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Thread: Getting Started in Traditional Archery

  1. #1
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    Getting Started in Traditional Archery

    I'm just getting into traditional archery after having shot compounds for a number of years. Just couldn't ever get comfortable with a compound and all the related accesories. After the holidays I plan to order a new recurve. I'm seriously considering one of the Martin bows, based on what I've read on this website. In setting up the bow, I have the following questions: 1. Does a recurve bow have serving like on a compound. If so do they come this way or will I need my local archery shop to serve the string? 2. I want to hunt with my bow, primarily deer, squirrel and grouse. Is a 50# draw weight adequate for deer? Given a proper set-up, are recurves as powerful as a compound, in regards to killing power? I've heard detractors say that traditional bows are too anemic and don't have the power to kill game like compounds. Any thoughts? I appreciate your feedback.



  2. #2
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    Congrats on switching to traditional, you will really enjoy shooting your bow. 40- 45# would be enough to kill deer, as long as the shot is accurate. My opinion is to get a longer forgiving recurve in the 45-50 pound range. If you get to heavy a bow it will be too difficult to shoot accurately. You will like the simplicity of a recurve. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Tsowers, welcome to the wonderful world of traditional archery. Let's deal with your questions in order.
    Yes, the string on a recurve has center serving as well as serving on the end loops, if it is an endless string. If it's a flemish twist string it only has a center serving. Virtually all strings that you might purchase or that come with the bow will have appropriate serving already on it.
    Yes, a 50# bow is more than adequate to take deer, bear, boars, and small game. Complete pass thru is possible on deer with a scary sharp, cut on impact two or three blade broadhead, properly placed. However, your normal shooting range will be more limited than perhaps with a compound. Normally trad shooters try to stay within their effective range, which is usually 20yrds or less.
    However, I might suggest that for a first bow, you might want to look at a cheap used bow in the 40-45# range. This will enable you to develop proper form and avoid mistakes like snap shooting and short drawing. Plus plenty of deer have been taken over the years with a 45# bow. After your form is developed and you've had time to shoot awhile, then you might want to consider moving up to 50# or 55#. Don't fall in the macho trap of trying to shoot the heaviest bow you can. Remember, you're going to be holding 50# on your fingers, not the 15-20# you did with a compound. Plus to become proficient with the recurve is going to require a lot more shooting than you probably ever did with the compound. You need time to develop a whole different set of muscles.
    Good Luck and Good Shooting.
    Jack

  4. #4
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    You can't go wrong with a Martin bow. My very first bow was a Martin Hunter with 50 pound draw. Hadn't shot a bow before that except in high school. Just went out and bought the bow. Got a 50 pound because that's what they had in the one which caught my eye. Never had a problem drawing it. I stil have that bow, too. A 50 pound bow will take just about any North American game animal. I shoot a Martin Saber at 50 lb draw and my wife shoots a Martin Bushmaster longbow at 50 lb. draw.

    You know, I get a good laugh about people who say a traditional bow is not effective on game. Let's see...traditional bows were "IT" as far as projectile weapons for at least 5,000 years now. At LEAST (and hunting weapons well older than that.) These were the "assault weapons" of the ancient, Classical, and Medieval world. The bows of the Huns and Mongols were around 50 to 60 pound draw weight and we all know what they accomplished with them. The Indo-Aryan and Indo-European chariot peoples conquered the whole Indus Valley civilization with these bows. The English longbowman was the most deadly soldier of his day and killed thousands of French knights at Crecy, Poiters, and Agicourt. And who could forget that Howard Hill took just about every animal in the world with a longbow? How about Fred Bear? Modern recurves are just as effective as the bows the Huns and Indo-Aryans carried because they work on the same principle of composite bow construction. The difference is that fiberglass and various woods have taken the place of horn and sinew. In fact, modern recurves are probably more effective because they're less vulnurable to temperature changes and foul weather. When compound bows conquer half the world and feed the world for a few thousand years, then we might believe they are more effective. But not even firearms have been military and hunting arms as long as the recurve and longbow have.

    On strings, I use Flemish twist strings because they are quieter and smoother than endless loop strings. At least for me they are. Most places carry them. A good idea is to find you a book strictly on traditonal archery to find all the little "need-to-knows" you will need to know. Check out Three Rivers Traditional Archery Supply or Kustom King Traditional Archery for those books.

  5. #5
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    One thing you will find on your journey into traditional archery is that there are a lot of potential hobbies within the hobby. Like making your own stuff. Learning to make and serve your own strings will save you a LOT of money over the long haul.

    Recurves and longbows don't store nearly as much energy as a compound of equal draw weight, so they aren't as 'powerful.' But that doesn't make them any less effective as hunting tools. Using sharp 2-blade heads and arrows running around 10-12 grains per pound of draw weight, I've taken a lot of game with bows in the 45 pound class, probably putting out a whopping 30 ft lbs of kinetic energy.

    The only animals in North America I'd feel a little undergunned hunting with a 50 pound stickbow are the BIG bears. Grizzly, Kodiak and polar bears (and we have many of those critters wandering around loose here in Texas anyway ).

