Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Maybe you’ve seen your favorite superhero on the big screen slinging arrows in rapid-fire, or perhaps you’ve been watching competitive archers or bowhunters and want to get started in the sport of archery. It is always good to have your gear for a game like archery because your practice will go farther when you are continually practicing with the gear. Bows and all the associated archery equipment is readily available online. But, for new archers, buying equipment online can be a daunting task when you don’t know which parts are best for you.
So, can you buy a bow online?
Yes, you can definitely buy a bow online. There are several e-commerce sites where you can pick up a quality bow online, and usually, you will spend less than buying it in a store. However, before you jump online to buy, there are a few things you are going to want to know. First, you need to know what kind of archery suits you, are you looking to start bowhunting/fishing or are you more interested in target shooting and 3D archery. This will help you pick your style of bow. Next, you need to know your draw weight and length. Draw length is a bit trickier, and it is probably best that you at least visit a pro shop for assistance with this one.
Now that you know about some of the considerations let’s take a more in-depth look to help you choose the right bow for you.
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Which Type of Bow to Choose
There are several different types of bows, and they all function a little bit differently and have various applications.
Compound bows are the most common for hunting because of all the technological advancements (strings, pulleys, and build materials) that help archers draw more weight. This is the amount of pressure you have to use to pull the bow back. Higher numbers mean you have to pull more weight back. However, this translates to more power in the shot.
These bows are compact, powerful, and excel in accuracy. They are excellent for hunting, but competitive archers also use them.
As a beginner, you want to choose a compound bow that has a wide range of adjustable resistance. This will allow you to start with lower draw weights and then increase it as you strengthen your back and shoulder muscles.
Compound bows are generally more expensive and are far more complicated to maintain than their simpler counterparts.
The SAS Outrage is a good starter compound bow, you can check availability here.
Recurve bows are a more traditional style bow. This type of bow is used in most competitions, including the Olympics. If you want to get into barebow, traditional, or Olympic style archery, this is the bow style you need. You can use a recurve bow to hunt small game, but most bowhunters will choose the compound bow.
Recurve bows have come a long way from the single piece of wood and string construction.
They have three main components—the riser, which is the central shaft where you load the arrow and where you grip the bow. Coming off the top and bottom of the bow are the limbs, which are the part of the bow bend as you pull back on the string.
Most modern recurves are takedown recurve bows, which means that the limbs detach from the riser allowing you to swap them out. Keep in mind that there are several different attachment systems for limbs and riser, and when swapping them out, you need to make sure you get parts that use the same attachment system as what you currently have.
The Samick Sage is an excellent option for beginners, you can check prices here.
Longbows are what most of us picture when we think of Robinhood. This classic bow style is longer than the recurve, which can be more forgiving for beginners as there is less chance of sideways movement in the string upon shot release. These bows have straight limbs as opposed to the curve in the recurve. This means that they produce less power than a recurve.
These bows are used almost exclusively for target shooting.
Takedown longbows are available, but they are not nearly as universal as takedown recurves. Due to their length and inability to be taken apart, they can be harder to transport and store than a recurve.
If you are not sure what to choose, you can take a trip to your local shop to give them a try. You could also visit a local archery club or take an introductory lesson that lets you try different bow styles.
The SAS Pioneer Traditional Longbow is an excellent choice for beginners, you can check prices here.
Draw weight is the amount of force needed to pull back the bowstring to full draw. It is measured in pounds, and the higher the poundage, the more power you will need to exert to draw the string back. Choice of draw weight is a personal matter and depends on your body and level of fitness.
For beginners, you want to start low and work your way up as you practice and train your muscles.
Side note: drawing and releasing a shot on a bow requires coordination of muscle groups that you do not use in day-to-day life. As such, when you are starting your archery adventure, you want to start with lower draw weights and work your way up to avoid injury even if you are physically fit. This is true, no matter what type of bow you choose. If you want to get a head start on training, check out our article on building your strength and conditioning for archery.
You can always go into a shop and try different draw weights to see what is most comfortable. Remember, you will have to draw several times over a single archery session, so pulling a full draw should be relatively easy.
Here is a quick guide to drawing weights assuming average strength for age and sex:
- Adult male: 22–28 lbs for recurve bows, or 40–50 lbs for compound bows.
- Adult female: 16–26 lbs for recurve bows, or 30–40 lbs for compound bows.
- Teens (13–18): 12–16 lbs for recurve bows, or 14-22 lbs for compound bows.
- Kids (8–12): 10–14 lbs recurve bows, or 10–22 lbs compound bows.
Compound bows are higher weights because the series of pulleys help the archer pull and hold the draw weight. Thus, you will find you can pull a heftier load on a compound bow.
Even if you plan to buy your bow online, you will likely want to take a trip to a pro shop. When you go, an expert salesperson can talk you through all these same decisions we discussed here so that you can feel confident you are purchasing the right type of bow.
They can also measure your draw length for you. This is something you can’t do at home without a bow and some knowhow.
You will also be able to try the different types of bows and see which one sparks joy in your archer’s heart.
Now that you’ve got the bow, you are going to need some accessories. Each of these is worthy of their own post, and we have many great articles on these topics. But here are a few pieces of equipment to keep in mind when getting started:
- Arrows (this is a far more complicated topic than most people think)
- Gloves or Finger Tabs
- Arm Guard
- Release mechanism (generally use with compound bows)
There is one critical piece of information you might not yet be aware of regarding bow warranties. Almost all of the prominent manufacturers offer warranties on their bows, including Mathews, Hoyt, Bowtech, and PSE Pro Series. However, virtually all of those same companies require that you purchase the bow from an authorized retailer and be the original bow owner.
These requirements mean that if you buy a second-hand bow, the warranty will be void. Also, most e-commerce sites are not authorized retailers, and as such, if you are purchasing a bow online, you will likely be passing up the chance for a manufacturer warranty on your bow.
Buying a bow online can be a great option, especially if you are on a tight budget. Decide on your bow type and then figure out your draw weight and draw length. Order your bow and any accessories you need, then get to practice with your new kit!
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. He has been hunting and fishing since a child, and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.
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