Whether you want to channel your inner Anguy or Peter Elzinga on the shooting range or simply hone your skills during your free time, archery is a sport for everyone.
But before you head out to your local shooting range and pick up a bow and arrow, it’s best you get yourself acquainted with the equipment you will be using or learn more about your current equipment and how to properly utilize them to your advantage.
THE MANY TYPES OF BOWS AND ARROWS
Archery has many forms although it looks like a simple game, there is much more to this sport than simply shooting arrows into a target, and like most games, one also needs to know how to use their equipment properly. Below are the several types of bows and arrows that you will be using in archery whether as a hobby during the weekends or if you plan to go on hunting with your friends.
SAS Spirit Take Down Recurve Bow
Draw Weight: 22 lb, 26 lb, 30 lb, 34 lb
Length: 62 inches (recommended for shooters 5’7” and under)
Perhaps one of the earliest and ancient type of bow used, the recurve bow is made up of composite materials and were first used by the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Romans, and even by the Huns.
Today, the recurve bow is mostly used by archers during the Olympics and those who are new to the sport, beginners in archery start out with a barebow recurve which only has one string, an arrow rest, bow limbs, and a riser to help balance the bow. More components such as sights, pressure buttons, clickers and may be added to the recurve bow once the archery student becomes a bit more skilled.
PARTS OF A RECURVE BOW
Where the arrow rests during draw. These may be simple fixed rests or may be spring-loaded or magnetic flip rests.
The face of the bow on the opposite side to the string
The face of the bow on the same side as the string
An aiming aid attached to the riser
The distance between the deepest part of the grip and the string; fistmele is the traditional term, referring to the equivalent length of a closed fist with the thumb extended,
indicating the proper traditional distance used between the deepest part of the grip and the string.
The part of the bow held by the bow hand
The upper and lower working parts of the bow, which come in a variety of different poundages
The place on the bowstring where the nock (end) of an arrow is fitted
The rigid centre section of a bow to which the limbs are attached
The cord that attaches to both limb tips and transforms stored energy from the limbs into kinetic energy in the arrow
A strap or cord attached to the bow handle, wrist or fingers to prevent the bow from falling from the hand
Tab or Thumb ring
A protection for the digits that draw the string. Also provides better release performance. Usually made of leather.
The difference between the limb-string distances measured where the limbs are attached to the riser. Usually the upper distance is slightly more than the bottom one, resulting in a positive tiller. Reflects the power-balance between both limbs.
CHOOSING ARROWS FOR YOUR RECURVE BOW
Using Your Arms
In choosing arrows for your recurve bow, the first step one must take is to figure out your draw length, and there are two ways to do this even without a bow in hand.
To get the measurement for your draw length, all you have to do is spread your arms as shown on the illustration above, make sure not to pull your shoulder blades together and that your arms remain parallel to the ground. Have someone bring a measuring tape and measure the distance between both of your middle fingers and divide the values by 2.5; this gives you a very exact measurement of your draw length.
Using a Wall
Another method you can use to get your draw length is with the help of a wall , all you need to do is to form a fist with your hand and face a wall, similar to the arm length method, you must keep your shoulder blades apart and your arms still, with your body kept still, turn your head to face the wall directly.
What you’re basically doing is positioning your body as if you are about to shoot an arrow. Now all you need is a friend who will measure the distance between the highest point in your fist up to the corner of your mouth.
Ideally, both method should be used to get your draw length for confirmation. If both method gives you different results, for example, the Arm Method gives your draw length as 28 inches while the Wall Method gives you 30 inches, worry not, all you need to do is add both measurements together then divide it by 2 to get the average, and now you have your draw length!
To get the length of the arrow you will be using, simply add 1 or 2 inches to your draw length.
First introduced in the 1960’s, compound bows introduced an innovative system of cables, pulleys, and cams that enables archers in holding a heavy draw weight at full weight, this gives archers ample time to aim using a compound bow without exerting more power to cause muscle fatigue.
However, using a compound bow does require a certain amount of power on your first draw.
Unlike recurve bows, compound bows are less affected by changes in humidity and temperature which gives compound bows better accuracy, distance, and arrow velocity. Compound bows are not recommended for beginners because of its complexity.
