When you are learning archery there a few things to decide, what type of archery to participate in and how to choose a bow and arrow. Whether you decide on traditional, target, field or 3D archery the single most important factor is choosing arrows. The bow itself is second in importance, low quality archery arrows will affect your aim regardless of your skill level. For safety and accuracy reasons the arrow should be matched to the right bow for its intended use. Before you pick up your bow and start shooting arrows there a few steps to take to help hit your targets.
Determine Your Draw Length
There are three main bow types: compound, traditional and recurve. Compound bows are used mainly for field and 3D archery and bow hunting. Recurve bows are the only bow allowed in the Olympics and traditional bows are used in all major forms of archery including bow hunting. Draw length is the distance between the bowstring and the grip when you a hold a bow at full draw. Having the proper draw length improves your shooting form and improves your accuracy. The popular method to determine draw length is the wingspan method. Measure your arm span and then divide it by 2.5. For more accurate results consult a professional. If you’re still growing your draw length and the amount of weight you can pull back will change. Make sure your equipment matches your ability and size.
Choose Arrow Length
The length of an arrow is measured from the deepest part of the nock groove to the end of the shaft, this does not include the length of filed points or broad heads. To determine proper arrow length, you take your draw length and add 0.5″ up to 1”. So if your draw length is 24″, you should choose arrows with a maximum length of 25″. This will ensure that the arrow is just long enough to clear the arrow shelf. As a beginning archer it is recommended that your arrow length always be one to two inches longer than your draw length for safety reasons.
Minimum Arrow Weight
It is important not to go below the minimum safe weight when choosing arrows, mainly to avoid injury. It is tempting to go with the lightest combination of shaft and point you can find. This will cause you to dry fire, possibly shatter the shaft and cause injury to yourself. For most traditional bows you should aim for an arrow weight of 8 to 9 grams per draw weight.
Find Your Draw Weight
Draw weight is the force required to pull back the bow and is measured in pounds. With a traditional bow the draw weight will continue to increase as the bow is drawn. A compound bow will increase to the peak weight and then drop in weight to the holding weight. The holding weight is usually 20-30% of the peak weight. Compound bows have an adjustable draw weight of 10 to 15 pounds, so a compound bow with a 70 pound peak rate will anchor to a holding weight of 55-60 pounds.
A new archer will be able to pull back an additional ten pounds in about a week with regular practice. Incorrect draw weight often discourages people new to archery and causes them to give up the sport. Your correct draw weight is based on your weight and physical condition. A child that weighs 70-100 pounds would have a draw weight of 15-25lbs., most women and average boys weighing 100-130 pounds would have a draw weight of 30-40 lbs. and most men weighing 150-180 pounds would have a draw weight of 55-65 lbs.
Most arrows are typically made from wood, fiberglass or carbon. Wood is the most traditional material used for making arrows. Wooden arrow can be customized for different sizes. When choosing custom arrows the suggested size range is no more than 32″. Wooden arrows are the best match for traditional bows, they are heavier than carbon arrows but have more momentum. Fiberglass arrows are more durable and heavier than wooden arrows and are usually used for practice shooting. Carbon arrows are more durable, straighter and lighter than fiberglass and wooden arrows.
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