How Do I Choose A Good Bow?

So you’ve decided to take up archery and now you’re faced with the daunting task of choosing a good bow. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But fear not, because in this article, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the perfect bow for you. From considering your skill level and shooting style to understanding the different types of bows and their features, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. So get ready to embark on this exciting archery journey, and let’s find you the bow that will help you hit the bullseye!

How Do I Choose A Good Bow?

Factors to Consider

When it comes to choosing a bow, there are several factors that you need to consider. These factors will help determine the type of bow that is best suited for you. The main factors to keep in mind are the type of bow, your purpose for using the bow, your skill level, and your budget.

Type of Bow

The first factor to consider is the type of bow you are interested in. There are several types to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common types of bows include the recurve bow, compound bow, longbow, and crossbow.

  • Recurve Bow: This type of bow is known for its elegant shape and simplicity. It is a popular choice among traditional archers due to its long history and ease of use.

  • Compound Bow: The compound bow is a more modern type of bow that utilizes pulleys or cams to provide increased power and accuracy. It is often favored by hunters and target shooters for its versatility.

  • Longbow: The longbow is a classic style of bow that is known for its simplicity and smooth shooting. It is a great option for those who appreciate traditional archery and a more challenging shooting experience.

  • Crossbow: The crossbow is a unique type of bow that is held horizontally and shot from a trigger mechanism. It offers a high degree of accuracy and is often used for hunting or target shooting.


Another important factor to consider when choosing a bow is the purpose for which you will be using it. Are you planning on hunting? Participating in target shooting? Engaging in competitive archery? The intended use of the bow will help determine what features and specifications you should look for.

For hunting, you may want to consider a compound bow due to its power and accuracy. Target shooting may require a different type of bow, such as a recurve or longbow, which offer a more traditional feel. Competitive archery may have specific requirements, so it’s important to do your research and ensure you choose a bow that meets the necessary standards.

Skill Level

Your skill level is another crucial factor to consider when selecting a bow. If you are a beginner, you will want to choose a bow that is forgiving and easy to shoot. Recurve bows are often recommended for beginners due to their simplicity and versatility.

Intermediate and advanced archers may prefer a compound bow for its increased power and accuracy. However, it’s essential to choose a bow that matches your skill level to prevent frustration and maximize your shooting potential.


Finally, your budget will play a significant role in determining the type of bow you can purchase. Bows can vary widely in price, with factors such as materials, technology, and brand reputation influencing the cost. It’s important to set a realistic budget and prioritize the features that are most important to you.

While it may be tempting to go for the most expensive bow on the market, it’s essential to remember that a higher price tag does not always guarantee a better bow. Take the time to research and test different bows within your budget to find the one that meets your needs and offers the best value for money.

Types of Bows

Now that we have discussed the factors to consider when choosing a bow let’s take a closer look at the different types of bows available. Each type of bow has its own unique characteristics and advantages, so it’s important to understand the differences before making a decision.

Recurve Bow

The recurve bow is a classic choice for both beginners and experienced archers. It is named for its distinctive curves at the tips, which provide added power and efficiency. Recurve bows can be used for various shooting styles, from traditional to Olympic-style competitions. They are typically made of wood, fiberglass, or carbon, with each material offering its own benefits.

Wooden recurve bows are popular for their traditional appeal and smooth shooting. They often require more maintenance than other materials to ensure their longevity. Fiberglass recurve bows are more durable and weather-resistant, making them a practical choice for those who plan to shoot in various conditions. Carbon recurve bows are lightweight, strong, and offer excellent performance, but they tend to be more expensive.

Compound Bow

The compound bow, as mentioned earlier, is a more modern type of bow that utilizes pulleys or cams to provide increased power and accuracy. These pulley systems allow for a let-off, which means that when the bow is fully drawn, the weight gradually decreases, making it easier to hold at full draw. Compound bows are often favored by hunters due to their power and accuracy, but they are also popular among target shooters looking for consistent performance.

Compound bows are typically made of aluminum or carbon, with carbon being the lighter and more expensive option. They offer a wide range of settings and adjustments to accommodate different draw lengths and pull weights, making them highly customizable. However, the complexity of the compound bow may require more maintenance and tuning compared to other types of bows.


