Archery For Beginners

Archery for beginners

What Are The Best Bows For Beginners?

If you take a look around your search results on google for a bow, you’ll literally find hundreds of different models ranging from $100 to well over $1000 in price! This can be overwhelming for someone who’s just getting started.

In this article we’re going to be talking about archery basics for beginners and things for you to think about before you purchasing your first bow. If you already have a bow then you can still get some great information here.

One thing for sure is that after reading this article you can feel confident in visiting a bow shop.

You’ll be better able to speak the language of archery and be able to ask good and specific questions.

When you’re ready just google the phrase: archery for beginners near me.

That google search should return some pretty good results of places to visit that can fit you for a bow and ensure everything is setup properly. This is especially true if you’re getting a compound bow. Don’t try to set it up yourself. It could be dangerous. With my 20 years as an aircraft mechanic, for the U.S. Navy and for a major airline, I can tell you the main thing I learned was that safety is the number one priority. 

In reality there are many types of bows such as, longbows, crossbows, composite bows, compound bows, Japanese yumi bows, and so on. Here we’re going to focus on the two main categories that are used today. They are the recurve and compound categories.

In this article about archery basics for beginners we want to look at what defines a beginner bow? Well when I was just starting out I wanted something that was:

  • Low maintenance & affordable
  • Easy to draw back and smooth
  • Easily adjustable
  • A bow that would stay in adjustment after my local shop set it up for me
  • If a compound bow, one that uses a whisker biscuit for ease of use & simplicity

There Are Two Main Types Of Bows: Recurve Bows And Compound Bows

A Quick History Of The Evolution Of The Bow

To make a strong bow out of wood, it has to be pretty long hence the name long bow. These bows were nearly as tall as a person. When people began riding horses in the central part of Asia, around 2500 BC, long bows got in their way. So about this time, somebody in Central Asia invented the stronger, more flexible composite bow.

The composite bow was shorter than the long bow. They were made of layers of wood, animal horns, and sinew, glued together in layers. They had a layer of sinew, wood in the middle, then horn on the other side. 

Later on, around the year 1000 BC, these same horse riding archers in Central Asia invented the recurve bow. These bows were in the shape of a wide W and were much easier to make than the composite bows of that era. Since the recurve bow can shoot further for the same length of bow and was easier to make they became the popular choice.

In recurve archery for beginners you will find the recurve bow has two distinct advantages. First you can bend the recurve bow a lot farther without breaking it than the same length composite bow of that time. This meant you can shoot arrows with a shorter bow than the long bow making it fit better on your horse. Secondly they were easier to make with fewer materials needed by the crafters than the shorter composite (multiple layer) bow of that time.

When Was The Compound Bow First Developed?

The compound bow was first developed in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen in Billings, Missouri, and a US patent was granted in 1969. The compound bow has become increasingly popular. In the United States, the compound is the dominant form of bow.

The pulley/cam system adds to the user a mechanical advantage, and so the limbs of a compound bow are much stiffer than those of a recurve bow or longbow. This rigidity makes the compound bow more energy-efficient than other bows, as less energy is dissipated in movement of the limbs. The higher-rigidity and higher-technology construction also improves accuracy by reducing the bow’s sensitivity to changes in temperature and humidity.

Should I Choose a Recurve Bow Over a Compound Bow?

What Is a Recurve Bow?

Recurve bows are the simpler of the types of bows. They have between one and three pieces which make up the frame. They have a single string. Though not required, many recurve bows are made from wood and are quite elegant to look at. If you’re nostalgic or looking to feel like Robin Hood when you go out to the range to practice, a recurve is most likely the best choice for you. Also the recurve bows use a single string that’s much shorter than the string used in a compound bow.

Why are they called “recurve”?

The name “recurve” comes from the shape of the bow’s frame. The tips of a recurve bow curve out towards the target, which gives the bow more power when pulled back. A recurve bow is a later version of the original longbow. Is a recurve bow better than a longbow? If you want to go truly native you can look into getting a traditional longbow. The longbow will allow your arrows to fly straighter as they are less liable to string torque whereas recurve bows are the power king. Using recurve bows you’ll find you can shoot faster arrows and find them easier to adjust, and in a straight comparison, have more advantages than the longbow. 

Large recurve bows, depending on the draw, can fire several hundred yards at an arc. However, his also means that a recurve with a larger frame is harder to pull the string back. The required effort to draw an arrow and hold it in place while aiming depends entirely on the size of the bow.

Recurve bows are lighter and easier to transport than compound bows, which often makes them great hunting bows. They’re also easier to maintain in most compound bows, due to less parts. However, though recurve bows are usually cheaper to get at the start, they can also be a bit pricier if they break: recurves that are made of wood or of a single piece of material must be replaced in the event of a fracture.

Another downside of recurve bows is the strength required to use them. Child’s recurves are small enough to handle, but most adult recurve bows require anywhere from 20 pounds to 50 pounds of force to pull back an arrow. For the untrained shooter, this can wear them down quickly, and might also throw off their aim. Many beginners recurves are designed to be lighter and easier to use, but if you’re planning on shooting the far targets, you’ll probably have to hit the gym a bit.

Recurve bows are the kind of bow used in the Olympics. Recurve bows are the only kind of bow allowed in the Olympics. There have been persuasive actions to allow compound bows in the Olympics, but none have been successful. 

Compound Bow Archery For Beginners

Compound bows are the most powerful and consistently accurate of all the bows you will find. With advanced carbon fibers and metals in use today it makes it the best time in history to own and use a compound bow. Being an airline mechanic on jumbo jets taught me alot about the strength and durability of compound fibers and strong and light metals. 

It’s better to get a bow that’s been produced by a CNC router than one that’s been cast from a mold. The difference is the strength of the riser and the satisfaction of knowing you won’t encounter any breaks or cracks in the metal due to a bad pour of the mold. 

If you do a search on Amazon you will find some really good compound bow starter kits but I recommend you not go this route if you’re just starting. Here’s why: 

It’s imperative you have someone who is a professional that can fit your bow to your draw length. 

You don’t want the bow set too high in draw weight when starting out because it can cause a pulled muscle. Secondly it can create bad form from the start. It’s much easier to learn it the correct way first instead of fixing bad habits later. Here is an article on increasing draw weight and improving accuracy based on how to strengthen your muscles for archery.

You want to get your arrows cut to proper length for your bow. An archery shop near you can do all these things. They can spin your arrows also which make sure they are properly balanced. Nothing worse than chasing the target by adjusting your sight over and over when all along it’s your arrows that aren’t perfectly straight. 

After you get your first bow setup and you feel you can do it at home should you can start shopping online for compound bows sent directly to you. 

Also the other tips you learn at an archery shop near you will stay with you for life. You will probably make some new friends at the archery shop too. Now you have people outside forums you can practice progress in this exciting sport with.

Now that you’ve further educated yourself on the reasons to begin your archery career with a compound bow or a recurve bow here is my advice. Personally I would choose a compound bow. Your purpose of getting into the sport may be different than mine. For example, you may like the feel of the nostalgic part of the sport. In this case you should choose a recurve bow. I like the power of the compound bow and to take it into the woods occasionally and also can be used for self defense in my home if that nightmare ever arises. 

Martin Hamilton

Archery lover and compound bow enthusiast. Love all types of archery. The current technology in compound bows, crossbows, recurve bows and arrows is truly amazing. I was an airline mechanic for years and got introduced to advanced composites. Great to see them put to use in this amazing sport.

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