COMPARISON TO OTHER BOWS
While compound bows have an obvious technical advantage to more traditional bows, compound bows require a certain amount of maintenance especially since compound bows consist of several moving parts which can create several points of failure if not maintained. Compound bows also require a bow press when replacing its string or when making adjustments.
Warranties for compound bows do not cover dry loosing especially the limbs to be damaged or destroyed in the process, if a string or cable breaks, it will have the same damaging effect on the limbs.
Unlike traditional archers, compound archers often use a mechanical release to hold and release the string.
PARTS OF A COMPOUND BOWS
Unlike traditional bows, compound bows consists of several moving parts which can be very confusing and intimidating for anyone who hasn’t held a compound bow before, it is recommended that beginners should get a compound bow with a single cam.
Riser: the riser is the middle part of the bow that contains the grip, typically made of aluminum although high-end compound bows are made of of carbon fiber thus decreasing the overall weight of the weapon.
Several of the bow’s accessories are mounted on the riser including the sight, arrow rest, quiver, and stabilizer.
Limbs: the limbs are located on the top and bottom of the bow and are attached to the riser, also attached to the limbs are the cams. The limbs on the bow is what stores the energy that you generate when you pull back the bowstring.
Limbs come in different styles, solid limbs are made from just one piece of fiberglass while split limbs consist of two (2) thin limbs connected at the riser. Another style of compound bows is parallel limbs and are mostly found on most hunting bows but instead of the traditional D shape found in most bows,
parallel limbs have the bottom and top limbs parallel to each other, the advantage of parallel limbs is that they are much quieter than traditional bows and have less recoil when you release the bowstring.
Cams: are round or oval disks that are attached to the end of the limbs, cams are what makes a compound bow well, compound. Cams mechanically manipulate the draw weight of the bow as you pull the string back, making it easier to pull back. Cams also come in several types – round wheels, soft and hard cams, single or also known as solo cams, and 1.5 hybrid cams. Cams have four types of systems namely single cams, hybrid cams, binary cams, and twin cams. Single cams are quieter and is the easiest to maintain compared to the other cam systems. Each cam system has its own type advantages and disadvantages.
Most starter compound bows with a single cam system and is the most popular choice in the market.
Bowstring: the string of an archer’s bow that launches the arrow, traditionally
bowstrings were made of three strands of hemp but nowadays, bowstrings are made of man-made materials that do not get loosened over time.
Cables: run from cam to cam and are what moves the cams around when pulling
back the bowstring
Cable guard: Made from fiberglass, the cable guard is what runs perpendicular to the riser. It works with the cable slide to keep the cables away from the center of the bow and out of the arrow’s line of fire.
Cable Slide: A small plastic piece that is attached to the cable guard that is mounted to the cable. This, along with the guard, helps the cables out of the arrow’s path.
Arrow Rest: Just as the name implies, an arrow rest is where you rest your arrow
as you prepare to release it. While there are a variety of arrow rests available on the market, it is
recommended for beginners to start with a containment rest on a starter compound bow, this means that you don’t have to worry where your arrow is resting.
Other types of arrow rests include the drop away, the shoot-thru, and the pressure.
Peep Sight: a doughnut-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted between
the strands of a the bowstring.
String Vibration Arrester: attached to the riser and sits close to the bowstring,it absorbs vibration during your shot and helps reduce sound.
Stabilizer: an optional piece for your compound bows, it is a rod that attaches to the front of the bow just below the grip. It helps keep your bow steady while shooting as well as reducing vibration and noise.
Mechanical Release: is a device you wear on the hand and wrist that you
use to pull the bowstring back.
CHOOSING ARROWS FOR YOUR COMPOUND BOW
Choosing arrows for your compound bow can be perplexing especially if you’re a beginner.
The first step in choosing your arrow is to determine your draw length (refer above on how to get your draw length). The next thing for you to do is to choose your arrow’s length, modern methods has made it easier for people to get their arrow’s length.
Simply take your draw length, and add 0.5 inch or up to 1 inch to determine the appropriate draw length for your arrow, for example, if your draw length is 27”, the arrows you should get should be around 28”.
Keep in mind that not all arrows are the same, the weight of an arrow will vary depending on where you want to use it.