The longbow is a traditional and iconic type of bow that has been used for centuries. It is characterized by its simple design and lack of arrow shelf or arrow rest. Longbows are typically made of wood, such as yew or osage orange, which gives them their unique appearance and feel. Shooting a longbow requires strong technique and skill, making it a popular choice among traditional archers seeking a challenging shooting experience.

Longbows are known for their smooth shooting and forgiving nature, but they lack the power and accuracy of compound bows. They are also typically longer in length, which can limit maneuverability in certain shooting situations. However, for those who appreciate the history and artistry of archery, the longbow offers a connection to the past and a sense of tradition.

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The crossbow is a distinctive type of bow that is held horizontally and shot using a trigger mechanism. It offers a unique shooting experience and is often used for hunting or target shooting. Crossbows are typically shorter and wider than other types of bows, which provides stability and accuracy.

Crossbows come in various designs, including recurve and compound, each offering its own advantages. Recurve crossbows are known for their simplicity and reliability, while compound crossbows provide increased power and speed. They often come with built-in features such as scopes, cocking devices, and noise dampening mechanisms, making them a convenient choice for hunters.

When choosing a crossbow, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences. Factors such as draw weight, speed, and overall weight should be taken into account to ensure the crossbow aligns with your intended use.

Bow Length and Draw Weight

The length and draw weight of a bow are essential factors to consider when selecting the right bow for you. These specifications can impact your shooting experience and performance, so it’s important to understand their significance.

Bow Length

The length of a bow refers to the distance between the bow’s tip to tip when unstrung. Shorter bows are generally more maneuverable and easier to transport, making them a popular choice for those who require mobility, such as hunters. However, shorter bows may sacrifice some stability and accuracy.

On the other hand, longer bows typically offer better stability and accuracy due to their longer string length. They are often favored by target shooters and archers who prioritize accuracy over maneuverability. However, longer bows may be more challenging to navigate in tight spaces or brushy environments.

When choosing the length of your bow, consider factors such as your shooting style, intended use, and personal comfort. Try out different lengths to see which one feels most natural and suits your needs best.

Draw Weight

The draw weight of a bow refers to the amount of force required to pull the bowstring back to full draw. It is measured in pounds and plays a significant role in determining the power and speed of the arrow. A higher draw weight typically results in a faster arrow speed and increased penetration.

The draw weight you choose should align with your physical capability and shooting goals. For beginners or those with less upper body strength, it is generally recommended to start with a lower draw weight to develop proper shooting form and technique. As you gain strength and proficiency, you can gradually increase the draw weight to challenge yourself and improve your shooting performance.

It’s essential to find a balance between a draw weight that is challenging enough to improve your skills but not so heavy that it causes strain or compromises accuracy. Consulting with an experienced archer or visiting a reputable archery shop can help you determine the appropriate draw weight for your individual needs.

Bow Material

The material used to construct a bow can greatly impact its performance, durability, and overall feel. Different materials offer unique advantages and characteristics, so it’s important to understand the options available.


Wood is a traditional, natural material that has been used for centuries in bow making. It is valued for its beauty, flexibility, and smooth shooting. Wooden bows often require more care and maintenance compared to other materials to prevent warping or damage from moisture.

Common types of wood used in bow making include yew, osage orange, and hickory. Each wood has its own unique properties and characteristics, so it’s important to research and choose one that aligns with your shooting style and preferences. Wooden bows are popular among traditional archers and those who appreciate the aesthetics and craftsmanship of traditional archery.


Fiberglass is a synthetic material that is commonly used in bow making. It offers excellent durability, weather resistance, and consistency, making it a popular choice for those who plan to shoot in various conditions. Fiberglass bows are often more affordable than other materials and require less maintenance.

One of the advantages of fiberglass bows is that they can be reinforced with other materials, such as carbon or wood, to improve performance and reduce hand shock. The combination of fiberglass with other materials creates a sturdy and reliable bow suitable for both beginners and experienced archers.


Carbon is a lightweight, strong, and high-performance material that has revolutionized the world of archery. Carbon bows offer excellent speed, accuracy, and vibration dampening properties. They are often favored by competitive archers and those who prioritize top-notch performance.

Carbon bows can vary in cost, with higher-quality carbon bows being more expensive. However, they provide a significant improvement in terms of speed and accuracy compared to other materials. Carbon bows are known for their smooth draw and minimal hand shock, making them a pleasure to shoot.

