Whether you’re a new archer or you’ve been doing it for years, having a set list of archery equipment is beneficial. On this page, you’ll find things that will take your archery game to the next level. Or perhaps if you’ve been experimenting with different equipment, you’ll find something new and interesting to try out.
This items in this list have been separated into 3 different categories to emphasize how “crucial” they are to archery. The categories are as follows: necessities, recommendations, and extras. Here’s a brief overview of what I’ll be covering:
- Necessities: arrows, bow, bow string, bow stringer, nocking point, targets
- Recommendations: arm guard, arrow rest, bow release, bowstring wax, guard or finger tab
- Extras: arrow nocks, arrow tips, bow case, broadhead wrench, chest guard, clicker, inserts, field repair kit, serving, sight, stabilizer, string whisker silencers, quiver
Necessary Equipment in Archery
First off, we have the equipment that you absolutely need if you want to get started in archery. Without these items, you can’t really do much, so make sure that you get everything on this list if you want to learn.
To shoot a bow, you’re going to need arrows. But, while you technically only need one, I recommend investing a pack of five or more arrows. It’s not uncommon for arrows to get lost, broken, or bent, so be sure to have a few extra on hand at all times. Besides, the logistics of continuously going back and forth to retrieve a single arrow is insane. Save yourself the time and get some more arrows.
Also, if possible, try to buy your arrows at the same time that you buy your bow. That way, if you’re not sure what size arrows to buy, someone can help you find the one that is perfect for your draw. Keep in mind that arrows come in a lot of different weights, lengths, and designs and what may work for one bow may not work for your yours.
2. A bow
While there’s a lot of bows to choose from, the most popular ones are the compound and recurve bows. Compound bows are more modern and use pulleys, while recurve bows are more traditional with curved limbs. Both of these options are great for beginners because they don’t require too much prior experience to use.
In fact, feel free to check out our article on the Best Beginner Bows & Arrow Sets. These bows are perfect if you’re just starting out, because they come with a lot of the equipment that you already need.
3. A bow string
Usually when you purchase a bow, it will already come with a bow string. However, sometimes it won’t. You need to make sure that you have a bow string because otherwise your bow won’t fire. The drawing back of the bow string is what gives the arrow the energy to be propelled forward.
Keep in mind when purchasing your bow string that there are a lot of types to choose from. There are tons of different designs and materials that will play a big part in your shooting experience. If possible, try testing out what you like. Some people prefer thicker bow strings, other people prefer more elastic ones.
4. A bow stringer
Investing in a bow stringer is an absolute must because it’s the only safe way to consistently string a bow. What a bow stringer does is that it helps you use your body weight to safely slip the string over the tip of the bow’s limbs.
You might have seen some people promote the step-through method, which is way to string your bow by hand, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not only can it be quite dangerous and cause your bow to snap, but it can also warp your bow over prolonged use.
5. Nocking point
The nocking point on a bow is extremely useful because it serves a constant place on your bow string to nock your arrow. Nocking your arrow just means that you’re attaching it to the string. It’s important to do this in the same place each time if you want more consistent and accurate shots. Nocking points are also useful because they lessen the chance that you’ll get your hands scratched with the arrow’s fledglings or vanes.
There are many types of nocking points to choose from, but most are made from some sort of metal and can be hooked onto your bow string. If you’re not sure where to put your nocking point, you can ask any good bow technician if they can help you.
Once you’ve got all of your essential gear, the last thing that you’ll need is some targets. The great thing about targets is that they can be as simple or as complex as you wish. From 3D targets to 2D paper ones to homemade ones, there’s a lot of options to choose from. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can a buck-sized target. If you’re wanting to save some money, you can take a piece of copy paper and draw a little bullseye on it.
Just make sure that you use a target that can withstand arrows. If you’re shooting in your backyard, the last thing that you want is for your arrows to go through your fence or lawn chairs. If you don’t want your arrows flying astray then invest in some foam blocks. Most archery shops and sporting goods stores have them. I’ve also seen people using bales of hay and this works well too.
Recommendations (comfort-related items)
The rest of the items on this list aren’t necessary, but I recommend them because they’re amazing in terms of comfort. The items on this list can mean the difference from sort-of liking the sport to loving it. If you’re just starting out, the ones that I would recommend that you buy first are the: arm guard and glove or finger tab.
7. Arm guard
Many archers would consider an arm guard a must, especially for beginners. These guards protect your skin from the painful lash of the bow string as you fire. Arm guards go on the forearm, though some are designed to cover your entire arm, and are a very important piece of safety equipment.
When you’re beginning in archery, arm guards are crucial because, at that point, you don’t have the proper technique down. When shooting, every archer needs to learn that they should keep their elbow vertical, but most beginning archers don’t have enough experience. Therefore, it’s common for them to get smacked by the bow string on release.
8. Arrow rest
If you bow doesn’t include an arrow rest, this is something that you might want to invest in. The arrow rest is the area where the arrow lies when it is drawn. There are two types: fixed rests and drop-away rests. Fixed rests stay put after you fire your bow, but drop-away rests drop down when the arrow is released.
While some archers can use their hands as a makeshift arrow rest, this only works in the short term. This is because using your hand makes for inconsistent shots. Therefore, if you’re going to continue practicing archery, get yourself an arrow rest.
