Buying a bow can seem like a daunting venture, but it really needn’t be if you follow a few simple rules.
[Please do look at comments for this post as this is a big topic with a lot of different opinions. This is Josie’s opinion and I’ve put (some of) my opinion in the comments – Heidi]
Obvious, perhaps, but the first key point and probably the most important. There’s little point lusting after the W&W Inno CXT if it’s way out of your price range. Don’t sell yourself short either: out of the whole setup, your limbs and riser are the thing to spend the most money on and really get right. Peripherals can be upgraded much more easily at a later date. The start-up gear will not be cheap. If you can, save up for a little while beforehand to give yourself a more generous budget. It will make a big difference in the long run.
The first purchase will be complicated and it’s easy to forget little things that may not seem important. For instance, if you’re buying a bow then you will need a stringer, an arm guard, a finger tab and bow stand. None of these require massive investment, the most basic models will do (though the finger tab perhaps not so – ask for advice on tabs and try some at the club. They need to feel right!). Make savings where you can. You don’t “need” to buy an expensive sight, clicker and long rod immediately. You can also get away without a quiver for a while; there are floor quivers at the club you can use. A bow square is a very useful thing to have (again, doesn’t have to be an expensive one). If you buy your bow at a shop they will probably fit the nock points for you. If they don’t, you’ll need one of these! Remember you’ll need nock points as well. Check that your riser comes with the necessary allen keys or you may need to invest in a set – hardware shops are often cheapest but check they include the right sizes for your bow.
This is vital. Every bow acts differently with different archers and it’s crucial to buy a bow that matches you. A well-matched bow is a seamless extension of the archer. As your first bow, anything other than a wooden bow will probably feel weird, but some will feel better than others. The right bow should feel comfortable in your hand and quite strong: if it’s too easy to draw you will grow out of it very quickly, too heavy and you won’t be able to shoot with it. Try some of the bows on the shooting line first of all (ask beforehand of course!), then it’s a good idea to visit an archery supplier. There are several archery suppliers around the UK, though none in central London. Familiarise yourself with what stock they carry and have an idea what you would like to try. Before you visit, give them a call to check they have what you want to try in stock! If they are low on stock they will likely hold something back for you. Check when would be a good time to visit – if you turn up unannounced at a busy time they may not have enough staff free to give you the time and attention you need. Put half a day aside for this: it will be time well spent – this is the first step along the archery trail so it should be sound. A good bow will make a massive difference not only to your shooting but also your confidence. It could be the difference between deciding it isn’t really for you or becoming an archery lifer. I’d advise against buying second-hand from eBay unless you’re absolutely sure what you’re getting. If something is disturbingly cheap there’s usually a reason for it!
Get properly measured for arrows and match them to your bow poundage and draw length. If you buy your bow at a shop they’ll probably go through this anyway. Non-matched arrows will not fly properly and will knock your confidence. Get good arrows but be aware you will probably need to upgrade them when you increase poundage which could be as little as 6 months down the line. It isn’t worth spending £300+ on X10 ProTours unless you really have a limitless budget! The 2020 coaches will offer advice if you’re not sure what would be best.
5. Don’t Forget The Case!
If you shoot barebow and don’t want to carry much around you can probably get away with a lightweight carry case. It’s a good place to start if your kit list is small and it won’t set you back much. If your budget is more generous and you plan to get lots of bits for your bow, have a look at what else is available. Good-quality archery backpacks are expensive so have a look on eBay in case there’s a bargain to be found. Sometimes it can be possible to use a non-archery bag, but bear in mind that these are not tailor-made for a bow so will not provide all the support (and pockets) you need. Your case offers storage, protection and portability: a full archery starter kit will cost a fair bit so show it the respect it deserves and keep it safe.
Well, I think that about covers it for now. Happy bow hunting!