Sunday, April 21, 2013

Choosing A Bow: An Aside

I know almost nothing about archery, so don't expect any shooting tips, equipment reviews, or heavy-handed opinions until I know what the hell I'm doing. That said, I do know a couple of things worth passing along.

First, cams make a difference. The cam is what gives a compound bow its power. The more aggressive--that is, out of round--a cam is, the stiffer the draw will be. Rounder cams make drawing your bow smoother. When choosing a bow, I had narrowed my choices to a PSE Stinger 3G, Martin Prowler Pro, and Bear Encounter. Sportsman's Warehouse only had the PSE and Bear in stock, so I shot them on their little 10yd test-fire range. You HAVE to test-fire a bow before you buy. If a bow doesn't feel right, you won't enjoy shooting as much, and probably won't develop your skills as much as you should.

I made a decent grouping with the PSE, but the draw was VERY stiff and jerky to me. The release was also rather sharp, and though I grouped well, I knew it wasn't the bow for me. Then I shot the Bear. Though the Bear was set at least 5lbs heavier than the PSE, it was much easier to draw, much smoother to shoot, and very quiet. It "spoke" to me. About an hour later, I had it tuned and a set of 6 arrows cut down for me.

Bows also come in many different sizes. They are measured in bow mass (the weight of the bow) and axle-to-axle length. The shortest adult bow you'll see is about 30.5" axle-to-axle, which happens to be the length of my Bear (as well as the Martin Prowler). Length matters depending on what you plan to do with your bow. Tree stand hunters and those hunting in dense brush usually want a shorter bow to avoid snagging on their surroundings. Longer bows are generally more forgiving and offer better long range accuracy than their shorter counterparts. That long range edge primarily comes from being a little easier to shoot, since both are shooting a comparable projectile at a comparable speed over a comparable draw stroke. I like my short bow, but I can attest that it is HARD to shoot at 20yds. Maybe next week I'll take a brave pill and try the 30yd line.

Finally, peak draw weight isn't all its cracked up to be. There are a lot of people (all of whom are male) who crank their bow all the way up, and then shoot like shit, but still brag that they shoot 70lbs or 80lbs. Deer were killed for millenia with self-bows pulling about 25lbs and firing sharpened sticks. Any modern bow at 50lbs is way more than enough to reliably and ethically down medium game. My bow is set at 60lbs because it is very smooth and I don't get tired shooting at that weight. Accuracy is more important than squeezing an extra five or ten feet per second out of your bow.

That's all I know today. Maybe I'll learn more next week. Also, you should take up archery.

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