Zen and the Art of Archery


Bow shooting is one of the oldest, most primal things a man can do.  While I am pro firearms, a bow is something different.  There is a connection to the past as well as a bit of a soothing aspect of doing something so ancient, yet so fun. Today I’ll explain the mental benefits of getting into archery and how you can pick up this hobby without breaking the bank.

While it can be a calming, soothing hobby, archery can be confusing to get into at first. I believe the first question you should ask yourself is “what am I trying to learn?” Are you going to hunt? Target shoot? Compete?  A combo of all three?  For our purposes, we’ll start with the basics.

Becoming An Archer

No, not this kind

To keep things simple, we’ll discuss recurve bows today.  They are closer to the weapons wielded by ancient people, and pretty versatile.  They’re typically made of wood and are either one solid piece or made up of pieces that “breakdown” for easy transport.

This is a breakdown recurve bow. The limbs bolt to the riser so you can store it in a bag easily.

Choosing the right bow for your body size is simple.  Simply out stretch your arms to the side.  Have someone measure the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the other.  Divide that number by 2.5 and you have whats known as your “draw length.”  This is the number in inches you should be pulling the string back when shooting.  Now that you have your draw length, you can choose the correct size bow. See the chart below


14-16 inches……………….48 inches
17-20 inches……………….54 inches
20-22 inches……………….58 inches
22-24 inches……………….62 inches
24-26 inches……………….64-66 inches
26-28 inches……………….66-68 inches
28-30 inches……………….68-70 inches
31 inches and longer…………70-72 inches

The next calculation is string length. A general rule for recurve bows is to get a string 3-4 inches shorter than the overall length of the bow.  Since the bow is under tension, having too much slack in the string would make it pretty useless.

Now that you know what size bow to get, and what string to buy, the next question is what size arrows to buy.  This is another simple task as you just add 2 inches to your draw length.  For example, A guy with a 24 inch draw length will need 26 inch arrows. Arrows come in wood, fiber/carbon, and aluminium and each has their pros and cons. I tried all three types and found carbon to be my favorite.  As for tips, stick with field tips.  No need to use hunting broadheads if you’re just shooting recreationally.

Finally, you need something to shoot at.  You can buy a target at an archery shop or hunting/outdoors store or you can get creative and make one.  I’ve heard of guys shooting at feed bags filled with old scraps of cloth and shooting at a target hay bail is classic.  Regardless of what target you use, make sure you have a proper backstop.  The last thing you want to do is have an arrow go through the target and out the other side that could potentially kill someone.  Bows are weapons, and should be treated with the same respect as a firearm. Don’t shoot your bow if it has even 1% chance of harming someone.

How To Shoot A Bow

I have found that this tends to be the best way to understand how to shoot.  I wont just retype what they have to say here so make sure you check this out.


I’ll add some tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Inspect everything before and after every shooting session. This is the most important information I can impart to you about archery.  Every time you shoot check everything. Bow, bow string, arrow shafts, tips etc.  If you see something that looks off (wear on the string, creaking/cracks in the arrow shaft etc)  then replace the part immediately.

2. Wear long sleeves when you first start.  You WILL mess up when you first start archery.  The smack of the bow string on the forearm of the arm used to grip the bow can leave a nasty bruise.  Correct this by adding more of a bend that arm at the elbow.  You’ll get it right eventually.

3.  Practice and patience.  You’re going to suck at first and that is okay.  Like anything, the more you do it the better you’ll be.  I think you’ll find that the whole process of archery is quite soothing and relaxing.  I have spent many hours shooting can tell you that it really does calm you down and level your head.


This is in no way a complex introduction to archery, but it can answer any questions you may have before getting into it.  The best option if you’re interested is to visit a local archery shop.  I’ve found the guys that work there aren’t going to push you into buying something that isn’t right for you.  Many shops also have ranges that you can practice/take a class at.  Post below if you have any questions or comments.


-J. Nyx

Author: Jnyx

Fitness addict, DIY guru, tech nerd, member of Memesters Local 419.

