Setting Up a Compound Bow, Step 2

Setting Up a Compound Bow, Step 2

NoteThis is Part 2 in a series about setting up a compound bow. See Part 1 for info about picking out a compound bow.

Once you pick out your bow, it's time to trick out your bow!

Here I am, a gun girl writing about bows. Why? I got into archery in an attempt to get my husband into a shooting sport so that we could spend time at the range together. This is an effort that is years in the making, and while we've tried lots of other shooting sports together, archery is the one that "stuck". So here I am, the "how-to" gun girl, sharing some info on archery! 

My bow, all set up! Since I took this photo, I extended the sight and now I'm looking into stabilizers - there's always something with gear improvements!

Setting Up a Bow Step 2: Trick it out

Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Before you read on, I want to reassure you that it isn't actually an overwhelming list. It is long because there are lots of options and I like to be thorough. The simplest ways to get started are to either buy a used setup from another archer or buy a "ready to hunt" or "ready to shoot" package from your local archery pro shop. I opted for the first choice (buying used) to get my husband hooked on archery.

A note about buying used: For $250 I purchased a 10-year-old hunting bow complete with two release aids, a dozen arrows, and the whole list I'm about to share with you. The guy we bought from and my husband are roughly the same build, so that meant that straight out of the box my hubby could fling arrows. There's something to be said for saving money and time, so buying used is a great way to go. I do recommend that if you buy used, you take it to the pro shop to get it fit to you. Strings or other items may need to be replaced and its best not to risk your safety just because you're eager to shoot.

Personally, I chose to buy a bare compound bow and accessorize from there. I bought an Eva Shockey Signature Series bow by Bowtech. While I shared briefly my reasons for purchasing that model in a previous post, I'll reiterate that I chose my bow based on the fact that it was developed by a woman hunter for women hunters/archers. I've learned a bit more about what I like and don't like in a bow since I made my purchase and the next bow I buy will probably be more of a target bow, so that I can keep up with my husband, who has gotten really into compound target archery. But for now, the Eva bow is perfect for me. I can take it to the range and perform well, and I can take it into the woods to hunt turkey. I've put some time, money, and effort into accessorizing the bow to fit my needs, and I think that "outfitting" my bow will be a continuous process. 

To get started shooting a compound bow from a bare bow, you'll need the following:

  • Arrow rest - to support the arrow during aiming and firing. But which type - whisker biscuit or fall away, or blade-style? If you are doing a lot of target shooting the blade style is popular. For combining hunting and target shooting, the fall-away rest is something to consider. The whisker biscuit style holds the arrow well, which is great for hunting but it can affect accuracy by inducing drag along the arrow fletching. This article from Field and Stream has some more info on the great arrow rest debate.
  • Bow Sights - one pin, three pin, five pin. There are so many options for sights. Bow sights are different than the sights I'm used to with my smallbore and air rifles, but the principles are the same: Line up your dominant eye with the peep and put the front sight over the target. Longer sight radius equals better accuracy. I settled on a single-pin sight, and I'll share more on that later.
  • Peep Sight - to align your eye with the bow sight. The peep looks like a small plastic donut. The size of the "donut hole" controls the amount of light your dominant eye gets. That in turn controls your ability to focus on the front sight. An archery pro shop will help install a peep for you.
  • Stabilizer - to dampen vibration and smooth out your hold. Stabilizers help make the bow feel more comfortable to shoot and they also help steady your aim by providing a counterweight. I've got a 6" compact stabilizer on my bow right now, but I plan to investigate different options because this is as "tech-y" as it gets. Like barrel tuning a rifle, stabilizers are personalized and get more expensive as you move into competition level. You'll notice lots of pro shooters or competition shooters with side/rear-angled stabilizers in addition to the front. You can really go as crazy as you want with stabilizers to help your hold feel balanced and steady. That's a topic for a whole other post. 
  • Quiver - for holding your arrows. Some target archers use what amounts to an elongated pocket they attach to their belt, and some use tube-style hip quivers, and hunters use one attached to the bow. 
  • Release - goes on your dominant-eye-side wrist to help you draw and release the bow. There are a couple styles to choose from, primarily a wrist (trigger) release and a handle release. I chose a handle release because it fit my hand well, but lots of shooters prefer the wrist-style release. Try before you buy, if possible!
  • D-loop - for your release to grab onto so you can consistently draw. This is a piece of nylon cord or string tied onto your bow strings. An archery shop can do this for you, or you can YouTube the DIY method
  • Wrist sling - an optional tool to help you keep control of your bow during and after shooting. 
  • Kisser button - an optional location tool to help position your hold once you've drawn. I do a similar thing on my air rifle to help me place my head on the cheek piece so my sight alignment is identical from shot-to-shot, but I didn't end up using one of these.

There are lots of accessories in any shooting sport. Hopefully this list helps you get going with what you'll need for compound archery! If you want to chat further about any of this stuff, get in touch with me and let me know. Happy shooting! 

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