Setting Up a Compound Bow, Step 1
Several things drove me to take up archery. I just purchased a compound bow and I am so excited to get it set up.
Step 1: Pick a bow
When looking for a bow, I did my typical research tactic of asking around with all the shooters and hunters I know. For months I followed pages on Facebook and Instagram of bowhunters, bow manufacturers, and reviewers. Some of my favorite Instagram hashtags and accounts include:
Some Selection Criteria for Compound Bows
Things to look at when shopping for a compound bow include:
- Bow Weight - you'll be holding it for a while so keep this in mind
- Draw Weight - there are minimum draw weights to hunt so keep that in mind.
- Draw Length - depends on your wingspan. I used option 4 in this method and was spot-on.
If you want to go more in-depth about bow selection, the Compound Bow Selection Guide at Hunter's Friend is a great resource. As the data poured in I weighed the options and started narrowing things down. I wanted to hunt and be mobile enough to tuck away into brush at the edge of a field (a.k.a. a light bow), which puts me into the "carbon" riser arena. I'm going to dig more into how these are made, because from what I gather they aren't quite metal but aren't quite plastic. Additionally, I am not what most would consider physically strong. Though I'm starting to change that, I knew that I couldn't draw something too heavy, so I went with the New Hampshire state minimum to hunt, which is a 40 pound draw weight.
Cam Designs for Compound Bows
Cam design is a topic for another more technical post, because the designs make the nerdy side of me really happy. Mechanical advantage FTW! Anyway, cam designs vary bow-to-bow and they affect both how smooth the draw will feel when you pull back the bowstring and the holding weight (force to hold the bow at full draw). Several bows available today have settings on the cams that allow you to adjust your bow - or if you're newer to it like I am, have an archery tech adjust it - to fit you.
Here is *the coolest* gif showing how much force let off there is at full draw with a compound bow when the cam is designed well! Less holding weight can mean a steadier hold, less strain on your muscles and more time to get off a good shot before fatigue sets in.
What I Chose
There are a ton of archery brands out there who are making fast, accurate bows. Hoyt, Mathews, Bowtech, PSE... you can't go wrong with any one brand. There are a lot of new "flagship" bows out in 2016, which you can read about in the American Hunter's review from the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show in January. I read a ton of reviews from bow shops that operate online, like Lancaster Archery, Bass Pro, and Cabela's. I also found gear review sites that were helpful, like Compound Bow Choice, The Best Compound Bows and Hunter's Friend. Additionally, field trials like this one from Realtree are good to read, for the multiple view points and varied experience they share.
I chose to go with a company who put together a hunting bow with women in mind. I am a proud owner of an Eva Shockey Signature Series bow. I appreciate the weight (with accessories, without arrows mine weighs 5.2 lbs), balance (it "feels" right in my hand) and aesthetics - it's a good looking bow!
Once you've picked a bow, you can start tricking it out. That's next up in this series. It is noteworthy that there are several "package" options to choose from with any bow manufacturer, and you can get started very nicely with a "ready to shoot" type of bow. I will detail more of what to look for in "Setting Up a Compound Bow, Step 2".