QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR THE NEW SHOOTER BY SAM WEATHERFORD:
Question: Can I start shooting archery with a compound bow like my friend has, or
should I start with another type, like a recurve, traditional bow, or a FITA style
Answer: You should start shooting with a bow that you will enjoy shooting, and that will
work best for the type of shooting you want to participate in.
It is easier to learn how to shoot using a compound bow. When a 50# draw weight
bow is drawn back, the bow goes through a drawing curve in which the draw
weight increases as the bow is drawn back, then decreases to a lower holding
weight at full draw. That holding weight can be anywhere from 50 to 80 percent
of the bows rated poundage. This makes the compound bow easier to hold while
When you draw back a 50# recurve, the weight increases throughout the draw
until you reach your designated anchor point. If you have a 28” draw, and the bow
is rated at 50# at 28” draw you will be holding 50# until you release the arrow.
Shooting a recurve or traditional or FITA type bow requires more muscle and
strength than a comparable compound bow of the same draw weight.
Question: Does it make a difference if I am left or right eye dominant?
Answer: Yes. This has a greater effect than anything else on a person shooting archery.
Whether you are right handed or left handed makes no difference. You have to
know which is your dominant eye. You might have to learn to shoot left handed if
your eyes are left eye dominant. A case in point. When I started my wife shooting
two years ago I put her in the capable hands of our local archery shop. They tested
her and determined she was right eye dominant. I bought her a new bow, sight,
quiver and everything for a right handed shooter. After she received her bow and
started shooting I determined she was left eye dominant. As a result of this error,
she now has to shoot wearing a special eye cover which covers her left eye. Had
she been correctly diagnosed, I would have started her shooting left handed.
Question: How can I tell whether I am left eye or right eye dominant?
Answer: Look at any smaller object that you can clearly see. I target spot for archery will
work very well. Keep both eyes open. Extend your arms. Make a small opening
with your two hands so that you can look through the small opening at the target
spot or other object with both eyes open. Keep the opening as small as you can.
Once you can see the target spot or object clearly through the opening in your
extended hands, move your hands toward your face while continuing looking at
the object or target. When your hands get to your face, you will be able to see the
object through the opening with only one eye. That will be your dominant eye.
If you loose sight of the object while moving your hands toward your face, or you
see through the opening with your left eye one time and your right eye another
time it would indicate you do not have a dominant eye. If this is the case, shoot
either right handed, (left hand on the bow and the right hand drawing the arrow)
or shoot left handed if you are left handed.
Use a special opaque eye cover designed for rifle and pistol target shooting to
cover the eye which you are not using to sight the bow.
Question: Can I use tape over my eye or a black eye patch if I have a problem with a
Answer: Yes you can, but if you totally block out the non shooting eye, your shooting eye
will not be 100 percent effective. Completely covering the eye not being used
decreases the seeing ability of the eye you are using.
Question: Which type of bow would be easier for me to learn to shoot?
Answer: The compound bow would be easier since you do not have to hold so much
weight to shoot it.
Question: Which type of bow will be the most accurate for me?
Answer: It depends on whether you are going to use sights or not, and whether you will be
shooting using a mechanical release or your fingers or fingers with a shooting tab
On the average, most shooters will learn to shoot a compound bow equipped with
some type of sight shooting either with a mechanical release or with their fingers
using a tab or a glove. I have yet to meet a person that shoots this type of bow
with their bare fingers, it hurts! A person of average athletic ability and
reasonably good hand/eye coordination can learn to shoot a compound bow and
become reasonable accurate in a short period of time.
The recurve, traditional, or FITA bow require many hours of training in correct
shooting style, release, learning how to shoot a recurve bow requires an intensive
training regime. This type of shooting is instinctive for some. Some use the arrow
tip as their sight reference. Some anchor below their eye and sight down the arrow
shaft. There are many different methods used by recurve type bow shooters. Each
method used shooting the recurve requires many hours of practice, and usually
daily shooting practice to remain accurate once they have achieved accuracy in
their shooting. There are many recurve shooters that have a great love to shoot
that type of equipment for the nostalgic comradeship that is usually involved in
Many archers I that I know (including myself) started off shooting a recurve bow.
The down side of the recurve bow for most archers is that it takes a lot of practice
arrows and a long time dedication to become an accurate shooter.
Question: Should I shoot a release, or use my fingers with a tab?
