By Erik Barber
Don’t put your bow away just because the days are short and temperatures cold. Indoor archery lanes offer plenty of ways to practice throughout winter to keep your skills sharp.
Whether you want to compete in a league while bolstering your network of archery friends, or you prefer a casual environment to shoot a few arrows, you’ll find many ways to enjoy archery indoors once the snow starts flying.
Most archery pro shops open their indoor ranges to the public. Distances vary, but most lanes offer 20-yard shots, while a few stretch it to about 40 yards. Regardless of how far you shoot, you can hone your skills by shooting cricket, five-spot, 3D targets, or interactive video bowhunts. Get started by finding nearby pro shops with this Where to Shoot feature, and then review each shop’s accommodations.
Indoor archery offers something for everyone, regardless of skill level. It’s a great time and place to test new gear while fine-tuning your form in a controlled environment.
No matter which indoor range you use, learn the shop’s rules. The rules often vary, but safety is always the top priority. Some ranges use a siren and flashing lights between rounds to signal archers when they can safely retrieve their arrows. Others rely on the archers to communicate when it’s safe to approach the targets, so be mindful of other archers sharing the range. Don’t rush downrange to pull arrows. It’s dangerous and bad etiquette. Be courteous and wait patiently while others finish shooting. Once everyone on the line hangs up their bows and declares the range “cold,” go retrieve your arrows.
Indoor leagues and tournaments are a great way to beat the winter blues. League formats often vary, but most use a rolling scoring system that carries over one week to the next. Leagues can also sound intimidating, but they’re not all about competition. Leagues offer camaraderie, and multi-week tournaments are a great way to meet new friends in the archery community. Leagues also help integrate archery into your weekly routine, which gives you something to look forward to each week during winter’s doldrums.
When shooting a league or tournament, remember that you’re competing with yourself. Your scores log your weekly performance into a progress report that helps you set weekly, seasonal or annual performance goals.
Instead of storing your bow this winter and letting your skills go dormant, stay atop your game by registering for an indoor archery league. It helps you beat cabin fever while forging new friendships and sharpening skills that keep you coming back for more.