335 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Archery”

  1. If you want to get into archery on the cheap, visit your local pawn shops. You will often find very nice bows for a fraction of what they cost new. I found a beautiful vintage Herter’s recurve for $20.00 that is not only a great shooter, but is also a collectible.

    I often run up on good deals on arrows this way too. Yard sales are another good bet. I have purchased a number of nice compound bows dirt cheap at yard sales either because they were outdated or the owner lost interest. Also check estate sales and auctions.

    For targets you can’t go wrong with Morrell’s Eternity Targets. They are fibre filled and self healing. I have an original from the early 1990s that I still use today. They are a bit pricey, but if you intend to stay with archery over the long haul, it’s worth every penny.

  2. Excellent article! For the Japanese, archery is more than just physical motion. It is also spiritual and philosophical. For more information on this subject you can check out Zen in Motion by Neil Claremon. In the mean time, here’s some serious inspiration:

          1. I know! Metal & Fibreglass assault bows too! Pretty soon some death merchant will take a bow, mount it on a stock and add a trigger mechanism. We’ll be freakin’ doomed then boys!

                1. That’s…weird. Looks like an industrial strength condom wrapped around a cock ring.

                  1. I understand it can be used for both those purposes as well as a weapon. I think it is also legal to own in NYC. It really looks like something that Hipponax could use. He will probably claim he needs one in extra large long though. 😉

                    1. Any weapon legal to own in NYC will likely be utterly useless for self defense and more likely than not actually *assist* the bad guys in harming you. Like nunchucks and shit.

                    2. NYC – strict gun laws, yet lots of violent crime.
                      Wyoming – relaxed guns law, yet very low violent crime rate.
                      Wonder why…

                    3. I was thinking more along the lines of him using it as a condom first, then popping the ho’ in the butt with a paint ball as he sent her out the door. 😈

    1. They’re extremely neat trick shots, but it’s not much more than that, unfortunately. A few archers and weapons historians on YouTube explained the impracticalities of a lot of his coolest techniques.

      He’s spot on about quivers, though. Back quivers were for transportation between battlegrounds only, and tended to have oiled leather hoods on them so that rain wouldn’t get into the quiver and muss up the arrows.

    2. OK, that guy does some hilarious stuff.

      I think I like the motorcycle one best. Just because it’s ridiculous. 😀

      1. Also: “They are closee to the weapons…” Is that the Old English spelling of “close”?

  3. I remember reading about guys that made their own archery equipment that they used in SE Georgia at Ft Stewart and on the coastal islands for deer/hog hunting. I always admired their dedication.

  4. In regard to hay or straw bales (“hey bails”?) a word to the wise: They have a couple of drawbacks. The large round bales will stop an arrow from most recurve bows. But with a compound bow a lot of times the arrow will penetrate so far that you either can’t recover it or it will tear the fletching off. Stacked square bails will work a little better, but you will have to reposition them periodically. They get “shot out” and your arrows will start going right through them. But with two layers of square bales you can just unstack them to recover any arrows that over penetrate.

    My preferred setup is my Eternity Target in front of a stacked straw bale backstop. The target takes most of the beating and the bales catch the occasional miss.

    1. I think that is a valid concern, especially as you get into higher end, more powerful bows and arrows. I listen to the Joe Rogan podcast a lot, and he is huge on bow hunting right now. He talks about how some of these bow and arrow set-ups are so powerful they will actually go completely through a moose or an elk.

      1. That is quite correct. With the thin shafts of modern carbon fiber arrows, modern broadhead blade design coupled with super fast bows, depending on where you hit the animal, over penetration is a legitimate concern. We’ve been shooting through white tail deer (and even mulies) with compatively “slow” compound bows for a long time already.

        1. Boothe, I limited the article to recurve for this very purpose. Compound bows and crossbows are a whole different beast.

          1. No doubt! Transitioning from a recurve to a compound was interesting to say the least. I put quite a few arrows over the backstop and down through the woods.

