Getting Started in Archery

So…How do I get Started?

Here is a nice brochure that can get you pointed in the right direction.  Beginning Archery Pamphlet

Here is a link to the JOAD clubs in Arizona. AZ JOAD Clubs.

 Starting Out

Your child has developed an interest in Archery?  Maybe they saw it in the Movies,  had a chance to shoot in school as part of the “National Archery in the Schools” program, or they have friends that do it.  Here is some information for getting a young archer started in a JOAD program.

  • Archery has many disciplines.  Target, where you shoot at multi colored targets.  3D, where you shoot at animal shaped targets.  Field archery, which is a mix of Target and 3D where you shoot targets while hiking around the archery course.
  • One of the best things to do is to go and talk to a local JOAD club.  A listing of Arizona Clubs can be found at the link above.  Note: all of the clubs have beginner classes.  These classes can be offered on a day-by-day, or session-by-session basis.  Some clubs may offer a place for both youths and parents to learn.
  • Sometimes the best way to get help is to ask the JOAD instructors. JOAD clubs are typically made up of adult volunteers that have been trained and certified by USA Archery as Instructors/Coaches.  Again, many of the instructors are volunteers, so be kind.
  • The JOAD clubs typically will have equipment for beginners to learn with.  So initial cost on equipment is minimal
  • Join USA Archery (also called the NAA, National Archery Association).  The USA Archery website is a good source of information.  Another great source of information is to speak with the advanced JOAD Archers and their parents.  Interested adults can become NAA certified Instructor / Coaches / Judges.  Adult volunteers do not need to be great archers.  Clubs welcome volunteers.


If your young Archer falls in Love with the sport, then the next steps are as follows.

  • Get your own equipment.  To take the next step the archers need their own, properly sized and  “tuned” Bow, Arrows, and accessories.  This is where your local pro-shop comes in.  Find the shop that will sell you the equipment, provide service to tune it up, and be there when you need help.  Some shops focus on hunters and don’t or understand JOAD.  Just ask the shop if they are capable of properly setting up your youth archer.  The JOAD clubs will be able to help direct you into a proper purchase.
  • Bow type is a big question.  For competition there are two basic types of bows, the Recurve or Olympic bow and the Compound bow.  Many JOAD archers start with one type of bow and then switch to another. Your JOAD instructor can sometimes suggest the bow type based on the physical makeup of your archer.
  • Compound.  Compound bows can be purchased quite successfully from local archery shops.  Target compound bow archers typically use “long” stabilizers, movable sights, scopes and mechanical releases.  Most JOADs can start out with what is essentially a hunting package.  The decision to just get shooting or to purchase a target archery bow and accessories depends on your circumstances.  JOADs should look for a compound bow that has a large range in draw length and poundage adjustment to allow the JOAD to grow.
  • Recurve.  If you are not quite sure about the commitment and want to keep the purchase within reason, you can purchase an all wood, or an entry level metal bow with removable and changeable limbs.  Most JOADs will want to start with 15, 20 or 25lb limbs.  I have seen many a JOAD start with too heavy limbs and then give up because of the difficulty.  It just isn’t fun to struggle or tire prematurely.  The relatively light 20 to 25 lb limbs work just fine indoors and can and have won National and World Championships.

There are charts to help size a bow to the JOAD archer.  Bigger is not better.  Bigger is often just heavier, clumsier and awkward.

Let your pocket book be your guide.  Many times there are chances to borrow equipment to try things out.  (FYI a high performance bow setup can easily cost between $1000 and $2000 plus arrows)

  • Genesis Bow.  An interesting bow option is the Genesis bow, which more and more school programs are using.  Many JOADs will want a Genesis because it’s what they are accustomed too.  Several archers of differing draw length can use it.  They have a constant draw weight so it’s well suited for JOADs.  Many families own a Genesis as a training bow to reinforce their form.
  • Training.  Once the JOAD has their equipment tuned, it is time to train.  Phoenix is lucky to have three full size outdoor ranges, Usery, Papago and Ben Avery. Phoenix also has several Pro Shops, with Indoor Range facilities.  Coaching can “happen” in several ways. One way is to have the JOAD club instructor give one thing to work on each week at the club shoot.  The JOAD then has a week or two to master the technique before moving to the next item.  Another way is to seek regular private lessons.  Ask other advanced JOADs about their coaching.  Regular private lesson is the best way to see improvement in the JOADs performance.
  • Competitions.  Once a JOAD has a bow and some arrows they can compete.  A youth archer competes in specific divisions such as girl, boy, compound, recurve and age.  Most tournaments are open to all who want to compete.  One only needs to be a USA Archery member, pay the entry fee, and show up on competition day.  It’s that easy!
  • JOAD archers compete in different age classifications.  Note that the year of birth, not age, determines JOAD classification.  You may “shoot-up” to an older division as long as you shoot the older division requirements.  The Texas Archery Association website has a birthday/division “calculator” check it out.  Here is a link to the TSAA Website.  Remember the classifications change on Jan. 1
  • Ultimate JOAD goals include the Junior US Archery team, University Level teams, World Championship and the Olympics.   After JOAD is the Senior Archery world. (Yes, anyone older than 18 is referred to as a Senior)
  • There are other archery organizations such as the National Field Archery Association (NFAA).   Investigate them if JOAD is not quite what you had in mind.


  • Dedication and discipline can take a JOAD youth far in the sport of archery.  The steps to success are different for each archer.
  • Our experience has been: First, learn the basics with JOAD club bows.
  • Second, establish a relationship with a “bow tech type person” that can advise you on equipment and help you set up the bow.  This person may be found at an archery store or be a JOAD volunteer.
  • Third, seek advanced training or coaching.  Arizona has great-dedicated Archery coaches.  Some are volunteers.  For others, teaching and coaching is their profession.
  • Fourth, compete at tournaments.  The JOAD community is small on the State level.  Beginners routinely “win” their division!
  • Practice each step of the way.  Ask questions.
  • The local archery shops with JOAD programs are the logical place for indoor practice. Outdoor practice in the Phoenix metro area is available at Ben Avery in the Northwest valley and Usery Mountain Park in east Mesa and Papago Park in the Central Valley.  Phoenix has a seldom-used range, El Oso Park on the west side.   Tucson has the PSE facility with both an indoor and outdoor range.  Payson and Prescott Valley have shops too.



(Taken and modified from Bob Pian, via the AZJOAD website.)

Xcellence in Archery