Learning the Bow


December 23, 2002, 01:57 PM
I haven't any experience with a Bow. I think I would like to learn so I could extend hunting season.

Where should I start?

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December 23, 2002, 03:19 PM

How "involved" do you want to get in producing your bow? Are you inclined to go modern with a compound bow, or are you interested in more traditional or primitive gear?

I started with a PSE "Beast" compound bow that came with a package deal for everything that I would need. Since then, I've regressed to building my own bows from wood (either boards or staves) and am really enjoying the process. If someone takes the time to find the right board at a store that carries hardwoods, a suitable hunting bow can be made in one day for around $15!

Similar to other "projectile sports", I would suggest that you find an archery shop nearby that has an indoor range and will let you test some different bows. Since you are not technologically averse, I also suggest browsing some archery related forums.

Primitive Archer Online (http://www.primitivearcher.com) has a lot of good information and a really helpful bunch of people on their forum. There are of course many other sites/forums that focus on the modern equipment.
Ferret's Board Bow Instructions (http://residents.bowhunting.net/sticknstring/brdbows.html) will walk you through the basics of building a bow from a board. I used this to build a nice bow from a hickory board last month.
Ferret's Archery Web Page (http://groups.msn.com/ferretsarcherywebpage) has some excellent examples of wooden longbows and flatbows.

I'm looking forward to heading out into the woods next season with the bow, string and arrows that I made with my own two hands.

If you have any questions on any of this stuff, feel free to PM or email me. I'd be happy to help in any way I can. :D

December 23, 2002, 03:25 PM
At least for now I will leave the manufacture of the bow to the machineists. I am thinking a compound bow (The last bow I used was a fiberglass recurve.) I have watched a bow being made while I was teaching at a Hunters ED class. It would be a bit much right now.

I have room for an archery range in the back of my place to practice.

December 23, 2002, 03:39 PM
My suggestion then would be to find an archery shop with friendly, helpful staff and go and shoot a number of different manufacturers bows. Be sure to research the regs for the state(s) that you want to hunt in for the minimum draw weight required for the critters that you want to hunt. Also, don't fall into the "more is better" syndrome and get a bow that is too heavy to draw (and hold at full draw) for at least one minute. If you start to shake to the point that you couldn't take a shot, then you'll need to work up to that weight. The way I understand it, a #65 compound bow will take any game animal in North America in the hands of a competent archer.

Funny thing, just like the time that I spend at the local pistol/rifle range, the time I spend at the archery range is usually filled with helpful, friendly people.


Don Gwinn
December 23, 2002, 05:50 PM
Yes, 65# is probably enough for most game if you're close enough and place it well. I'm far from an archery expert, but I think the average man is capable of drawing, holding, and shooting a 75# selfbow, much less a compound.

I'd start with the lower range, but there's nothing wrong with finding an adjustable with the range to cover the weight you're comfortable with and on up to the weight you want to be using later. Beyond that:

1. Keep gadgets to a minimum. Same principle as a gun. Gadgets will make you worse, not better, when you start out. If you want to get good really fast, then pin sights are fine. It's probably better to learn to shoot instinctively, but I started with pin sights. They're simple, robust, and hard to break. I wouldn't use a release or spend money on silencers for the string, and you don't need those big balance rods.

2. Pay attention to length on both the bow and the arrows. This can be pretty important, if you aren't average. My family has long ape arms, and we have to be careful about draw lengths.

3. Don't think you need to spend a fortune. Fancy materials, etc. etc.

I'm sure you know this stuff, but that's what I've got to offer. Like I said, I'm no archery expert.

December 23, 2002, 07:02 PM
Thanks for the links, Prophead. :)

December 23, 2002, 08:14 PM
Thinkin out loud.

Learn about archery.

Get or buy lessons.

Try different rigs.

Then make informed purchase.


Jim V
December 23, 2002, 08:53 PM
Hmmm, Sam, sorta like getting the first firearm, ain't it?