    2. And, if you cant aim for shit it wont matter anyway – f’rinstance: when I was a stupid kid messing abound with a bow in my back yard I not only missed the target but sailed that shit clear over the fence. The arrow eventually found purchase in my neighbor’s aluminum door. Worse still, I only missed her by about five feet. good thing she was old and deaf, really…

      1. LOL! Yeah, that aim thing is pretty important to be sure. I never pulled a stunt like that because I grew up way out in the country. But I did sacrifice a lot of arrows to the forest gods. I learned to point shoot and never had my hands on a bow with sights until I was in my twenties.

        A friend of mine bought this tricked out Ben Pearson and asked me to come over to shoot with him. I out shot him with his new bow and I could tell it kind of pissed him off (I even shot into a couple of his arrows and tore them up). So he hands me this old Bear with no sights and was like “Okay smartass, let’s see what you can do with this.” I still out shot him.

        But I did finally confess that I had my first real bow when I was about seven. And I made my first hickory bow (with my dad’s help) when I was ten, so he wouldn’t feel so bad. I did notice that he never invited me back to shoot archery with him again.

    3. A gallon of elmers glue and a box of borax with water makes a substance consistent with silly putty. Put that a couple inches deep in the bale in beer cans or sheet metal and you will never damage your fletch again. I use a back catch of that about one beer can deep and it works beautifully.

  5. Good article, I look forward to reading more. I listen to Joe Rogan pretty regularly, and he has been on a big archery kick for a while now. Listening to him talk about the “mindset” aspects of archery has really gotten me interested in it.

  6. What in the hell is wrong with becoming Sterling Archer? Dude fucks the hottest chicks, dresses sharp, drives fast cars, drinks all the time and gets to shoot at people for a living. Who in the hell WOULDN’T want to live that life?

      1. If you haven’t seen the show, you should. Shit is just funny as hell and it is not in the least bit PC. And by that I mean that it makes red pill men smile.

        1. My biggest gripe with the show is how the land whale and Lana are by far the best fighters. They regularly beat up groups of bad guys.

          And ofc Lana stealing archers seed to have his baby without his permission.

      1. He should as he’s basically a cartoon form of him, only with some really hilarious adventures.

    1. There is this little issue of turning into a cartoon character. The two dimensional lifestyle just doesn’t appeal to me. 😉

                1. Could you try to be a little less gay? I mean, even a little? Like crank that gay dial back from 11 to like 8 or 9?

  7. There is nothing wrong with archery.
    However, if you live in the US (or any country where civilian are still legally allowed to hold guns) make sure to teach you kids to shoot firearms. It is much more practical than archery. It may save their lives one day…

    1. Agreed. I don’t think J. Nyx was saying to take up archery as a replacement to learning how to shoot firearms. Rather, this is a good pastime to connect with our ancient roots and learn a skill that does still have some benefits in modern times; hunting for example.
      And who knows? If the SHTF and zombies take over, a bow and arrow is perfect for silent kills.

    2. Absolutely. Archery is more of a fun/hobby thing than anything I’d like to protect my home/life with. Having a gun is a must.

    3. There is value to the simple skills, particularly in any survival eventuality. Being able to shoot a bow and fletch a simple arrow, or being able to craft and fling an atlatl (a Native American throwing spear design also found in most ancient cultures) can help keep you fed.

      Granted, snares and trot lines are more reliable and require less energy, but even so.

        1. Lol! Yeah, I’ve never actually seen one of those. I have guns and know how to use them, but been meaning to get a bow.

      1. I agree with that. Hunting with a bow is very rewarding for me. Dropping a deer at 150 yards with a scope just doesn’t do it for me. It feels lazy and not very sporting. Getting a heartshot with a bow at 35 yards from patience and discipline like my ancestors is priceless.

              1. I’ll see if I can write something you would want to publish. How do you go about doing that?

                    1. There was an old Indian out in the deserts of New Mexico sending up little puffs of smoke for communication. Puff, puff, puff. He saw a flash and looked out across the desert to see a 5 mile high mushroom cloud. In awe he said, “Wow. Me wish me could say that.”

                    2. A cowboy is riding along and comes across this old Indian laying there with his ear to the ground. The cowboy stops, and the Indian says, “Stagecoach pulled by six horses. Two in front are bays with white stockings.”

