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The Cost of Archery (FITA, NFAA, USAT, or USA Archery)

by Jason J. Huber

posted in Recreation and Sports

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My daughter and I started shooting as something fun we could do in our backyard. I hunted as a child and so one Christmas we headed to Cabela's and picked up a Bear Apprentice in Pink Camo. Kristin, my daughter, shot a 272 in Vegas with her Bear. Vegas is known as the largest and most prestigious indoor archery tournament in the World. That year I spent maybe $500 on archery. The following year's total for equipment alone was over $5k.
Why so much? Isn't archery an inexpensive sport to get involved with? It is. Explaining the real costs of archery and how to avoid some of the pitfalls is the purpose of this article. This article is meant for the parents of a new archer or a parent of a child who has expressed an interest in target archery. Remember this isn't National Archery in the School Program (NASP) archery we are talking about. This is the FITA, USAT, and USA Archery that you see at the Olympics that we are discussing here.
First find a Junior Olympic Archery Development (J.O.A.D.) club in your area. Somewhere you can drive to every single week. At that J.O.A.D. club you will find coaches that are certified, background checked, and almost certainly excited about archery. They are knowledgeable about the sport, the equipment, and the local tournament landscape. In almost every single coach I have encountered they are also very aware of the costs of archery. They want to make sure the new archer is successful with their equipment. This means it isn't a financial burden to the parents and that it is appropriate or the local tournament landscape.
Once you have a chance to listen to the coaches they might also have a location where you can purchase your new equipment. Remember that you can always buy used equipment! A used bow is a great way to save money. Listen to your coaches! In almost all cases they are there to make sure your child is having fun in archery and is safe!
Exactly what equipment do you need before you start to shoot? Even if you join a J.O.A.D. club, this is what you must have. Please note, that when it comes to arrows you should NEVER buy arrows without consulting an archery professional. Arrows are made to fit the archer by "spine" which is how stiff the arrow is along it's length. Your arrows should be purchased and cut to length by a professional. All equipment is specified for what your child can use to shoot at a yellow pin (Kristin's Vegas Score) at least!
  • Bow - Compound or recurve bows can start as low as $250
  • Sight - Most starter compound bows will come with a sight, but will cost round $100 if not.
  • Arrow Rest - Most starter compound bows will come with this. Around $50 if not.
  • Arrows - A Dozen. No more, no less. You child IS going to break 9 of these! $8 each. No more than $50.
  • Release Aid - Release aids were illegal when I was a kid. Start your child with a properly sized (small in length) wrist trigger release. No more than $50.
  • Target - Get a youth target. A large one that can withstand bows up to 40 pounds.

So where could you go wrong? First you can buy and entry-level hunting bow that isn't suited for you archer. It does not allow the proper draw-length adjustments that you need. It might not have enough poundage adjustment to allow your child to pull it back now and in 2 years so they can hit something at 30-50 meters. Next you can buy the wrong arrows. There are so many choices in arrows that if I walked into a store with a parent I would struggle to pick the right arrows for their child. There are programs to help with this. That is why an experienced J.O.A.D. coach can help. Finally the release. The only thing with the release is to ensure it is small enough and adjustable!
As a new parent in archery you should expect to pay around $500 for everything your child needs to start shooting. Joining a J.O.A.D. club (you do not need to join to go and get purchasing advice) will also cost a small yearly fee of $100 - $400 dollars. Remember to take an introductory lesson first, see what you think, and have fun with your child in archery. We didn't even talk about how much Dad or Mom's new bow will cost!
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