Buying Archery Kit
For novice archers the first thing to do before buying any archery kit is to have a chat with the club coaches and most importantly, do not buy any kit until you have completed a beginners course.
Hopefully before you go to buy, you will have sought out one or more of the club coaches and had a chat about what to buy regarding,
- poundage of bow on the fingers,
- poundage of limbs for your draw length
- bow length (riser and limb combination)
- arrow length
- spine of arrow
Armed with this information you are now ready to go and buy your first set of kit. If you want good service try not to go on a Saturday, like all retailers they will be packed and you will probably spend hours at the shop, feel frustrated and may not get good service.
Don’t be swayed by the sales team into upping the poundage, or going for a longer/shorter bow as it may be that they do not have what you want. To be honest, if you tell these guys you have had advice from your club coaches and that this is what you want to try out, they will be fine.
When you have got a bow set up ask the salesman to weigh the poundage of the bow for your arrow draw length at the limbs minimum and maximum settings – they should do this as it is important you get the correct weight for you, and limbs are not always marked up with their correct poundage. If we have suggested a weight, try and get limbs that are this poundage at their minimum setting. Because you will probably be pumped up with nervous energy, you will shoot a heavy poundage bow very easily, but when you get back to the field and the adrenaline has settled you may well struggle – so be patient and really try your bow out before you buy and try it on the minimum poundage. For most bows there will be around a 3lb difference between the minimum and maximum setting.
The rule of thumb is to buy the best riser you can afford and that you feel comfortable with, the best sight that you can afford and possibly less expensive limbs. Reason is that you are hopefully going to shoot often and improve quickly, this will mean that the riser and sight will be good enough to last and the limbs being cheaper can be replaced as you improve and require higher poundage. They can usually be resold for a significant part of their initial purchase price.
Risers – You get what you pay for, but at the lower price end the test is to see if it fits nicely in the hand, is the grip nice, can you feel an edge where it fits in the hand. Have a look at the colours, sounds daft but if you like the look of it you will enjoy shooting it. Is the finish nice on it? Then get it set up and shoot it. As with all shopping, you must like what you are buying, and then half the battle is won. Most of you will be buying 25” risers, these will make 66″, 68 and 70” bows with the standard short, medium and long limbs, but some will need a 23” riser with short limbs if you are looking at 64” bow.
Generally the lower end risers are cast or forged and the better ones CNC machined from a solid billet of aluminium. The risers that you should be looking at take what are known as ILF limbs (International Limb Fitting), which are common to almost all manufacturers, so that different makes of limb and riser are interchangeable. You may also see what are described as “Formula” fit limbs and risers, which are unique to Hoyt and MK, albeit some of the top end limbs by other manufacturers are available in this fitting. If you were buying a top end bow then this type would be included in the recommendations, but we would not recommend it or your first bow as it limits the opportunity to upgrade limbs at a later date.
Limbs – Generally any limbs that are below £100 are what you should be looking for. There is no need to buy expensive limbs at this stage, you are wasting good money, unless you see an end of line bargain. Through the next 12 – 18 months you will be looking to upgrade at least once, so buy good, cheap limbs to start with – coaches will always advise you if asked.
Sights – Are a very difficult item to buy as you need to go on a recommendation from someone who has bought one. You can purchase very expensive sights which are very good but we would not advise that. The Shibuya Dual Click is a very robust sight but it is not cheap. Always have a good look at the sights and try and determine if they are solidly made, as what usually happens with poor sights is that they develop a rattle after a few weeks of use, this is usually due to poor manufacture and tiny locking screws. Buy the best you can afford, it is not something you should need to change, if bought wisely.
Long Rods – For a first long rod, any will do, ask the shop what they have that is not too pricey. They may even have complete stabiliser sets on offer, but don’t pay a lot at this stage – £20 to £30 for a single long rod and weights is plenty. We would also advise that you don’t put a full set of stabilisers on the bow initially, but build up to them gradually. Adding too much mass too soon can result in technique and shoulder issues.
