Q: I'd like to buy a new bow, but none of the stores near my home have indoor ranges so I can't shoot a particular model before I buy it, and as such, I'm in a bit of a predicament. Should I just buy a bow and get used to it or look for another shop where I can shoot one before purchasing it? I'd love to buy a Mathews or a Hoyt, but they're expensive and beyond my financial reach. I'm primarily looking at a Bowtech, but I'd appreciate any advice on other brands I should consider. -Mark Hicks, Yellowtail, MT
A: If you're serious about getting a bow that fits you properly and shoots accurately and quietly, I suggest you take a "road trip" to a well-staffed archery pro shop with an indoor shooting range to make your purchase. From determining your exact draw length to having a peep sight installed correctly, there are just too many things that can go wrong when you buy a bow from a dealer who doesn't have on-site expertise or a place where you can shoot a bow before buying it. And the lack of an indoor shooting range is certainly an indication a dealer's primary business isn't archery.
You should begin your pro shop search by visiting the websites of the bow brands you're considering. Write down the phone numbers of several pro shops and do a bit of research on them before leaving home. Ask for their normal business hours, and also when they're the least busy. Oftentimes, it's best to visit an archery dealer during the mid-morning or early afternoon hours (when most people are working their regular jobs), and not over the normal lunch hour. If you explain your situation- that you'll be driving a long way to purchase a fully outfitted bow- a reputable pro shop will take care of you. By the time you leave the shop after purchasing your new bow, you should already have your top sight pin adjusted for 15-20 yards and have the confidence to set the rest of your pins during future shooting sessions at home.
Believe me: Its worth the investment in time and gas money to make this purchase in person from someone you can trust. As for bow brands, you can't go wrong with any of the major manufacturers, including Bowtech. -Dave Maas
Learning The Ropes
Q: I'm just getting interested in bowhunting and would appreciate some expert advice and explanation of the various styles of bows, necessary accessories and arrow composition. -Ryan Mumm, Chadron, NE
A: Your first goal should be to tag along to the range with a seasoned bowhunter to get a feel for modern equipment. Next, research a legitimate pro shop that has two main elements: a shooting range and a full-time archery technician. Today, there are two main types of compound bows hunters utilize: single-cam bows and cam-and-a-half bows. Both styles work well and produce ample kinetic energy and speed for any species you'll pursue. You'll need to shoot both styles of bows to determine which fits your body best.
Once you decide on a bow, you'll want to look at bow sights and arrow rest styles. Most bowhunters lean toward multi-pin bow sights, but if you plan to only shoot short distances, like you most likely will on your whitetail hunts, a one-pin sight makes more sense and is less confusing. A drop-away rest like the Ripcord or a Whisker Biscuit-style rest provides great arrow-launching platforms. You'll also need a quiver. A bow-attached quiver is the most popular model today, but hip quivers also serve bowhunters well. Finally, try several arrow releases to determine the model that fits your shooting style the best. As for arrows, most bowhunters use carbon arrow shafts today because they provide the perfect balance of speed and weight to achieve maximum kinetic energy for your bow. -Mark Kayser
Measure Of Success
Q: I need to order some new arrows. Do I measure the shafts from the tip to the end of the nock or just the arrow shaft itself?
-John Carson, Bainbridge, PA
A: The measurement of an arrow shaft is taken from the bottom of the nock cleft to the back of the field point or broadhead. The best way to get a proper measurement is to nock an uncut arrow shaft on your bow string and come to full draw while making sure you anchor the same as you would for hunting. Have someone mark the fully drawn shaft just in front of the rest and then add 3-4-inch for broadhead clearance.
Once you've determined your proper arrow length, you need to consider your draw weight in conjunction with shaft length so you can get the correct arrow spine for your bow's draw weight. One of the most comprehensive guides for arrow information and data is Cabela's archery catalog. You can order a copy of the catalog by calling Cabela's at: (800) 237-4444 or by visiting www.huntingclub.com and clicking "Featured Links." -Judd Cooney