Should I buy second hand archery gear?

As we’re coming up to Christmas it seemed like a good time to tackle this question which we often get asked at the club.

Is it ever a good idea to buy second hand archery gear?

Well, I think the short answer is,

“Yes! Sometimes it can be a good idea… but sometimes it can be a terrible idea.”

So, what do you need to look out for?

Just like buying anything else from ebay / Craigs List etc – don’t spend more than you could afford to possibly lose. Ebay isn’t too bad because you have the paypal guarantee and their feedback system is pretty awesome. (Obviously as long as you do check the feedback of the person who is selling!).

What you may not realise if you’re inexperienced though, is that a lot of us have seen basic, second hand equipment actually sell on ebay for more than it’s worth new! So make sure you’ve thoroughly priced up whatever you’re looking at through a reputable store. Exceptions to this are things listed in the wrong categories and left handed bows. There just aren’t as many ‘special people’ (i.e. lefties) out there so trying to get rid of a left handed 36lb Seb Flute recurve with all its accessories is just that little bit harder than getting rid of a right handed one.

Which brings us to… make sure you are absolutely sure of what the person is selling and preferably engage in conversation with them. They shouldn’t have any issue in telling you when they bought the gear / where they bought it from, what club they shot at, what they’re upgrading to and if they experienced any issues with the kit. If it isn’t listed as left handed or right handed you probably don’t want it! It’s fine to buy gear from an experienced archer that has moved on in the sport and is ready to sell off their old pre-loved kit.. but that’s just it. Is it pre-loved? If it’s something found in the back of a garage or, worse, on the road side or, worse still, stolen… then you do not want it.

So, what could go wrong? Well, it could be not at all what you expect. This can be fixed by only buying locally and arranging to have a look first. It can also – usually – be fixed by a good back and forth with an honest seller, looking at the pictures carefully and doing your research.

The biggest issue with buying old or vintage gear is probably twisted or warped limbs. Depending on the type of bow it may be worth the money and taking the risk of having some issues – or you may end up with a potentially dangerous bow taking up space in your garage instead of theirs! As a sub-set of this you need to think about whether you are qualified to know whether it’s safe and – if not – is there anyone available to help you once you’ve bought it?

Most clubs will at least have a few experienced archers available to help you out even if there isn’t a qualified coach to spare.. but no-one will be thrilled to see you turn up with something that was probably not in great shape in 1973, and now has everyone double checking their liability policies…

The last thing is to say that when using ebay, if you can possibly restrain yourself, try not to bid until the last ten seconds. I personally love esnipe but, of course, you can always set an alarm and do it manually for free!

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!