  6. #6
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    What has worked for me is the Martin X-200 (40# @28"). The advantage of a 40# bow is that you avoid all of the problems which crop up when you try using too powerful a bow. I would strongly recommend that you don't go over 50# for now.

    One thing you might seriously consider trying is shooting without all of the sight gizmos and just shoot "instinctively". There are a few related tricks to shooting without sights such as "gap shooting" and "string walking". Personally, I prefer string-walking. Let us know how you make out.....

  7. #7
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    Gear questions

    Kitsap, have you taken deer with your setup? How did it work. Personally I am considering a 45# recurve.

  8. #8
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    TSowers, almost sounds like you're stressing over this. Don't. The basic rule of thumb that everyone from Maurice Thompson, Saxton Pope, Art Young, Howard Hill and Fred Bear has put down on paper about choosing a hunting weight bow is to shoot as much draw weight as you can handle comfortably and accurately. If 45 pounds is that weight for you, so be it. Take that bow and go hunting, but recognize it's limitations.

    The compound community is heavily overcome by a severe case of 'magnumitis' and most use bows that are overpowered for most game, but many don't make good choices in broadheads and arrows and wind up paying for their mistakes.

    Fred Bear took his elephant with a 75 pound recurve and heavy arrows, a combo that put out somewhere around 50-55 ft lbs of energy. Most of today's 60 pound compounds will give that much energy and is considered a medium draw weight.

    Where most folks these days get into trouble with penetration, even with heavy draw weight compounds, is they are too concerned with speed. They choose lightweight arrows that leave a gob of the bow's energy behind when they leave, and they shed energy badly just cutting through the air on the way to the animal.

    The kinetic energy formula uses arrow speed squared as a major factor. Wind resistance uses arrow speed cubed as it's major factor. The faster a projectile goes, the more resistance it encounters and the more energy it uses up in flight, and resistance increases at a faster rate than energy does.

    I'd much rather be shooting a heavy, slow arrow with a cut on impact broadhead out of any bow instead of a super fast, extra light arrow with a mechanical broadhead, but that's not the 'accepted' way of doing things these days in the compound world. Those fast setups are hard to tune and finicky to shoot on the target range, much less in the woods. As a result, we see all kinds of posts on the forums each year about poor penetration. Poor arrow/broadhead choices are the cause, but they don't want to hear that. I've taken my share of beatings for trying to point out the obvious.

    A 45 pound bow certainly isn't as 'powerful' as a 60 pound compound, but it's entirely capable of doing it's job as long as you do yours. You've just got to make good choices on arrows and broadheads to maximize the amount of energy you do get. And if 50-55 pounds can take down a 5,000 pound elephant, surely 30 ft lbs is plenty to take a 200 pound deer.

    Use good, sharp, cut on contact broadheads that measure not much more than an inch wide. Keep arrow weight around 10 grains per pound of draw weight. 450 grains for a 45 pound bow. Keep your shots within your best shooting distance where you KNOW you can make a good killing shot. Make allowances for the lower power of the bow and don't stretch beyond 25 yards on deer, 20 yards on hogs in any case.

    Sorry for the length of this post, but I had to get it off my chest.

  9. #9
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    Spot on, Arthur!!!
    Jack

  10. #10
    Great advice Arthur...'cept the arrow weight outta heavier bows that is. 10 grains per pound is certainly a matter of popular opinion among most trads, & a good rule of thumb, but I believe such arrow weights are much more important out of lower draw weight bows. If I were shooting sub 50# draw I'd prolly opt to go HEAVIER than that. On the flip-side, if a 400gr arrow flying 160fps out of a 40# bow is capable of a clean kill on deer (& it surely is) then wouldn't it follow that, all else being equal, a 400gr arrow traveling MUCH faster out of a heavier bow would be even deadlier?

  11. #11
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    Definitely, Arrowsmit, under certain conditions. IF the hunter is capable of tuning that arrow with a broadhead; IF the hunter was a good enough shot to control the speed; IF he was calm enough to control his shooting form so as to shoot a sensitive setup accurately under the stress of being close to an animal....

    And then there are the other points, like noise, handshock, vibration and all the other things that I can't stand when I've tried shooting light arrows out of heavy bows.

    If someone is shooting enough draw weight to put more than enough energy into an arrow, can shoot it well under hunting conditions and doesn't mind handshock, vibration and noise (or doesn't mind spending a couple hundred dollars on vibration absorbing accessories to take up the excess energy that should have gone into the arrow) then that person is a better man than I am. So, who am I to say he shouldn't be using such a setup?

    A lot of our experienced compound shooting brethren are doing exactly that, even with mechanical broadheads, and are having good results. But far more bowhunters, especially the guys that don't touch their bows from one season to the next, are going to mechanical heads because they are incapable of tuning fixed blade heads to those fast arrows. So, they wind up hunting with bows that are, at best, partially tuned and are having serious accuracy and penetration problems as a result.

    That's the one thing that chaps my buns. People going out and buying stuff, not because it is a good match for their skill level, but because it's what 'the pros' use. And a lot of shops are going out of their way to push that kind of equipment on inexperienced shooters.

