Archery is a great sport, whether you’re simply shooting arrows at a target, or taking it all the way to the mystical art of bowhunting. Like with anything these days, technology and engineering have made vast improvements in archery equipment. It is now easier than ever to find a bow that will fit you, or your young shooter, and have a bow that will last season after season.

Ahhh . . . picking the right bow. That used to be such a hard question. Part of the problem was that none of us are the same. Even as kids, we were all different, and getting a bow that fit us just right was a chore. First you had to find a bow that just felt good when you held it. Then you needed it to be available in the right draw length and poundage. Trust me. I used to work behind the counter at an archery shop. I saw it all.

Take a bow from even just 10 years ago and compare it to today’s archery options. In terms of performance and adjustability, modern compound bows can’t be beat. Many models can be adjusted for draw length and draw weight to fit everyone from middle schoolers to adults. No longer does a parent have to worry that their son or daughter will out-grow a bow. And similarly, a spouse can purchase a hunting bow as a gift for their partner and be confident the bow will fit them perfectly.

Diamond Prism Bow Package

If you’re in the market for a new bow and don’t have a lot of money to spend, check out the Diamond Archery Prism bow package (photo above). It costs a mere $300 and for that, you get a lot of bow for the money. At 31-inches axle-to-axle, the black Prism offers a full-size bow feel. The limb system, however, allows you to change the draw weight from a scant 5 pounds up to an impressive 55 pounds. At maximum poundage, the Prism will propel an arrow at an impressive 305 feet per second! What’s more, the draw length can be adjusted from 18 inches out to 30 inches, making this a bow that can grow with a shooter. It has a forgiving 7-inch brace height and 80-percent let-off. Best of all, it comes with all the accessories needed to get started shooting. All you need to add is the arrows.

Bear Wild bow package

If you’d like a great value on a bow that can be adjusted to handle a bit more draw weight, consider the Bear Wild package. At only $400, the Realtree XTRA camo Wild (above) is a great buy on a full-sized bow. This split-limb, single-cam bow weighs in at just 4 pounds, with a whopping (and very forgiving) 7.25-inch brace height. The draw range can be set from 24 to 31 inches. The bow can be had in a 50- to 60-pound draw weight, or 60-70 pounds in right-handed models, and 60-70 pounds in the left-handed version. You can crank out an arrow at speeds up to 310 feet per second, and there’s 80-percent let off. It comes with a Whisker Biscuit rest, Trophy Ridge three-pin sight, stabilizer, five-arrow quiver, string peep and nock loop. Not only that, but it’s a Bear. Fact: Bear Archery was founded by Fred Bear, the father of modern bowhunting as we know it. While the company is different from the one Fred founded up in Michigan, the spirit is still very much there. There’s just something right about going afield with a Bear in hand, and at this price, why wouldn’t you?

Cabela's Influence bow

Last but certainly not least on our top-value list is the Cabela’s Influence bow package. For only $500, you get a bow in Cabela’s Zonz Woodlands camo that is adjustable from 20 to 30 inches, and draw weights from 18 pounds all the way up to 70. The rotating modules in the synchronized cam system means that the bow will stay in tune, and shooting straight and true as you grow with the bow. This is a bow that fits anyone. Period. And it shoots at speeds up to 315 feet per second, too! The package comes with a three-pin sight, Octane Hostage XL rest, DeadLock Lite quiver, a carbon peep, stabilizer and string loop. The accessories alone would set you back a pretty penny.

So there you go – three different bow packages for $500 or less that offer sweet features and adaptable to anyone wanting to shoot a bow. Back in my archery shop days, we didn’t have bows nearly this good, and nowhere near this price.

Woman at full draw 8-31-16

Sidebar: Let’s Talk Bow Terms

There are a few terms used above that might seem a bit confusing to the newcomer. Draw length and draw weight should be pretty self-explanatory. Draw length is the distance from the front of the bow grip to the string when you’re at full draw, and it varies by person. Weight is the amount of force needed to draw the bow back. So if the bow is set at 50 pounds, it’ll take 50 pounds of force to pull it back.

However, there is the let-off. If the bow has 80-percent let-off, then when the cams (the wheels at each end of the bow) roll over the last little bit to full draw, the actual amount of energy required to hold that draw is only 20 percent of the original 50 pounds, or in this case 10 pounds. This let-off allows the shooter to realign the sight with the target, take a breath and wait for just the right moment to take the shot.

Another thing to look at is brace height, which is the distance between the string and the back of the bow grip when the bow is at rest. You generally see brace heights between 6 and 7 inches. The longer the brace height, the more forgiving the bow is at the shot. Shorter heights usually mean faster bows, but more of the shock of the release is transferred to the riser, the part of the bow with the handle. Longer brace height is important to beginning shooters because of the part of the shot people often forget – the follow-through. It’s kind of like a golf shot. If you rush the follow-through, you tend to ruin the shot. It’s all part of making the shot count, and being able to do it again and again.

This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.

Images courtesy of Cabela's