Archery buffs: How do I purchase my first ever Archery Equipment/Bow?
November 20, 2014 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Adult female standing at 5'2 seeks a badass olympic recurve bow for her new archery hobby.

Picked up archery about 7 weeks ago and I'm ready to purchase my own equipment. Even though I rent the stuff each week I still don't really know the names used for the parts or anything about how to go about buying my own. For example I know what a "sight" is now, but until yesterday I only knew it as the "look through thingie". Went to an archery shop yesterday and learned yesterday that my "draw" is 25 inches (which I think means my arm span while drawing ). Was going to purchase a bow when I was bombarded with all these strange words by the sales associate- like "risers" and "stabalizers" etc. I was given a choice between one bow that was $180 and another one that was $280 and was leaning towards the more expensive one, but only because it was a nicer color :( Cuz I really didn't understand the difference between them even though the sales person tried to explain.

I go to the range about 1-2 times a week on average. I'm not looking to become competative in the sport- I mean if I end up good enough to join some low-level tournaments or whatever, then fine, but it's not necessarily a goal of mine. I just do it for fitness and enjoyment. Would preferably like equipment that will last me at least a couple of years before I have to upgrade. In other words, I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment that I'm only going to outgrow in 6 months as my skill improves.

How much should I be looking to spend on the bow itself? Money isn't tight right now so I can splurge if it's worth it. Any pointers or bow recommendations? Do I need to know anything else other than that I have a 25" draw?
posted by rancher to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You can get a good starter take-down recurve (meaning a really basic bow that you can take apart -- see there ) for less than $150. It would last you awhile, certainly, and I think the resale value would be pretty good (especially with new Hunger Games moves due out in the next couple of years). Do you want a longbow or recurve bow, or a compound bow (with pulleys)?

Also, the kind of arrows you use will have more of an effect than the gadgetry you attach to the bow. Non-wood arrows will help your accuracy a lot, if they're matched properly to your bow size.
posted by curious nu at 6:03 PM on November 20, 2014

Oh, you say recurve in the topic! Sorry I missed that. I feel like something in the $200 range would last you awhile? I still think arrow construction is where you should spend your money.
posted by curious nu at 6:13 PM on November 20, 2014

There is a LOT of wonky nomeclature for archery like any other technical subject. Fred Bear is something of a legend in the modern traditional archery field. His bows are excellent (at least the older ones) but not cheap. Here is an online guide.

The term recurve bow covers a LOT of ground. Here is some very specialized, expensive bows that will last a lifetime with care, but are much more difficult to shoot than something like this.

I showed you the horse archery bows not as an actual recommendation for purchasing for a beginner-but more as something to aspire to. They are awesome, scary things that are not for a novice. The PSE takedown stalker bow is a MUCH better more appropriate choice for someone at your skill level. As you build strength and form (note:arm strength really is that important if you are doing it right-chest and back strength is what matters) you can buy new Limbs that will match your new abilities and skills. I will echo curios's recommendation for this kind of bow-takedowns store easy, transport easy and if you ruin a limb, it can be replaced. If you get a more traditional one piece bow, it can be ruined by something like leaving it strung too long or leaving it stacked in the corner wrong. As you progress and develop your own taste buy a high quality custom bow-one piece's generally shoot much quiter and with less hand shock (quality really matters here though and usually the best olympic bows are take downs so...).

DO NOT start with wooden arrows. They require special care and break really easy and need replacement often. Buy aluminum shafts to begin with. An archery shop can help you pick the right spline for the bow you select.

I STRONGLY prefer shooting with a glove over a release (and I shoot traditional exclusively) because it is more...visceral and gives me a better feel and frankly if you are going to take up a anachronistic hobby, why introduce modern convienences? why not just take up shooting guns? (this is kinda an extreme stance and my own snobbery-do what you enjoy and to hell anybody who sneers at you). Get a good quiver, from cadillac version to something more affordable. Most people use an armguard If you hold and release the bow properly one shouldn't be needed, but when you beginning it sure does save some bruising and everyone is built a little different and some people just need one.

As you progress you will probably start making your own arrows, the above links to Kustomkingarchery can help you with that, and 3riversarchery is also very good.

Good Luck and enjoy-I am about to move back to a larger piece of property where I can shoot daily again after several years of occasionally making it to range. It is actually a big reason for the move for me.
posted by bartonlong at 8:20 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

Is there an archery club or range in your area? I found members at my club to be super helpful. In person they will almost certainly be able to ascertain certain physical characteristics that will be helpful in determining what is best for you.
Also there is a chance you may be able to pick up an inexpensive used bow to experiment and learn with.
posted by notreally at 12:58 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many people recommended getting a bow with an aluminum riser if you're a beginner, because they're cheap and sturdy. But I'm also in the market and I want a wooden riser because they feel good in my hand and look great, and my archery instructor instructor, who knows what she's talking about, agreed that's a reasonable thing to do. If you can afford one you like, get it.

The riser is the handle, the bit you hold. Spend your money on a riser you like. The limbs (the curved long bits) are replaceable, and you'll upgrade them eventually as you get better and increase your draw weight.

You should know the draw weight you want your bow to have -- that's basically how hard it's going to be to pull the string back. It's going to be a number like 20 lbs, or 25 lbs, or 30 lbs, or more. You should be able to hold it at full draw for 20 seconds without trembling. You've been renting bows at a range, right? So find out what draw weight you've been using there, if you've been comfortable with it.

Other items for your shopping list:
arrows (don't get wooden ones)
a finger tab or glove (optional)
an arm guard (technically optional but hoo boy have you seen the bruises people get?)
a bowstringer (so you can unstring your bow when you're not using it)
a case
a quiver
a chest protector (optionall)
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:18 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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