10 Incorrect Perceptions Non-Archers Have About Archery

We are surrounded by depiction of archery in video games, media, movies, and fantasy that is simply untrue. Perceptions non-archers have about archery is based on them.

They are misleading and breed misconceptions about archery.

Let’s look at 10 incorrect perceptions that non-archers have about archery.

10 Incorrect Perceptions Non-Archers Have About Archery

1. Archery is easy

Yes and no. If you are looking to shoot a vertical table size target in 30 m range, it is easy. Any noob can do it every so often. But if you are looking for shooting a DVD size target over 70 m range, it is a lot harder than you think.

Archery is easy to LEARN. But it is difficult to MASTER.

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2. Archery requires arm strength

This sounds obvious because you are holding the bow and pulling the string with your arms. But, you use your back muscles more than your arm muscles.

You don’t need stone arms!

Having strong arm muscles definitely helps. But the truth of the matter is that you are holding majority of the load on your back muscles which are far stronger than the arms, and more suitable for carrying load.

Shoulders are another area where load comes to get distributed. People who have been involved with archery for many years can testify this with toned back and shoulder muscles.

Majority of the fiction out there is supporting this. Look at Legolas from Lord of the Rings or Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. They have a lean and straight body that carries explosive strength in their backs.

Read: Ask The Pros: Which Exercises Strengthen Archery Muscles?

3. Archery requires dexterity

This often is seen in games where character built of an Archer requires dexterity or agility. The actual action of shooting a bow requires strength. If you don’t have enough strength, you can’t physically pull the bow back.

There are certain things in Archery that may require dexterity. The main thing that comes to the mind is archer’s ability to load and nock arrows quickly. But the actual shooting is based on your physical conditioning.

Being dexterous also does not mean you are suddenly able to aim better.

Read: Strength Versus Dexterity in Roleplaying Games

4. You have to be young to be able to do archery

Now I don’t know where this one arises from, but people out there, especially older folks get worried thinking archery is a young man sport.

Of course, young people will be able to do archery for maybe prolonged period of time and may even be able to use a heavier draw weight. But archery does not discriminate.

Archery is for every age group!

People in 50s, 60s and even their 70s can safely practice archery and enjoy the sport. Because if I were to relate archery with another sport, then it will be closely related to Golf, then say Soccer. It requires some physical attributes, but it is far less demanding in nature than most of the sports out there.

There was a time in middle ages when longbow was used by masses in Britain. Bow was a household thing, and government encouraged people from all walks of life to practice shooting with the bow. They in turn got a militia on call whenever they required. At that time everyone in the villages were engaged in some practice of bow shooting regardless of the age.

So, if you are past your prime, you can safely go ahead and practice archery. In fact, you will see some not so young people participating in worldwide competitive tournaments.

Read: No Age Limit On Archery Says 79-Year-Old Aleksander Kiskonen

5. Modern bows are machines

Compound bow

This criticism generally comes from people who are too much influenced by media’s glamorizing the tradition of archery. They say, infusing technology into archery dilutes it.

But guess what, that’s what humans have been doing all along. There was only one type of bow in ancient civilizations. A string tied to a straight wood. But humans learnt over time and started making more and more ‘technological’ bows like composite bows of Japan.

This step forward in archery is just evolution of bows and archery. We are no longer running around wearing a rabbit skin anymore because we have discovered better materials and designs to cover our bodies. 

So is the case with archery. I get some of the gripes about sights, stabilizers and other gadgets. That’s understandable.

For the most part, what you believe to be modern about bows is just their material and production.

If I have to compare it to something, then it would be pottery. People have been using cups since ancient times and the material, design and manufacturing of the cups have evolved throughout our history. But, they are fundamentally the same. They hold liquids in them.

Same is with the bows. Although, now we are using fiber glass, aluminum and carbon to make our bows, but the function and everything else is the same as the old bows. They may be sturdier and harder to break or bend, but they essentially do exactly what the old bows used to do. Even the knockdown bows are not any different.

For sights, you can also create grooves on your traditional wooden bow that helps you guide your shot at a certain distance. The only difference is sights can be adjusted and are a bit more flexible.

If you think about it a bit more deeply, you’ll realize the bow itself is a mechanical machine that helps you launch long and straight objects as projectile. Modern archery has changed the bows and arrows in terms of their material and manufacturing, but the essence and fundamentals of archery are still intact in modern archery.

Compound bows and crossbows are different though. They are definitely mechanical. They are epitome of modern archery. But it still requires the archer to have skills be good at it. Even those bows are not self-shooting machines.

MODERN COMPOUND BOW & CROSSBOW: These do look like a machine.

Read: Modern Archery Equipment

6. Archery is linear

People assume that the natural progression of archery goes like this:

Traditional bows -> recurve bows -> compound bows -> crossbows -> guns

And so on.

