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About the Club

Wheathampstead Archery Club club was founded in 1956, and we have about 40 members. We are always happy to welcome newcomers; beginners or experienced. Beginners are expected to complete a training course, run by our Archery GB qualified club coaches.

We usually shoot as a club on Saturday afternoons.  Established members can use the club’s facilities at any time. We shoot on Folly Fields in Wheathampstead see the map.

An increasing number of our members are interested in the traditional English longbow, and shoot regularly with that or Horse bows, as well as regular recurves. Unfortunately, due to the need for a very long ‘overshoot’ area, it is not permitted to use compound bows or crossbows at our club.

We have a Junior Section for under-18s. The minimum age is 12. For under 16s a parent or guardian but be present during training sessions and when shooting as a member.

We hold our Annual End-of-Season Championships in October.

Archery Equipment

Three main kinds of bows are used in archery–the recurve bow, the compound bow, and the longbow.

The recurve bow, the most common type used by target archers, has tips that curve away from the archer.  it usually a take down bow, meaning that the limbs can be separated from the handle – often called the riser – for easy transport.

A compound bow has a system of two cables and from two to six pulleys built into it.  The cables and pulleys make this kind of bow easier to draw (pull back) than other types.  

The longbow, once the most popular type of bow, is still in use by many archers.  There are other other type of traditional bow such as the American Flat Bow and the Mongolian Horsebow

Most modern club recurve bows are made of carbon-reinforced plastics or wood.  The core consists of several layers of wood that have been laminated (glued together).  Some bows can be separated into two or three pieces for carrying and storage.


Bowstrings are made of plastics, notably Dacron or polyethylene cord, and have a wrapping of nylon thread opposite the handle of the bow.  This wrapping protects the string at the nocking point, the place where the notch of an arrow fits.  Each end of the string has a loop that is used in stringing the bow.  In recurve bows and longbows, the loop fits into a notch at each tip of the bow.  In compound bows, the loop is attached to one of the two cables.  Some strings for traditional bows are made from natural flemish hemp.

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that in the UK imperial measurements are still widely used in archery. Metric conversions are offered in what follows!

The amount of pull required to bring a 28 inch (71cm)  arrow to full draw is called the draw weight of the bow.    A beginner should use a bow of 20 lb (9kg) or less. Accomplished adult archers may use bows up to 55 – 60lb (25 – 29kg). It is tempting for beginners to buy and shoot bows that are heavy in draw weight, but this can lead to injury. Slowly progressing upwards is a better strategy.

Bows vary in length, depending on their use.  Archers also choose a bow that is comfortable for their draw length.  Many recurve target archers use bows 5′ 8″ to 5’10” (173 to 180 cm) long.  Junior bows are correspondingly shorter.

Arrows are made of aluminium, carbon, fibreglass, or wood.  Target archers prefer lightweight carbon composite or aluminium arrows, which travel especially fast and accurately.  Hunters and other archers who sometimes must shoot on rough land generally use aluminium arrows, which can withstand rough treatment.  Beginners should shoot with aluminium or wooden arrows.

All arrows have three main parts–the point, which in most cases is made of metal; the shaft; and the nock, which attaches to the string.  Points vary in shape and size. Target and field archers use a conical, bullet-shaped point.  The nock has a notch for the bowstring.  Three or four vanes (feathers) on the shaft help provide accuracy in shooting.  An arrow may be fletched (feathered) with plastic vanes or natural feathers.

Arrow length varies from about 2′ to 2′ 7″ ( 61 to 81 cm).  An archer can determine the proper length to use by holding an arrow perpendicular to the chest and extending the other arm straight out.  The arrow should reach just beyond the fingertips.


There is a whole area of knowledge related to the matching of arrows to bows. Arrows must flex a little to clear the bow without hitting it, and the amount of bend in an arrow is called its ‘spine’. Beginners will find that shops and club members are ready to help with getting this right.


Most archers carry their arrows in a holder called a quiver. The quiver may be attached to the bow or a belt, or placed on the ground.

Other equipment includes an arm guard or ‘bracer’ made of leather or plastic.  The bracer is worn on the forearm of the hand that holds the bow.  It protects the forearm when the bowstring snaps back after being released.  Archers also wear a shooting glove or a leather tab to protect the fingers that draw the bowstring.

Many bows are equipped with a bowsight that helps the archer aim.  Bowsights range from simple metal pins to telescopic eyepieces.  Most target archers use one or two composite or metal rods called stabilizers to reduce the vibrations in a bow after the bowstring is released.  These rods, manufactured in various lengths and weights, are usually attached to the back of the bow handle.

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