Choosing The Right Bow
Whether you are just getting into bow hunting or have been hunting for years, choosing the correct bow is one of the most important things you must do. Each person has their own needs in a bow. The first thing to determine is what the bow will be used for, such as hunting, 3D shooting, target, or a combination.
One of the most common things we hear is who makes the best bow. Today bow manufactures are in stiff competition to make good bows. Most manufactures make quality bows, as the quality goes up so does the price. Determine how much money you can spend and then look at what's available. We do recommend you spend as much as you can afford in order to get the best quality you can.
Buying a bow is a personal thing, don't buy a bow based on just what someone recommends. What we mean by that is what I think is the best bow has nothing to do with what is best for you. The same thing goes for pro-shops. It's a starting point for you but, in the end you will have to decide. Try to visit as many pro-shops as you can in order to see as many brands as possible. The only way I will buy a bow is by shooting it for myself. If it feels good to you is what is important. We strongly recommend you work with a good pro-shop when buying your bow. Pro-shops can give you the support you will need in setting up your bow and accessories. Buying from discount outlets like Wal-Mart or mail orders can be risky.
Sizing you bow to you is one of the most important things you will need to do. It's critical your draw length is correct if you are to shoot to your full ability. There are several ways to determine a starting point for your draw length. One of the most common methods is called the Wing Span Method. You can use the table below for a starting point. This is measured by standing with your shoulder blades against a long wall. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and DOWN (do NOT hunch up) raise your arms to a "T" formation making sure both arms are extended and level to shoulder height. Have someone mark the wall at the tips of the middle fingers. Measure this distance to the nearest 1/8 inch. Then use the table below:
Wing Span Method For Determining Draw Length
By using this table you now have a starting point for your draw length. Next you need to try shooting bows with draw lengths close to what the table indicated. If you are a first time shooter you will need to develop your form and anchor point. Only after shooting several bows will you be able to establish your proper draw length. Based on what feels best for you. Many people try shooting to long of a draw length which causes problems in shooting form and accuracy.
One of the biggest problems new bow hunters make is trying to shoot to much poundage. Don't get into the macho thing of shooting. Shoot what is comfortable for you, don't worry what other people are shooting. Shoot what ever poundage that you can pull without going through a lot of body movements. You should be able to hold the bow straight in front of you and pull it back in a slow fluid motion. Keep in mind that if you will be hunting with this weight it will be harder to pull back when you are cold and have heavy clothes on. After sitting in a tree stand for several hours you tend to get stiff and pulling a bow becomes much harder.
It is best to choose a bow that has a higher brace height if you are a beginner, say a brace height of around 7 1/2". The higher brace height will make the bow more forgiving as you develop your shooting form. Stay away from the super fast bows in the beginning as well. Bows shooting around 250 to 260 fps. are fast enough for hunting. When shooting the faster bows in the 270 to 320 fps. range any problems in shooting form will be exaggerated. The other problem with the faster bows is noise, they tend to be more noisy than bows shooting around 260 fps.
Hunting bows typically have a shorter axle to axel (ATA) length than target bows. Some of the newer bows have very short (ATA) lengths, some as short as 32". These shorter bows make it much easier to move around in a tree stand. Most hunters prefer camouflage finishes on their bow and accessories to keep game from seeing it. They want a fast bow that will shoot flat and at the same time be quiet. That's where we get into our first debate, as bow speeds increase so does noise. If you plan to just hunt with your bow the noise issue is very important. We like to stay with a bow that is a little slower but quiet. Today's bows are faster than ever, you can still get good speed and have a quiet bow.
On the other hand, target bows tend to have longer (ATA) lengths which tend to make them more stable and more forgiving. In years past target bows were generally slower than hunting bows. Today many people are shooting 3D targets, this has changed the views of a lot of target shooters. People shooting 3D have changed the attitudes of many archers. Many of them want super fast bows that will shoot flat. They are similar to hunting bows but in many cases, they may have bright colored finishes. Noise is not an issue with target or 3D bows so you can shoot all the speed you want. On the other side of the coin, many hunters shoot 3D to help them prepare for their hunting seasons. Many of them use their hunting bows on 3D ranges, it's a great way to get ready for hunting.
What you are planning to use your bow for will determine what you will want in a bow. Most manufactures offer bows for target or hunting as well as bows that can be used for both. Archery is a great sport, whether you are a hunter or a target shooter you can have many hours of enjoyment. Good luck and have fun!
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