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

J. Nyx is a father of three and co-owner of akingscastle.com. He understands that there is something missing in the community and that you can be a traditional, masculine man in our current age as well as a dedicated leader of your family.