ARCHERY is fast becoming one of Australia’s most popular sports, with more aspiring new shooters getting involved every day to take on the challenge of hitting the bullseye.
However, one of the biggest challenges all new archers will face isn’t hitting the bullseye; in fact, it takes place well before.
Choosing the correct equipment is a vital, yet daunting task and with the ever-growing selection of compound bows and new technologies, it can get very complicated. But don’t worry, help is here! If you are new to this sport and still wondering what compound bows are, here is a bit of technical information on what they are and how they work.
Compound bows have been in mass production since the early 1970s and at the time were a major advancement in archery technology. Though modern compounds look very different to the originals, the concept of how they work is still the same. Simply put, a compound bow is a bow that has a cam on the end of each limb.
These cams are joined together via a system of control cables and a shooting string. As the shooting string is pulled back, the cams rotate and the control cables act like a system of pulleys and cables to flex the bow limbs. Once the bow is drawn to a certain point, the cables reach a part of the module called the apex.
From here, as the cams rotate further, nearly all the power of the limbs is directed into the cables and only a small percentage of the overall power will be felt when holding the bow at full draw. This is called the let-off. This means that when the bow is fully drawn, as stated you will only be holding a minor amount of the overall weight, thus allowing the bow to be aimed more easily and in turn making the archer more accurate.
This is what makes compound bows the preferred choice for many beginners and bowhunters. However, over the years this technology has advanced dramatically and newer equipment needs to be matched to the archer’s size and requirements. When considering buying a compound bow, you need to determine what draw length you require and how powerful the bow needs to be.
Certain compound bows have set draw lengths, so not everyone can shoot every bow. The draw length of a compound bow is measured in inches and is the peak length at which the shooting string is drawn back to. This is where the let-off is at its greatest and the archer holds the least draw weight.
Of course, some people are taller than others and therefore will need the string to come back further, or the other way around for shorter archers. Several compound bows have adjustable draw lengths and can suit a wide range of body types.
To calculate your correct draw length, use this simple equation. Measure your arm span from fingertip to fingertip, then divide by 2.5 (all draw lengths are measured in inches, so use a unit converter if needed). Now you know what your draw length is, it’s time to decide what poundage you need your bow to be.
A bow’s poundage is the maximum pressure felt at the apex of the draw cycle while drawing back. Modern compound bows can be as light as 5lb or as heavy as 90lb. Beginners should never choose a bow that is too heavy for them. This will cause poor form, resulting in a number of accuracy errors or worse still, injury to the archer.
Starting out light is the best way for a beginner, and don’t worry, nearly all compounds have built-in weight adjustment so you can crank it up as you get more confident and your strength and technique develop. Here are some recommendations of draw weight for different ages.
In general, for eight to 12-year-old children a lighter bow of about 10-30lb will suit best. For teenage archers aged 13-16, I recommend 30-40lb. This is enough poundage for them to be able to hit targets accurately out to 50m in a club situation and provide enough power to harvest small to medium-sized game if they decide to take on the ultimate challenge of bowhunting.
For ages 17 and over, I recommend 40-55lb and upwards, depending on your upper body strength and if you have any pre-existing injuries. These recommendations may not always be 100 percent correct because some people might be stronger than others.
However, start at the light end of the spectrum, find a weight you are comfortable with and stick with it. Nothing is tough about having a 70lb bow and looking like an uncoordinated praying mantis while trying to pull it back. If you keep practising, you’ll find it easier to pull back higher poundages as your muscles develop.
Just make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself early on. Now that you have determined your draw length and draw weight, you can finally get to the fun part… shopping! Plenty of bows are designed for beginners.
The number-one thing you should look for is adjustability.
At Apex Hunting, we stock a number of bows that are highly adjustable and designed for beginning archers. This is a lot of information to take in, however if you follow the recommendations, you’ll fast track your archery journey and should begin hitting the bullseye in no time.
What makes the Blizzard such a great starter bow for children and adults is its adjustability and compact size. With a draw length range of 19”-29” and a draw weight range of 5-55lb in a compact 29” axle to axle bow, the Blizzard will be comfortable and manageable for the youngest and smallest to nearly the biggest beginners.
The Blizzard is available in ready-to-shoot packages starting from $305. This package provides everything you need to get started and is the cheapest of its kind available. Please note, if you are an adult and fall into the higher end of the Blizzard’s poundage adjustability spectrum, you may want to consider our next option so you have more room to grow into your bow.
Apex Berserker Evolve
The Berserker Evolve picks up where the Blizzard left off. With two different draw weights available, the Berserker Evolve will suit teenagers right up to the strongest adults. A draw length range of 25”-31” and the option of two draw weights of 25-60lb and 30-75lb make the Berserker Evolve perfect for beginner archers wanting to start off light and get their form right.
It also provides you with the opportunity to greatly increase the poundage so you’ll be able to competitively shoot or bow hunt. All in all, the Berserker Evolve does it all and better yet, has a price tag starting from $359 for a ready-to-shoot package.
Please take into consideration that even though the specifications of the Berserker Evolve may fit you, its size may not, and smaller-framed teenagers might have some difficulty handling the bow. The Blizzard and Berserker Evolve will cover just about everyone and provide a suitable platform to get you shooting correctly and accurately in next to no time.
However, if you have a bigger budget your options don’t end here. Diamond and Bowtech each make very high-performance beginner bows with price tags that won’t break the bank. Here are my recommendations from these manufacturers.
Diamond Infinite Edge
The Diamond Infinite Edge is one of the best-selling bows in the world and there is a reason for it. The Infinite Edge is adjustable from 5-70lb and has a draw length range of 13”-30”. Combine this with its ultra-smooth draw and compact yet stable design and you have the ultimate starter bow that will suit the smallest child right up to a fully grown adult.
Better yet, the Infinite Edge is available ready to shoot for $549.95. If that price tag seems a little daunting, remember this: with the Infinite Edge’s adjustability, you won’t be upgrading to another bow any time soon.
New for 2015, the Bowtech Fuel combines all the latest technologies in a beginner-type package. With extreme adjustability of 14-70lb draw weight and 18”-30” draw length, the Bowtech Fuel will suit just about anyone. It is also the fastest starter bow on the market, producing arrow speeds up to 320 feet per second.
If you want to cut to the chase, and get the best beginner bow on the market, look no further than the Fuel. The technology within the Fuel will truly transform your shooting experience. Available in Bowtech’s Ready Aim Kill package, which contains everything you need to get started, the Fuel is priced from $669.
If you still have some questions or want to find out more, please contact our team at Apex Hunting on 1300 883 770, email support@apexhunt ing.com.au or come in to 22 Tombo St, Capalaba 4157 and try out the bow you are looking at in our seven-lane indoor archery range.