When considering the material for your bow, think about factors such as durability, maintenance requirements, and personal preferences. It’s worth testing bows made from different materials to experience firsthand how they perform and feel in your hands.

How Do I Choose A Good Bow?

Grip Style

The grip style of a bow refers to the shape and design of the handle or grip. It plays a vital role in your shooting comfort, stability, and overall accuracy. There are different grip styles to choose from, each offering its own advantages.

Straight Grip

A straight grip, as the name suggests, features a straight and minimalistic design. It provides a neutral and versatile grip suitable for various shooting styles and hand sizes. Straight grips are often found on traditional bows and many recurve bows.

The straight grip allows for a relaxed and natural hand position, promoting a consistent release and improved accuracy. It is a popular choice among traditional archers or those who prefer a more minimalist grip design.

Riser Grip

The riser grip is a more contoured and ergonomic grip style that conforms to the shape of your hand. It offers a comfortable and secure hold, promoting stability and reducing hand fatigue. Riser grips are commonly found on compound bows and some recurve bows.

The contoured design of the riser grip provides added support and control, allowing for a consistent hand placement. It can help improve your shooting accuracy and reduce the risk of torque or inconsistent releases. Riser grips are often adjustable, allowing archers to fine-tune the grip to their preference.

Pistol Grip

The pistol grip is a specialized grip style commonly found on compound bows. It resembles the grip of a pistol, with a deeper, more pronounced curvature. The pistol grip offers a highly ergonomic and secure hold, promoting a repeatable shooting form and enhanced accuracy.

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The shape of the pistol grip allows for a high degree of control and reduces the risk of hand torque during the shot. It is favored by many compound bow shooters who prioritize consistency and precision. The pistol grip is often adjustable to accommodate different hand sizes and preferences.

When choosing a grip style, consider factors such as shooting style, comfort, and personal preference. It’s important to try out different grip styles and see which one feels most natural and comfortable in your hand.

String Material

The material used for the bowstring is another important consideration when selecting a bow. The string material can impact factors such as string longevity, performance, noise level, and maintenance requirements.


Dacron is a common synthetic material used for bowstrings. It is durable, affordable, and forgiving, making it a popular choice for beginners, traditional archers, and recreational shooters. Dacron strings are known for their reliability and ease of use.

One of the advantages of Dacron strings is their low stretch, which helps promote consistent arrow flight. However, they may require more frequent waxing and maintenance compared to other string materials.


Kevlar is a high-strength synthetic material known for its excellent durability and resistance to stretching. It is a popular choice for compound bows and those seeking high-performance strings. Kevlar strings offer increased speed and accuracy, making them a preferred choice for competitive archers.

Kevlar strings are known for their minimal maintenance requirements and excellent longevity. They are less affected by changes in temperature and humidity, making them suitable for a wide range of shooting conditions. However, they can be more expensive than other string materials.

Fast Flight

Fast Flight is a type of high-performance string material that offers increased speed and reduced stretch. It is a popular choice among experienced archers looking for maximum performance. Fast Flight strings are typically used on high-end bows and can significantly improve arrow speed and shooting consistency.

One of the advantages of Fast Flight strings is their resistance to moisture and temperature changes. They are typically lighter and stronger than other string materials, resulting in improved arrow trajectory and overall shooting performance. However, Fast Flight strings require specific requirements in terms of bow limb compatibility and should be used with caution to prevent damage to the bow.

When selecting a string material, consider factors such as shooting style, performance goals, and maintenance preferences. It’s important to choose a string material that aligns with your shooting needs and the specifications of your bow.

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest is an essential component of a bow that supports the arrow before and during the shot. It plays a vital role in arrow flight, accuracy, and overall shooting performance. There are different types of arrow rests to choose from, each offering its own advantages.

Shelf Rest

The shelf rest, also known as a “feather rest” or “plate rest,” is a simple and straightforward type of arrow rest. It consists of a small raised shelf or platform on which the arrow rests before being shot. Shelf rests are commonly found on traditional bows and some recurve bows.

The shelf rest provides a reliable and consistent platform for the arrow, promoting a consistent release and improved accuracy. It is suitable for both finger shooting and using a release aid. Shelf rests are often made of material such as wood, plastic, or synthetic materials and are easy to install and adjust.

