Beginners Guide To Bow Sports
*This article was submitted as a guest publication by an outside source.*
So before I start this article I have to confess, I’m not a true prepper, I don’t have a plan for when the SHTF, I don’t have a survival cache, bug-out-bag or anything like that, I’ve not planned and prepared for what may come. So why have I been invited to write this article you ask? Well, I like to shoot, I’m a keen archer and I’ve several bows lying around my house and if you’re the kind of person I think you are and you want to be prepared to defend yourself and survive in the event of a serious societal collapse, I’m going to tell you why you should think about joining an archery club and learning how to use a bow.
There’s a lot you can do with the bow that you probably didn’t realise. It’s a great tool for sport but also survival. Over in the US bow-hunting is a big thing, not so much in the UK since the practice was prohibited in 1965 but nevertheless the US following shows the effectiveness of a bow as a tool for hunting, from small rodents to and larger game and even fish. Bows can be fitted with bow fishing reels and arrows with barbed points and used to catch fish should you find clear enough water to line up a shot. Besides those things though, one of the most important things I think you can do with a bows and arrows for survival is make then! If I lost my bow or was out of ammunition, given time I could make replacements myself without any complex infrastructure to support me.
Bowsports are also family friendly, when my son grows up I’m going to take him to the local archery club and teach him how to shoot a bow. I can probably start doing this when he’s about 3 or 4, I’m hoping he enjoys the experience and thinks it’s cool but you just never know with children, although boys tend to like swords and guns and all sorts of weapons and there are male and female hollywood role models who use a bow (Hawkeye, Katniss Everdeen etc) so I’m hopeful. I aim to give him a skill that he can take through life that I think is more useful than just being a sport he does. Also take my wife, she doesn’t currently shoot, but she isn’t as averse to me and won’t be frightened of her son shooting a bow regularly, but I’m sure she would think differently if we were off learning to knife fight or flying to Budapest to shoot pistols and semi-automatics at a range.
Now you know why I think bows are a good choice, I could give you more reasons but that could turn into a whole article in itself, instead let’s go through the types of bows you can find on offer today. If you want to know more about the different types and styles of bows available take a look at this article on bow types.
D-shaped bows include old english longbows, american flatbows, these are normally bows made from one piece of wood that don’t have stabilisers or sights. They’re the type of bow you’d make yourself from raw materials. You wouldn’t normally learn with something like this as they are not so widely available and customizable as the next choice.
Recurve bows are the bows that should interest you as a novice, this type of bow is the one they shoot at the Olympics. It curves round in the usual D shape but then re-curves back away from the archer at the tips which is how it gets the name. Recurve bows can be broken down into to pieces (takedown bows) and carried in a case or rucksack. Maybe not THE most portable bow in the world but certainly not the least.
A survival bow is a light, compact, usually folding version of usually a D-shaped bow. Survival bows sometimes come with collapsible arrows and always are made to be easily portable and quick to assemble and modern engineering ensures they can also be pretty powerful. This as the name suggests is a the bow designed for a prepper or survivalist. But if I didn’t know how to shoot I’d still start with a recurve first and learn my technique.
A compound bow is a bow with wheels or ‘cams’ at either end of the limbs, these cams compound the force of the string on the arrow when you release (hence the name) and a compound bow allows you to hold and aim for longer than a recurve. You might only be pulling back and holding 20 lbs, but when you release you’d get the power of 30-40 lbs acting on the arrow. Compound bows are great and a modern upgrade to the recurve, however as a prepper I wouldn’t have one as my first choice. They are bulkier, harder to maintain, harder to string and don’t normally breakdown for easy storage and transport.
Crossbow / Compound Crossbow / Pistol Crossbow
Everyone who’s watched the walking dead has seen Daryl and his crossbow, and I’m sure you know that a crossbow is just a bow mounted on a stock with a mechanism for holding back the string which is released with a trigger to shoot the bolt (it’s not an arrow in the crossbow world). You shoot a crossbow like a rifle, you can get compound versions and non-compound versions and you can even get pistol crossbows which are designed to be held and shot with one hand. If anything ever goes wrong with Daryl’s crossbow I don’t see how he’s going to maintain it very easily, he’s certainly not going to make himself another and there’s less skill and fun to be had in shooting one of these than with a recurve if you ask me. There are models of folding survival crossbows, but they don’t fold down as compactly as a survival bow.
When you look into bow sports you’d be surprised at how many different disciplines are on offer. There’s field archery, 3D archery, flight, clout, ski, run, even a martial art dedicated to the bow (Kyudo). Lots of choice and variety, but you nearly always start with Target archery, either indoors or outdoors which is the discipline that everyone knows. Standing and shooting at a target with a yellow bulls eye, it’s what the Olympians do.
Here’s a very quick introduction to all those types. Field archery is target archery practised on a course with different elevations and distances involved, 3D is similar to field with targets that resemble animals like Deer or Rabbit. Flight archery is the skill of shooting an arrow as far as possible. Clout is basically golf for archers where the aim of the game is to land your arrow as close to the flag as possible. Ski and run are basically forms of the biathlon with bows instead of guns. Outdoor Olympic archery is ONLY the recurve bow and they shoot at a target 70m away. Indoor competitive archery on the other hand is shot at a target only 18m away.
That’s a brief introduction to the sport, different bows and their disciplines. There are also many different types of arrows to support those bows and disciplines, but in the next article I’ll take you through some more practical information on actually purchasing a bow and what bits and bobs you need.