So, these people say instead of going for recurve, why don’t you go for compound, and instead of compound why don’t you just shoot guns.

For many, it is just about hitting the target. You see, their scale tips directly from traditional bow to modern firearms. They think every kind of archery as one linear progression. And if you are not doing traditional archery and are going to use an advanced version anyways, why not use the most advanced shooting weapons we have, guns.

This is an extreme thought. Going from completely traditional bows to completely mechanical, precision shooting machine.

This is a very narrow view of things though. Instead of looking it as a linear progression, look at it as multiple branches. So, you have all different kinds of shooting devices. You have rifles and pistols and compound bows and recurve bows, and all these things suit different people with different purposes.

You don’t tell a person who shoots pistol, oh why don’t you shoot rifles. Because they are different things.

A gun is not a bow. There is physical element and different skills involved in bows then in a gun. Same goes for different bows. A longbow (a traditional bow) is different from modern recurve which gives a different experience from a compound bow. It’s not about progression but the choice and the overall experience of that activity.

7. You can use any arrow from any bow

This originates from our modern games where you can pick up an arrow pack or arrows anywhere and use them. You might have seen this in many movies as well.

Now, most arrows can be used from the most bows provided they are not too short. However, there is another element to it.

Every arrow has a spine. It is the middle area of the arrow. It provides the flexibility and structure to the bow.

For every bow you use, you have a particular draw weight at your length. And if the arrow does not correctly flex around the bow then you have clearance issues. The arrow will not leave the bow cleanly which means it will not be as accurate.

Unlike old days, we are mostly using the bows as a recreational tool, a sort of a hobby. So, with modern bows, people have much greater expectation in terms of accuracy and precision. People will go for a greater length to find the right spine for the bow. Because if the spine is slightly off, then the accuracy is not good enough.

You can shoot an off-spine arrow, but it won’t be as good as you want it to be. So, although you can shoot most arrows from most bows, it doesn’t mean you shoot them well.

Arrow Selection – How to Choose the Right One

8. Arrows fare well against armor

This one comes from our movies as well as documentaries on TV.

Legolas can’t beat Ironman! (Neither can Thanos)

Now armors were specifically made keeping arrows in mind. Plate armor easily blocks arrows. While mail armor is much harder to break apart if it is a closed riveted armor – which was used historically.

These armors can withstand any blunt or sharp weapons. In fact, below the armor the warrior used to wear other layers. They even used to subdue the impact force of arrows for a large extent.

But arrows were still effective in ancient times is because most of the people did not have armor.

Read: History of Archery

9. Arrows are deadly

This is a movie as well as video game trope. One hit kill from arrows of Legolas is mesmerizing.

While you can definitely wound someone with an arrow, killing them is a bit harder. Human body is designed so that your vital organs are well protected. You have your skull to protect your brain, ribcage to protect vital organs like heart and lungs.

And even if we hit a part which is not well protected, it is not going to do a whole lot. If the arrow penetrates the heart or brain, then sure, it’s an instant kill.

If you hit someone in the core area (stomach area), they will bleed out and cause some decent damage.

But for the most part, arrows will not kill someone outright. It will often wound them. They can die of excessive bleeding or infection with time, but not because of arrow itself killing them.

Read: Physics of Medieval Archery

10. There is only one kind of “real” archery

Bareback bows in action!

People have different tastes and they subscribe to one form of archery over others. Some people who are not involved in the archery and know little about it assume that traditional barebow archery is the only “real” archery.

It is like saying there is only one type of “true” cuisine in the world.

This kind of silent war is very much like Marvel vs DC comics, or Android vs iOS in my opinion. People are sort of fans of a certain thing and downplay or criticize the other thing.

There’s human nature at play here people. The truth of the matter is that there are different branches of archery as there are different flavors of ice-cream in the market. Some people may like chocolate, some may be more fruit flavor fans. But that does not make the other flavor NOT an ice-cream. Chocolate ice-cream is as much of an ice-cream as peach.

Archery similarly is diverse and is around since the dawn of humanity. Saying that archery is for one purpose or should be used for only one purpose is wrong. Archery has been used for hunting, for war, for survival and for sport.

And no matter what kind of archery you do, every form of it is valid.


Here you have it.

Misconceptions about a thing can lead to errors in judgement and wrong expectations. In every sphere of life, outsiders make some assumptions that may not be accurate.

I remember when I was first introduced to computers back in 1995, they told me that computers can do anything. I took their word as it is. So, whenever I used to have any query, I used to write it down on command line interface (c:/>) and computer used to throw out a “syntax error” at me. I didn’t know any better.

Same is with archery. Archery is many things, but not everything that we have been told. Thus, some myths needed to be busted.

This article is just to make you aware of some of the misconceptions that people have about the archery when they are not involved with the sport in any way, shape or form.


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