Your new hobby starts with the right equipment.
By Trent Jonas
If you’re thinking about taking up archery, whether for hunting or just to develop your skills on the range, you’ll need the proper equipment. From finding the proper bow type for your desired activity to accessories like arm guards and gloves, getting the gear basics is the first step to fostering a lifelong love of archery. Here are our recommendations for getting started.
Clearly, this is the most obvious piece of gear anyone interested in archery will need. However, deciding on what type of bow to start out with may not be as obvious. There are four primary types of bows: compound bows; recurve bows; long (straight) bows; and crossbows. Any of these bows can be used on a range or for target shooting. For hunting, on the other hand, many states require bow hunters to use a weapon with a minimum amount of power (measured in feet per second, or fps). The reasoning behind such regulations is to ensure that animals shot with an arrow are killed—rather than wounded and living with arrows lodged in their bodies. Compound bows, therefore, are most frequently used for hunting.
Crossbows are also highly regulated. They tend to have very high FPS ratings and are very accurate. Some would argue that crossbows reduce the challenge of archery hunting and don’t offer game the same kind of “fighting chance” as other types of bows. Be sure to check your state’s regulations ahead of time if you’re interested in hunting with a crossbow. Some states only allow certain hunters to use them or treat them like firearms, while others prohibit crossbow hunting altogether.
Ultimately, the bow you choose will depend on your own personal preferences and your intended uses. Be sure to research—and whenever possible, try out—several before making a decision.
Obviously, a bow will not work unless it’s fitted with a string (and cables in the case of compound bows and crossbows). The string you’ll need will depend on your bow. You will typically buy a compound bow pre-strung. Recurve and long bows, on the other hand, may require a separate string purchase. It’s always a good idea to have the string fitted to the bow at the time you buy it.
Compound bows are usually stored strung, however, other types of bows typically require you to unstring and restring them between uses. For this task, it’s always good to have a stringing tool, like the Limbsaver Recurve Bow Stringer, to ensure that you harm neither yourself nor your bow during the process. Bow string and cables also need to be cared for between uses. This is why it’s important to treat your string with wax or lubricant, like Bohniing’s Tex-Tite Bow String Wax on a regular basis.
Finally, you’ll need a way to carry and store your bow. A hard-sided bow case, like the Pelican Air Bow Case, is a good way to accomplish both. However, you may find a soft case easier to tote to the range or out in the field.
The types of arrows and tips you’ll need, again, will depend on the bow you’re using and what you’re using it for. Bigger bows will require longer arrows, which are made from myriad materials, these days, ranging from wood to aluminum to carbon fiber. Do your research and match your arrows to your bow, your activity, and the level of performance you hope to achieve with them.
As for tips, you will need to change them according your activity. When you’re on the range or in back yard, use basic target tips, like BlackOut Classic Archery Field Points, which are designed to penetrate without cutting or causing a lot of damage. On the other hand, if you’re hunting big game, you’ll want broadheads with cutting edges, like the Rage X-treme Four-Blade Broadhead. Smaller game and fowl require more specialized tips, like the G5 Small Game Head.
Regardless of the types of arrows and tips you get, you’ll need a quiver to store and carry them in. Choose a quiver that will accommodate the length of your arrows, prevent the shafts from warping, and keep the fletching separated.
In addition to the primary gear—bow, string, arrows—a couple of accessories are necessary, like an arm guard and finger protection. An arm guard, such as the Bohing Slip On, protects the inside of your forearm against injury from the string as you release it.
Fingers are also prone to injury when using a compound, recurve, or traditional bow. Therefore, most archers use some kind of finger protection. The most common form, especially on the range, is the finger tab. A finger tab is a small piece of material, usually leather, like the Fred Eichler version, that attaches to the hand and creates a barrier between an archer’s finger and the string.
Archery gloves are the most common alternative to finger tabs. Archery gloves, such as those from Bear Archery, are usually lightweight, partial gloves that protect the fingers you use for holding and releasing the bowstring. They are a little more cumbersome than finger tabs but are also easier to wear. Another option, for compound bow shooters, is a bow release, like the BlackOut Encompass. A bow release attaches directly to the string, and the archer releases the string using the release rather than his or her fingers. If you plant to hunt, check your state’s regulations regarding the use of mechanical releases while hunting. Some states limit or prohibit their use.