                      Cowboy says “Wow, you can tell all that by listening to the ground?”

                      Indian says, “No, just ran me over.”

                    1. No medical insurance eh? We’ll send you to a 5 day insurance seminar instead. Most guys would rather just take a beating.

              2. I’ve got a good Red Pill, 3-part article on Men’s Style that I wrote if you’re interested. Of course, ROK didn’t want to publish it, so their loss could be your gain.

        1. We tried. Everyone snuck out as quietly as possibly while you were sleeping.

          Someone (maybe me) turned on the gas on the stove in the hopes you would die in a fire before you woke up.

      1. What is up with this? Did Roosh get some heat from Disqus or something? Maybe he fell in love with a naggy broad?

        1. He issued a series of bans on many of the regulars over about a few days’ time. Mostly without explanation, but some with just some pretty weak explanation.

          1. I think he wants to change the image of ROK some. I have been noticing a change in the content in the past month or two.

            1. I could understand that with some of the shit coming down in the world, sites getting kicked of the net and shit, but shit, just put out a post telling us to tone it down for a while and go into stealth mode, and most everyone else probably would have.

              1. Had he done that, it would fall on deaf ears, like that Cheech and Chong bit, Sister Mary Elephant.

        2. I bet it’s either flak from Disqus or personal reasons, but I’m no expert. However having all the most dominant personalities disappear at once, with no explanation, was not a work of subtlety.

        3. Maybe to much talk about the (((them))) in the discussion area. Roosh appears to be concerned about the major backlash after Charlottesville. A lot of people who’s income is dependent on the internet have lost their livelihood.

          1. I don’t know, Roosh seems to be overly concerned about a lot of things lately. I’d tell him to have a glass of wine or something but… 🙂

    1. What happened to some other ROK regulars (or former regulars) such as Waldemar Pabst, jz95, Iattacku, EnglishBob etc? Are they likely to visit this site? Are all of them banned from ROK?

      1. With any luck Pabst won’t. The others I don’t know. It’s not like I can post to tell them about it so I have to wait on them to contact me first.

        1. Well, Pabst littered the comment section with Youtube videos on the other site…that annoyed quiet a few people, I guess.

            1. For fuck’s sake, bem. How many times do we have to go over this? Just because one of the multiple misfiring sperg neurons in his sperg brain happened to repeatedly generate random Simpson’s references is not a reason to praise the poor child, bless his sperg heart.

                1. He’ll still see it as a compliment, and that will encourage him, which will give us more random sperg crap all spergged out in 19 sperg posts in a row.

          1. im quietly confident Pabst wont come here, he loves to wallow in defeat & play the victim over at ROK, actively doing nothing to improve himself or situation

      2. I posted before on this site. I won’t be as frequent since college started back up for me. And please don’t summon Pabst. He needs to stay on ROK

        1. FFS, its college? What the fuck else do you have to do all day? Practice your beer pong skills?

          1. Yea man. I’m taking calculus 3, numeric analysis, data structures, and computer organization. It’s gonna be a study packed semester

      3. EngilshBob still pops up from time to time, however we need to find a way to wise up uncle Bob Smith before he gets the ban hammer.
        jz95 has been banned for some time i think?
        and the Pabst Bandit still lives

        1. Bob Smith’s in the clear, I bet. He posts articles on ROK. A contributor. I don’t know if that makes you exempt.

    2. I cannot believe it. He sacrificed internet shenanigans for camping?

      Smart man. We can all learn something from this.

        1. Good to see you here Jim! Looks like our one big disfunctional happy family is (almos) back together again. 😉

          1. Figure out where Lolknee, Pabst, and that MGTOW guy who is into Thai pretty boys (forget the name) and I think we are set.

                  1. Thank you. I couldn’t remember the sod’s name other than he was around 60, from UK, and had contempt for the Polish and other Slavic people.

                  2. You got banned @ ROK???

                    Jeez Louise — whose going to make me laugh like an idiot now???

