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Hunters Bow

A Hunter's Bow
By Joe Lewis

Archery: a class of hunting that has a reputation for enveloping hunting skill of the highest level and nostalgia for the most fascinating time in our species history.

Perhaps it’s most deserving of its reputation for involving many years of training in order to develop the hunting skills necessary to ethically harvesting big game. This reputation can be intimidating and often leads to misconceptions about what is necessary to get Compound Bowthe job of ‘killing the prey’ done. You do not need to be an elitist or have the top-of-the-line bow in order to kill big game. Sure there are plenty of very good hunters out there with the best bows – but I guarantee most of them started with a simple goal and whatever tools they could find to get it done.

If you are all bout fashion and big money, ignore the rest of this article. This article is about the Hunters Bow - not the competition shooter, heavy weight, or super models’ bow. What does it take to penetrate the chest cavity of a deer? An arrow fit with a sharp point thrown by a string stretched at perhaps 40 lbs. Most people would agree that a bit more poundage, say 50-55 lbs is more ethical and increases shooting distance. But in the grand scheme of things this is not a tough order for modern or even semi-modern equipment. Go into any archery shop and you will not find a bow unfit for killing a deer. These days it’s a challenge to find a bow on E-bay or Craig’s list that could not be easily fixed up into killing shape.

I still have my very first bow; a PSE sold in plastic packaging with all accessories included. It was a shoot-out-of-the-box deal – and boy was it a deal. I shot that bow every chance I got; after school, after work, in the rain, even in the snow. I would shoot through bushes and under logs; from afar and at steep angles. I learned to shoot. I learned to shoot that bow. And as my shooting improved, I began making good clean kills. No matter which bow I had taken from the rack that day (my first day) in the archery shop, learning to shoot it would have been just the same. Since then I have upgraded only once, and I still enjoy shooting that old deer-killing glove of a bow.

When you are looking for a new bow, try not to get sucked into spending tons of money on the latest and greatest. Get something that fits you. Something that you are comfortable with and you can trust out in the field. All bows do not fit everyone. Before you purchase a bow size it up, shoot it a few times, even take it to an archery shop for a second opinion before you buy it. Your bow should be new enough to support any accessories you are interested in such as sights and arrow rests. You would not get a computer that didn’t support internet explorer right? I would not to be too concerned about brands, although like anything else, the bigger brands generally make bows that can handle more abuse. The cost may not outweigh the benefits though.

Depending on what accessories your bow comes with (or doesn’t come with) you may want to replace them. Fiber optic sights are just about universal these days and work well in most conditions. If you plan on hunting on sunny summer days you should avoid Fiber Optic Sightsights with huge fiber coils as the pins may become blurry in the sunlight. For your first bow I would recommend a sight with 5 stationary pins. There are some very cool pendulum sights and what-not on the market but these are just as unnecessary as an 80 lb draw weight. I recommend a simple arrow rest consisting of two stationary, erect prongs. This is one of the most basic, reliable rests around. They are also the easiest to adjust when first learning the mechanics of the bow. If you are looking for something more specific to your hunting style I would recommend the following: a drop-away style rest for open country, and whisker-biscuit for areas with thick vegetation.

Once you have your bow setup you are going to need arrows. Take your bow to an archery shop and take their recommendation for arrow weight and length. Have them make your arrows and ask them to fletch them with 2’’ veins. These are much faster and are less affected by crosswinds than the traditional 4’’ veins. While you are there purchase a trigger release. This is what you will pull the string back with. Again you don’t need the best; there is little difference between them. Test them out in the shop and find one that is comfortable.

Now it’s time to get comfortable shooting your bow and begin developing your shooting skills. This is going to take a considerable amount of time – no way around it. It is not a chore by any means though. After the first couple practice sessions I think you’ll find it enjoyable. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t hit the bulls-eye every time. Just enjoy the time away from work and the challenge of learning a new skill. The minute details required to shoot consistent bulls-eyes will be learned over time.

For now (and now - December - is the perfect time to start) work on building your arm muscles and getting a feel for your bow. Do these for a few weeks, then search the web or pick up a book on shooting technique to fine tune your skills. By the time you are all set up I will have another article published right here at outlining what you need to know to improve your accuracy.

When you are out on the shooting range remember your goal is to be a successful hunter. Successful hunters need not the ability to split arrows or shoot blindfolded, they just need to be able to hit Author Joe Lewisthe lungs of a deer. People have been doing it for thousands of years with much less qualified equipment. It’s all about learning how to use your bow; how to hold it, line up the pins, and how the arrow flies. A relationship should be formed much like a logger and his axe, a ball player and his bat, or a driver and his race car.

The bow is the hunters’ tool to accomplish the task of killing the animal. Never forget that. A hunter is much more than an archer, but the skills of the archer are useful to the hunter.