Best Archery Books
Archers and bow hunters are a surprisingly studious lot, and there's good reason for that---archery is an in-depth sport, and you need to learn what you're doing!
As you may have seen, there are plenty of on-line tutorials and websites, but sometimes, nothing beats a good old-fashioned book. Here are some of my favorites, and some titles that will help you on your journey to becoming a capable archer.
Best Books for Beginner Archers
My Favorite Archery-for-Beginners Book. This book---Archery: Steps to Success---is a God-send for any new archer. It is one of the absolute best ways to learn basic concepts about the art of archery.
If you're new to archery, you have no doubt realized---it can be very, very overwhelming to go from knowing basically nothing to knowing enough to buy a bow, tune it, and take it to the range.
That's why this book is fantastic. It starts from the very beginning, and introduces the different types of bows, their parts, and how to buy a bow (and, by the way---I've tried to do all this on this website!). It then moves on to the steps of an archery draw, talks about refining form, and eventually upgrading your equipment.
Perhaps the best part, though, is that it has TONS of colorful photos that illustrate points and drive home information. You'd be surprised how many archery books are stingy with the photos---they cost money, I suppose---but this book has plenty. Very helpful, and an excellent purchase. This is, in my mind, one of the best archery books.
Another Great Beginner's Book. Archery Fundamentals, by Teresa Johnson, is another excellent option. Just like "Steps to Success," it starts from the beginning and slowly builds the reader's knowledge. Gear, stance, and the shot sequence---it's all there, PLUS some (somewhat limited) discussion on competition and traditional archery. An excellent option.
For Intermediate or Competitive Archers
If you've gained a little experience and want to get to that next level, I'd suggest Archery: The Ultimate Resource for Recurve and Compound Archers. This book was actually written by USA Archery (USAA), which is the governing organization for American archery---they organize the largest archery competitions in the U.S. and select archers for international competitions (including the Olympics). In other words... they're kind of a big deal around here.
The book is excellent. Chapters are written by various archery coaches, including Kisik Lee, who has been the head coach of the U.S. National Archery team since 2006. It goes over all the fundamentals of archery---stance, shot sequence, follow-through---but also discusses the competitive side of archery. There's a chapter about how to make more of your archery practice, the physical training that archers need to do, the nutritional aspect of being a competition archer, and sharpening your mind for competitions and events.
This is an EXCELLENT book, and if you love archery but want to get very serious about it---and start entering competitions---it's a great read.
Traditional Archery Books
Many new archers don't realize that there are many different varieties of archery---that is, many different styles of archery. If you're a golfer, you go golfing; if you're a bowler, you go bowling. If you're an archer, you can:
- Get into traditional archery
- Learn about Korean bows
- Dive into recurve bows and competitive archery
- Pick up a compound bow and learn about bowhunting
- Get obsessed with horsebows, the traditional bows of Turkey, Mongolia, and the Magyar people...
...and so on and so forth. There are a LOT of avenues you can go down, if you become passionate about archery.
This is all to say, if you're just getting started, you may want to check out traditional archery. Here are a few books that'll help you along the way.
If You're New to Traditional Archery. First of all, visit the forum at TradGang.com, it's awesome and you'll love it. There's a super-active community of traditional archery obsessives, and they are WISE. Then, check out...
The Beginner's Guide to Traditional Archery, by Brian J. Sorrells. The book is on the slim side, but it covers everything you'll need to know to get started: traditional equipment and bow types, how to bare shaft tune a bow, and instinctive bowhunting techniques (which is a very difficult thing to teach).
It does help a little bit if you have a little bit of introductory knowledge about archery---he jumps into phrases like "brace height" pretty early on in the book---so if you're not familiar with some basic archery terms, you may experience a slight learning curve (and if that's you, you can simply keep an archery glossary handy while you read it---I don't have one on this site---yet---but there is a fantastic one at Phantom Ranch).
Anyway, to sum up, this is a great intro guide to traditional archery. Recommended.
If You Want to Know All There Is About Traditional Archery. Then you'll want to read The Traditional Bowyer's Bible, by Jim Hamm.
In this book, you'll learn... just about everything you'd ever want to know about traditional archery. Want to learn how to build a bow? It's in there. Want to know the history of traditional archery around the world? It's in there. Want to learn the correct way to shoot a traditional bow? It's in there.
The best thing about this book is the obvious passion that went into writing it. This isn't some weekend enthusiast writing about a hobby he picked up because he was bored at work. This was written by someone who truly, deeply cares about traditional archery, and spent a LONG time writing about it.
A great option. Not for the only-kind-of-interested traditional archer---but, honestly, I've never met an only-kind-of-interested traditional archer! From the people that I've met, traditional archers are all very passionate!
Compound Bow Books and Crossbow Books
It's kind of interesting, but most books about archery end up talking about recurve bows more than they talk about compound bows. I don't know why that is, but if I had to guess, it's because compound bows are a little more complicated and it's easier to talk about recurves, and most archery books are geared towards beginners, and a lot of beginners start out on a recurve bow. But, those are just guesses.
Either way, I thought I'd include a book about that's mostly about compound bows and crossbows (and a little bit about hunting). The Shooter's Bible Guide to Bowhunting discusses compounds bows at great length, and talks about how the bow works, how the arrow rests work (and arrow rests for compounds are in fact much trickier than arrow rests for recurves), and how to select arrows for compound bows. There's also discussion of crossbows and how to hunt with them. Something you may want to check out if you're interested in compounds, crossbows, and/or hunting.
Check out The Total Bowhunting Manual by Scott Bestul and Dave Hurteau, both of whom worked for Field and Stream magazine. This is an incredibly informational book---just take a look at the Table of Contents, and you'll see the entire mystery of bowhunting revealed, from archery-related tasks such as choosing a bow or crossbow, to tuning it, to using a sight and setting the arrow rest, to hunting-related tasks, such as reading bucks, using decoys, and finding the right spot to set and wait.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this title, though, is the photos---stunning photos of nature, animals, and gear. The writers at Field and Stream are renowned for their expertise, and if you want to get into bowhunting, this is a great place to start.
Go Get Your Learn On
There are dozens of archery titles out there, and these are the ones that may help you the most. If you're about to "get your learn on," I wish you all the best! Archery is a deep-dive sport: it's easy to pick up the basics, but it takes a long time to master the art, and discovery will both come through experience and study.