Thinking of upgrading your old rig or buying your first new bow? Take the hassle out of the process by considering these four simple factors first.
It seems that the flagship bows from most companies are released earlier and earlier each year, with some showing up the first week of October. It’s common for companies try and get a jump on the new year by showcasing their latest offerings by mid-November, which means that anyone interested in a new rig can check out nearly anything in the entire bow market right now.
That stated, it’s up to the individual to decide which way their research should go and what types of bows they should zero in on. This will vary a lot based first on your budget, and then on individual hunting or target shooting experience and needs. In other words, upgrading your bow takes some careful consideration. Here are some simple tips that will help you through the upgrade process to find the bow that’s just right for you.
If you haven’t purchased a new bow in a decade, brace yourself. Whatever you paid for your last one will likely only cover about half the cost of a new bow in 2019. Flagship offerings ranging from $700 to $1700 are available, with most of them carrying a $1000 to $1200 price tag. And this doesn’t include accessories. This goes for the hunting market as well as the target bow market. It’s not all doom and gloom, however.
One way to offset costs is to purchase a kit bow. These are much less expensive and come fully accessorized, but you’ll sacrifice some on quality and performance. That’s just how it is.
Another way to offset costs is to keep an eye out for last years’ models. Some retailers will push out there older stock at a solid discount, which means you can sometimes pick up a great rig at a deeply discounted price.
Perhaps the best way to get over the sticker shock is to think of your new bow purchase as a longer-term investment. In other words, if you are comfortable wringing five years or more out of a bow, the overall cost of your new bow amortized over that time makes it much easier to stomach.
There’s also one more important thing you shouldn’t forget: quality costs money. It just does, and if you’re really itching to enjoy the experience of shooting both in the field and at the range, it’s worth it the investment.
Quick Tip: Some bow manufacturers offer payment plans so that you can not only order directly to customize a bow to your personal preferences, but also pay it off over several months.
Today’s high-end compounds are efficient, and any bow that generates enough energy to blow an arrow through a whitetail will most likely put down a bull elk as well. Arrow speed and efficiency aren’t much of an issue across the board these days, so it’s best to factor in personal preference for the type of shooting you do and the terrain you’ll be hunting.
For the mountain bowhunter, less weight is always welcome. Many of today’s bows are built upon carbon risers, which means they tip the scales at fewer than four pounds. Once accessorized, these rigs will often weigh in at around six pounds. Other bows, especially those with aluminum risers, will start out a little heavier.
If you have to climb 1000 vertical feet to start your morning elk hunt, you’ll probably want to start with the lightest bows you can find. Conversely, if you walk 300 yards to your deer stand and hang your bow up for the majority of your hunts, or if you’re just looking for a good rig for target shooting at your local range, you probably don’t need to focus on bow weight. In fact, you might want to lean toward a bow that is a bit heavier because as a general rule, a hefty bow will be a quieter bow. Shot-sequence noise in the mountains on mule deer or elk isn’t much of an issue, but when you’re dealing with cagey, string-jumping whitetails it is, so keep that in mind.
Your experience level will factor into a new bow purchase as well. How into bowhunting or target archery are you? If you’re diehard, you probably don’t need to be talked into anything. If you’re not, you’ll probably argue with yourself over whether a new bow purchase is worth it or if it’s even necessary.
No one can make that call for you. The thing is, a new bow will almost undoubtedly shoot better than your old bow. That will produce two very desirable effects. The first is enjoyment. Watching an arrow go where it’s supposed to over and over is fun, and that’s the main reason to shoot a bow—and it’s a good one.
The second positive outcome to buying a new bow is confidence. Shooting confidence increases enjoyment, and makes you want to shoot more. Confidence is a must-have for target-archers and bowhunters alike, so while it’s a great intangible in the overall process, it’s not to be undersold. A new bow won’t guarantee you Olympic-caliber results, but it will inevitably nudge you in a direction to get (and be) better.
Buying a brand new bow should be a process. Be patient, and find a pro shop that will work with you. Shoot as many bows as you can that are set up to your exact specifications. Whether you’re simply into target shooting or plan to hunt moose in Alaska someday, focus on how the bow feels in your hands throughout the entire shot cycle. There will be a few models that just work for you, and you’ll know it after a dozen shots. At that point, it’s a matter of narrowing down your choices and making the final decision, which is always fun.
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About the Author: Tony J. Peterson has written hundreds of articles for over two dozen national and local publications. Although he covers topics related to all forms of hunting and fishing, his passion lies in do-it-yourself bowhunting for whitetail deer and western big game. Peterson is an accomplished outdoor photographer and currently serves as the Equipment Editor for Bowhunter magazine and Bowhunter TV.