Archery for Beginners – How to choose the right bow

Archery can be complicated and a bit difficult to start with but once it is mastered, it could be amazingly fulfilling.

Tip for beginners: Never rush in buying your equipment so you won’t waste your money in making a wrong choice.

One of the most important things to know is how to choose the right bow whether for hunting, for entertainment or for competitions. This article will help any archery beginners to understand the things to consider when it comes to choosing the bows that would fit your type.

Over the years, archery has developed and people are continuously trying to make something new. Many different bows are created to fit your type of archery. There are so many designs that are available in the market today so you need to explore to know the best bow for you.

Archery Range

Archery Range by Daniel Wetzel

Recurve Bows for Archery Competition

If you are into competition, the target archery is for you. It is the most popular type of archery where shooters fire at fixed circular targets at different distances. This type of archery is complex that is why you would need to ask the advice of a professional before finally choosing. Target bows are accurate and fast and it uses lighter equipment. The most common bow style in this field is the modern recurve bow. The design of this bow requires less strength for you to use it. Olympics only allows this kind of bow. Beginners can try the bare-bow recurve to begin with.

Check out our reviews on the best recurve bows here.

Compound Bows for Hunting

If you’re more interested in hunting, you would likely choose compound bows. However, beginners avoid using this because it is a bit complex. Compound bows are also commonly used in field and 3D archery. Another type of bow is the traditional bow. This kind of bow can be used in all types of archery.

Check out our reviews on the best compound bows here.


Things to consider when getting a beginner bow:

  1. Measure Your Draw length

    The draw length is the distance between the bowstring and the grip when holding a bow at full draw.  It determines the length and size of your arrows and the size of your bow. The most reliable measurement guide to know your draw length is the old Armspan/2.5 method.  Here’s a guide:

  • Know your arm-span length in inches from the tip of your middle finger to the other. Don’t stretch your arms when measuring the span. Just stand naturally.
  • Divide the measurement you got by 2.5. The result is your estimated draw length for your body measurements.

Aside from this method, there are other guides that you can use in determining your draw length based on your height. Most likely, your arm-span is directly correlated to your height however this is not applicable to all persons.

If the methods give you different results, you can get the average of the results or you may want to try actual bows for different draw lengths. Shoot multiple rounds using different bow and arrow sizes. Record the results and determine your scores. Find your best draw length in order to improve accuracy, comfort and target.

You might also want to ask for a help from professionals like a pro-shop expert or a coach in order to achieve the best measurement that would fit your body.

There is also an available practice bow and measuring arrow that could give you the most accurate measurement as you are personally testing the bows of different sizes for yourself. When using the device, stand at full draw position and you have to remember that your position can influence your draw length.

Tip: For safety purposes, always go for longer arrows and for young archers who are growing fast, the size of your draw length would likely change from time to time so you need to choose a bow that would match your size.


  1. Decide Your Draw weight

    Draw weight is the amount of power required to draw the bow to its maximum draw length. This is usually measured in pounds. This factor could be helpful for you to hit your target at varying distances. Draw weights for recurve and compound bows are different so you need to know first if you need a recurve or compound bow. The draw weight needed would also vary with your body frame. There are charts available wherein you can calculate your needed draw weight based on your body size and your ability. For beginners, if your body frame is smaller, you will be able to work with less draw weight. But don’t worry, your body can easily adopt to much larger draw weights. Here are the suggested measurements for recurve bows.

  • Recurve for hunting deers, turkeys, etc. – go for 40 lbs to 45 lbs
  • Recurve for hunting and target practice – you need 40 lbs or more
  • Recurve for hunting big animals such as the buffalo, bear, ox, grizzly, etc. –you would likely need 55 lbs and up
  • Recurve for target shooting- any draw weight will do.

The best bows available for 40 lbs draw weight are Martin SaberMarting Saber, Samick Sage and, PSE Blackhawk. For the 45 lbs draw weight, check out the Bear Grizzly, Hoyt Bufalo, Marting Jaguar and any bow mentioned in 40 lbs.

When it comes to compound bows, the rules for the draw weight are somehow similar from the recurve bow. Just take note that although more draw weight has many advantages, it could also cause injury and poor shooting performance.

  • For hunting big animals such as the buffalo, bear, ox, grizzly- 70 lbs
  • For deers- 40 lbs
  • For elk and moose- 50 lbs

In order to know the highest draw weight that you could handle, you can perform some tests like the draw test, hold test and the sit test. These tests will guide you in knowing the most comfortable weight for you.


  1. Pick Your Bow Length and Weight According to Your Body Size

Short bows are easy to bring especially when you would be travelling at long distances. Since these bows are short, it would weigh less than long bows and because of the light weight, it is difficult to hold steady at full draw. Basically the length and weight of your bow is largely dependent on your body type. If you are tall, you should go for long bows, otherwise, go for short bows.

There are still more factors to consider in choosing the right bow for you but those mentioned in this article are enough to get you started. Always remember though that buying your equipment should be a personal choice.


Still Not Sure Which Bow is Right For You?

The video below by Bowtech Archery explain how to choose the right bow. Check it out.


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