Getting Restarted in Bowhunting
by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, May 29, 2010.)
Although I’ve bowhunted regularly for the last few years, I haven’t paid enough attention to my equipment and I’ve let my skills decline. So, you might say I’ve decided to get restarted in archery, and that means getting up to speed with new equipment and refining my shooting technique.
The high price of bows can actually
work to the buyer’s advantage.
It’s easy to be scared off by modern archery gear, even though the aim is the same as the Native American hunters had with primitive gear – to put an arrow through the vitals of the deer. But compound bows are anything but primitive. They’re a creation of modern technology, so they look intimidating. And they’re expensive.
They’re not as intimidating as they look. You don’t need to understand the technology or the mechanics. All you need to know is that the compound bow (some call it a wheel bow) has wheels (or cams) with cables designed for a mechanical advantage. They reduce the effort it takes to pull back the bowstring and hold it, without diminishing the force that launches the arrow. That means a weakling like me can use one.
And yes, modern compound bows are expensive. Part of the reason for that is the race among bow manufacturers to introduce new materials and better designs. But the high price of bows can actually work to the buyer’s advantage. Some hunters always want the latest and greatest, which puts high quality, little-used bows on the market.
Don’t be afraid of buying a used bow. The quality in today’s bows from reputable companies including Bowtech, Hoyt, Mathews and many others make it hard to make a mistake. And don’t be afraid of offending the bow dealers – if someone didn’t buy the used bows, they wouldn’t sell as many new bows.
I bought my latest bow, a Mathews Outback equipped with a sight and an arrow rest, from a friend. Since I didn’t buy it in a store, where would I go for advice on tuning it and learning to shoot it? I decided to join His Way Archers (www.HisWayArchers.com), the Christian Bowhunters of America chapter in Jamestown, NY.
By joining His Way Archers, I learned what I needed to know from helpful bowmen who won’t make me feel foolish. I also got a place to practice on a variety of 3D targets.
Pete Hofert and Andy Johnson, regulars at His Way, counseled me on setting up my used bow. Pete checked my draw length, and advised me to upgrade from aluminum to carbon arrows. He also helped me learn my way around the bow press and the arrow cut-off saw the club owns. He helped me install a better peep sight and adjusted my D-loop, an optional accessory that helps lessen torque on your bowstring and protects your string against premature wear from your release aid.
Knowing almost nothing about selecting carbon arrows, I contacted Carbon Express, a leading arrow manufacturer, to see what they’d recommend. I explained my needs, and they provided a dozen Maxima Hunter arrows, already fletched with vanes.
Let me tell you, if you’re still shooting aluminum arrows, consider arrows made from carbon fibers. They’re straighter, stronger and maybe even quieter. Yes, they’re more expensive, but they also last much longer. And they’re lighter. Which makes them faster. Which makes range estimation more forgiving. Which makes you more accurate.
I still need a few items. I’m using an old release aid that I bought with my first bow way back in the 1980s. Although there’s nothing wrong with it, I’d like to have a new one and use that as a back-up. I also need a quiver I can attach to my bow.
A target is a must-have for the archery hunter. I already had a 3D deer target from McKenzie Targets, plus a “Monster Bag” target. So, I bought an 18-sided Rinehart foam target that I can toss out into the yard at random distances and transport easily.
Finally, before hunting with my bow, I needed some broadheads matched to the carbon arrows. Broadhead technology is also very advanced compared to a few years ago. Although I haven’t yet poked a deer with my new setup, when I do I’ll be using the new F-15 broadheads from Carbon Express. With six cutting edges, they make a huge hole for rapid bleedout.
Practice is essential. Although everyone practices alone, it pays to practice with someone else, too. You can keep an eye on each other’s form and learn from each other’s mistakes.
I’ll be better equipped for this fall’s deer season than I’ve ever been before. If you want to be able to say that, there’s still time to get a bow and go through the short learning curve before the season arrives. Don’t let a bow intimidate you. And, check the used market – you’ll find some great deals.