9. Bow releases
If you don’t want to use a glove or finger tab, you can use a bow release instead. The way that they work is simple. Bow releases are used to hold the string and release it precisely. They distribute much of the weight of the draw and make it way less likely that the bow string will slip due to human error. Releases are great because they limit the discomfort and pain that you’re fingers will feel after repeated shooting.
Interested in buying one? Check out the Top 10 Bow Releases for Archery.
10. Bow string wax
If you were to ever take your bow string and look at it through a magnifying glass, you would see that it is made up of millions of fibers that join together into one big strand. What happens with these fibers is that they rub together and create friction when you fire. Over time, if you don’t keep these fibers properly lubricated, they begin to fall apart. This will lead your bow string to fray and eventually snap, effectively shortening the life of your string. This is where bow string wax comes in.
Bow string wax is usually applied every 2 to 4 weeks and it makes your bow string last longer. An added benefit of using this wax is that it also provides a layer of protection against water and other elements.
11. Glove or finger tabs
Protection for your hands and fingers is especially important in archery because of the wear and tear that your hands endure. The repeated grip and draw of the bow strains your fingertips and leads to painful blisters and unfortunate callouses. Later, these painful blisters affect how you shoot, which in turn, affects your accuracy. Luckily, these issues can be fixed with a glove or finger tab.
Gloves and finger tabs act as a barrier to protect your skin from friction. Modern tabs are pretty cool because many of them include spacers that spread out the index and middle fingers. This prevents you from pinching the arrow, which in turn helps your accuracy.
Nothing on this list is necessary to enjoy archery, but a lot of the things on here are either extremely fun or insanely useful.
12. Arrow nocks
Arrow nocks are the back part of the arrow that attaches or hooks on to the bow string. These parts are customizable and interchangeable. They come in all types of colors and some are even reflective to make retrieving them much easier. However, note that these come in different sizes and you’re going to need one that fits the diameter of your bow string.
13. Arrow tips
While you can technically shoot an arrow without a proper arrow tip, it is still recommended that you use one. Otherwise, you may damage your bow by firing an underweighted arrow.
To start, arrow tips fall under two basic categories: target points and broadheads. Target points are small tips that can be used for normal target practice. On the other hand, broadheads are used for hunting and come in two different styles: fixed and mechanical. Both work pretty well, but mechanical broadheads are better for compound bows that are shooting at much faster speeds.
14. Broadhead wrench
Broadhead wrenches are useful when it comes to unscrewing broadhead tips from arrows. These types of arrow tips are often much bigger and extremely sharp, so one of these wrenches is a must if you don’t want to slice your fingers open. Of course, if you’re using field tips, which are the simple arrow tips used for target practice, you’re not going to need a wrench. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably need one if you start shooting with broadheads.
15. Bow case
Bow cases make it easy to travel with your archery equipment. They’re perfect for storing your bow so that it doesn’t get damaged. While you can choose from hard and soft cases, I recommend hard cases because they’re more durable. A lot of them also offer water-resistant or waterproof coatings.
16. Chest guard
Chest guards are intended to protect your body against your bowstring you fire your bow. They keep your clothing out of the way, so they’re a good safety feature to have. I recommend using a chest guard if you’re going to be shooting with a bigger bow or if you’re clothes keep getting caught in your bow string.
Clickers are designing to reduce aiming panic and the way that they work is simple. When you draw your bow to a certain length, your clicker will make a noise to alert you that you can shoot the arrow. This type of mechanism is usually found on traditional bows.
Inserts are an item that you can put into the front of the arrow. Once you put this on, this allows you to screw the arrowhead on. Just keep in mind that different arrowheads will influence the weight and balance of the arrow. In turn, this will affect its speed and trajectory.
19. Field repair kit
When shooting, a field repair kit can be extremely useful. You don’t need to bring a giant tool box; a basic set or archery tools will do. You only need enough to adjust your arrows, bows, or anything else that may be subject to some wear and tear. I suggest bringing some multipurpose tools, so that you’re not lugging around a bunch of tools that you may never use. I like to keep mine in my car, so that I may have them handy whenever I go shooting.
A bow string serving is an extra piece of fabric that is woven onto the bow string. They are good for extending the life of bow strings. This extra fabric is usually located in the places where the string is subject to a lot of natural wear and tear. Servings are useful for
Sights are visual aids that you can attach to your bow to help with aim. Sights make shooting easier. While some archers only shoot with sights, others prefer to shoot instinctively. Whether or not you shoot with a sight boils down to preference, but I recommend trying it out before you purchase to see if you like it.
Stabilizers are used to reduce how much the bow vibrates when you fire. This piece of equipment usually sticks out in front of the bow and looks like a long, round bar. Stabilizers are good for lightweight bows because have stronger recoil compared to heavier bows.
23. String whisker silencers
String whisker silencers are lightweight pieces of rubber that attach to your bow string to help reduce noise when fired. They are usually tied to the bow string at both ends and look like little pom-poms.
Silencers aren’t that important for backyard shooting or target archery, but can make a load of different out in the field. These are perfect for hunting because they limit that chance that you’ll scare off wild game with your bow.
Quivers are containers that are used for storing arrows. They can be slung across your shoulder or attached to your waist. Quivers are wonderful because they make firing must more efficient; your arrows will all be in one easy-to-grab place.