Archery: Skills, Rules & Techniques

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Basketball Skills, Activities & Safety

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Types of Bows & Equipment
  • 1:19 Archery Skills and Techniques
  • 3:00 Archery Rules
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Archery is a popular sport that has been around for centuries. This lesson will describe types of bows, archery techniques, and present-day rules for this ancient activity.

Types of Bows and Equipment

So, you want to learn all about archery, a sport that involves shooting a bow. Well, you're not alone. Some form of archery has been around since prehistoric times, with ancient people using arrows to kill game. So it's safe to assume there have been many before you who have taken the time to learn how to shoot an arrow.

You might be wondering what you need to practice archery. For starters, you'll need a bow. There are many types of bows, but we'll focus on the three that are used the most: the recurve bow, the longbow, and the compound bow.

In a recurve bow, the tips bend away from the archer. To remember this, think 'recurve is curving away.' And here's a fun fact: the Olympics only allows recurve bows. The longbow is a bow that is long (hey, I guess I see how it got its name), or tall. In fact, long bows are often the same height as the archer. It doesn't curve like the recurve and is a very simple design. The compound bow looks a lot more complex than the first two, and has pulleys, cables, and wheels. In addition to the bow, an archer may need an arm guard (or protection for the arm from the string on the bow), a quiver (which is a container to hold the arrows), and (of course) arrows!

Archery Skills and Techniques

While some techniques may vary, there are general rules archers follow, which helps ensure accuracy while shooting. Of course, these rules don't apply for all types of archery, but it will help you get an idea of the process. Ready? Okay, here we go!

Proper stance

Line up, so your feet are in a line towards the middle of the target. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, and your toes should be pointing at a 90-degree angle from the target. In other words, if you drew an imaginary line from the center of the target, it would hit the side of your foot.

Put the arrow in the bow

Put the arrow on the arrow rest, which is part of the bow. Place the bowstring into the nock, which is the slotted portion on the back of an arrow. Usually, the fletching, or the feather or plastic stabilizing portion of the bow, will have one that is odd colored, as you can see in the image below. Point the odd-colored fletch outward.

Note the red colored tip, which is the nock. Also, note that the fletching are different colors. Point the odd-colored fletch out.

Grip the string

Typically, three fingers are used to hold the string. The pointer finger is held above the arrow, and the middle and ring finger are below the arrow. The grip should be loose.

Draw the bow

Raise the bow and draw, or pull the string back. Your bow arm, or the arm that is not drawing the string, should be pointed toward the target. Next, draw the string toward an anchor point. This varies depending on whether or not you're using a sight. Anchor points are typically the chin, corner of the mouth, or ear.


Some people aim with a sight, others do not.


Let go of the string by relaxing your fingers. Don't jerk or move the bow after you have released the arrow. Stay in the stance until the arrow hits the target as to not move while the arrow is being released.

Archery Rules

Before we delve into the specific rules, you should be familiar with archery etiquette. In order to avoid an accidental shooting, a whistle is used to indicate when an archer can approach the shooting line, when they can shoot, and when they can retrieve their arrows. See below:

  • Two whistle blows: The archer moves to the shooting line.
  • One whistle blow: The archer shoots.
  • Three whistle blows: The archer retrieves their arrows.

Next, let's outline the Olympic rules for archery. While there are numerous other tournaments, all with varying rules, I'll just focus on the rules used in the Olympics so you don't get bogged down with details.

Archery target

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account