For target practice, it is recommended to use arrows that weigh around 5 to 6 grain per pound of draw weight which is around 300 to 360 grain If you prefer to use your bow for hunting, then it is recommended for your arrows to weigh around 6 to 8 grains, that means hunting arrows would weigh around 360 to 480 grain.
However, the values stated above isn’t determined, as long as your arrows weigh around 5 to 6 grains, you will have success in using them whether it’s for target practice or hunting.
What is an Arrow Spine? What Other Things Should You Know?
Another important aspect in choosing arrows for your compound bow is through an arrow’s spine.
However, while an arrow’s spine is important, it does take awhile for one to learn more about it in a short span of time, beginners in archery will especially have a hard time taking in all the information they need to know. Learning about arrow spines and finding the perfect one to match your shooting style and technique takes time and a lot of practice, some archery manufacturers use different values to indicate the spines of their arrows which can confuse a lot of beginners.
Get yourself acquainted with your compound bow and after a few months of practice, you can now delve deeper into the world of arrow spines and buying better arrows for your compound bow.
However, if you don’t have the time to worry about figuring out your draw length, weight, or arrow spines, simply take your bow into your local shooting range and have someone do it for you while you learn more about compound bows.
From Otzi the Iceman to the peat bogs in Nydam, Denmark, longbows are perhaps the most well-known type of bow around the world, the longbow was first recorded in battle in 1298 and remained a dominant weapon on most battlefields until the middle of the 16th century.
Characterised by its simplicity in design: its slightly curved shaped, longbows consist of a long, slightly curved piece of wood that is of the same height as the archer. Unlike recurve and compound bows, longbows do not consist of arrow rests, sights, and other parts.
Longbows are much more difficult to aim compared to modern bows.
During the Middle Ages, the Welsh and the English were known for their powerful longbows,especially during the Hundred Years War, in fact, during the reign of King Edward, the use of the longbow was so prominent that even sports such as football and golf were forbidden, making them take up archery instead.
Longbows were also used present in most wars from around the world, most notably during the Battle of Formigny, The Battle of Castillon, the War of the Roses, The Battle of Flodden being regarded as a landmark battle in archery and being the last battle on English soil where the longbow was used as a prominent weapon; and up until World War 2 where British Lt. Col. Jack Churchill used a longbow to kill a German soldier, and although firearms overtook and dominate much of today’s battlefield, longbows are still present among many of the world’s indigenous tribes and for most archery enthusiasts. Because of its great historical significance, the longbow has left a lasting legacy that many modern military equipment were named after it.
Compared to modern bows, longbows are much more lighter, quicker, and quieter to shoot, while most longbows are made from wood, there are now longbows made from fiberglass.
Since longbows can be made from a single piece of wood, it usually takes anywhere from ten to twenty hours to create one even during the Middle Ages!
DESIGN, TYPES , AND CONSTRUCTION OF LONGBOWS
Longbows can be crafted from a single piece of wood, and do not require or have several parts like the recurve and compound bows. Below are the several types of longbows and how they were made.
The simpler designs of the longbow is known as the self bow, as the name implies, a self bow is simply made from a single piece of wood, the wood used for most self bows is made from yew wood (or better known as the European Yew or English Yew).
The stave of a self bow is cut from the radius of the tree so that the sapwood or the outside of the tree becomes the back and forms about one-third of the total thickness, although there is a 50/50 ratio of sapwood and heartwood; yew sapwood is good in tension while heartwood is good in compression, however, there will be compromises if you opt to make a bow out of yew as it is difficult to find unblemished yew nowadays, the demand for yew bow staves in northern Europe was so great that it almost became extinct in the late 16th century. Although yew remains to be the best choice for making longbows, woods such as elm can also be used to create longbows, however, it requires treating the belly with heat.
Because of their narrow limbs and rounded cross-sections, longbows need to be less powerful, longer or be more elastic compared to flatbows. More common and cheaper hardwoods such as oak, hickory, hazel, ash, and maple are good for flatbows. Keep in mind that any wooden bow must be protected from excessive dampness or dryness, and must be treated gently, while wooden bows may be able to shoot as well as fiberglass bows, they can easily get dented or broken with too much use.