String – try and get them to throw a string in, you are spending good money with them. If they don’t, again go for a reasonable priced one that they recommend for the bow you are buying. There are many different string materials but for most archers strings made from Fastflight, 8125 or 8125G is best and you should be looking at 16 – 18 strands or maybe lower depending if you are below 30lbs on your fingers.
Arrow Rest and Button – no real choice here, best advice is to buy a Shibuya DX Gold Tip button and a Shibuya Ultima Magnetic arrow rest – the two will cost you £50 but they are the best, everything else is a pale imitation and these will last for several years.
Clicker – Get a Beiter Silver clicker, you will be using this fairly soon with your new set up.
Arrows – You will shoot whatever the shop has in stock to test your bow, hopefully they will have something near what your poundage dictates, but do not be put off if your arrows do not fly straight, what you are testing at this stage is the feel of the bow you wish to buy, with the sight and longrod set up on it. They may put a stick on arrow rest for you to shoot it, this is fine.
If you have spoken to coaches they will have indicated which arrows you need, buy your arrows FULL LENGTH and not made up. You will also need to buy the components to make up the arrows such as points, nocks and fletches – make sure you get at least 6 spare fletches and 6 spare nocks and a tube of fletching glue.
We will show you how to cut the arrows and how to make them up and we can adjust the cut arrow length slightly to help tune the arrows to the bow.
Always a difficult one this. Sometimes we will have seen juniors enough times to have a good idea of the kit they need and can offer advice same as for adults.
Kit is dependent upon the juniors interest, if they have lots of other interests and may not be keeping shooting for long then it is wise not to spend a lot of money. Also, they grow quickly, so again you do not want to buy expensive as they may suddenly put on growth spurt and need new risers and limbs.
It is very important NOT to buy anything that is heavy to hold or that is heavy to draw back or there is a risk of doing serious damage to juniors joints and muscles.
Best advice is to have a look for the cheaper riser and limb combination that suits their stature and poundage, same as they have been practising with. They are not so easy to find and you may well have to buy online, but this will be fine – ask our advice before you purchase though.
If you have read to the end of this then well done, but it is not as complicated as it seems. You will learn a lot by going to a shop and seeing what is available, asking questions and listening to other people. You will perhaps hear conflicting advice – you will have to decide, best way to help you do this is to read as much as you can, to help with this one of the best books for you at this stage of your archery is “The Art of Repetition” by Simon Needham. This book will guide you through from the basics to the expert and covers pretty much everything you will need to know and do with your kit for the first couple of years, and essential item in my view.
However – should you need advice, or should you see some kit you are thinking of buying and want advice, please do contact one of the coaches for advice at –
Last updated – March 2020
Coaching Resources for the Archer and Bow
The information and links on this page are from various sources. Use the information on this page at your own risk.
If you want to try these exercises and want to be sure that you are doing them correctly please contact the RLSAS Coach who will either advise you himself or will put you in contact with another club member.
If you find any resources elsewhere which you think will be useful for club members please contact the RLSAS Coach with a link to the information and once checked this will be included on the page.
Setting up the Archer
Checking Eye Dominance – This is an important step in starting your shooting career. Please check your eye dominance and if this is different to your handedness please talk to the club coach.
Aim 4 Sport Warm-up Exercises – Videos and text for various Warm Up Exercises. These are typically the same as the ones we are currently using on the RLSAS Beginners Courses.
Aim 4 Sport Drills and skills – A set of Archery GB Drills and Skills. These drills and skills are similar to the Ten Steps Sequence which is taught to RLSAS beginners.
Archery GB Coaching Videos – A series of Drills and Skills for intermediate archers.
World Archery Coaching – These are the pdf WA Coaching Manual – Level 1 and WA Coaching Manual – Level 2 links. Level 1 is good for anyone coaching Beginners and Level 2 is good for anyone coaching Intermediate and beyond.