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Which Hunting Bow is Right for You? An Introduction to Bowhunting Tools

hunter using a hunting bow

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With millions of archers heading into the woods each year, the hunting bow is more popular now than at any other point in recent history. If you’re just getting started in the bowhunting world, then choosing your first hunting bow is a monumental decision. Not only do you need to find a bow that fits your size and hunting style, but you also need to learn how to use this bow and all of its accessories.

Even if you’ve spent years hunting with a rifle or shotgun, bowhunting is an entirely different experience. And even some of the most experienced hunters will feel like they’re starting from scratch when they first pick up a bow and arrow. So what are the different types of bows you can choose from? And how do you know which hunting bow is the right fit for you?

An Introduction to Bowhunting

Before dipping your toes into bowhunting, you’ll need to invest in a beginner’s hunting bow. While introductory bows and rifles cost about the same, you won’t have the high recurring cost of ammunition that comes with a rifle. And unlike a rifle, which you need to take to a gun range to practice shooting, you can practice archery on most private property. Even small backyards can be used for target practice, as long as there are no local ordinances that restrict the use of weapons.

bow hunting

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One important thing to consider when getting into bowhunting is your upper body strength. Draw weight refers to the amount of tension in the string of your hunting bow. Higher draw weight means the arrow will have more speed and force. But it also makes the string harder to pull back. While you can down small game with lightweight bows, they are not easy targets to hit. Big game, on the other hand, offers a much larger target. To down these animals, though, you will need a draw weight minimum of 40 pounds or more.

Of course, many hunters use both a rifle and hunting bow depending on the season. However, if you truly want to hone your hunting skills, you will need to choose one of these weapons to focus on at a time. Once you’ve mastered the hunting bow or rifle, you can then pick up the other and add it to your arsenal. Also, if you have an experienced bowhunter that can help you learn, take advantage of this valuable resource. But if you don’t, you can access plenty of information at your local archery retailer or even online.

Which Hunting Bow Is Right for You?

Goplus 52" Recurve Bow

Image from Amazon

When it comes to finding a hunting bow for yourself or a loved one, the bow’s size is extremely important. While some bows come in universal, adjustable models, most only fit a specific size range. If you’re shopping for a child, keep in mind that you will need to purchase new bows as they continue to grow. Most adults can (in theory) use one hunting bow for their entire lives. Both the bow’s height and draw length are important factors when it comes to choosing the right bow. Professional archery retailers can help ensure that you are purchasing the right size for your body.

Another thing that a good archery retailer can you help with is selecting the correct draw weight. You want your hunting bow to feature a draw weight that you can comfortably draw back. The type of game you plan to hunt will also determine the appropriate draw weight for your bow. Choosing a draw weight that is too heavy will result in weak shots when out in the field.

But choosing the right hunting bow isn’t just about finding one that fits your arm span and draw strength. Before you can go into an archery retailer and purchase a bow, you need to decide what type of bow you actually want to use. Hunting bows can be broken down into three general categories: longbows and recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows. While compound bows are the most popular of these options, plenty of hunters use a longbow, recurve bow, or crossbow. Each of these types of bows is best suited to a certain style of hunting. And for most bowhunters, their bow of choice will depend on the type of hunting experience they desire.

Longbows and Recurve Bows

long bow

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Longbows and recurve bows are the most basic in appearance. To the untrained eye, these hunting bows are little more than a piece of curved wood and a string. But these bows served countless Medieval armies on the battlefield. And for the devoted bowhunter, they can provide an extremely rewarding hunting experience.

Longbows get their name from the fact that they stand almost as tall as their user. These bows feature a straight piece of material, normally layered wood and fiberglass, pulled into a curve by a taut bowstring. Recurve bows, on the other hand, are shorter. Recurve bows also feature outward curves at each limb that resemble the neck of a violin.

The price of a longbow or recurve bow can vary greatly depending on the materials, quality, and age. You can certainly find suitable used bows at garage sales or online. But keep in mind that these weapons may need repairs before they make a good hunting bow. New traditional bows can range in price from around $200 to $850. However, high-end models might cost even more.

What are the pros of a longbow or recurve bow?

What are the cons of a longbow or recurve bow?

Who should use a longbow or recurve bow?

Compound Bows

Compound bows are currently the most popular hunting bow in the United States. While these bows share the same basic shape of the longbow or recurve bow, that’s where the similarities end. Compound bows feature string wrapped around pulleys mounted to each end of the bow. These pulleys add extra force to your arrows with less effort on your part.

Compound bows also frequently use accessories like sights and mechanical releases. Bow sights work just like a firearm sight. Instead of instinctively aiming your arrow like you would with a traditional bow, you can calibrate the sight to aim at a variety of distances. Mechanical releases replace your fingers when hooking and drawing back your bowstring. Rather than gripping the string directly, you grip the mechanical release (which is attached to the string). To release the string, you press a trigger or hinge on the mechanical release. This leads to a smoother, more consistent arrow release than with a traditional bow.

New compound bows can cost around $300 to over $1,000. Fortunately, if you properly care for your compound bow, it will last for years. But this initial cost is certainly not cheap. If you’re just starting out, you definitely don’t need to invest in the highest-priced model on the market. And depending on your location, you might be able to find a used bow to use until you’re ready to purchase a new model.

What are the pros of a compound bow?

What are the cons of a compound bow?

Who should use a compound bow?

Crossbows

crossbow

Image from Amazon

In appearance, crossbows are very different from traditional bows and compound bows. Instead of featuring an upright handle strung vertically, a crossbow closely resembles a firearm, and you hold it horizontally. And while crossbows still use a bowstring, the user does not manually pull back on the string.

To shoot a crossbow, the user must first draw back the string. To do this, you must either use a manual winch or a crank. You then load an arrow into the crossbow’s chamber and fire by pulling on a trigger. Crossbows can vary greatly in price, with some models retailing for around $300 and others costing over $2,500.

What are the pros of a crossbow?

What are the cons of a crossbow?

Who should use a crossbow?

Level up Your Hunting with a Bow and Arrow

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of hunting bow you want to use, the fun can begin. Archery isn’t just a versatile hunting method, it’s also a great excuse to get outside and practice your skills throughout the entire year. And, unlike firearms, you don’t need to visit a commercial firing range just to shoot your hunting bow outside of archery season.

Whether you take up bowhunting and decide that it is your true calling or learn that hunting with a rifle or shotgun is what you prefer, a quality hunting bow is a great investment. Once you’ve learned the basics of shooting and maintaining your bow and arrows, you will have access to a wider hunting season for many years to come.

About the author

Kendrick Hulse

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