Let’s forget the arguments for and against buying a new bow. Instead, let’s say you’ve decided that this year is the year you’re going to trade in the old gear for something new.
Since bow makers have been engaged in a war of who can release it first for about a decade now, newer models have already been available for months. By March, a full list of new rigs hit the pro shops, and you’ve likely consumed some of the hype surrounding the latest releases. The two questions that remain are which bow to select and when to buy it.
The former is fodder for a separate article, given the subjectivity of the final choice. The latter is not. In most cases, the sooner you can purchase a bow, the better.
Hit the ground crawling
The Jace Bauserman firm has been featured in dozens of hunting publications and is as interested in bows and bow setups as anyone I have ever met. He has tuned hundreds of bows in his lifetime and is almost religious about the setup, shooting and shooting processes.
“In my opinion, modern bows are almost perfect,” Bauserman said. “The constructions, the designs, are wonderful. But people think that because of that, they can buy a new bow and in a week or two be able to shoot tight groups at 100 yards. It doesn’t work that way.
Bauserman advises taking your time with a new bow instead. “For the first couple of weeks, I didn’t push him past 30 yards,” he said. “It can be a bit boring, but I want to get a feel for the bow while shooting as many arrows as possible.”
This is a good tip because it allows you to do two things at the same time. The first is that you will become familiar with the feel of the new bow. From the grip to the draw cycle to the way the bow is held at its maximum, everything will be a little different from your last bow. In addition, you will be getting used to your new equipment.
Many manufacturers recommend at least 500 shots as a minimum break-in period. This allows the strings, cables, limbs, and cams to settle. Although materials and designs are light years from where they were a decade ago, this adaptation period is still necessary.
This is also why many hunters find that the honeymoon is over with their new bow after a month or two, especially if they think the fitting process is a one-time deal. it’s not. Often new teams will start to show a bit of clumsiness in arrow flight, or just plain accuracy, after a couple of hundred arrows. This usually requires a little tune-up, but if you want some broadhead flight later on then it’s a must.
Double distance practice and peaceful pro shops
Bauserman loves to hunt whitetails, but he lives in Colorado and spends much of his season hunting elk, mule deer and antelope. His average shot in the western game is farther than the average shot in the trees in the east. Because of this, he works towards a double range target shooting strategy.
“Every year I shoot enough arrows to feel really safe at twice the distance I plan to shoot a live animal,” Bauserman said. “That takes a lot of time and a lot of practice sessions. That’s why I always like to put my bows together early in the year.”
Even if you never plan to air one on a distant pronghorn, the idea of practicing at twice your likely shooting distance is a good idea. This can take five or six months of shooting, which, if you have a calendar handy, is about what you have left before the fall hunting seasons start, if you buy a bow in March.
Scheduling a new bow purchase around March does more than provide enough time to get really good before the new season. It also allows time to get professional help.
I have some friends who work in archery shops, and they always have some wild work stories in August. It also seems like they’re one stupid question away from breaking up anytime at the end of the summer.
Spring is a different story. Now is the right time to upgrade if you want the most attentive customer service and a convenient buying and setup experience. This gives you the best chance of not only buying the perfect bow for your needs, but also working with a professional to make sure it’s tuned and readjusted as often as needed. That’s important if you don’t have a bow press and the knowledge to work on bows to address tuning issues.
You probably don’t know it, and that’s okay: help is available, and new equipment too. If you’ve decided this is the year for an upgrade, don’t delay. It’s time to gear up and shoot because the season will be here before you know it.