Answer: Many shooters start their archery careers shooting compound (and recurve) bows
using there fingers and a tab since it is the least expensive way to start.
A good mechanical release can be very inexpensive, or very expensive. Depends
upon the level of shooting ability you want to obtain, and the type of release you
eventually prefer using. Shooting a mechanical release can be the quickest way to
become a good shot.
Question: I have never participated in Archery, where should I go to obtain equipment and
help. What should I look for, what do I need to know?
Answer: Look for an Archery shop in your area that has knowledgeable staff that is
qualified to determine your correct draw length, and has the knowledge and
expertise to fit you with a bow that is the correct draw weight for your size and
strength, and is the correct length axle to axle and has the type of cams that will
serve to provide you the ability to learn how, and to enjoy your archery
If you do not have an archery shop locally in your area look for an archery club. If
you find a club, go to their meetings or shoots, introduce yourself as a NEW
SHOOTER, and ask for assistance from those that are recognized as experienced
shooters. I guarantee they will do everything they can to help you get started.
This will give you the opportunity to observe various types of equipment and
Question: Should I buy a bow and arrows from a catalog, newspaper, friend, garage sale, or
a Big Box store?
Answer: Only if you are knowledgeable about your draw measurements and what type of
bow or equipment you are purchasing. If you are a new shooter, I would
recommend that you do not make this type of purchase. I have seen numerous
bows that were purchased online, from catalogs and from Box stores that were
not what they were purported to be. It generally cost more to pay for new cams
and cables to make the bow correct for you than the bow is worth. Many
of the bows being sold are discontinued models and it has been suspected that
some bows could be seconds.
Unless you are qualified or have an acquaintance to help you that is qualified
to determine that the bow is suited for the type of archery you want to participate
in, and is the correct draw length and draw weight, you are better off not
purchasing a bow from these sources.
Question: Is it OK to start shooting with used equipment?
Answer: If you have visited an archery shop or club, and know your draw length, and the
draw weight that you can best handle you can enter into archery on the ground
level without the expense of purchasing expensive new equipment. There is a lot
of quality archery equipment available through local archery club members that
have purchased the newest latest bow model and want to sell a good used bow
with accessories included at a very reasonable price.
Question: If I purchase a used bow, will the local archery shop work on it, or tune it for me
since I did not purchase the equipment from them?
Answer: I cannot answer for your local shop, but my experience with a large number of
good archery shops is they will work on your used equipment for a fee. They can
be of benefit to you by making sure your new bow is tuned correctly for the type
of archery that you want to be involved in. By helping you, they will have
established a new friend and a new customer that will most probably purchase a
top of the line bow in a short time after they have determined they like being
involved in archery, and want to upgrade their equipment.
Question: Should the Manufacture’s name on the bow I purchase to start archery make any
difference in my choice of bow?
Answer: No. The manufacturers name on the bow does not need to be your concern when
you first start shooting. All bows are not created equal, but any professional archer
can take any brand of bow and shoot it well. Different manufactures have different
options available on their brand of bows. You will not be able to determine any
difference until you have shot your bow for awhile. There are bows, which are
easier to draw back then others, and have less shock transfer to your bow hand.
These bows are usually the top of the line bows sold by most archery shops. The
top of the line bows can be more comfortable to use, but you will pay more to be
able to use them. Archery equipment is like anything else, you get what you pay
for, buy cheap, get cheap, pay a reasonable price and expect a quality item.
I start with a two cam, single cam, or a
Answer: You should go to your local archery club when they are having a shoot, or to the
local archery dealer shop that has an indoor shooting area. Most shooters will
allow you to pull their bow back providing you do not dry fire it. When you pull
different bows back, you will notice a difference in the amount of resistance you
you feel drawing the bow back, and having the cam’s peak at their rated draw
poundage. You will also notice that some bow cams make holding the bow at full
draw very difficult. They feel like your string keeps wanting to pull forward and
make it difficult to hold the bow at full draw. Others have what is called a valley,
and it is comfortable to hold the bow at full draw without feeling the bow string is
going to get away from you. If the arrow wants to creep forward, it can cause you
to prematurely release the arrow or collapse your bow arm.
Some bow cam’s feel harder to draw to full draw even though they are the same
draw weight as another type of bow. This is due to the design of the cam.
There are easy to pull and hard to pull bows in both single and double cam bows.
By pulling other archer’s bows, you will be able to feel the difference, and that
should dictate your choice of bow to start your shooting career.
