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How much should beginners spend on a traditional bow for target archery?
Target archery is the most common and accessible form of this sport. Participants are usually allowed to use either traditional or compound bows and shoot at targets either inside or outdoors.
You will need to buy a bow, arrows, and safety equipment. You might also buy a target if you want to practice while you are away from the archery range.
Traditional longbows and recurve bows vary a lot in cost, especially if you consider the option of getting a bow and arrows second hand. Many recurve bows sell on Amazon for $100 or less.
These bows vary a lot in quality and may not last very long. If you are looking for something that costs as little as possible, you might get a bow second hand instead. A used bow from a good company that is still in good condition may work better than and last longer than a cheaper bow.
If you are willing to spend more money, you might spend $350, $500, or even $700 on a good recurve bow. A beginner should not spend a thousand or two thousand dollars, though. Even bows that cost close to $1000 are too expensive for people new to the sport.
If you have been practicing archery for a long time and love the sport, you might buy a special, very high quality recurve bow that costs over $1000. If you are winning any money at contests, it might be time to upgrade to high-end equipment.
However, a new archer won't get much better results with a $2000 bow than with a $500 bow. $500 bows are durable, vibrate little, and are accurate. Start with a bow in the middle of the price range, and don't buy anything high end until you become an expert archer that needs the small advantage of a high-end bow.
Equipment for field archery
Field archery is always outside and involves shooting targets that are at different heights. A standard field archery range has 48 targets, only 24 of which are marked for distance.
A bow that is good for target archery is good for field archery as well. I recommend a bow in the middle of the price range. There is a bigger difference in performance between a bow that costs $150 and a bow that costs $500 than between a $500 bow and a $1500 bow.
If you practice field archery, you might want to buy your own target. Some very durable targets that can take a lot of punishment cost a lot - not much less than $1000 - but you are better off with $50 or $100 targets. Get a target, but don't spend a fortune on it.
How much more expensive are compound bows for target shooting?
One can order a compound bow for well under $200. You might get lucky and find a bow that works reasonably well for very little, but you might end up with something poorly made instead. Cheaper compound bows can be delicate as the moving parts may not be put together properly.
While traditional bows that cost $300 or $400 are usually good, compound bows in that price range vary in quality. I can notice a significant difference between a compound bow that costs somewhat more than $1000 and a compound bow that costs somewhat less than $500.
Then again, you might want to start with a compound rather than a traditional bow, and you might not want to spend a lot of money on your first purchase. If you want to start with a compound bow, you may find a good one for $350 or $500. Be careful about what you are buying - not all shoddy compound bows are very cheap; there are some bad bows in the middle of the price range.
How expensive is bow hunting?
Bowhunting is usually more expensive than buying bows for shooting targets. You need a bow that will kill an animal reliably and quickly, so hunters buy higher-end bows that can easily take down deer and other large animals.
Hunters use compound bows, and high-end compound bows are more expensive than typical recurve bows for shooting targets. Unlike other bows, compound bows are a relatively recent invention. Compound bows were not patented until the 1960s and are significantly different from traditional bows.
Compound bows use mechanical parts and pulleys. When you use a normal bow, it takes a lot of effort to hold the arrow in place for a little while after you pull the bowstring back. Pulling the arrow back with a traditional bow is not usually hard, but it takes enough power that you will have to let the arrow go soon.
With a modern compound bow, you can hold the arrow in place after pulling it back with much less effort. The new technology makes compound bows more accurate and powerful than traditional bows, and they require less strength to use.
Bowhunters also buy extra equipment for hunting that makes the sport more expensive. A camouflage outfit, for example, will cost at least $50 and can cost much more. Hunters may need many items that target and field archers do not.
Bowhunters might need quivers or release aids that are specifically for people who hunt with bows and arrows. Bowhunters may also buy the same accessories that people who hunt with rifles do: decoys, tree stands, game calls, and so on.
If you buy a high-end hunting bow and many accessories, you might spend more than $1200 on the bow and more than $1200 on everything else. It does not have to cost this much - you can find a decent hunting bow for $600, and you might spend less than that on accessories. Something like $1000 or $1200 in total is realistic for quality equipment if you are careful what you buy.
Do traditional bows have any advantages over compound bows for hunters?
Just as one might choose to hunt with a compound bow instead of a rifle for the challenge, one might choose to further raise the challenge by using a traditional bow. A traditional bow is harder to use than a compound bow, just as a compound bow is harder to hunt with than a gun.
Other than the challenge, a recurve bow has few advantages over a compound bow. A recurve bow is lighter. A recurve bow is also simpler - you do not have to worry about whether or not to buy all of the add-ons and extras you can buy for compound bows.
The moving parts also make compound bows more delicate in some ways, so they take more maintenance. Compound bows are also usually more expensive than traditional bows are. However, compound bows are more effective than traditional bows for hunters; there is no debate about which type of bows are more effective.
What is traditional archery?
Traditional archery is target shooting, specifically with traditional longbows and recurve bows. Compound bows are not allowed. If you can find competitions that only allow traditional bows, you can compete on equal terms in archery without buying a usually more expensive compound bow.
The Olympics does not allow compound bows, so traditional archery is the standard at the highest level of competition. However, compound bows are still used competitively. It is common for archery contests with prizes to allow compound bows.
Are arrows expensive?
Arrows vary a lot in price, although not quite as much as bows do. If you are a beginner and don't want to spend a huge amount, cheaper fiberglass arrows might be right. You can get a dozen arrows for $40 - they might not be very durable, but they are straight enough that it won't have much of an effect on your accuracy.
If you want to start with better arrows, you can get half a dozen good ones for $80. Better arrows are straighter than cheaper arrows. Cheaper arrows appear to be straight, but they are imperfect. The more experience you have with a bow, the more you notice the difference between cheaper and better arrows.
Good arrows for hunting are not easy to find at the lower end of the price range. Good hunting arrows are more likely to cost $80 for six than $40 for twelve arrows.
High-end arrows cost the most - you can spend $90 on a single high-end competition arrow. Don't bother with very high-end arrows until your skills justify these purchases. Beginners do not benefit much from the difference between top-end and medium-end equipment.
About THE AUTHOR
From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, snowboarding and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.Read more about Scott Kimball