PARTS OF A LONGBOW
The longbow is one of the first types of bows to become popular and is still being used today!
Although longbows are mostly made up of two pieces, it is the most difficult bow to shoot because you are dependant on the bow string.
Upper Limb: the upper part of a long bow
Lower limb: the lower part of a long bow
Arrow Shelf: or also known as the arrow rest is what holds the arrow until it is released.
Bowstring: the string that is used to draw a bow and launch arrows.
Nocking point: the point on a bow string over which an arrow nock is placed.
Grip: The part of the bow held by the bow hand.
ARROWS USED FOR LONGBOWS
Compared to the kind of arrows used for recurve and compound bows, arrows used for longbows tend to lean more on the traditional side, most arrows for longbows are made out of wood and have natural feathers, any kind of wood may be used for the arrows but currently, pine is the most common choice for people while Port Orford cedar remains a traditional favorite as it is lighter and retains its straightness compared to pine.
Other woods such as birch, ash, hazel and oak may also be used in making arrows with ash and oak being suited for making military arrows which needs to weigh around 1000 and 1500 grain.
An arrow’s points are usually made of brass or iron while plastic may be use used for the nocks although archers who are more traditionally inclined archers prefer to use hardwood.
The feathers (also known as fletchlings) can be glued on to the arrow shaft which is the usual method or they could be sewn on and glued on which was the method during the Middle Ages.
However, not all arrows are the same.
An arrow’s fletching comes in many different shapes and like most bows, fletchings also have serve different purposes. Fletchings are found at the back most arrows (although some cultures like those in New Guinea, do not use fletchings on their arrows. Below are the different types of fletchings and how they help propel an arrow:
Parabolic fletchings have a smooth curved shape and this kind of fletching is the most common and have the best flight characteristics, their length varies anywhere from 1 and ¼ to 5 inches, parabolic fletchings are generally quieter than its counterparts. Natural feathers have numerous advantages compared to plastic vanes, feathers decrease the chance of brush deflection, have greater arrow control and guidance in which it increases your arrow speeds; using feathers over plastic also makes your arrows more lighter.
Shield fletchings are usually between 4 to 6 inches long, around 10.2 to 15.2cm centimeters, however unlike parabolic fletchings, shield fletchings are cut a little longer than parabolic fletchings. Compared to parabolic fletchings, shield fletchings are a bit more noisier and have more drag which gives your arrow better stabilization, and because of that, this allows your arrow to slow down a bit faster.
However, for most archers, these two types of fletchings do not have any difference at all, while many prefer shield fletchings over parabolic fletchings because of aesthetics, you may try out each type of fletching before settling down with one that you are comfortable with.
A flu-flu arrow is a type of arrow that is specifically designed to travel short distances, this type of arrow is very useful when shooting at aerial targets or for recreational archery where the arrow must not travel too far.
Like the parabolic and shield, the flu-flu is also a fletching, however, it is made by using long sections of feathers, in most cases 6 or more feathers will be used to create one flu-flu fletching rather than using the traditional amount of three (3), alternatively, two long feathers can be spiraled around the end of the arrow shaft thus creating more drag and effectively slowing down the arrow more after a short distance; recreational flu-flus usually have rubber points to add weight and maintain the arrow’s flight slower..
Flu-flu arrows were and still are used to hunt for birds, when taking aim at the bird, the archer must lead the bird and release the arrow in anticipation of the bird’s travel path, flu-flu arrows only fly short distances which makes it easier for the archer to recover the arrow after releasing it.
Flu-flu arrows are typically used in children’s archery, and can be used to play flu-flu golf where the player must go to where the arrow had landed, pick it up, and shoot again; repeating the process until the player reaches a specified place.
Believed to have originated in China, the crossbow was commonly used in battle by the Greeks and Romans (and many other cultures) up until well into the Medieval Ages.
Modern crossbows are fairly similar to firearms except it has a short bow horizontally attached to the muzzle, unlike its counterparts, crossbows have the most legal regulations.
A crossbow is a bow mounted on a stick, called a tiller or stock, it has a mechanism in it which holds the drawn bowstring, its earliest designs featured a slot in the stock where the string is placed.
