In 35 years of bowhunting the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is that bowhunters are the worst people to help get some “started” in archery. Now once a person knows how to shoot and has the basic archery skill set a bowhunter is always a good resource. By starting I mean someone who has never ever held a bow but has an interest. This might be your spouse, kids, or coworker. There are some things we can all do to assist and mentor new folks into the sport.
Your bow is not the best bow – Ok I am sure this hurts most of us but, it’s a fact your bow will probably not be the best bow for a beginner. It may very well be the best bow for you but your 1000.00 bow, 600.00 worth of sight, quiver, limb savers and stabilizer is yours. It fits you, you can draw it comfortably, and much like a fly rod it’s a very personalized tool. Remember when helping a beginner that they are probably not going to enjoy pulling a 70-pound bow for very long. Make sure you steer them to a bow that fits them, they can pull, and one they actually like. If your daughter like pink camo bows let her have a pick camo bow, we all know pink camo only works on flamingos but being happy is a big part of archery.
Your accessories are yours not theirs – My sons are living proof that my stuff does not work for anyone but me, at least not very well. I shoot a handheld release and my leftie is just not comfortable shooting that. My sight pins are tiny and have a light but my oldest can’t see them, even in daylight, and the light blinds him. We went to the local pro shop and they shot several releases until the found one they liked, same with sights they picked their own.
Your Brand choice might not be theirs– Luckily everyone in my home has a Bear Archery Product that fits them and that the enjoy shooting. When it comes to kids and smaller framed adults the ability to have a large range of draw weight adjustment is paramount. The muscles used to draw a bow change from setting to standing and they are not muscles most people use daily. A new shooter will want to adjust their draw weight as they develop these muscles. The ability to adjust your draw length at home is generally a plus as well. A beginner has no clue to where or how they are going to anchor until they have actually shot the bow so you will, as a rule need to make an adjustment or two in the early stages.
It does not take a 70-pound bow hunt most big game– As a bow hunter education instructor this was a myth we has to dispel very often. If you hand a new shooter a bow that’s too heavy there are a couple thing that WILL happen.
Remember an accurate shooter with a 45-55 pound bow is always more lethal than a shooter with a 70-pound bow they hate to draw.
Work is never fun– If you make shooting to much like work through improper equipment and excessive draw weight it won’t be fun. If archery is not fun then a new potential archer won’t grow into a bowhunter. I try to stay away from 3D targets in the beginning. Large colorful bag targets, for kids ones with dart boards and games, are perfect visual aids. I say large targets because a beginner does not want to spend ½ the time trying to dig arrows out of the grass.
Range is key – Yes I can in fact shoot out past 50 yards all day long with my Bear Archery Domain. My kids not only can’t but they should not be attempting those shots in the beginning. Start at 10 and move new archers out to realistic hunting ranges. Once a new shooter can hit what they aim at a 3D range is the next step.
Never forget than an archer is not a bowhunter. A beginner has to learn, and like, archery before they can morph into a bow hunter. Some people, like my daughter will probably never take that step but she enjoys archery and the family fun that can be had with sticks and strings.