I have to be real honest in this column-I’m not an expert when it comes to bow hunting.
I received my first compound bow last Christmas after finding a great deal on Cabela’s Web site. But bow hunting has always been an area of interest for me, as it is for millions of other outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps it all dates back to the days of ancient hunters and gatherers-when bow hunting was more a skill required for survival than a hobby-but there is definitely something about drawing back a bow that entices a different sensation than pointing a gun and pulling a trigger.
While I can’t offer any amazing insight about archery just yet, there are some basic tips for beginners that can come in handy. Some of these have been learned the hard way, through wasted time and money, and some are acquired through more knowledgeable sources than myself.
First of all, there are three main things to look for when purchasing a bow: draw length, draw weight and the weight of the bow itself.
The draw length is basically the length you pull (or draw) back on the bow before it stops. People with longer arms will, of course, have a longer draw length. An easy way to get a rough estimate of your draw length is to take your height in inches minus 15 and divide that by two.
The draw weight is the amount of resistance when drawing back the bow. Generally, this will be anywhere from 40 pounds up to 60 or even 70 pounds for deer hunters, but a beginning archer should always start low and work their way up. Archery requires a different set of muscles than lifting, so just because you can bench press 300 pounds, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can draw back 65 pounds on a bow. There are several inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment at retail stores that can help you build up your strength in these muscles.
The weight of the bow is a factor, because chances are you will not be simply pulling back and releasing in a matter of seconds. Bow hunters often have to hold their bow in firing position for a while before shooting, and you should try to draw back when the prey isn’t looking right at you.
Other things to keep in mind are the accessories. You can’t simply buy a bow and go hunting. There are dozens of accessories that go with a bow to ensure your success in the woods, including arrows and broadheads, whisker biscuits, sights, releases, quivers and stabilizers. Chances are, if you’re a beginner, you don’t know what half of those items are or what they do, so be sure to Google search them or have someone explain them to you. You can also usually buy bows with all these items already equipped, but the price will be higher.
You will also need to make sure your bow is tuned and ready to go. Most stores that sell bows also offer these services, so it would be a good idea to get this taken care of before leaving the store.
While these tips may seem rudimentary to the advanced archer, I hope they will help out the beginners and perhaps invoke interest in those who have never tried archery.