Crossbows have many variants, and one way to classify them is the acceleration system, the other would be its size and energy, the degree of automation and or projectiles. The recurve and compound bows also have their own versions as crossbows, however, unlike other bows, crossbows have short firing ranges and need heavier draw weights to be on par with compound and recurve bows, crossbows are also used for target archery.but has a complicated legal status due to the fact that it may actually be used to kill anyone. The legality of using a crossbow for hunting varies around the world, and even in some states or within the different jurisdictions of some federal countries.
PARTS OF A CROSSBOW
PARTS OF A COMPOSITE BOW
Arrow retention spring
Holds the arrow in the track until the trigger releases the latch mechanism.
Made of aluminum or polymer.
Used to aid in cocking the crossbow.
Grooved track on top of the barrel that allows the arrow to lie in perfect alignment with the string for consistent accuracy.
Designed to capture the string when the crossbow is drawn, the latch holds the string in place until it’s released by the trigger.
Can be compound or recurve. A recurve crossbow must have long limbs and a longer barrel to deliver power similar to that of a compound crossbow.
Where the limbs attach.
Prevents the arrow from releasing accidentally. May engage automatically or manually when the crossbow is cocked. Some crossbows have a dual safety system, the safety is a mechanical device, it can be subject to failure so never point a loaded crossbow at someone. .
Holds the sight.
Made of wood or composite materials and available in many configurations.
BOLTS OR ARROWS? WHAT IS THE PROPER TERM FOR ARROWS USED FOR CROSSBOWS?
Although the crossbow isn’t a new invention, many people are still unsure of whether to use an arrow or a bolt for their crossbows, actually both terms are correct especially since crossbows are being seen more as an archery gear rather than just a firearm.
Medieval crossbow bolts
Modern crossbow arrows
Most crossbow arrows are between 16” to 22” in length, with 20” being the average.
Like other bows, most crossbows also come with a recommendation from manufacturers regarding the length of arrows you should use, keep this in mind when you purchase arrows for the first time, longer arrows are fine, however, shorter ones are not because the tip could interfere with the rail of the crossbow.
Shaft: is the body of a bolt and this is where the other parts of an arrow is attached, most modern crossbows are made from either aluminum or carbon which makes it very lightweight and resistant to tearing and bending, sometimes both materials maybe used.
Shafts also come in varying degrees of stiffness, that stiffness is referred to as the spine of the bolt, the more resistant an arrow is, the more spine it is said to have.
The weight of the shaft is expressed in grains. When buying a new set of arrows, most manufacturers will provide the total weight in grains or they may provide you with a GPI (Grains per Inch) value, to calculate the total weight of a shaft, multiply it by the length of the shaft in inches by its GPI.
For example: if a shaft is rated 15 GPI, and the total length of the shaft is 20 inches, that would mean that the total weight of the shaft is 300 grain (15 x 20 = 300)
Nock: made from either plastic or aluminum, the cup, the nock keeps the bolt in place as you prepare your next shot. There are two primary types of nocks: the half-moon, and the flat nock.
The half-moon nock has a groove that needs to be aligned before you can fire.
If you are unsure about what nook you should use, give the manufacturers a call or send them an email to find out what type of nook you need.
Fletchings: similar to longbows, crossbows also have fletchings which act as the little “wings” for your arrow. They help stabilise the trajectory of the arrow in mid-flight by helping it keep going in the proper direction and prevent it from straying to the a different path. Keep in mind that the longer your arrows are, the longer your fletchings should be.
However, compared to longbows, you cannot use bird feathers on your crossbow arrows and remember that your fletchings should be glued to your arrows.
Bolt head: there are two types of arrowheads and they are split further into 3 main sub categories:
Field points: also known as target points, they do not have sharp edges so they cannot be used for hunting game and is not useful in killing the animal. Most field points are screwed into the front while some cheap bolts may be glued on. They weigh around 125-150 grains, remember to purchase heavier field points because using lighter field points may damage your crossbow.
Broadheads: are the kind of arrows used for hunting, they are attached to the tip of the arrow’s shaft just like field points and have three basic types, namely: fixed-blade broadheads, removable-blade broadheads, and expandable-blade broadheads.
You may use whatever type of broadhead you’d like to use for hunting although some hunters might suggest that you use expandable-blade broadheads.
Important Things to Keep in Mind