Help, I’m a Beginning Archer and I Don’t Know What to Buy!

Whether you’re just getting started in archery or you’re getting back into the sport after being away from it a while, it can be confusing to know what equipment you should and should not get right away. There’s a ton of fancy and not-so-fancy stuff out there, but some of it is not really needed until you build up your skill level a bit.

We hope this article will help you understand what things you absolutely have to have to get started, what accessories are a good idea but you can do without at first, and which items you might start planning to pick up along the way.

Items You MUST Buy to Get Started

These are things you simply cannot do without, because they’re essential to the sport of archery, whether you’re just kicking around in the backyard or getting ready to take your archery out onto the competition range or the hunting lands.

a) The Bow

You will need a bow, of course. You can’t practice archery without a bow, and you should make sure you buy the best recurve bow that fits your budget. Fortunately, we have a list of the best recurve bows for every budget range. Our recurve bow reviews are also a must-read.

b) The Bow Stringer

A bow stringer is essential to any recurve archer’s kit, because it is the only way to safely and consistently string a bow. The bow stringer helps you safely use your body weight to bend the recurve bow enough to slip the string over the limb tips. Your grandfather might have used a “step-through” method to do this, but that is dangerous for both you and your bow, so make sure you always use a bow stringer to put the string on your recurve bow.

c) Arrows

Arrows, along with field tips, are the next required item, and you should purchase more than one. Most sporting goods stores will sell you a 6-pack or more of arrows. It’s often a good idea to buy arrows at the same time that you’re buying your recurve, since the bow technician who helps you pick out a good recurve will be able to measure your draw length and help you buy the right size arrows. If this simply doesn’t work out for you, though, we have a handy guide on choosing arrows.

d) Nocking Points

The purpose of a nock point is to provide you with a constant place on your bow string to nock your arrow. This is important, because it will provide consistency of shooting so your arrow has a better chance of going where you want it to go every time to shoot your bow. It also helps make sure you don’t nick your bow hand with the arrow’s fletchings or vanes. You can make a nock point from brass points, from serving string, or from tape. The bow technician who helps you set up your bow or any experienced archer can help you with setting your nock point where you need it.

e) Targets

Once you have all your essential gear together, it’s time to go cast some arrows. But wait, what are you going to aim for? Targets are essential, and can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. Some days, I’ll just draw a picture of a cottontail rabbit on a piece of paper and shoot at that, while other days I’m looking for more refined knowledge about where my arrows are landing and will use a circular bulls-eye target. In addition to the target, though, you need some sort of a backstop to stop your arrows from going straight through the target and out into somebody’s fence or arm. Archery shops and sporting goods stores sell foam blocks that serve nicely, but you can also use a few bales of hay.

Recommended, but Not Required Items

This list will let you know some items that are nice to have, but you do not absolutely have to invest in them right away. Most of these items are comfort-related, though, so you may consider purchasing or making the first two items no matter what, just to make sure you can get the most enjoyment possible out of the sport.

a) Arm Guard

An arm guard covers your forearm, and sometimes your entire arm, to keep your sleeves, hair and skin out of the way of the bowstring as you release your arrow. As you start learning the proper technique, you should learn how to adjust your elbow vertically to keep most of your arm out of the way of the string, but until then, you should wear an arm guard that covers as much of your arm as possible. The string will smack or drag along your arm from time to time, especially as you’re learning the sport, and you don’t want your skin to be in the way when that happens.

b) Glove or Finger Tabs

If you shoot a bow without something to protect your fingers, you will end up with painful blisters that will eventually lead to problems with your release. You can wear a leather glove or finger tabs on your shooting hand to prevent these blisters. Modern finger tabs sometimes also include spacers that spread the index and middle fingers apart, helping to keep the archer from pinching the arrow.

The good news is that you do not have to buy this item. You can make your own finger tabs—Scout troops quite often make their own finger tabs, and the patterns or kits are readily available.

c) Arrow Rest

If your bow doesn’t include an arrow rest, this is something you may want to invest in early on. The arrow rest is what the arrow sets on as it is drawn, and can be a simple fixed rest or a complicated drop-away rest that falls out of the way as the arrow is released. For short-term use, some archers can use their hands as a makeshift arrow rest, but an actual rest is something you’ll want to install on your bow after you get it broken in and know you’re going to continue practicing archery. We will be adding an article soon to help you select the right arrow rest for your need, so stay tuned!

d) Broadhead Wrench

A broadhead wrench allows you to unscrew a broadhead tip from your arrow without slicing your fingers open. If you are only using field tips for your archery, this might be something you can wait on until you’re doing some sort of archery that requires broadheads.

e) Bow String Wax

If you look at your bowstring through a magnifying glass, you’ll see millions of fibers that make up just one strand of your string. If not properly lubricated, those fibers rub together and create friction that can lead to the strands snapping, thus shortening the life of your string. To help prevent that from happening, archers was their bow strings with bow string wax, which provides good lubrication while also providing a layer of protection against water and other elements you might encounter in the outdoors. Buy quality bowstring wax, wax your bowstring every 2 to 4 weeks, and your bowstring will last much longer.

Optional Items

The rest of these items are handy, but they are not necessary to have. They’ll make your archery a bit more fun, though, so these are definitely things to put on your wish list for later on down the road, when you know that archery is something you’re going to stick with.

a) Sight

A sight is used to help you aim your bow. Most recurve bows don’t include sights, because many recurve bow archers prefer the challenge of instinctive shooting, or shooting without the aid of an aiming aid like a sight or another point of reference. Still, sights are perfectly legitimate to use, and can sometimes help the beginning archer learn where to look and how to aim for instinctive shooting. See our guide on recurve bow sights for specific recommendations.

b) Quiver

A quiver is a container used for holding your arrows before you shoot them. Sometimes, archers will just stick their arrows into the ground, but this can be tough on the arrows and arrow tips and inconvenient for the archer. Some quivers attach to the bow while some are worn around the waist or shoulder. Quivers make it much quicker to pull a new arrow for the next shot. It’s not an essential bit of equipment, but it’s definitely nice to have.

c) String Whisker Silencers

Whisker silencers are lightweight rubber silencers that reduce the noise of your bowstring without compromising the performance of your bow. These are not so important for backyard or target archery, but they are wonderful add-ons to your bowstring when you start bow hunting.


This list of items should get you started, as well as give you a wish list of items to buy as you build your skill as an archer and branch out to other forms of archery. If you have any questions about any of these items, or product recommendations, just let us know and we will help you out.


Add a Comment
  1. I just want to thank you for all the work you have put in for outlining easy-to-read tips for the beginners. I am a beginner and was looking for the type of info you have provided. Thanks

  2. I took your advice and bought some accessories. Hopefully you receive a commission. You earned it. Your site is excellent!

  3. I’m starting up and was looking for an easy-to-read/understand start up list, and this fit the bill perfectly. Thank you very much!

  4. Thanks for the info. I am wanting to get into archery along with my son and this site has been very helpful. I’m still trying to decide on which bow I want to get.

  5. Hey again.
    You should also include a BowTrainer in your list of optional gear. You can work your way to your preferred pull weight and stay conditioned in the off-season.
    Only reason I mentioned it was because I got one and it seems to do rather well. Found it on Amazon due to your recommended reading section, thanks for that, btw. Awesome little package deal.

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