Women are a growing market for bow hunting, and hunting in general. Is it simply influenced in part by the women archers in “The Hunger Games”, or is there larger trend afoot?
I don’t think so, and neither do the bow manufacturers.
Makers of compound bows (like HOYT) are betting it’s a trend more than a pop culture mirage, and are targeting female hunters, like myself, with models that are designed for women who typically are lighter in weight and have shorter arms than men.
The good news is that you now can buy a bow designed especially for you, a decided improvement over trying to use your husband’s or boyfriend’s bow (one or the other, please!), or buying one made for a child.
This is a great development for women interested in getting back into bow hunting. The challenging news, however, is that to a great extent, your budget will determine your choice.
Here are some tips for choosing the best bow for your budget.
Decide on a Price Range
Newbie female hunters are often shocked at the money required to get started in this exciting hobby. At the low end, you can find bows for $300 and accessories for $100. On the other end, a bow that will grow with your skill and offer long-term use is closer to $600, with accessories running $300-500.
One archery store owner I talked to insists, “I tell people that if they can’t afford to spend $600 on a bow that quite honestly they should save their money until they can.” If sticker shock is a problem and you are sure you want to continue with the sport, renting is an option. A number of shops rent archery equipment, a good way to find the best setup at a price you can handle.
I think that’s a load of you-know-what, to be honest. Stores want to sell their bows and accessories, and better equipment lasts longer. But, please, please, please, do not think you need to drop a huge pile of money just to get started! You really don’t, you’re better off with a starter bow and becoming proficient in hitting your targets first. Having a $600 setup does nothing when you can’t hit your target!
Long-time users recommend putting the most money you can afford into the bow and just getting by with components. They point out that it is much cheaper to move up to better components that it is to upgrade your bow. For example, buy a $50 release and later get a $100 model. Pay $80 for a rest now, buying a $120 one when you can afford it.
Essential Features and Components in a Women’s Bow
This is my shortlist of essential features to look for in a new bow. For beginners, experienced bow hunters recommend these accessories:
Arrow Rest – A fall-away rest is considered the most accurate.
Release – Reduce noise is by buying a buckle type release instead of a hook and loop release.
Sight – Buy one that lets you adjust the second and third axis, which means the string will be squared to the head. Choose sights with as much optic fiber as possible, and the ability to make multiple micro-adjustments, including windage and individual pin movements.
Stabilizer – Find one that is light, but also directs significant weight away from your hand.
If you’re more the technical type, you can find more details here on how compound bows work.
A compound bow with a hybrid cam is recommended for beginners. Essentially a hybrid is a cam and a half and is usually found on bows that are in the $400+ range. Experienced hunters give three reasons for this choice:
- Needs the least amount of maintenance.
- Remains closest to its peak weight.
- Changes less at the impact point than single or dual cams
With a single cam, the string and cable hook on to the same component. The string on them has a tendency to stretch, which in turn can change the poundage.
A dual cam is considered the fastest of all three types of bows, but the abundance of moving parts means things break or need regular tinkering to stay in peak form.
New hunters often worry about the poundage. Teachers suggest training your upper body by shooting four or five arrows a day to start, gradually upping the number. This gives your back muscles time to strengthen. As you feel more comfortable, adjust the draw weight. Form is always your first consideration, not the amount of poundage you can handle.
Though the price of the sport of bow hunting might give you second thoughts, it’s an exciting sport, one that requires focus, fitness and consistent practice. Once involved, you can look forward to years of camaraderie, peak outdoor experiences, a lifetime of learning, plus the chance to provide meat for your own table.
How to Shoot a Compound Bow
Here is a video from Ike’s Outdoors that will get you familiar with the components and features of the compound bow.