Archery Forums: Which One Is Right for You?
Archery is a deceptively difficult sport. At first it seems easy: after your first trip to the range, you've probably hit the target a couple times, and you're just about certain that you're going to be bringing home gold from the next Olympic games.
After that---it gets a little more difficult!
Once the thrill of your first couple of shots wears off, how do you reach that goal of Olympic glory? How do you develop your skills as an archer, and become reliably accurate?
First, obviously, is PRACTICE. Archery is a sport that rewards repetition. Learn proper form, and practice, practice, practice.
Second, is GET A COACH. The guys at your range will definitely give you great advice, and expand your knowledge. But if you want to really develop your skills, you need to find a coach.
Third, is READ. Archery is a student's sport, and there's no better way to accrue knowledge than to study. I've written a post on the best archery books you can read, but there's another incredible source of knowledge, and it's the topic of this post:
If you've ever doubted that archery is incredibly popular, take a look at the archery forums I discuss below. It's incredible! Every day, archers from all over the world log into the sites below and talk gear, strategy, and practice, and all the entries people have added over the years have resulted in an archery resource unlike any the world has ever seen.
So let's take a look at some of the different forums dedicated to archery. After we do that, I'll give a couple rules---netiquette, if you will---to follow when you're in a forum. Each forum has a specific focus (and a "personality"), so you're sure to find one that matches your interests.
The Big Ones
There are two archery forums which are, by any definition, larger than the rest. The first:
Archery Talk. This is probably the most popular forum on the list. Archery Talk is the Big Daddy of archery forums, and it's pretty much got it all. If you want to talk about...
- Specific archery brands;
- Making your own archery equipment;
- Traditional archery;
- Crossbow shooting;
- How to teach your kids archery;
- Bowhunting and taxidermy;
- How to buy/sell equipment; and
- Just about whatever else you can think of
...it's on there.
There are aspects of the site that are similar to a traditional website, too---there are featured articles dating back through 2008, as well as archery news and updates.
It's not the flashiest site you've ever seen---one you enter a post, you'll see that it's still pretty lo-fi---but don't let that fool you: it's a fantastic place to ask questions, share your knowledge, and develop as an archer.
The Archery Subreddit. Reddit calls itself "The Front Page of the Internet," and there's a reason for that: it's HUGELY popular (it has about 500 million visitors per month, and is in the Top 25 most-popular websites in the world) and it's updated entirely by users. If you see something on your Facebook page or in your Instagram account, chances are it was on Reddit a couple days earlier.
Here's how it works: "Reddit" is the main site, and it has thousands of "subreddits," each dedicated to a particular topic. If you love the Dallas Cowboys, there's a subreddit full of people who want to share articles and info about the Cowboys; if you love photos taken during World War II, there is a subreddit full of people sharing images of World War II, if you love watercolor paintings, there's a subreddit full of... you get the idea.
There are literally thousands of subreddits, and if there's a subreddit you want to start---say you love gourmet P-B-and-J sandwiches, and you want to start a subreddit about it and start a conversation---you can do so. It's a pretty amazing site.
The Archery Subreddit is pretty darn fantastic. It has almost 30,000 registered users, and every day users sign in and talk about their progress, answer questions from other visitors, and post images and videos wherever possible. The archery subreddit isn't as big as Archery Talk---there may be fewer registered users in the archery subreddit than there are in the Archery Talk forum---but they may be a little more motivated: many come back every day, and there's a community of people built around supporting each other.
It's mostly talk about target archery---you'll find little talk about bowhunting, if any---but, you guessed it: there are other subreddits dedicated to traditional archery, bowhunting, compound bows, Japanese archery, horse bows, and so on.
Reddit gets a lot of criticism from various folks, but love it or hate it (and I will happily admit, I love Reddit), it's a VERY popular site, and it's a great place to get feedback about gear, form, and anything else you can think of.
Traditional Archery Forums
If I had to guess, I would say that there are more recurve archers and compound bow archers than there are traditional archers, but you wouldn't think that if you visited the following two forums. They're super-active, and their visitors are REALLY passionate about traditional archery.
TradGang. For a sub-niche of the art of archery, Trad Gang is an incredibly well-populated forum. There are a number of great topic areas, and most of them are updated *every single day.* Topics include:
- Hunting game with traditional bows;
- Form and the specifics of using traditional bows;
- The art of bowmaking, and how to get started;
- Hunting laws and regulations;
- Archery photography and vids;
- Events and meet-ups; and
a TON more. It's even got a list of bowhunting organizations in each state. It's pretty incredible.
