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Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Two

Some of you may have read my old post titled "DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget" which follows the logic of making your own archery equipment in order to be able to practice archery / exercise cheaply.

However there is a second way to get into archery cheaply - and that is to buy used equipment.

The problem with buying used equipment is that there are some pros and cons...

Pro - It is a lot cheaper than buying brand new equipment. Seriously, this is really the only benefit. However if you learn from Cons below, you can still navigate the dangerous waters of buying used equipment without getting yourself burned.

Con - The equipment you are buying might be in poor condition, so you need to look for the following: Cracked, split, warped bow limbs; cracked or broken bow tips; bow strings that should be replaced; bow risers that are cracked. Ideally you want to buy a bow that is practically new (excellent condition), but the owner has simply moved on and purchased a more expensive bow and now wants to get rid of their old cheap bow that is still in excellent condition, but they just don't like it any more.

Con - The equipment you are purchasing might not suit you physically - this is a very common problem with beginners buying used bows. They buy a bow that is too powerful for them and then they cannot use it properly. Other common problems is beginners buying a bow that is either too big or too small for them, like an adult trying to use a children's bow.

Con - The person you are purchasing from might be an idiot and give you lots of misinformation. They might feed you the wrong information on things like: How to string the bow properly; How to aim properly; What proper archery form looks like; How to pull back a bow properly (without causing various sports injuries); Etc. Clearly this is a very good argument for getting archery lessons BEFORE buying your first bow, just so you have a better idea of how to all of these properly.

Con - The person you are purchasing from might simply be a liar. I will give you an example, earlier today I was browsing bows on eBay and an American was selling a PVC bow he made himself, claiming it was 130 lbs of draw weight. This guy was clearly lying. There is no way a PVC (poly vinyl chloride is basically a kind of thick plastic) bow could have a draw weight of 130 lbs without breaking. More likely the bows he was making was in the 40 to 60 lb draw weight range, and he was either lying - or just plain ignorant about how to measure draw weight properly.

However lets assume that you take precautions as you browse listings for used equipment. Let us assume that you purchase equipment that is "practically new", that you limit yourself to bows that suit you physically, and that you avoid people who sound like either idiots and/or liars. Well, then you might be able to purchase an used bow (and arrows) for comparatively less and get into archery on a pretty frugal budget.

A few purchasing tips:

Tip #1. Buy something with a lower poundage. 25 lbs or less is ideal for a male, or 20 lbs or less if you are female. Why? So you can learn proper form. Trying to pull a 30 to 60 lb bow that is too powerful for you is not going to afford you the endurance to be able to learn proper form. (Writing this, I know immediately there will be people [usually men] who ignore this advice and then go and buy a ridiculously powerful bow that they can't even pull properly, will get a shoulder injury or some other kind of sports injury, and will berate themselves for not listening to my dire warnings. Sports injuries are common [especially for beginners], so why not learn proper form and avoid the injuries?)

Tip #2. Buy a bow that is the correct size for you. Examples: No buying a children's bow if you are over 5'2" tall; Avoid buying a shortbow if you are super tall (like 6'4" or taller) because you will probably break it with your super long arms.

Tip #3. Buy arrows that fit the length of your arm / draw length. If you are not sure what your draw length is, find out before you start purchasing arrows.

Tip #4. Buy arrows that suit the type of bow you are shooting. The type of arrows used on a compound bow for example are very different from the kind of arrows you should be using on a recurve or a longbow.

Tip #5. Buying archery equipment off Toronto Craigslist or Toronto Kijiji might seem like a good idea because you can pick the equipment up in person, but you need to be careful all the same as some of the sellers on those websites are pretty sketchy.

Tip #6. Buying archery equipment off eBay is more expensive due to the extra cost of shipping, but you can look at the seller's reputation score on eBay to see how reputable the seller is. They also typically post lots of photos of the equipment they are selling, so you can get a clear idea of how good of condition the archery equipment is in.

Tip #7. Buying archery equipment off a friend who does archery is arguably one of the best ways to purchase equipment, because in theory your friend isn't going to lie to you about the quality of the equipment. Or if they do lie, I guess they weren't that good of a friend, were they?

Speaking for myself I like buying antique bows for my own personal collection. Recently I purchased two "vintage" longbows on eBay: #1. A Roy Rogers longbow from the 1950s (Roy Rogers was a TV show from 1951 to 1957, and various longbows were made circa 1952 with the logo on it) that is a collectors item. #2. A Ben Pearson lemonwood longbow with linen backing, circa 1945. (I am also currently bidding on a vintage recurve bow as well, rounding out my recent acquisitions.)

From which you might conclude "Wow, those are really old bows!" and I would agree. They are the kind of bows you don't shoot that often because they ultimately end up decorating your wall instead. So the last tip, if you are buying your bow for the purpose of doing archery as a sport / exercise, then do NOT buy a vintage bow. Vintage bows need to be treated with respect and care as they could break easily in the hands of someone who overdraws its, strings it incorrectly, dry fires it, etc. Therefore...

Tip #8. Buy a bow that is relatively new. Avoid vintage archery equipment that are more for show. There are a lot of old vintage bows from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s - largely due to a long lasting archery fad during those decades, and thus many bows from that era still exist and are shoot-able, but they are not necessarily a good bow for a beginner as they could easily snap on the 1st or 2nd shot. (You can thank the Errol Flynn film "The Adventures of Robin Hood" for the enduring success of archery during those decades.)

If you have questions about buying your first bow or buying an used bow please feel free to post your questions in the comments section below.

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