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Hello All. I'm ready to take the plunge into this sport. I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject, both internet and library, and I have several questions (pardon me if I don't get all of the terms right).

I'm attracted to barebow recurve shooting. I have no intention of hunting, but I do like competition. In tournaments for barebows, what's the longest distance I would be shooting? Should I be cautioned against getting too light (draw weight) of a bow? By that, I mean are the target distances long enough that a too-light bow will not get the arrow to stick in the target? I am not a real strong person.

Speaking of draw weight - I notice that the same model of bow can be bought in different weights. How is this done, i.e., how is the same model of bow made stiffer or softer?

Bowfit or Formaster? Which do you prefer? Worth it? Better than exercises with weights?

Kidwell book - recommend? Other book?

Thanks for any help you can send my way.
 

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How to get started . . .

First of all, congratulations on doing your own research. Far too many people don't bother with this necessary step.

As far as getting a bow with the proper draw weight, this depends on your physical abilities (not just how strong you are now but how strong you'll be in six months......). Be aware that arm strength is a good thing to have but the real strength in drawing a traditional bow is in your upper back muscles. It'll take some practice to learn how to employ them properly. I wouldn't worry too much about long distance target shooting at this point.

The difference between say a 60 pound bow and a 35 or 40 pound bow isn't range but penetrating power (i.e. the ability to sink deeply into something solid - like a big deer - at range). Continue your research and you'll find that the Japanese Kyudo masters use bows with very low draw weights (on the order of 35 lbs). A 35 pound bow can make the distance, it will just have a higher ballistic arc. The advantage of heavier bows for target shooters is that the arc is a bit flatter so it is easier to adjust to varied distances.

I would recommend that, if you can handle it, you start out with a 40 lb bow. This will give you all the speed and power and distance you'll need or want for some time. If that sounds like too much then go for a 30 or 35 lb bow. Try and get a chance to try out some bows to give yourself a better idea of what your current abilities are. For the foreseeable future, I don't think that you need be concerned with distances any greater than 20 to 30 yards (yes, competitions do go out to 100 yards but you're not there yet - learn to walk before learning to run). By the way, most bow hunting is done at less than 30 yards so you won't be lonely on the range believe me. In fact, you'll probably start out at 10 to 15 yards.

As to how the same model bow can come in different weights. It has to do with the tillering process. Basically the manufacturer/bowyer can take a heavy bow and slim down the limbs until they get the targeted draw weight (not something you want to do yourself just yet).

As for fitness excercises and equipment, hell man your going to be getting a bow. If that doesn't give you all the excercise and muscle training your upper torso can handle then just do pushups. I do not believe in buying alot of strength training equipment. For one thing, such excercises are boring. Junkshops are full of little used excercise equipment because it just gets boring.

If you can manage it safely (big big big emphasis on safety!!!), then it might be good to setup a backyard archery range. This way, you will do a whole heck of a lot more practice. The learning curve is very very steep when you can practice every day. Thing is that, if you do setup an archer range you have to be very careful about making absolutely sure that not one arrow leaves your property (i.e. backups and backups for the backups). Plan on a few arrows getting away from you early in the learning process and make sure they don't go too far.

The archery range I have at home (I have an acre of land) can manage 40 yards and has a backup wall that is 10 feet high and at least 10 feet long. Then there is an additional 25 yards of trees behind that.

As for books . . . Sam Fadalla has put out some good books.
 

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I'll agree with ex-diver. But, as an old tournament shooter myself, I'll add a few things. It's best to caution against getting a bow that's too heavy in draw weight instead of too light. If your primary, or only, interest is going to be in tournament competition, then you really don't need anything drawing more than 40-45 pounds.

You will need to develop an accurate aiming system. Either a hard gap system or the indirect aiming method developed and used by Howard Hill. Byron Ferguson gives a good outline of this method in his book "Become the Arrow." Supplement that reading by reading Hill's own description of the technique in "Hunting the Hard Way." Ferguson's version is a lot easier to understand, but you need to learn from the Master as well.

Hill's book is devoted to hunting, but remember that he is still the greatest champion of all time in NFAA field archery, and he used the same aiming technique in competiton that he talks about for hunting. His record of straight wins has never been broken.

Instinctive shooting simply does not make the cut in competition and, frankly, learning some sort of gap system will help you become a better shot a lot sooner.

You will need to use a bow with an elevated rest for additional tune-ability that you just can't get by shooting off the shelf. You'll also want to get a fairly long recurve with a hefty riser section for stability. You can spend a thousand dollars on a good tournament bow, or you can usually find a vintage tournament bow on Ebay for less than $300. Some much less than that.

Also, the type of competition you want to get into will determine a lot about what shooting style to adopt, and what equipment rules you'll need to contend with. Are you interested in FITA, NFAA, or 3D (IBO, ASA, T.H.E. Deerman's World) competition? Go to each organization's websites and review the rules applying to recurve barebow class.

But the one most important piece of advice I can give you is to enjoy the experience and have a great time.
 

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A few thoughts - you may like an aluminum riser FITA type bow for tournament shooting. They're made for the game and are used by virtually all serious competitors. Martin (Aurora), Hoyt (Matrix or GM), PSE (Intrepid), and others make great bows in this style. These bows are heavier in overall weight and more stable, IMHO, than wood riser bows.

Bow weight is a very personal choice. I'm continually surprised by the light bow weights used by many older successful competitors. Most seem to shoot in the 30# range. Olympic athletes use bows averaging around 50#, or so I've heard, but they're young and train very hard. I'm using 42# limbs and find myself tiring WAY before most shoots are over. Our NFAA State Field Shoot requires about 268 arrows (depending on how one does on the animal targets) shot for score over two days.

I like all the literature mentioned above and am very fond of Howard Hill's methods, which is not to say I can emulate them very well. I just received Kidwell's book and haven't read it yet. I use McKinney's book as a reference. Jim Ploen's articles in the last issues of "Instinctive Archer" magazine were excellent and I see someone is selling CDs of the magazine now that it's out of business. The Olympic and JOAD books have excellent general form descriptions, which are far different from hunting styles as described by most popular hunting literature.
 
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