Selecting the Proper Equipment for Bow Hunting

Bow hunting is one of the most popular sports for the sportsmen. The number of individuals who participate is growing each year. There are many reasons for this growth. Let us discuss a few of the reasons.

Most of us rise each morning, go to work, and come home again. We do this day in and day out until the need for escaping the everyday routine comes into play. Some people escape to the resorts for relaxation, but for those of us who just want to eliminate the hustle and bustle of being at a certain place at a certain time this might not be the answer. If you have ever spent time just walking through the woods or sitting around a camp fire sharing your day’s experiences, then you will know the peace which can be yours. For those of you who don’t wish to hunt, there are activities for you. Target shooting and competitive shooting is a very popular activity and one which can be very rewarding.

Most states will extend the bow hunting season beyond the regular season. For example, in Illinois the deer season for bow hunters begins in October and ends in January. The gun season is two times with one being in November for three days and again in December for four days. For those who like to hunt this gives a greater opportunity to engage in a sport of great challenge.

I have talked with many hunters of both the bow and gun and almost to a man, they tell me that it is a greater challenge to bow hunt. The hunter must get much closer to the game and then have the shooting ability to complete the hunt. The white tail deer is one of the most elusive animals and the mere challenge of finding one often is reward enough. I have heard more stories of the one that got away than the one which did not.

No matter your preference there is an activity for you, all you have to do is give it a try. Those who are new to the sport, I will have tips on finding the right equipment and gear.


The first choice you will have to make is, What type of bow do I want?” There are basically three types of bows being used today. Those are the compound bow, recurve bow and the crossbow.

The compound bow is probably the most popular of the three mentioned for a couple of reasons. This particular style has what is known as the “let-off”. Basically, what this means is that when the archer pulls the string back there will be a point when it will become easier to handle. This allows the archer to hold the bow at full draw with little or no pressure on the arm muscle and thereby helps eliminate the up and down motion of fatigue. One more advantage of the compound bow is it is capable of shooting much faster than the recurve bow. The faster an arrow is in flight means a flatter trajectory. A bow that has a flat arrow trajectory allows the hunter more room for error in judging distance. There are many models of compound bows available on the market today.

The recurve bow has been used for many years and is making a come back in popularity. This bow does not have the “let-off” of the compound bow. Because it does not have this release point, the archer usually needs to get the shot off faster. If the bow is a 65 pound draw weight then it stays at 65 pounds until the string is released. This is different from the compound which releases from 65 to about 50 pounds at full draw.

This brings us to the crossbow. This particular bow has been used for years. It is a cross between rifle and a bow. It is for this reason, many states do not allow cross bows to be used. The one exception in Illinois is for the handicapped. A special permit may be obtained. I would suggest that you check with your State Conservation Agency to determine whether these may be used.

Now that you have selected the type of bow, it is time to consider the weight of the bow. The draw weight for a recurve bow is the number of pounds it takes to draw the bowstring back to about 28 inches. If your draw length is longer or shorter, then add or subtract two pounds for each inch difference. For compound bows, draw weight is the amount of weight you pull through until your bow lets off.

An archer should select a draw weight that is comfortable. The higher the draw weight will result in a faster arrow flight, but you still must be able to handle the draw with comfort. If you are considering a recurve bow, you need a draw weight of between 45 to 50 pounds. If you select a compound bow, it should have a minimum peak weight of between 50 to 55 pounds. As your ability improves, you may find that you can increase the poundage by 5 to 10 pounds.

One more very important point to consider is the draw length. This is defined as the distance from the nock and string to the front of the bow at full draw. To determine your individual draw length, you can stand at right angle to the wall and place your knuckles on the wall. Measure the distance from the wall to the corner of your mouth and this should give you your draw length. Remember when you select your arrows, make them about three or four inches longer than your draw length to prevent overdrawing of the arrow.

You are now ready to begin target shooting. More tips will be given for the beginning hunter.

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