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I shot bow for 30-some years before I ever set foot in a pro shop. Matter of fact, there weren't any local pro shops back then. I bought my arrows from Allied War Surplus and everything else from Consolidated Field Sports (neither is in business anymore). Pro shops provide a great service and I know many archers depend on them. But in my opinion, you should have a basic understanding of archery and at least a rough idea of what you're looking for before you visit.

Another resource that wasn't available "back in the day" was the Net. YouTube has hundreds if not thousands of videos and makes a great place to start learning. Yes, you'll find the quality of information varies in those videos and you'll find a lot of conflicting opinions...just as you'll find if you visit a few different shops.

But before jumping into compound archery, you really owe it to yourself to explore traditional archery. Shooting a recurve or longbow let's you experience (learn) the fundamentals without all the bells and whistles (distractions) of modern compound bows. I think that learning to shoot a trad bow will make you a better archer when/if you pick up a compound. Traditional archery requires a lot more dedication than compound, but your goal in the beginning is just to begin to understand the dynamics of form and arrow flight.

In my opinion, the more independent you can be, the more enjoyment and satisfaction you'll have as an archer. There's so much more to archery than just flinging arrows.
 
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