Wear Appropriate Archery Clothing

Hooray! We're almost done with the Commandments! I think that's the case, at least. Anyway, here's the next Commandment:


"What do I wear?" is a very common question for many new archers. Most ranges and competitions have specific rules about what you can wear, but here are some general guidelines that are always true:​

  • No open-toed shoes, no flip-flops (or "thongs," as our Australian brothers and sisters say). No high heels---you'll have to look glamorous somewhere else.
  • No jewelry, watches, rings, and anything else that might get tangled in, or impede the movement of, the bow and/or arrow. That includes earrings or necklaces, and if there is any facial jewelry that could get in the way of the bowstring as it is drawn to your nocking point (such as a nose piercing or lip piercing), that may need to be removed as well. That's not an issue for most people, but it's something to keep in mind.
  • Long hair needs to be tied up. If it got pulled into the bowstring, that would be very, very bad.
  • No loose, flowing clothing. This is perhaps the most important issue, and one that many people forget.

Competitions usually have very specific rules about what you can wear; Archery 360 has a really good run-down of all those rules.

The most important concept to keep in mind, really, is that you shouldn't wear anything that could get caught in your bow, bowstring, arrows, or equipment.

Let's Talk More About Loose Clothing

Because talking about all these Commandments is making me feel like a total killjoy, I'm going to talk more about appropriate clothing in a fictional, question-and-answer format. First question:

Q: Can I wear long, flowing robes and do archery?

A: No.

Q: I'm going to a Ren Fair. Can I wear long, flowing robes and do archery?

A: No. See above.

Q: I'm going to a ComiCon and I'm dressing as Legolas from The Lord of The Rings. Can I wear long, flowing robes, and wear a long, loose wig that goes past my bottom and flows out all over the place?

A: No. What don't you get about this? You can't wear long, flowing robes. You hair should be up, tight, in a bun. Your ideas are all bad ideas. Although that ComiCon sounds pretty cool.

Q: My son is in a theatre production of---

A: No robes.

Q: ..."The Hobbit..."

A: No.

Q: Yo. Matt. I suffer from Tough Guy Syndrome. I want to go to the range and not use protective gear and shoot a bow with a draw weight way above what I can handle. I think it'll impress the chicks. Is that a good idea?

A: No. That's a bad idea.

Q: Hi, Matt! I love your sight. I look really good in this long, flowing...

A: < Bursts into tears and leaves. >

If you Need Guidance, Look to Robin Hood

While the economic message of Robin Hood is a little perplexing---is it OK to steal? Is it OK to steal if it's only from rich people? Were these bad rich people? What if they got their riches fair and square, in a constructive way? What if one of the rich people was a lottery winner? Was Robin Hood actually a Communist? Was he---I'll tell you, the more I learn about this guy, the more questions I have about him.

Sorry! Got a little carried away there.

The real lesson we can learn from Robin Hood is not how to redistribute wealth among various economic classes, but rather how to dress properly for an archery competition.

Here we see Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood in... an old movie about Robin Hood (Wikipedia didn't say which movie this is). Let's go from top to bottom, and see if Robin Hood make the grade when it comes to range-appropriate clothing.

  • The Hat. His hair is a little bit long, but it's swept up, underneath the hat, to ensure that no hair will come in contact with the bow. Excellent.
  • The Sleeves. Short sleeves; no long, flowing robes. Excellent.
  • The Forearm. Robin Hood is not wearing an arm guard! Points deducted!
  • The Frilly Shoelaces on the Shirt. These would clearly get caught in a bow string---more points deducted!
  • The Unsheathed Sword. Most ranges have a "No Swords" policy, or at the very least, make you stow your swords in a locker before you can reserve a lane, so at the very least, this is a red flag. More points deducted.

I hate to say this, but if I managed an archery range and Robin Hood showed up, I might have to ask him to leave. So maybe even Robin Hood isn't a great example of how to dress for the archery range.

The Main Idea...​

I think I got away from things, but to return to the main point: you can wear whatever you want (within reason), and your main concern should be wearing clothing that won't get caught in the bow or stuck on the arrow and end up harming you.

In other words, go lo-fi---jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, and no jewelry---and you'll always be alright.​

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