 10 ring targets. Each archer must shoot at least one of the three arrows. If an arrow misses the target, then the group is given an extra arrow that they will not have to keep. If a group misses the target three times, they automatically “Break”.
For more of a challenge, archers can gain extra arrows by breaking a safety rule. The more arrows a group has, the hard it will be to only get 21 points. These arrows the archers will keep unlike the arrows accumulated from the missed targets.
“Bow” or “Arrow”
Just like when playing basketball, you play “HORSE” or “PIG”, you can play the same way with bows and arrows. For younger archers, you can divide your target into quadrants using painters tape and as long as each archer gets their arrow within the same quadrant as the first archer, they will not earn a letter. For more experienced archers, you can make it so that they get the arrows within an inch of each other (you can use a quarter to measure).
On a target, tape a standard deck of cards. Archers will attempt to make the best hand possible while your opponent does the same. One miss can blow your royal flush or make you bust instantly.
Similar to the game most of us played as kids with the plastic cage and checker pieces, the object is to get four arrows in a row. This can be played this on grids as small as five by five and as large as ten by ten. While similar to tic-tac-toe, this one tends to take more thought and more shots. You can shoot three to five arrows per end and if someone hasn’t won yet, retrieve your arrows and mark the boxes with stickers and shoot another end.
A large “V” shape is drawn or made with tape the full height of a target. Archers each shoot to see who can get closest to the bottom of the V without touching the line or shooting outside the lines. The next archer must shoot below the lowest arrow to stay in the game. Next game the archer who was first out shoots first, and the winner of the last game shoots last.
Affix a bunch of itty bitty target dots, or small plastic spiders, or anything very small, cheap and safe to shoot to a sheet of cardboard. Place it on your archery backstop and have archers shoot from a very close distance, say 10 to 15 feet. This can be good for young kids, too, because if you put enough tiny targets on the target everyone has a chance.
Save the Prince / Princess
Each individual or group must shoot white, black, blue, red and gold in order. They must get a white before they can move on to shooting a blue. They must not shoot the X, which is the Prince or Princess. Shooting the X is a scratch and the individual or archer loses the game. The game can be played on the same or separate targets for each individual or team. For groups it can be a speed relay round where one team member has to shoot white before the next can shoot black and so on; it can be alternating archers speed relay round, where each archer gets to shoot once and has to hand the bow of to the next team member regardless; or instead of a speed round, it can be alternating turns with each individual or team alternating with the other.
Explore Bowhunting is an outdoor conservation education program focusing on interactions with people and wildlife. Explore Bowhunting teaches students how to relate with the natural world by developing basic skills used to bowhunt which focuses on getting close to animals.
The Archery Trade Association created this program to spark an interest and passion for Bowhunting in today’s youth.
Explore Bowhunting does more than just teach Bowhunting, it is:
- Engaging hands on activity-based lessons on animal behavior, use of senses, tracking, and animal interactions
- Innovative program that introduces the challenge and thrill of being close enough to hunt, photograph or simply enjoy wildlife
Who can use Explore Bowhunting?
The typical audience for Explore Bowhunting is formal educators of middle and high school students and informal educators of students ages 11-17. However, adults and younger students would enjoy the curriculum as well. Whether your goal is to teach Bowhunting in one course or choose individual activities to illustrate or further develop a skill, Explore Bowhunting’s innovative approach will keep your students motivated.
- Schools: both in-school and afterschool programs
- Parks and Recreation Departments
- Community programs such as Scouts, 4-H and summer camps
- Camp games
- Anyone interested in teach youth how to get close to wildlife, bowhunt, photograph and/or enjoy wildlife
How Difficult is it to arrow a Wild Turkey? Here are some facts from the Archery Trade Association.
What can you hunt with a bow in Arizona?
Bowhunting can be fun and challenging. Arizona offers some of the best hunting in the nation. There is a diversity of wildlife from big game to small game and all can be taken with a bow and arrow. Whether you bag a 6x6 bull elk, a spike deer, a huge jackrabbit, a limit of dove, or go home empty-handed, the times spent in the field with your friends and family are some of the best times you will ever have.
Like firearm hunting, bowhunting is a form of conservation. There is no general tax that goes towards wildlife management and conservation in Arizona, the funding comes directly from the sale of licenses, tags, permits and stamps, as well as appropriations from federal excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment. Hunters generate more than $1.6 billion a year for conservation programs around the country. Besides this, hunting is a wildlife management tool to help balance wildlife population with what the land can support. Hunters help manage over population of species and growing numbers of predators.
To start your hunting journey, you first need to obtain an Arizona hunting license. This will allow you to apply for the big game draws, purchase a non-permit tag and take small game animals with the exception to any appropriate stamps for migratory and waterfowl species. A hunting license can be purchased online or by going to a license dealer. Seasons, tag requirements and methods of take vary, consult the current regulations for details.
Below is a list of species which you can hunt with bow and arrow, along with what type of permit you will need and some other general notes.
Getting Started: Small game animals
- cottontail rabbits
- tree squirrels
- blue grouse
- chukar partridge
- dove (migratory stamp required)
- waterfowl - ducks & geese (migratory stamp required)
- pheasant (tag required)
Moving Up: Big game animals
- deer - mule
- deer - white-tailed
- black bear
- mountain lion
- bighorn sheep
- buffalo (bison)
Challenges: Predator & Furbearing animals
Other: birds and mammals wildlife (Commission Order 14)
- Gunnison's praire dog
- European starling
- house sparrow