Question: Which is the most accurate bow, a single cam or a double cam.
Answer: Either type of cam is very accurate in the hands of an accomplished shooter.
There are followings that swear by each type, and swear at the other type. It is a
matter of choice after a person has shot a few bows and makes his own decision
which type of cam they prefer shooting. Many National Outdoor and Indoor
tournaments have been won using both types.
Question: What length of bow should I buy?
Answer: It depends on what you want to use the bow for, and whether you intend to shoot
using your fingers or a release. The height of your body and your draw length
also makes a difference. A tall person with long arms is usually best suited to
shoot a longer length bow. A person with short body height and short draw length
will usually find themselves restricted to a limited amount of bows which they
If you are interested in bowhunting and shooting 3d shoots, you would have
an advantage using a shorter bow length. Long bow lengths can be a
problem when shooting out of a tree stand for example or hunting in heavy
brush. If you live out west, and will be hunting elk or mule deer in open terrain,
a longer axle to axle bow length could be your choice.
If you are interested in indoor target and outdoor field target shooting, you could
possibly be happier using a longer axle to axle bow length. Bows which are
longer in axle to axle length are usually more stable and accurate for the average
Question: What is the difference between the long and short axle to axle lengths of a bow?
Answer: The longer the length of bow, the less apt you are to hit your arm with the bow
string when you shoot. They have a higher brace height. You will have less
angle on your bow string when at full draw. The angle of the bowstring effects
how you see through your peep sight. If you intend to use sights on your bow,
it will be easier to see through the center area of the peep sight with the longer
axle to axle length. The less angle your eye has to the peep in the string
(preferred string angle is about 45 degrees), the easier it will be for you to see
through the peep sight. If you shoot a bow with a really short axle to axle length
bow, unless you use a special peep sight you will be looking through an oblique
hole with less then desired visibility.
Question: What draw weight should I start with?
Answer: If the State you are going to hunt in has a minimum bow weight requirement
you have to take that into consideration. Most states have a 40# to
50# minimum bow weight for hunting deer. Lets say the minimum is 50 pounds,
what should you do? First you need to find a bow that is set at 50# and see if
you can pull it back. You might be in for a surprise. I have seen large sized men
that could not draw a 50# bow!
If you plan to use the bow for hunting I would recommend this test. Set
down on a chair or a stool. Hold the bow out in front of you with your arm
extended towards the target with an arrow on it. Can you draw the bowstring
back to your face without going into body without pointing the bow at the
ceiling or the floor? If you cannot do this, the bow draw weight is to heavy for
you to pull without probably injuring your shoulder and your back muscles.
If the bow peak weight is 50#, but it has be ability to decrease the weight to 35#
or 40# than that would be a good bow for you to start shooting with. Start at the
low drawing weight and build up your muscles.
Note: I am 6’2” and when I started shooting compound I weighed about 220#. I
started out with a 60# bow with energy cams. I did not know any better, and I
ended up tearing the muscles on my scapula about two weeks after I started
shooting. This muscle injury continues to haunt me 20 years later. I was very
physically fit at the time I started shooting this bow about 18 years ago, and it
was all I could physically do to pull the bow back to full draw!
Question: Will I need to have a heavy draw weight for hunting to get penetration on an
Answer: Not always. Most game in the North American Continent can be taken with a
50# pound bow using either carbon or aluminum arrows with a SHARP
broadhead. The secret is being a good shot, shooting within your range
limitations based upon your shooting ability and hitting the animal in the right
Question: I want to shoot 3D shoots and feel that I need a fast arrow speed. How can I do
this if I do not have a heavy draw weight?
Answer: Arrow speed can be accomplished by shooting smaller diameter arrow shafts
without having to shoot excessive draw weights. There are options on cams that
will provide faster arrow speed. Unfortunately for the average archer speed
requires short limbs, hard cams, high poundage draw weight and low brace
height. All of these are not what the new shooter should be considering.
If you have a low brace height, you will usually have to wear an arm guard to
protect your arm while shooting. If you do not, it will really hurt when the string
hits the inside of your forearm.
I hope that these questions and answers will help you on your new journey to become an archery enthusiast.
The opinions and thoughts expressed are my own, and have no reference or bearing to any firm that I represent
If you have further questions feel free to send me a PM or email.
(aka Alaska Sam)
Hoyt National Shooting Staff
GKF Pro Staff
Carter Release Staff