                    BTW, PJC was freaking hilarious too…

                    1. It was nuts – over the course of a week we were all banned (granted, champ and I were screwing around overtime) – but GOJ? Galt?

                      and yet Thales is still welcome!!!!

                      mass hysteria!!

            1. No! Nobody wants Padst here. Stop saying his name or you’ll summon him like Bloody fucking Mary.

                1. Hahaha!
                  It was sacrilege for him to use the name of one of the greatest characters in film history.

        1. I’m back from the hot springs of Idaho, the eclipse in Oregon, and a nieces wedding. Good to get away every now and then.

            1. 2000+ miles on our van, full of rowdy kids and a baby that hates sleeping in tents, what’s to dislike?

                1. Nah, we had a blast. You need something that sucks in your life (or someone that sucks) in order to appreciate the good.

            1. I would have liked to, but this was with the whole family. Did a couple short hikes around Stanley and Challis.

              1. I was in Ketchum for the Eclipse. We did a couple of rides around there on Saturday and Sunday. GoJ has my contact info, I would like to ask you a question or two.

                1. That is just down the road, I am not a fan of the snobby Sun Valley area though. GOJ has my email as well.

            1. Greener than Utah, and cooler. It is a shock to wake up with frost on your sleeping bag after a couple months of sweating in near 100 degree weather.

          1. they are no archers in manhattan, I think there were some in the movie The Warriors, but that was the 1970s

              1. I laughed at (and upvoted) cheese’s comment. I didn’t ever read yours because… well, why the fuck would I?

                1. We all need to upvote each other’s comments on this site more. Except for bem’s comments.

                    1. oh, they will…knowing what i know now, woulda gone into politics…i can dream all sorts of insane taxes that never improve anyones’ lives

                    2. I remember reading about an actual tax on a tax. It was an obscure provision that only affected certain gambling businesses, but it was basically a tax they had to pay to one government entity that was based on another fee they had to a different government entity.

  8. OT: Good Samaritans: Houston Flood Victims Tried to Steal Our Boat, Shot at Us (VIDEO)

    This is supposedly one of the Louisiana “Cajun Navy” guys that is over in Houston trying to help rescue people from the flooding. He alleges some of the people that they have been rescuing have tried to steal their boats, and other boats have been shot at by people waiting for rescue.

    No good deed goes unpunished.



          1. And thanks for all the upvotes on my beautiful picture, you bunch of fags. I handmade it myself from the internet.

          2. I’m sure they found those just lying around on some store shelves inside locked doors.
            They are doing the lords work.

            1. They weren’t stealing that, you rayciss! They were delivering it to some Korean shopkeepers, they are clearly leaving the employees entry.

    1. Lousiana “Cajun Navy” you say?
      They did a damn good job after Katrina ruined New Orleans back in 2005…

    2. You do have to be careful about this, though, as it was just a phone-in interview from a guy claiming to be out there and seeing this. After a couple days in the dark with nothing to do, people start calling the TV stations and pulling dumbass pranks.

    3. Actually, the people in question may be the ones who were moved from New Orleans to Houston after Katrina. Most of them returned to NO but I few stayed in Houston…

      1. People always say shit like that. Like Houston was some kind of crime-free utopia before Katrina. It wasn’t, there were plenty of criminals and thugs in Houston long before Katrina. Now, the population of rival gang members might have increased, but Houston had plenty of “no go” zones well before Katrina.

        1. I know what you’re saying.
          However, probably even the roughest neighborhood in Houston is better than your average hood in New Orleans…
          Plus members the Houston PD are much tougher on crime than their corrupt colleagues in New Orleans.

          1. Meh, Houston and New Orleans aren’t really that far apart in terms of violent crime. And there have been several studies that have shown that there was no real appreciable difference in crime in Houston before and after Katrina. There was a brief spike in some gang-related crimes, but those problems really just solved themselves, so to speak.

