There was a time when women had to adapt to using men’s archery equipment. Fortunately for us, those days are long gone and the companies that have brought the latest and greatest in archery to men are now catering to women. When a man goes car shopping they tend to look at all of the important things like the engine, the warranty, and the power train. Women, however, have been known to sit in the seat and imagine how many cup holders will be necessary to get from point A to point B. By using this example I am proclaiming that car shopping and bow shopping are absolutely nothing alike. Women who love the outdoors know their equipment, and long gone are the days of a woman picking up a mans bow and accepting that it’s her only option.
Walking into any archery shop can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned hunter. I’ve been in the outdoor industry for over a decade now and I still get a little queasy when I enter the archery section. Surrounded by so many sharp objects, tiny details, and precision-driven force, I find myself stumbling over my words and forgetting my draw length at times. Thankfully I’m able to research my options from the comfort of my home, and I’m sure that I’m not the only person to become a little intimidated when it comes to the importance of choosing a new bow.
If a man tells you that he is 100% positive that his bow is the best one out there, then he probably built it himself. It would be an exaggeration for a person to say that one bow on the market is the very best. Technological advances have given each bow manufacturer advantages over the others, and it just keeps getting better. Here are some tips for those of you who may be in the market to buy a new bow. I’ve included some advice for the women out there, the youth, and for any man who understands that what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander.
1. If you build it, they will come.
Let me explain how things work in the outdoor industry from my perspective. We all know that the outdoor television programs are different from any other genre of television shows out there. First of all, many of the shows have to purchase their air time on the networks. This means that any guy (preferably large with a goatee) can have a hunting show for the right price. That guy will obviously need sponsors for his show to offset his expense of airing on the network, and he will shoot any bow that is handed to him along with a sponsorship check. That’s just how it works, as backwards as it might sound. I know this, because I co-host an outdoor television show. What that guy won’t tell you is that he would more than likely put that bow down and promote a different one if the checks were coming from a different company. This is partly because we all know that bow manufacturers are using similar technology, and their products are comparable for the most part. Loyalty to a product is not always sincere when you see your favorite hunting show personality using a product. This is my point: don’t always assume that the product is the best just because you see it on television. Test it out yourself, and ask your buddies, the ones that are not being paid, to see if they love it. Am I crazy for divulging this information? Well, it’s no big secret that bow manufacturers will mail their latest products to television show hosts in hopes of seeing it used on television. If you don’t believe me, just ask anybody who relies on a check from that manufacturer to pay their mortgage.
2. A bow by any other name…
When one company takes a certain type of technology and renames it to fit into their marketing strategy, that doesn’t change the fact that other companies have been using that technology in their products also. If you see that one company has given a new name to old technology, my advice is to find a way to test both of those products side by side until you see what the list of pro’s and con’s looks like. Sure, some of the bow manufacturers will be more heavily focused on quality and precision, while others will be focused on cutting edge marketing and targeting a new audience. Your goal as a consumer is to weed through the marketing strategies and find the product that will make you happy in the long run. Most archery shops will let you pick up the different models and either draw them back or shoot them on site to get a better feel of the equipment before you commit to the purchase. Just like test driving a car, this step is highly recommended.
3. Jumping the gun.
It’s a big expense to update and/or upgrade your archery equipment. When a young person is looking for a bow they are probably not thinking about the future, at least not any further ahead than archery season. I believe that it’s a mistake to buy an adult bow for a non-adult hunter. If the cost is the issue then consider this: many people in your same situation are looking for archery equipment for their children also, and they’re looking online for used products. If you want to splurge and buy a new setup for your kid, then rest assured that you’ll likely be able to re-sell the bow to help with the cost of that upgrade in a couple of years. If, however, you are looking to buy a used bow for your kid, then you’re in luck. With a little research, and a lot of caution, you can find used and slightly used archery equipment on many websites. So don’t try to talk your pre-teen into a bow that was made for a mature man. It’s only going to result in disappointment and a hard lesson learned. There’s a reason manufacturers offer archery equipment specifically for the young people out there. And as an added bonus: It makes them feel more confident when they know that their equipment was created with them in mind.
4. What’s yours is mine?…
I’ve never actually met a person who wanted to share their bow with other people. In theory, however, it’s not a bad idea. If you have a similar draw length, can pull around the same weight, and don’t mind only having possession of your beloved archery equipment for half of the time: Then I can completely understand why you would go in ‘halves’ with a buddy on a new bow. Similar to getting a mow-hawk, this idea will only be fun for the first day or two. After that you’ll decide that you’re mature enough to take the plunge and commit to your own gear. Unlink the mow-hawk, shared equipment can break friendships and cause fist-fights. I don’t recommend it. When a friend calls you to say that they have the brilliant idea of sharing a bow with you, go grab a beer and discuss the ‘con’ list extensively. If, however, you decide that your friendship can stand the test of time-shared stuff, then be sure to look into a peep-eliminator. This handy little gadget eliminates the need for the peep sight on your string, and literally anybody can pick up the bow and shoot it accurately without making adjustments. It’s similar to iron sights for archery, and it’s what I use.
And, finally, as a woman I know how confusing it can be to decide which bow will hold up in the field that is made specifically for us. While all of the men in camp are talking about their latest archery purchase, it’s doubtful that any of them have even heard of the bow that we’re shooting. The only way to change that is to make a name for it with your own expertise. With a lot of practice, and absolute dedication, we can give women’s bows the reputation that they deserve. They are, of course, made with the same technology as the mens products. Before you know it you’ll have the guys wishing they could leave their pride behind and pick up your ladies bow. But that is highly unlikely to happen. So do your research, practice, and keep an open mind when it comes to selecting your next weapon. There are plenty out there to choose from.