Trad Talk. Of the two traditional bow forums, Trad Talk is a little less organized---posts aren't actually divided into category or subforums, so it's a little tougher to navigate---but that doesn't mean it's not a popular site. Every day there are at least a dozen entries, and it's not uncommon for a single entry to have 20 or more comments. It's a vibrant community, even if it may not be as busy as Trad Gang.
(Here's a "pro tip" if you decide to visit this forum: if you scroll all the way down to the bottom, you'll see a link for "Archives." There's some great stuff there, including some "Classic" articles. I don't know why they don't have a link for this higher on that page).
This probably comes as no surprise, but there are a few really great bowhunting forums. Hunting in general is hugely popular in the United States---it's estimated that roughly 14 million people, or 6% of the U.S. population---are avid hunters, so it makes sense that there are some popular forums devoted to the topic. Here are two:
The Forum at Bowhunting.com. Bowhunting.com is a fantastically popular site about bowhunting---they have updated articles every single day, dating back years---and their forum is a very popular part of the site.
The forum has equipment reviews, a section on traditional archery, a really active category dedicated to bowfishing (which a lot of forums don't have, surprisingly), and sections dedicated to bowhunting different types of game, such as whitetail, turkey, and big game. At last check, there were over a MILLION messages left on the site, so even if you're really, really motivated, you've got plenty of reading ahead of you!
Bowhunting.com, perhaps more than the other forums, is a "monied" site---that is, it has a lot of partners, and the site is actually built to make money. That's not the case with traditional forums---as far as I can tell, they're usually operated by people who don't really have a monetary stake in the forum---but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The site's forum is a lot more professional-looking than... well, every other forum in this post!
Last but not least...
The Archery Forum at HuntingNet.com. There are a few other bowhunting forums you can find, but I'll close out with the archery forum at HuntingNet.com. The forum is mostly focused on all forms of hunting, but their bowhunting forum is pretty extensive. They've got:
- A general hunting forum that discusses every time of game, and strategies to track said game;
- Archery forums that discuss bowhunting, bowfishing, and crossbows;
- A "Classifieds" section that features pretty much any kind of gear you could imagine;
- A firearms section; and---this is my favorite---
- An "After the Hunt" section that talks about recipes and taxidermy.
Definitely one of the better hunting / bowhunting forums, and definitely worth a look.
Some Things to Keep in Mind When Using a Forum
A forum is a little different than a website, in that it is almost 100% comprised of user contributions. So here a couple of rules (not official rules, mind you---these are really just suggestions from "Yours Truly") to make sure the forum is growing in a positive way:
Rule #1: Don't Be a Jerk. This is really Rule #1 for the rest of life, too, but it's definitely true in forums: treat people with respect. You'll run into people from all walks of life, and they're all there to learn and be a part of the community. Play nice.
Rule #2: Contribute as Much as You Can. There are folks who come to the forum just to ask questions, and while that's definitely helpful---most forum posts start out as questions---if you have some knowledge about a particular subject, share it! It helps others, and let's be honest, it feels good to opine!
Rule #3: Ignore the Haters. Honestly, these are rare in the archery community, but you will come across a few of them. Ignore and move on.
Rule #4: Correct Any Bad Advice You See. You will, most definitely, find some really bad advice in some forum posts, but for the most part, forums are filled with men and women who are truly passionate about archery, and truly excited to share their knowledge, and bad advice is corrected by other users. Be sure you're one of the people who (politely) corrects users who are posting incorrect information.
Rule #5: Follow That Forum's Rules. Most forums will have a couple of rules about posting questions, replies, and so on, so make sure you're obeying the laws of that forum. Reddit, in particular, has specific rules about what you can post and what you can't, so be sure to bone up on the regulations of whatever forum you're on.
Rule #6: Have Fun and Enjoy the Forum! At the end of the day, a forum truly is the product all of its visitors. Every single person who posts a question, posts an answer, and contributes to the conversation, has done something to make that forum a treasure trove of knowledge for people all over the world. If you lived in the pre-internet world---or maybe if you weren't a part of that world---you can understand what an incredible thing that is. Enjoy it!
Closing Out Our Post on Archery Forums
Believe it or not, I thought I knew of all the major archery forums, but in writing this post, I actually found one or two that I didn't know about! Score!
Hopefully this post has helped you out a little bit---remember, a forum is only as good as its members, so be polite, contribute, and make your chosen forum great. Questions? Comments? Input on some of the forum rules I missed? Leave 'em below.