            1. I agree on the crime rate, but the Katrina refugee situation was a real shitshow. A couple of months after Katrina, there were approximately 1,500 “refugees” locked up in the Harris County jail. The strip clubs and liquor stores did some booming business though. The FEMA debit cards that were handed out were getting used there right and left… lol

              1. For sure – saw an older Dallas suburb go to hell practically overnight from NO LA refugees.

    4. Shooting at Cajuns sounds like a bad idea that would rank right up there with shaving a grizzly bears ass while locked in a phone booth.

  9. I’d like to add a little to this good article about archery. Hunting with a bow is something I strongly recommend to all decent men who enjoy hunting. A bow will teach you and/or your children discipline and patience. The odds of bagging a kill on your first bow hunt are slim to none in my opinion. A bow requires you to be silent due to its range and absolutely lethal on the first shot unless you want to go on a blood trail hike. For me personally it epitomizes both the harsh reality of ancestors gone and the exacting perfection of living a “one shot” existence. I do advise a compound bow and a large caliber pistol in the event you maim. Bow hunting is definitely something I strongly recommend to all.

  10. I want to build one of those super old Chinese(I think) lever action repeating crossbows.
    Super genius invention.

    1. Look at the slingshot channel on youtube, that kraut dude does all kinds of stuff like that.

      Let him show you the features…

  11. Dear God, all the good commenters are here. I had tuned out of the other site a bit, came back, and it seemed like a whole ‘nother place.

      1. Honestly, from what I’m seeing, I like this site better. Got tired of the whining and joo-blame. Good Lord, man, quit crying , stand up, and live your life.

        1. Wait, you think the Jews don’t have quarterly meetings about how to fuck the world over? I mean,I bet they even have a secret handshake and everything.

          1. I thought that was the communists. It’s so hard to keep all the various worlds’ evils separate.

  12. I may be late in this comment, but to all you long-time commenters who got banned from RoK, you should remember Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power. You were starting to outshine the master. Especially you Hipponax.

      1. He’s gotten worse for the better when he transformed from lolknee to Hipponax. Now re-read my apparently poorly grammatically constructed sentence and it makes much sense. Too many adverbs and I must be awake six hours from now.

        1. Hey, edit that, please. There is an IRL reason he made that change and he doesn’t want the connection out there.

  13. So this is where everyone is! What the hell is going on over at ROK. The best commentators are being purged!

    1. It sure has gotten quiet over there.
      I haven’t been yet banned from ROK so I don’t get to sit at the cool kids table.
      Just wait til Vinny Pringo finds out.

      1. I feel like I should try to get banned now. But I would miss out on the opportunity to call out the 100th article on leaving America for the Philippines or the appropriate way to wear pocket squares……fucking pocket squares.

              1. I always knew there was something funny (not funny ha-ha, funny queer) about Banning.

        1. Those men’s fashion articles would have a guy looking like the Beibs who I believe would not only hold one but, he would put it in his mouth too.

          1. So we can expect more articles on how to look like a Japanese pop star and movie reviews. Sounds illuminating.

              1. I don’t know. There is still much to be written about guns, knives, fighting techniques, fitness, financial budgeting, career choices, politics, weekly events, cars, motorcycles, camping, hunting, fishing, tools, carpentry, fabrication, lost skill sets.

                When fucking pocket squares becomes a topic over the above mentioned suggestions it makes me wonder about the writers Roosh is attracting and what he decides to publish.

            1. Surely looking like a Japanese pop star is one of many solutions for modern living.

  14. Any who practices archery gets my respect. Its one hell of a skill to be good at let alone master. It requires a lot of strength, patience, knowledge and yes, money.

    Its impressive to watch a good archer do his thing. Its takes a long time to get good at it, so those who are good at it demonstrate discipline.

    I’ll stick with guns, they seem a whole lot easier.

    1. “I’ll stick with guns, they seem a whole lot easier.”

      From the latest FBI stats, a lot of Americans seem to have continued buying them despite the defeat of HC. I would recommend that anyone who thought about buying a M4 or AR15, to do so now as prices will not be this low again for awhile.

  15. Make a PVC bow for your kids! They’ll love them! Tons of plans are on YouTube. My little blue-eyed demons shoot theirs pretty much every weekend.
    Cheap arrows can be had at Walmart in November after archery hunting season ends!

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