Hunting with a bow is not an easy skill to learn, and having a bow that doesn’t suit you isn’t going to make it any easier. As you progress with the skill and learn more about it, you can experiment with different kinds of bows, but as a beginner you need to be more careful.
You have to choose one that is going to get the job done, but also one that isn’t going to be too difficult for one who’s new to the practice to use. Bows tend not to come cheap and you don’t want to waste your money on one that is counter-productive to you advancing as a hunter.
The other thing to note here, is that there is never going to be one specific bow that works for everybody. There will be certain types that beginners should avoid of course, but people have different bodies and different natural abilities that need to be taken into account before you choose.
So there is quite a bit to think about before you spend your money on one, let’s run through some of these different considerations:
This is the distance from the back of the bow to the apex of the draw string when it’s fully drawn. Ideally you need to be able to draw the bow to maximum capacity, but it the length is too much for you then that’s not going to be possible.
You can get fitted for a bow, and your bow seller should be able to do that for you. Actually, if they can’t, you might not want to buy a bow off them because all good sellers know they’re probably going to have to measure the beginners.
How it usually works, is you will stand with both of your arms outstretched to the side as far as they can go. You’ll then be measured across your back from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other.
Measure this in inches, and then divide the final measurement by 2.5. This will give you the draw length that you require so you can then purchase a bow that has roughly this length. You’ll also need to buy arrows that are appropriate for a bow that size.
You’ll quickly learn that draw weight is one of the most important elements of bow hunting and archery in general really. It’s the amount of force necessary to pull back on the drawstring. If it’s not set at the right weight for you, it can cause problems.
Your accuracy can be impeded and it can also cause your arms to get tired quickly. It’s generally measured in pounds and certain bows are restricted in the maximum or minimum weight that they can be set to.
Most commonly for men, the draw weight will be between 40 and 70 pounds but you can only alter it by about 15 pounds. For those starting out, you will probably want to get one that’s closer to the lower end.
If you get a bow with a 40 pound draw weight, you can alter it up to about 55 pounds. Chances are you are going to need one that doesn’t require a huge amount of force and then you have a bit of room to build up as you get better.
If you are naturally bigger and stronger, you may be able to pick one that’s higher. Try a few of them out, that’s the only way you can decide on the right draw weight for you. Don’t pick a heavier one assuming that you’ll grow into it, that’s just going to stunt your growth as an archer.
If you need the lightest draw weight then so be it. Make sure you are getting the right one, try out as many as you can and you should be able to make a pretty accurate determination.
There’s also a couple of other measurements you should be familiar with when it comes to using a bow and arrow, but here’s something else that’s very important:
We’ve all got a dominant eye, and it’s not necessarily aligned with other parts of your body. If you’re right-handed for example you might not have a dominant right eye. Your brain works better with visual input from one source than the other and it seems to be completely random.
To determine which of your eyes is the dominant one, there is a simple, common test that you can use. First thing you need to do is make a triangular shape with your thumbs and forefingers and extend it out in front of you.
Center this triangle on a distant object that’s stationary. A clock that’s hanging on the wall would be a good one. Have both of your eyes open while you’re getting the object into the center of your triangle.
Close your left eye. If the object remains inside the circle, then your right eye is the dominant one. If it doesn’t, then your left eye is the dominant one. You can repeat the process and close your right eye to confirm that for yourself.
Make sure you know this before you start testing out the bows because you need to be shooting right handed if you have a dominant right eye. There’s no point buying a bow that you think suits you only to realize that you tested it right-handed when you actually have a dominant left eye.
Here’s another couple of methods you could try to make sure that you get it right.
If you are an absolute beginner, a target bow might be the best place for you to get started. It’s a good way to get used to the feel of a bow in your hands and some of the basic techniques that you will be using when actually hunting.
While you are doing the same action with them, there are differences between a target bow and a hunting bow. Target bows tend to be longer, which minimizes movement when you are using it but it aids in precision, which is more important when aiming at a 3-D target.
The target bows will also have a higher draw weight, because in general you aren’t holding them for that long. How long you hold the draw with a hunting bow can be unpredictable depending on the movement and actions of the animal you’re hunting.
So if you want some target shooting a try, make sure that you actually get a target bow and not a hunting bow. A lot of the important factors in the decision as to which bow is right for you are pretty much the same.
Make sure that the bow isn’t too narrow to fit in your hand, that it’s easy for you to maintain your grip when the string is drawn and that the bow isn’t too heavy for you. This can happen if you are moving from a hunting bow to a target bow due to the size difference.
But again, inform the bowseller on what you are looking for and they will do all of the necessary measurements and let you try out a few different options. Target shooting has more of a social side to it as well and it’s less intense than hunting so it’s worth giving it a shot.
These are the most important things. As long as you have bow that’s the right size for you then you can practice with it effectively. As you progress, you can think about more complex factors but for now, draw length and weight and ocular dominance will get you started.