Selecting a Bow
I usually don’t write about the same topic two days in a row, but in the case of getting started bow hunting, now is the time to be getting your gear so you have plenty of time to practice. In my last post about how to get started bow hunting, I wrote about how to select the proper clothing for bow hunting, you can read about that by clicking here. That post was very popular with readers, so I thought I would follow up with more information about the subject.
The first thing you need to decide is if you want to hunt with a traditional bow (either a recurve or a long bow) or a compound bow. If you choose to hunt with a traditional bow, the experience of shooting is much different; you do not have the weight let-off at a certain draw length as you do with a compound bow, it takes longer to become proficient with a traditional bow, you generally don’t use a sight but rather learn to shoot at different distances from extensive practice, and you generally have to have more muscles to be proficient with a traditional bow. However, the experience itself is very satisfying to master. I started hunting with a recurve bow 30 years ago, and I loved it! Mastering that skill was very gratifying to me, and hunting successfully with a recurve bow gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
After about five years of hunting with a recurve I bought a compound bow, and it truly was a different experience. The technology was much more a factor in the compound bow, and has evolved even more dramatically since my first compound bow. Today’s compound bows will allow a beginner to be shooting accurately in a short amount of time if you choose the right bow. The speed and power of compound bows are remarkable, and the intricacies of the bow itself, sights, and arrow characteristics takes a lot to understand to make sure you have the right setup.
For these reasons, my first piece of advice is to go to an archery shop, and I mean solely an archery shop, not the hunting department at Wal Mart. At an archery shop you can talk to knowledgeable people who will help you choose what is right for you, whichever type you decide on, and they will help you make the right decision without pressuring you into buying something they want you to buy. Most archery shops have an indoor range where you can actually try out shooting different bows to get a real feel for them. They will help you purchase a bow that fits your draw length and your strength level. Until you know what bow you will purchase, you can’t know what arrows you should purchase, and that will be part of the consultation with the archery experts. They can also tell you about all of the accessories that will work well with the bow you choose, assemble them on your bow, and get you the complete deal done at once place.
I have been archery hunting for a long time, and I could write a chapter about selecting your gear and still not cover everything there is to cover. The available technology and options are so vast that you could spend weeks just researching the various topics. That is why I suggest a good archery shop to get started, and once you get into shooting your bow, you will become very knowledgeable of all of these aspects yourself, but you will be starting with a base point – your new bow and accessories, not everything that is out there.
Some things to keep in mind when you make that visit to the archery shop in addition to the bow are accessories. You are going to need an arrow rest, a sight, a quiver, a peep sight, and a release (unless you choose to shoot with your fingers and a leather glove, which is how I started). For an arrow rest, I do not like the type that completely envelopes the arrow, called a “whisker biscuit.” These may work well at first, but they are noisy, and over time will wear down your arrow fletchings. I prefer an arrow rest where the arrow sits on top of two “fingers” which fall down and away slightly as your arrow begins its flight.
For a sight, there are so many options to choose from, but I would keep in mind these things: Use a sight with as few pins as possible; you don’t need a sight pin for every ten yards. Your bow will likely shoot the same at ten yards as it will at twenty, and as you practice more, thirty yards will not be too much different than twenty. Until you are a professional archer, you should not even think about shooting past forty yards in your beginning years. The time it takes an arrow to fly fifty or more yards is enough time for an animal to move even slightly enough to result in a poor hit, and that is the last thing you want. Make sure the sight has fiber optic, light-gathering pins that are easy to adjust. A three-pin sight should be all you need, reserving that third pin until you have been shooting for a year or two.
I prefer a quiver that attaches to my bow, although some prefer a quiver that attaches to their belt or back pack. Whichever you prefer, be sure that your arrows are held securely individually, they can be easily removed, and that the broad heads are completely covered as they are razor sharp. A quiver should hold six arrows, that is plenty to carry in the field; if you miss more than six times, you probably aren’t ready to be hunting.
A peep sight is a pretty simple device that is wound onto your bow string to help you align your sight; the archery shop can help you with that. If you decide to use a release, which clamps around your bowstring allowing you to pull it back with your hand rather than your fingers, get one that has a strap which goes around your wrist. This not only improves your pulling strength, but also keeps your release right where it needs to be without you having to hold it all the time.
Those are some basics for archery gear. It can be a very daunting task if you try to figure it out all on your own, so visit your local archery shop with these tips in mind, and you can be out shooting in no time. If you plan on hunting big game this fall, I suggest you start practicing next month, and I’ll talk more about that in another post. I hope I have given you some good information and inspiration to get started. In my opinion, archery hunting is the most challenging yet most rewarding hunting experience.