The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Archery

Have you ever wondered about the main differences between indoor and outdoor archery practice?

Both indoor and outdoor archery are extremely fun and engaging activities. Ever since I started learning archery, I have spent a good amount of time practicing indoors and outdoors, but my personal preference is to shoot outside for several reasons. I decided that it would be important to give this particular topic and entire post. I will be going over the main difference between both and the advantages and disadvantages that come from this practice.

The main differences between indoors and outdoors archery

There are many differences between indoors and outdoors archery. The most obvious is that indoors archery allows the arrow to travel without any elemental influence. This means that there is no wind involved and the shots are going to be easier to take.

The Wind

Outdoors archery requires that you take the weather into consideration when shooting. You need to consider different types of arrows and different aiming techniques depending on how much wind is blowing. This is probably the most important and relevant difference in terms of performance. This is not to say that indoors archery is easy, but outdoors archery has an added difficulty. The wind plays a huge role in the trajectory of the arrow. The longer the shot, the harder it is to hit your target outdoors as any slight wind influence is going to make your arrow move in a trajectory that you might not be expecting.

Target size differences

There are different target sizes available for archery events both indoors and outdoors, but the most common for indoors is 40cm/18m and 60cm/25m. For outdoors it’s 80cm/30m and 122cm/70m. This is definitely a huge difference in target sizes, but it makes perfect sense for outdoors targets to be larger. You will find that there are many colors, shapes and styles available for these targets.

One of the biggest problems with outdoor shooting ranges is that you are going to have to protect your targets from the elements. You can’t simply leave your target unattended if it’s raining, snowing, or extremely hot outside. This is will drastically decrease the lifespan of the target.

This is a problem that you are not going to have to deal with if you practice indoors only. The truth is that this is not a big deal, but it’s only fair to mention all of the things that are good and bad about both indoors and outdoors archery.

Arrow differences

The most common difference is that larger diameter arrows are usually going to be used indoors. For outdoors, you are more likely to see archers using small diameter arrows. There are several different types of arrows that you can use for both settings, but the main difference to keep in mind is the size is larger indoors and smaller outdoors.

If you have any doubt about the arrows, there are people at shops who can give you some advice on the best arrows for indoors and outdoors. There are quite a few different types, so just be sure to pick one that is going to be ideal for your needs.

The biggest issue with choosing the wrong kind of arrows is that your shots are not going to be optimal, but the differences are hard to notice for people who are getting started with archery. I could dedicate a full book to arrow types and their many uses, so we are definitely not going to go into detail, but now you know the basics.

The advantages and disadvantages of both


Indoors archery comes with location-related disadvantages. For example, you are going to have a harder time creating a safe space for indoors archery at home. You are also more likely to have to travel to look for an indoors range if you prefer this kind of archery. The advantage with indoors is that you won’t have to deal with any weather and wind problems.

I think that my experience with indoors is that it provides a perfect environment to practice and study your posture and style. You also get a better appreciation of the sounds involved. I prefer outdoors for many reasons, but indoors provides a more quiet and relaxing situation that is ideal for those looking to improve their shooting skills.

A very important thing about indoor archery is that it allows for more technological gadgets to be implemented. An indoor archery range can even have tracking systems and cameras that you can use to evaluate your posture and your arrow speed. This is something that is much harder to accomplish outdoors. There are some indoors archery ranges that are truly incredible in their ability to measure your performance, but that’s a whole other story.

Last but not least, indoor archery provides optimal lighting for archers to take that perfect shot. Some purists believe that indoor archery is an artificial environment for shooting, but others feel that this is the best way to measure accuracy due to the lack of external factors.


Outdoors archery has the disadvantage of weather conditions and that is the only truly significant disadvantage. Some seasons can be quite difficult for archers such as heavy snow or rain, but some archers seem to manage even in these conditions.

Another disadvantage is that you have to be careful to secure the area where you plan to shoot, but this is a minor issue. Outdoors has the advantage of being a more engaging experience and it allows archers to hunt.

I personally think that outdoors archery is perfect for me because I love the outdoors. I also love how wind velocity and direction has such an impact on your shots. This forces you to learn how to shoot your bow and arrow in many different situations and scenarios.

I also feel that being outdoors really helps keeps things fresh when you are shooting. You can change locations quite easily and enjoy many different landscapes and beautiful areas. This is probably the main reason why outdoors is so much better as an experience in general. You can turn your shooting into an adventure and that is definitely worth considering.

Competitive archery

There are both indoors and outdoors events for competitive archery. Some of the best archers in the world are going to travel for both. With that said, outdoors archery has many more events and competitive hunting is one of them. There are many variations that you can consider outdoors. This is severely limited with indoors tournaments and events.

There are plenty of great tournaments going on all over the world, some are held indoors and some outdoors, but the experience is great in both cases. I have always said that people need to enter as many local indoors and outdoors tournaments as possible just to get a feel of the competitive environment.

Get some expert help

If you are looking to become an archer and you have a preference between indoors and outdoors, I would suggest that you get some help from someone who is experienced. Archery shops are usually going to be ideal because they know what kind of equipment to sell to you depending on your preferences.

As we mentioned earlier, some arrow and even some bows are going to be better for indoors and outdoors. There is also other equipment that is often used outdoors that you won’t need indoors and vice versa. The important thing is that you always look for assistance so you won’t purchase anything that won’t be ideal for your needs.

The experience

I would say that the archery community is divided in terms of opinions regarding indoors and outdoors practice. Outdoors seems to be a much more engaging experience in terms of fun and adventure. On the other hand, the experience seems to be more engaging indoors for those looking to upgrade their skills.

I find that the biggest appeal of archery is the medieval aspect of it. I know I use modern bows, but the whole process of going outdoors and shooting your bow and arrow is something that indoors archery can’t match. There is one thing I do like a lot about indoors archery. There is no noise and the ability to focus without any distractions. 

Everyone has the right to their opinion and I can respect and understand why some people prefer indoors archery. In my case, nothing beats outdoors activities in general. This is why it makes sense that archery is also one of those activities.

Final thoughts

It’s important for all archers to experience archery both indoors and outdoors. This is going to give you a chance to find out what is better about each one. There are many archers who enjoy both of them equally, but most people have their preference.

In my case, as I mentioned earlier, outdoor archery is much better, but I know other archers who prefer indoors. Just experience both of them as much as you can and you start to see results.