    Dang it. You done coaxed me up onto that soapbox again...

  12. #12
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    Arthur P, stay on that soapbox! I look forward to reading your refreshing anbd informative posts. My hat is off to you, sir!

  13. #13
    Sorry Arthur, I didn't mean to coax...however, I will submit that a bow can be out of tune w/a heavy arrow as readily as w/a lighter one. Accuracy will undoubtedly suffer in either case. Now a heavier arrow will absorb more energy from the bow & thus may tend to be slightly more forgiving of bow tune/shooting form errors, but IMO (for the most part) faster arrows & bow tune/accuracy are completely different topics.
    Last edited by Arrowsmit; December 24th, 2002 at 09:29 PM.

  14. #14
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    Might be two different topics for you, my friend, but for me they are inseperable. They go together like turkey and stuffing.

    Like you say, heavy arrows are more forgiving of tuning errors. I've found they are even more forgiving of shooting form errors. When it comes down to putting an arrow where I want it in the woods, I'll take forgiveness over a little flatter trajectory any day. Excitement and perfect form don't really go hand in hand for me.

    If I ever get to the point where I've got ice water in my veins and remain totally calm when a deer gets into range, that's the day I'll quit hunting altogether.

  15. #15
    Arthur, I agree that a forgiving setup is much more important than flatter traj. when hunting. I just don't agree that they are nessesarily separate things. For instance, I shot two deer this season; a doe & an 8 pt buck. The doe was shot w/400gr carbons @ about 7.5 gpp/225fps & the buck w/tapered cedar @ over 10 gpp/prolly 180fps. Both got the job done handily & believe me, I'm a VERY average archer.


    http://www.hotspothunting.com/userim...wsmit_5378.jpg


    http://www.hotspothunting.com/userim...wsmit_5827.jpg

  16. #16
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    Congratulations on your kills. Shooting that light of an arrow weight ratio works for some people. I never have argued that it doesn't. It does not work for me. I don't like the way my bows feel with arrows like that. I don't like the way my bows sound with arrows like that. No matter if it's a selfbow, longbow, recurve or compound.

    Again, what causes the things I don't like is excess energy that the arrow leaves behind. With the limited energy that stickbows store, I prefer to put that energy into the arrow rather than have it rattling my teeth.

    Rather than dance around the matter any further, I'll just come out and say it. No offense meant to you, but if I wanted to shoot over 200 fps, I'd be shooting my wheelbow instead of a stick.

    Shooting light arrows real fast is not my idea of a good time. It totally messes up the aesthetics of shooting traditional archery. I LIKE shooting the same kinds of bows and the same kinds of arrows I shot when I was a kid in the 50's and 60's. Isn't that what traditional is all about in the first place?

    Have a Merry Christmas, everyone. I'll check back tomorrow night.

  17. #17
    Arthur, I think we've swiped Tsowers thread so maybe we should start a new one if we should continue our discussion. If we persue this further, perhaps (for the sake of good debate & for fear of misleading the less experienced) we won't get our personal tastes & opinions mixed up w/facts. BTW, most of the extra energy from the "too light" arrow I shot thru that doe was wasted penetrating 6" into the forest floor. Oh yea, and I haven't owned a >compound< bow since the mid-80s....thanks for the dance Arthur, & Merry Christmas to you too.

  18. #18
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    Yep, we did get a couple of giant steps off topic. But I'm still right.

    My apologies, TSowers.

  19. #19
    What's that saying Arthur..."perception is 9/10s of the law"? Hehehehehe. Hope ya'll hadda great Christmas.

  20. #20
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    Well if you side step the little spat up above you will find some excellent advice. The one bit of advice that I didn't get when I made my trip into traditional archery, "don't get over bowed".
    Man I did!! I ordered a custom Brackenbury made out of purple heart and bubinga wood. Absolutly beautiful bow!!! I can't shoot it. It sets in my basement and I show it off once in a while. I ordered it in 60 and it came in 64#. 60 would have been too much.
    Buy a used light weight recurve to get your form down and then move up.
    You have a great trip in front of you. A whole new aspect of archery. Most guys at one point in thier archery lives get into traditional archery. Its alot of fun and definitly a new challenge.Enjoy it!

    BUT...............

    Don't sell your compound stuff because you'll probably be back!
    Most guys enjoy a brief stint in traditional archery and when the new wears off they get back to modern archery, at least 90%, probably more.
    The good news about that is you can usually find a good recurve bow fairly cheap.
    One other piece of advice, don't get hung up on who shoots what. Compound,recurve,long bow etc. The one thing that totally disgusted me was the constant bad mouthing from traditional shooters. They have thier little names for modern equipment,"fancy whiz bang so and so", "super ultra high tech" etc. etc. etc. Traditional shooters tend to get on high horses, they think that they are "ARCHERY". DON"T DO THAT!!!
    I take my recurve and my compound to every shoot. If I'm meet up with a traditional buddy I'll shoot my curve. If I run into compounders I'll shoot my Diamond. I love to shoot. doesn't matter what.
    Enjoy the ride!!!!!

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