Drop-Away Rest

The drop-away rest, as the name implies, drops away from the arrow as it is shot, minimizing contact and interference with the arrow’s flight. It is a popular choice among compound bow shooters seeking maximum accuracy and minimal arrow rest-related issues.

Drop-away rests use a mechanical or spring-loaded mechanism to hold the arrow in place during the draw and release it as the bowstring is released. This allows the vane or fletching of the arrow to clear the rest without any contact, resulting in improved arrow flight and accuracy. Drop-away rests can be fine-tuned and adjusted to suit individual shooting styles and preferences.

Capture Rest

The capture rest, also known as a “whisker biscuit” or “brush rest,” is a type of arrow rest that captures the arrow between bristles or brushes. It is a popular choice for hunters and those seeking a reliable and durable arrow rest.

Capture rests offer excellent arrow support and guidance, preventing the arrow from falling off the rest during the draw or when moving through the field. The bristles or brushes provide minimal contact with the arrow, reducing the chances of fletching damage and interference with arrow flight. Capture rests are typically easy to install and require little maintenance.

When selecting an arrow rest, consider factors such as shooting style, intended use, and personal preference. Each type of arrow rest offers different advantages, so it’s important to choose one that suits your shooting needs and the specifications of your bow.

Sights and Stabilizers

Sights and stabilizers are additional accessories that can enhance your shooting experience, accuracy, and overall performance. They are commonly used by target shooters and hunters seeking consistency and precision.

Fixed Pin Sights

Fixed pin sights, also known as “multi-pin sights,” are a type of sight that features multiple fixed pins. These pins are adjusted to specific distances and act as aiming references for different target ranges. Fixed pin sights provide archers with the ability to make accurate and consistent shots at various distances without having to estimate or guess the aim point.

The number of pins on a fixed pin sight can vary, with the most common being three to five pins. Each pin is typically set at a specific yardage, such as 20, 30, 40, and 50 yards. Fixed pin sights are often used by hunters and target shooters who require quick and precise aiming.

Single-Pin Sights

Single-pin sights, also known as “slider sights” or “adjustable sights,” feature a single pin that can be adjusted for different target distances. The archer manually adjusts the pin by sliding it along a scale or dial to the desired yardage. Single-pin sights are favored by archers who prefer simplicity and want to maximize precision and accuracy at various distances.

Single-pin sights offer a clean sight picture and can be adjusted to match the specific trajectory of your arrows. They allow for easy adjustments in the field, making them a popular choice among hunters. However, single-pin sights require the archer to estimate distances accurately and make adjustments prior to each shot, which can take some practice and time.

Peep Sights

Peep sights are small, circular devices that are inserted into the bowstring, creating a consistent reference point for aiming. They are typically used in conjunction with a sight or other aiming device. Peep sights provide a consistent sight picture and help ensure proper alignment of the eye with the target.

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Peep sights improve accuracy by allowing the archer to maintain a consistent anchor point and reducing the chance of eye dominance issues. They are beneficial for both target shooting and hunting, providing a reliable reference point for aiming. Peep sights come in various sizes and styles, allowing archers to choose the one that best suits their shooting needs and preferences.


Stabilizers are weighted attachments that can be added to the front and/or back of a bow to reduce vibrations, improve balance, and reduce torque during the shot. They help stabilize the bow and enhance accuracy by minimizing hand movements and minimizing the effects of shot-induced vibrations.

Front stabilizers are typically longer and heavier and attach to the front of the bow, extending forward. They help counterbalance the weight of the bow and absorb vibrations, resulting in a smoother and more controlled shot. Back stabilizers, also known as “rear stabilizers” or “side rods,” attach to the back of the bow and further enhance stability and balance.

Stabilizers come in various lengths, weights, and configurations, allowing archers to customize their setup based on their shooting style and preferences. They are often used by competitive archers and those seeking optimal precision and consistency.

When considering sights and stabilizers, think about your shooting goals, preferences, and specific shooting conditions. They can be valuable additions to your bow setup, but it’s important to choose ones that suit your shooting style and purpose.

Let-Off and Brace Height

Let-off and brace height are two terms commonly used in relation to compound bows. They refer to specific characteristics that can impact the shooting experience and performance of the bow.


