How about the fact that bowhunters enjoy on the average 60 extra hunting days per season than firearm hunters? Bowhunters also have the advantage of being afield early in the fall when the weather is nice and it’s a pleasure to be outdoors. In most states the peak of the fall rut occurs prior to the firearm opener. Bowhunters are treated to both pre-rut and peak rut hunting periods that firearm hunters in most northern states miss out on.
If these reasons haven’t convinced you, consider that the archery equipment currently available is among the finest ever offered. Fast, quiet, and accurate bows; strong and lightweight arrows; refined sighting systems; superior camouflage clothing; and a wealth of other accessories all add up to one conclusion: There’s never been a better time to get started bowhunting.
New technologies–including overdraws that increase arrow speed, high let-off that make bows easier to draw and shoot, and single-cam designs that help keep bows in tune longer–are just a few more advancements that make archery hunting even more desirable.
Getting started in bowhunting starts with the purchase of a few important pieces of equipment.
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Selecting a bow is the toughest decision an archery hunter will face. The options are many, and as with other major purchases the final price depends largely on the number of features. Compound bows range in price from $150 to $1,000 or more. The least expensive models usually feature a wood or magnesium riser and more expensive bows have a machined aluminum riser.
During the last few years, machined riser bows have become one of the most popular and expensive options available in a hunting bow. Tooled from a solid block of metal, machined risers can be built to closer tolerances than molded magnesium risers. Machine riser bows tend to be a few feet per second faster than comparable magnesium bows, but the advantages are subtle at best. The popularity of machined riser bows stems more from their pleasing esthetics than from a practical advantage.
A more important issue involves the type of wheel or cam you choose. Most compound bows come equipped with round wheels, energy wheels, or cams. Round-wheel models draw with a velvet smoothness and are among the most quiet and accurate models. An excellent choice for hunters who prefer to use a shooting tab or glove, round-wheel bows are forgiving of a poor arrow release. Round-wheel bows deliver arrow speeds that are modest at best.
Energy wheels are oblong in shape and designed to sling arrows out of the bow at greater speeds than possible with round wheels. A popular choice among archery hunters, energy-wheel bows offer improved arrow speed, a smooth draw, and accuracy that rivals round-wheel bows. Energy-wheel bows can be shot accurately with both finger tabs or a mechanical release.
Bows equipped with cams are clearly the leaders in the speed category. Cam bows routinely produce arrow speeds in excess of 300 feet per second. With this increase in speed comes an increase in shooting noise and a slight decline in accuracy. For best results, shooters using cam bows should incorporate the help of a mechanical release aid.
In fairness to cam bows, it’s important to note that a finely tuned cam bow will shoot as accurately as a wheel or energy-wheel bow, but it requires more effort to keep cam bows in tune.
The hunter must weigh these facts before making a purchase. Most bowhunters settle for the middle-of-the-road features offered by energy-wheel bows.
Most compound bow users rely on some type of sighting system. A series of pins mounted on the bow riser is a common and reliable method of sighting a bow. With pin sights two or more pins are often used. Each pin is set to correspond to a specific hunting range.
String peeps are often used in combination with pin sights. A peep sight provides the hunter an edge in much the same way a rear sight on a rifle improves shooting accuracy. The hunter lines up the pin, the peep, and his or her eye to form a three-point aiming system.
Combining a lighted pin with a peep sight is the most common archery sighting system used among hunters. Lighted pins may be battery powered or made of a light-collecting material such as fiber optics. The lighted pin makes it possible to shoot accurately in low-light conditions.
Like everything else in the archery business, sights have gone high tech. Adjustable target sights, pendulum sights, and even red dot scopes are readily used on hunting bows. A sighting system may range in price from $10 for a basic set of pins to $200 or more for an expensive target sight or red dot scope.