Getting into archery (compound bow)

Prepping, survival, competition, hunting or target shooting, you have decided that you want to get into archery, good for you! There are a few things you should know and understand before getting too far into this. This is by no means to discourage you, but every bit to get you better informed for making the right decision.

There are a number of compound bow manufacturers, and more than double that in models. Each giving their own little spin on configuration.

  1. What research have you already done?
  2. What is your end goal for this bow (target (flat or 3D), competition or hunting)?
    1. This is critical to know before you get started, the main reason of cost. Competition bows are a lot more expensive over target/hunting bows.
  3. What kind of experience do you have with shooting compound bows?
  4. Do you know your draw length?
  5. Do you know your draw weight?
  6. Do you understand arrow lengths and weights?
  7. Do you know how to maintain everything involved?
    1. Replacing tips, nocks, fletchings. Making adjustments to the bow, sight pins, add-ons. Cleaning and lubing the bow. Replacing worn out or broken pieces.
  8. Will you be buying a brand new bow from a pro shop/store or buying one used from a website?
  9. You were planning to spend X amount of money on your new purchase, but realistically you should add at least 30-40% more over what you planned.
    1. Regardless of the style, you aren’t just simply buying a bow. You will need all of the accessories that go with it. Compound bows as an example (Bow, arrows, tips, release aid, string lube, arrow lube, case, adjustment tool, target and arrow puller just to get you started, range finder as needed).
  10. Do you have a pro shop of some kind near you?
  11. Where is the nearest range to you? Indoor or outdoor? Target type?

I know, a lot of questions that you may not have thought about, don’t worry, we’ll go over them. Here are some of my helpful pointers for the above questions.

  1. Don’t just take my word for it, or anyone else’s for that matter. Doing your own research is key to your long-term success in getting setup correctly and enjoying this sport/hobby for years to come. Research the different manufacturers, research the best pricing, read reviews and different manufacturers and models, along with researching what is available near you. You don’t know what you don’t know, so ask lots of questions to those at the pro shops/store.
  2. Deciding on your price point may help you decide on what you plan on using the bow for. Like I mentioned above, a decent entry level competition bow easily gets into the $700+ range, where a good mid-grade hunting bow starts around $500 and goes up. You can find some entry level bows to get you started with familiarity and target shots for starting around $300 and rising.
    1. If you have read some of my other articles (and were enlightened by the idea of hunting down the road) it may make sense to purchase more of a hunting style bow that can be used for multiple purposes and can grow with you.
    2. This bullet is strictly talking about the price point of the bow themselves, see bullet #9 above.
  3. Experience levels with compound archery do make a difference. You don’t want to make a foolish mistake and damage the bow (dry fire), nor do you want to grip the bow incorrectly and end up with a string kiss on your arm. You want to ensure you have the bow set up correctly for you and that you use proper form.
  4. Draw length is measured in this manner.
  5. Draw weight is roughly determined by this.
  6. Arrow spine, length, and weight. This is well documented and fairly straightforward. I like to use this chart as a reference.
  7. While I would love to say this is a set it and forget it type of device, sadly it’s not. The bow and the arrows all require some level of maintenance for long-term survivability. Some of the fundamentals are here or here.
  8. The purchase is important and while you may find a used bow for cheap online, unless you are doing all of the initial configurations yourself (remember you are just getting into compound bow shooting) a shop will probably charge you for this experience. This will add to the cost of your cheap purchase online. Whereas a purchase from a shop, this set up is sometimes free of charge with the purchase of the bow.
  9. All of the additional pieces to get your bow truly functional adds to the initial spend point. Release aids start at around $50 and go up from there. Arrows can cost from $40 for six to $120 for six. Target or field tips can be under $10 for twelve where broadheads can be $50 for three. Cases vary depending on a hard or soft case and if the case manufacturer matches the bow manufacturer, but usually ranging between $50-200. Targets could be as low as $50 and could end up in the several hundred dollars depending. Again, you are buying a bow, but you need additional stuff to make it functional and those costs add up.
  10. Pro shops or archery centers in stores are usually staffed by those who know archery, can help you get your initial setup done and can answer your initial questions. They can be a useful resource. They can sometimes provide useful coaching tidbits for you as well. Though getting a few different viewpoints doesn’t hurt either.
  11. Finally, where will you be shooting? Some city and county ordinances won’t allow you to shoot in your backyard (if you are just starting out, you don’t want to ask your neighbors if you can look in their backyard for a lost arrow). If you purchased for flat targets and the nearest range only has 3D, you could be in for a wonderful learning adventure. If you have to drive 20+ miles to the nearest range, you could be spending more time in the car instead of shooting. Depending on how often you will be shooting, paying for a range membership will make a difference in your shooting fundamentals improvement.

When you initially get started, you will tire out quickly. You are using muscles that you may not have ever used before. If you want to maximize your initial time at the range, you may want to follow some of these tips.

  • Before you buy a bow, spend time in the coming days/weeks doing some push-ups every day to build your core and back muscles up.
  • Initial range day –
    • Focus on your form and your release
    • Spend the time to sight in your closest pin (usually 20 yards, assuming you have a multipin sight) first. Work to get a 1″ or less group at 20 yards.
      • Learn how to sight in your bow – Chase the arrow with your front sight aperture, shooting high and left, adjust the sight higher and left.
    • I know you want to keep shooting, but tired shots don’t help your form, your groups or your sight adjustments. Call it a day.
  • Next range day –
    • Focus on your form and your release
      • You want to start building the muscle memory to know how your form should feel
    • Double check your 20-yard shots, make sure you at least have a group of 3 within 1″ near the bullseye, if not re-adjust
    • Now work on your 30-yard shots
      • You should only be moving the 30-yard pin here.
    • If things are going well, and you can continue, start on your 40-yard shots
      • Call it a day
  • Next range day –
    • Double check your 20-yard shot group
      • Make micro adjustments as necessary only to the pin
    • Double check your 30-yard shot group
      • Make minor adjustments as necessary
    • Start really dialing in your 40-yard shots
      • Adjusting the 40 yard-pin only
  • Continue on –
    • If you have more pins to set up, follow the above pattern. If not, get out and sling some arrows for fun.
  • Once you start getting past 40 yards, following this will make a huge difference in your accuracy.

Hopefully, this has been a helpful summary and has provided you with a bit more education about getting into compound archery.

Good luck and have fun slinging arrows!

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