Man has been hunting with a bow and arrow since before the beginning of recorded time. Modern archery equipment however has taken a technological turn and may seem quite intimidating. Are you getting the best? Does all this technology really matter? Do you need to understand it? Yes, the technology and the advancements are impressive, but if you handed modern equipment to an ancient archer what would happen? My theory is that primitive man would understand and embrace the functional advancements without question. The fundamentals are completely unchanged. String the arrow, pull back, aim and shoot. Although many archers long for the simplicity of the longbow and feather fletched wooden arrows, most embrace the ease, accuracy and power of modern equipment.
The trade off is simple – traditional archery gear is limited by the amount of time spent practicing to achieve results. Instinctive shooting takes more time and limits shooting range. Even with modern equipment, effective average range for consistently hitting a target the size of a paper plate is under 50 yards for most shooters. Skilled archers of course can stretch the range much further.
So, how do you buy a bow without a physics degree? Simple, walk in to any archery shop with a range and ask for help. Tell the staff what you want to do and what your budget is and they will show you the best. A little brand knowledge goes a long way. Hoyt, Bow Tech, Mathews, PSE and several others have been making good bows for a long time. Need the best on a budget? Many shooters feel that they need the newest each year! Year old bows hit the market all the time with light use and often at greatly reduced prices. The added benefit of most archery shops is that you can shoot each bow that interests you. There will be a favorite after you shoot a few modern bows. They differ enough to make selection based on quality or price fairly simple.
If you haven’t picked up a bow in years and the simplicity of hunting with a stick and string stirs your soul, don’t walk away from modern equipment. The technological advancements have actually increased the simplicity of shooting and succeeding with arrows. I have a soft spot for traditional gear and a great respect for the hunters that practice and carry them in pursuit of game. Even the technology has only improved shooting by 40 yards or so, this is still simple bow and arrow hunting, where woodscraft is necessary for getting up close and personal with your dinner.