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You’re not the only one who saw The Hunger Games and decided that bows were pretty awesome. But sometimes, it can feel like everyone else already knows everything there is to know about bows and arrows.
That’s where we come in. We’ve put together this guide to archery for beginners, so you can get the best bow for you –whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or just want to try your hand at hunting with a bow.
So you’ve decided that you want to get started with some archery. Great!
And then you go and look online for bow…
And realize that bow technology has come a LONG way since Robin Hood.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Here’s what a beginner archer needs to know.
First, you need a bow.
There are generally two schools of thought about this with regards to archery for beginners.
The first school is 'keep it simple.'
The keep it simple school advocate beginners using a simple, traditional style bow first before graduating to more complex styles like compound bows made out of all sorts of composite materials.
Start simple, then get complicated. A simple bow is usually slightly harder to shoot accurately.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but the rationale is that if you can shoot a traditional bow and hit a pie plate at 20 yards six out of six times when you graduate up to the more forgiving compound bow, you’ll be more than ready to hit even smaller targets to your heart’s content.
Plus, they tend to be a little less expensive than their more complicated modern brothers, which means that they’re a good starting point for those new to the sport.
If you’re a firm believer in this first school, you’re probably looking at a longbow or a recurve bow.
A longbow is made from a single piece of wood and, in all honesty, hasn’t seen a lot of design changes over the last 10,000 years. If you need help picturing this, imagine the bows that Robin Hood would use – those are longbows.
A second option for the traditionalists among those exploring archery for beginners is the recurve bow.
A recurve bow is made out of two pieces of material that curve then curve again as they join together (hence the term ‘recurve’). By curving the bow twice, you get more power from a smaller bow.
Comparatively modern (they were invented only about 4,000 years ago) recurve bows allow beginners a little more power without upgrading to the complexity of a compound bow.
Now, while we do love traditional bows, modern compound bows developed for a reason. A few reasons, actually – traditional bow do have some downsides:
However, some people do prefer the natural feel of a traditional bow. There’s less vibration, the bows are lighter and easier to handle and there’s something to be said for the fact that when you hunt with a longbow or recurve bow, you’re hunting exactly like our ancestors did thousands of years ago.
However, you’ll probably have more hunting success with a compound bow.
The second school of thought when it comes to bows for beginners is a compound bow.
If you don’t want to go for a traditional bow, then you’re probably looking at a compound bow. A compound bow is basically a bow that uses a series of pulleys and cams to hold some of the energy when you pull the string back on a bow.
With a traditional bow, the more you pull back, the harder it gets. That’s because you’re the one holding that weight. So if you read that a bow has a 45-pound pull, if it was a traditional bow it would be like holding 45 pounds.
With a compound bow, you rely on those pulleys and cams to take some of the weight for you. So if it’s a 45-pound pull, you might only feel like you’re holding 10 pounds.
As a result, when it comes to archery for beginners, compound bows are a LOT more accurate. Generally, if you’ve been shooting and hitting an area about the size of a 12-inch circle with a traditional bow, you’ll be able to hit a target about 4 inches with a compound bow. When it comes to graduating to hunting from target practice, that can make a big difference.
The second major benefit of a compound bow for archery for beginners is that they have a lot more punching power. Because of those same cams and pulleys, a compound bow will deliver an arrow faster and drive it in deeper.
This allows two things.
First, it means that it’s easier to hit an animal from further away. You don’t need to get as close when you’re stalking, thus increasing your chance of success.
This is especially valuable when you’re new to the sport or are used to hunting with a rifle and your stalking skills might be a little rusty.
Second, it means that you’re much more likely to severely wound or kill your prey, reducing its ability to get away completely or at least making it easier to track. Again, compared to hunting with a rifle, tracking your prey plays a much larger role in hunting with a bow from sheer necessity – a bullet does more damage than the sharpest arrow.
These things combined make the compound the bow of choice for most hunters.
There are, of course, other benefits to using a more modern weapon:
There are some downsides, though. Compound bows tend to be heavy and cumbersome, especially when they’re loaded down with all the modern tech.
Plus, they don’t have quite as much romantic appeal as a traditional longbow. Basically, you’ll feel more like Katniss with a longbow or a recurve. But from a practicality standpoint, it’s no wonder why recurve bows are the weapon of choice for most hunters.
Need more help choosing a bow? Whether you're a new enthusiast or a rusty veteran, our team of pros will help choose the perfect bow for you. Get in touch today to get started!