by Matt Coffey
So you’re in the market for a bow? Congrats! Just don’t be overwhelmed with all the terminology and acronyms you’ve read while researching online. Choosing the best bow for hunting is a simple process, and well worth the little bit of time it will take.
If you complete these easy steps before your first shopping trip, you’ll be ready to start choosing a bow right away!
First, determine your eye dominance. The fancy name for this is “ocular dominance,” which basically means that your brain prefers visual input from one eye over the other. Your brain considers that eye’s input more “true.”
Your dominant eye is usually the same side as your writing hand, but “cross-dominance” is not uncommon. Some right-handed archers shoot left-handed because their left eye is dominant. Don’t worry. Eye dominance is easily tested:
- Place your hands at arm’s length, and press your thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangular opening.
- Keeping both eyes open, look through the triangle and center it on something, like a doorknob.
- Now close one eye, then the other. If you can’t close one of your eyes by blinking, have someone cover it for you.
Notice how the door knob stays in place with one eye, but “jumps” with the other eye? Your dominant eye keeps the doorknob centered in the triangle. Archers who are right-eye dominant should shoot right-handed and vice versa..
Next, determine your draw length. Your archery store can measure it quickly and precisely, but here’s a simple way to get an approximate measurement on your own:
Stand up straight with both arms and hands extended to your sides. Have a friend measure from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger in a straight line. Divide that number by 2.5. This calculation estimates a suitable draw length for you. Your archery pro should measure you again to ensure you don’t buy a bow with a draw length that’s too short or too long .
This might sounds like a car’s measurement, but axle-to-axle length plays a big part in buying a bow. The axle-to-axle measurement is the length between the bow’s cams – the wheel-like devices that help power the bow – attached to the bow’s limb tips.
Why does this measurement matter? Because you want a bow that fits the type of hunting you’ll be doing. For instance, you don’t want an extremely long bow when hunting from a ground blind because of the space constraints.
But if you usually hunt from tree stands with open platforms, you can probably get by with a longer bow. It might even be beneficial. Typically, the longer a bow’s axle-to-axle measurement, the more forgiving it will be when trying longer shots.
Now let’s figure out your draw weight. That is, how many pounds can you draw?
There’s no magic formula for determining draw weights. Therefore, start with a low-poundage bow, especially if you’ve never drawn one before. It might feel weird at first, but the more you use your bow-shooting muscles, the more weight you’ll be able to draw.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find quality bows with versatile draw lengths and draw weights. Therefore, you can easily change your draw length and draw weight as you develop your shooting skills and archery muscles. Today’s bows “grow” with you as you progress.
No matter which bow you buy, have fun! Bowhunting is a skilled, rewarding way to hunt, whether you shoot anything or not.