Bowhunting Basics

By Hunting NetworkSeptember 25, 2008

LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015


If you are scratching your head trying to make sense of all the technical stuff we write about and the myriad of options available to you when setting up a bow, this article is for you.  I’m going to try to make the process as clear and easy to understand as I can.


There are hundreds of bows on the market that all do the same thing – shoot arrows.  Some are a bit faster, some are quieter and some have nicer grips, but for the most part, if the company is still in business in this competitive industry, it has to be making solid bows.  Don’t get too hung up on brands.  Focus on the things that really matter first and narrow the field in that way.  Then test fire a few bows to see which ones feel the best and shoot the quietest.

You need a bow that fits, one that has the right draw length and draw weight.  If you will use a release aid, make sure you have it handy when testing your draw length.  Your correct draw length is the one for which the elbow on your release arm points straight away from the target when you anchor in the correct location.  If you are shooting fingers, the correct location is with the index finger near the corner of your mouth as you look straight ahead (don’t turn your head away from the target and then look out of the corners of your eyes – a bad habit). 

The correct anchor point if you are a release aid shooter is one in which your fist is pressed against the back of your jaw, again when your head is turned straight at the target.

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A good bow with a moderate cam design and a seven-inch brace height will produce very good results for the majority of bowhunters.  Such bows will produce an IBO speed rating of roughly 310 feet per second.

Be careful not to try to shoot a bow that draws too heavy.  Your archery muscles will grow much stronger with practice, but at first, you run the risk of hurting your shoulders if you try to shoot too heavy.  Find a draw force that you can handle easily.  By that, I mean a draw force you can pull back while sitting in a chair without the need to raise your bow above your head in order to get the string back.  If you can’t pull the string straight back, it is too heavy.

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