Get started in archery without emptying your wallet.
By Trent Jonas
If you’re a newcomer to archery, you’ve probably started looking around at equipment and may be experiencing a little sticker shock. If you’re not careful, taking up archery can quickly become a pretty expensive undertaking. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Take bows: With a little footwork, you can find plenty of quality bows for less than $500 and avoid breaking the bank. For example, these five budget bows are perfect for newcomers.
The Whitetail Legend Compound Bow, from Bear Archery, one of the biggest names in the industry, is an excellent beginner bow for those who want to hit the ground running—in the field or on the range. The Whitetail Legend is a single cam bow that can deliver arrows at speeds of 320 feet per second, which is more than enough to take down most big game animals and penetrate any target. At 32 inches, from axle to axle, this bow is easy to handle and maneuver, and it won’t hinder your movement in the woods, on a stand, or in a blind. To make things even better, the Whitetail Elite comes equipped with a dampening system to reduce vibrations and shock, as well as several premium accessories like a sight and a static stabilizer.
Archery newcomers who prefer to start with a recurve bow will appreciate the performance and features offered by the Saber Elite form Martin. One of the best things about the Saber Elite is that it’s customizable on order. So, when you order one, you select the draw weight—which ranges from 29 to 50 pounds—the finish for the risers, and whether you prefer a left-handed or right-handed bow. The Saber Elite is equipped with a vibration dampening grip, a soft rubber arrow shelf, and integrated vibration escape modules which all help to ensure quiet, smooth shots.
The compact—30 inches, axle to axle—Mission MXR Compound Bow is another great starter bow that will not put a dent in your wallet. Designed around the company’s proprietary Crosscentric Cam technology, the Mission MXR packs a lot of punch into a petite package, generating arrow speeds up to 324 feet per second. Because it’s made with high tech materials, the MXR can deliver this kind of power while offering a thinner, more ergonomic grip that helps to reduce torque and increase your comfort in handling and shooting the bow. Several optional accessories, like sights and an on-board quiver, are also available for the Mission MXR.
If you prefer to start out with a crossbow, the Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR is a great place to begin—even if the only thing you plant to hunt is targets on the range. The Whitetail Hunter is a compound crossbow that delivers bolts at a blistering 375 feet per second while maintaining a compact, manageable profile. The bow ships with a scope, two arrows, a lightweight quiver, a rope-cocking device, and wax to keep the string and cables lubricated.
At just over 31 inches, axle to axle, the Ember compound bow from Elite Archery is an excellent bow for a beginning archer to start with. In spite of its compact design, the 3.6-pound Ember can deliver arrows at up to 310 feet per second, which is enough to bag a cube target, a turkey, or a deer. The riser is made from caged aluminum and uses cam bearings instead of bushings to ensure smooth performance. It’s no wonder that Elite refers to its bows as “the world’s most shootable.”