I'm not into the stick and string thing but my gunsmith and his son are, big time. Both shoot instinctive long bow.

December 23, 2002, 11:04 PM
The esteemed barrel maker and shooter Harry Pope was a long bowman. I had two of his. Really nasty pulls tho. The "light" one was over 85 lb.

December 23, 2002, 11:06 PM
One of my local gun stores has a pistol range but I don't think there is a archery range. They have quite an extensive bow area and do custom work.

December 24, 2002, 03:40 AM
Funny as it may seem, as a youth, I saw a perfect correlation between BB guns & basic recurve bows. Trajectories are very similar & within similar ranges.

Lots to be had there.

I've a few bows (call it a good full dozen & each have their own charm) - from the lowly/basic fiberglass (bare) recurve, somewhat "hi-tech" composite recurves through some fairly hi-tech compounds. & there's plenty I've never seen - some of these new-things are absolute wonders.


A basic bow at about 45 pounds draw weight with a decent broadhead can & will kill anything on this earth. You could obviously do somewhat better by equipment, but hunting & stalking skills will do you much better than will any equipment.

Same goes for anything rifle-wise.

As a 12-year old in NW La, w/a 35 pound pull straight fiberglass bow, I kilt whitetails - rigged with a bow-fish reel, I took anything swimming. I literally could kill anything in that land I set my mind to.

12 years old & a $10 bow.

You could "surf" the gunshows & pick up a very nice Bear laminate recurve for probably $15. Another dozen properly spined broadhead-tipped arrows for $30. Make yout own for 1/2 that.

Switch the heads out with field points, practise & go git 'em .....

Somewhat more to it to be exactly precise, but equipment?

I could live off the land right now with a $10 bow & 1/2 that in arrows.

Some would say I've got way too much in it. You can hunt & live with things you've made yourself - I've never had the need, or the desire, but you can. They did & so can you.

It's a matter of hunting skills more than anything.

High-tech only buys you that - it doesn't convey a skill, a method or an ethic.

December 24, 2002, 10:44 PM
Action Gun Outfitters in Melbourne FL is not far from you and is a qualified archery pro shop.

There are many ways to get into archery, and the best and cheapest in the long run is through a good pro shop. Another way is through archery clubs in your area. The worst and most expensive is "on your own".

A couple of links:


There's a wealth of information here including downloadable equipment guides. Look for the "Tuning and Maintenance Guide" which is a PDF document.

December 25, 2002, 01:28 PM
Just north of the intersection of U.S. 1 and Eau Gallie, on the West side of the highway. Can't remember their name, but when I drive by there later this week, I'll get it for you.

December 25, 2002, 02:43 PM
Labgrade makes very good point.

Lots of good information in this thread but Lab takes it to the basics.

Tis the shooter that gets the job done.


December 29, 2002, 08:58 PM
I started with a Mathews Genesis target bow. Only about 20 lbs pull, reasonably priced, high quality. I use it to help me concentrate, and through this practice, I have found I stop flinching when I shoot firearms.

It is very important that you go to a good dealer. They will set you up with everything you need in regards to accessories, and will help you choose the right arrow length. Plan on spending about $200 for your initial investment.


December 29, 2002, 10:45 PM
if you think you might like traditional bows. a couple of good books on the subject are

1. instinctive shooting by G. FRED ASBELL
2. THE WITCHERY OF ARCHERY BY (the author escapes me at the moment) this is a very good book on the subject written in i believe the 1890's but is still easy to come by.

December 30, 2002, 11:44 AM
If you are looking for a compound I would have to recommend a Fred Bear Whitetail Pursuit. I have had one for about 2 years. I have never shot with sights or anything fancy until I got this bow. But This is a great bow. I paid about $400 for the bow at the time but the price has gone down. The draw length can very quiet a bit. Unless you are over 7' then this bow would fit you. Mine can be set between 50# and 70#.
Good luck with your choice and good shooting to ya.