Let-off refers to the reduction in poundage that occurs once the bowstring is at full draw. It is a unique feature of compound bows that makes holding the bow at full draw more manageable and less fatiguing. Let-off is expressed as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating a greater reduction in draw weight at full draw.

For example, a bow with a 70% let-off means that when the bow is fully drawn, the archer only holds 30% of the peak draw weight. This reduction in draw weight allows archers to aim and hold the bow comfortably without straining their muscles.

Let-off percentages can vary between different compound bows, with some offering a let-off as high as 90% or more. The choice of let-off percentage depends on personal preference and shooting style. Higher let-off percentages are favored by those who require longer hold times or need to make precise shots, such as target shooters. Hunters may opt for a lower let-off to have more retained energy and penetration upon release.

Brace Height

Brace height refers to the distance between the deepest part of the grip and the string when the bow is at rest. It is typically measured in inches and plays a crucial role in arrow speed, forgiveness, and overall shooting performance. A shorter brace height results in higher arrow speed but less forgiveness, while a longer brace height offers increased forgiveness but potentially lower arrow speed.

A shorter brace height requires more precision during the shot to achieve consistent accuracy. It can be beneficial for experienced archers seeking maximum speed and power. However, it is less forgiving of minor form inconsistencies or release errors.

On the other hand, a longer brace height is more forgiving and can help compensate for minor form flaws. It allows for a comfortable margin of error, making it a popular choice for beginners and those prioritizing forgiveness and consistency. However, longer brace heights may sacrifice some arrow speed and overall performance.

When selecting a compound bow, consider your shooting style, skill level, and priority between speed and forgiveness. It’s important to find the right balance that suits your needs and allows for consistent and accurate shooting.

Accessories and Extras

In addition to the essential components of a bow, there are various accessories and extras that can enhance your shooting experience and provide added convenience.


A quiver is an accessory used to hold arrows when they are not in use. Quivers can be attached to the bow or worn on the body, such as on the hip or back. They come in various styles, including detachable quivers, hip quivers, and back quivers.

Quivers are available in different materials, such as leather, nylon, or synthetic materials. They can also vary in capacity, with options for holding a few arrows or multiple arrows. When selecting a quiver, consider factors such as convenience, ease of access, and personal preference.

Arrow Rest

Although arrow rests have been discussed earlier in this article, it’s worth mentioning that they are an essential accessory for any bow. An arrow rest supports the arrow during the shot, ensuring proper alignment and reducing any interference with arrow flight.

Modern compound bows often come with built-in arrow rests that are specifically designed for their unique shooting characteristics. However, traditional bows and some recurve bows may require separate arrow rests to be installed.

When choosing an arrow rest as an accessory, consider the type of bow and arrow rest that will work best for your shooting style, experience level, and intended use.

String Silencers

String silencers, also known as “string dampeners” or “string suppressors,” are attached to the bowstring to reduce vibrations and noise upon release. They help minimize the chance of spooking game and promote a quieter shooting experience.

String silencers are typically made of materials such as rubber or felt. They are easy to install and can be adjusted to achieve the desired level of noise reduction. String silencers can benefit both hunters and target shooters by improving the overall shooting experience and reducing any unnecessary distractions or disturbances.


Bow dampeners, also known as “vibration dampeners” or “shock absorbers,” are attachments that decrease vibrations and noise generated during the shot. They are typically mounted on the limbs or riser of the bow to absorb and dissipate energy.

Dampeners can help improve shooting comfort, reduce hand shock, and promote more accurate and consistent shots. They are particularly beneficial for compound bows, which often create more vibrations due to their pulley systems. Bow dampeners come in various shapes and materials and can be customized based on individual shooting preferences and needs.

When considering accessories and extras for your bow, think about factors such as convenience, noise reduction, and overall shooting comfort. These accessories can help enhance your shooting experience and tailor your bow setup to your specific needs and preferences.

Choosing the right bow is an important decision for any archer. By considering factors such as the type of bow, your purpose for using it, your skill level, and your budget, you can make an informed decision that will provide you with a bow that meets your needs and enhances your shooting experience. Whether you are a beginner looking to get started in archery or an experienced archer seeking to upgrade your equipment, taking the time to research and test different options will ensure you find the perfect bow for you. Happy shooting!

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