20 June 2012

Archery: All The Rage! Buying Basics For Parents

Thanks to movies like Brave and The Hunger Games, a lot of kids - and adults! - are excited to take up the sports of archery and bow hunting. It looks like a lot of fun, and it is, but it can also be overwhelming to shop for your first bow, as well as very expensive. Bows for small children can start at around the $30 mark, while quickly climbing to close to $1,000 for nicer models for adults.

If you've been contemplating purchasing that first bow, there are two very popular styles right now that to being featured in those movies. The long bow:


And the recurve bow:


It might be a little hard to tell the difference between them not seeing them in person. Both of these styles are flying off sporting goods stores faster than the blink of an eye. BTW, the bow that's featured in The Walking Dead is a crossbow, and there is also a compound bow. (That's what I shoot!) We were at Cabela's yesterday, and the guys over in the archery department let us know that shelves are clearing fast. They literally can't keep basic items in stock. I've heard the same things from folks over at Wholesale Sports, as well as at the archery range, so if you're planning to purchase as a gift, allow for a little bit of extra time in case the store doesn't have it in stock. We (my husband and I) personally recommend Cabela's as a great place to purchase a first bow. Not only do they have an indoor archery range, the employees who work in the department tend to know their equipment very well. They shoot on a regular basis, and live and breathe the sport. (They're usually not just there because any job will do, like you'll find at your local Walmart, for a lack of a way to put it) Another benefit of buying at Cabela's in person vs ordering online is that they can help y ou choose the right poundage, as well as show you how to put it together if it's multiple pieces (DH's PSE recurve is like that). Yes, if you didn't know - some bows come in pieces. Another great benefit of Cabela's indoor archery range is that you can see if your child can actually use the bow. If you choose the incorrect poundage, a child - or even an adult - may struggle to pull the bow back.

While I am one to usually recommend purchasing items used whenever possible, bows (and firearms) are one I recommend against unless you know exactly what to look for and what you are doing. Bows can warp, and while strings can be easily replaced, if it's been strung incorrectly, and you have no clue how to do it yourself, you could end up injuring yourself or your child.

Some bows may be purchased as part of a package with a couple of arrows, finger tabs, and maybe a quiver or an arm rest. These packages may seem to be all inclusive, but often not the greatest quality. Others may be the bow only. Most arrows are sold separately from their points - did you know this? They need to be glued and have the points twisted in. The basic accessories that you must have to shoot with are an arm guard, shooting glove, arrows with points, a quiver, plus your bow. You'll also need an appropriate carrying case for storage, or to take your bow to the range to practice shooting there. Depending on the bow you choose, you might also need sights, an arrow rest, and tuning kits. Yes, these things quickly add up. Yesterday, we purchased a dozen arrows with new points and it was $100 with tax. Some arrows can be cheaper, but it depends on what you're using them for, and what you're shooting at. Aluminum arrows for instance, are quieter and great for hunting, but if you miss and hit something hard, that arrow is toast.

Speaking of aiming and missing, while a bale of straw is great in a pinch for practice, you'll really want to spring for a target made of foam or burlap to practice shooting at. Depending on the size and style you choose, these start at around $25 and crack the $100 mark. I recommend choosing a good sized one to start off with, simply because it will help get your instinct (and therefore aim!) going properly. You can also make your own. (How about a zombie one? hehe!)

As a reminder, unless you are super buff, it takes awhile to get used to pulling the bow back. You're going to have aches and pains the first week or so, until you build those muscles up. The lower weight bows (under 35) that kids will be using won't be so bad, but if you're starting off with a 50 pound bow you WILL feel it the next day even if you only shoot a dozen arrows or so.

The final piece of advice I can give you is be sure you or your child actually want to learn how to shoot that bow, otherwise that's money down the drain quickly. (You can always recoup some money via Craigslist and ebay - crazy people like us always want extra equipment and bows! lol)

I hope this helps someone out there contemplating buying a bow for their kiddos. For anyone with a tween/teen looking for a basic recurve box, I highly recommend the Vista Sage Bow. It's the picture above under recurve. It's one of the ones we own and it's very good quality, and won't break the bank with a suggested retail price of $150. (FYI: No accessories included) Remember to respect the bow no matter how much you pay for it, and treat it like the weapon it is.

1 comment:

Katniss The Hunger Games Archery said...

Thanks for a great article. We been huge into the sport of archery since we were kids and there seems to be a huge upsurge since Katniss Everdeen rocked it in The Hunger Games. Now there's Disney's Brave but we think the summer Olympics is really going to put the sport of archery on the map as a serious competitive sport with the respect it deserves. Thanks for a very accurate and informative article--you are helping establish a great sport!