December 30, 2002, 01:14 PM
My suggestion is that if you are starting out with archery the compound bow is a good start by helping you hone your archery skills and it lets you enter the woods alot sooner in persuit of game animals due to the mechanics and technology of the compound bow.

If you decide that tradiitonal archery is the path you want to take then its going to require a somewhat different mind set. You will need to practice alot more than if you were to shoot a compound bow. You will also need to adjust your expectations somewhat differently and limit your shots on game animals according to YOUR ability. The challenge of shooting a stickbow and using your own instinctive ability is much more rewarding when you finally harvest a critter.

I'm a traditional bowhunter myself and after alot of practice I have become proficient with the longbow, enough so that I can harvest all types of game animals, but it didn't happen over night. Again with alot of practice and a different mindset you can shoot a traditional bow and the rewards will soon follow.


Sleeping Dog
December 30, 2002, 06:44 PM
Originally posted by Don Gwinn
I'd start with the lower range, but there's nothing wrong with finding an adjustable with the range to cover the weight you're comfortable with and on up to the weight you want to be using later.

If you increase the pull weight, does that make the arrows obsolete? Or would it make sense to start by buying arrows for the intended heavier weight?


December 30, 2002, 08:08 PM
Sleeping Dog,

The Easton arrow chart is a good place to start. The chart is only a starting point for the correct spine arrows for your bow draw weight and arrow lenght. I would recommend that you use the Easton chart to select a handful of arrows and start tuning your bow from there. In my days of shooting a compound I found that a slightly stiffer spined arrow seemed to work better especially with broadheads attached. You must select an arrow that is properly spined to your bow weight and arrow lenght.


December 30, 2002, 08:18 PM
On they History channel early this morning was a program entitled "Conquest." If you haven't seen it, Peter Woodward is the host and show his "class" how to:
fight against a knight
win demolition derbies
how to use a bow and arrow
among other things

It's really quite good and I urge you to see it.

ed dixon
January 4, 2003, 03:05 AM
Become the Arrow -- Byron Ferguson

Professional Archery Technique -- Kirk Etheridge

January 6, 2003, 12:42 AM
Not sure about Florida, but in New York, I took Bow Hunters Safety class, required for the bow hunting license. They cover most of the basics.

Keep your broad heads sharp and lots of practice.

Smokey Joe
January 7, 2003, 10:25 PM
Where should I start?

Answer: With the philosophy and ethics of what you propose to do. Methods both hi-tech and basic have been discussed above. Which you choose should depend on your own philosophy, i.e. what are your basic beliefs about how you should hunt? If you're not sure, may I suggest you explore that before proceeding further.

Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac had a lot to say about how and why a person should hunt, or for that matter, do anything with the land. Published in 1948, the book has never been out of print. Any good bookstore ought to have it.

January 8, 2003, 12:19 AM
I would suggest that one get into bows with the less hi-tech equipment & really, no sense buying new unless you just must. (arrows & strings an exception)

Really betcha you could get into it with an all-but spankin' new laminate recurve (gun show) for under $30 if you take some time. Haven't checked in quite a while but IIRC a Bear Kodiak retailed over $200 - last one I bought was $12-15, slapped on a knock point & off we go.

I've an older Bear compound & although it shoots much flatter (higher speed), it's heavy. Much heavier than any of my recurves.

A recurve starts you off "slower" & I think more "pure," if you will. Gives a more rainbow trajectory - just more bow-like than a compound & I do like the lighter weight.

Grab a 1/2 dozen field pointed arrows & shoot some targets at various known ranges, then go shoot some "stumps" & stuff at various unknown ranges - will really help you judge distances based on your trajectory. (& seriously, a BB gun can help here)

Haven't bought anything new bow-like in prolly 10-15 years & likely a lot of the weight issue's been resolved. I dunno. Always like the recurve ....

(sorry for long-winded .... trying to dump some nervous energy)

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