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When should you get a better bow?

While this is an uncommon question (more suited to an intermediate archer who is ready for their second bow), but it is an important one when it comes to archery equipment.

First lets explore what the word Better might mean to some people:
  • More expensive.
  • Higher poundage.
  • Faster limbs.
  • Different style of bow.
Next we shall answer the questions according to each of these different meanings?

Gold Plated Martin Firecat
When should you get a more expensive bow?

This first question really relates more to budget than anything else. Someone who is on a frugal budget might want to limit themselves to buying 1 new bow per year (along with arrows with the correct arrow spine for that bow).

Someone with a more expensive budget could buy a new bow every 6 months or so, or more often, depending on their whimsy. It is their money after all, they can spend it on whatever frivolities they want - like buying a gold plated compound bow, like the one on the right. I suggest 6 months however because I feel that is a good amount of time to get reasonably good with one bow before moving on to the next (assuming the person is practicing regularly).

When should you get a higher poundage bow?

When your current bow feels too easy and weak because your muscles have grown so much that it now feels easy in comparison. If it feels a little easy, get a bow that is 5 lbs heavier. If it feels very easy, get a bow that is 10 lbs heavier.

Not sure which to get? 5 lbs heavier is the safer option.

When should you get a bow with faster limbs?

This is a trickier question, because faster limbs really comes to style, brand and model. For example Black Swan is a recurve bow manufacturer that makes bows with ceramic-carbon limbs - which are very fast, comparable to compound bow speed.

Black Swan Ceramic Bow Limbs

If you shoot a compound bow and want a faster compound bow, this becomes more of an issue of your budget, in which case see the More Expensive Bow option further above. How often you buy a new compound bow and go through the process of tuning it is really up to the individual. Compound bows comes in a variety of speeds, with each bow having a variety of pros and cons such as:
  • More speed / kinetic energy
  • Less hand shock / vibration
  • Smoother draws
  • More let off
  • Less physical weight
  • More durable materials
  • Smaller or longer axle to axle length
  • More gadgetry
  • More overall accuracy
  • Price
The problem however is sometimes one pro offsets a con. eg. If something is made of more durable materials, it is typically also heavier. If it is both more durable and lighter weight, then it probably be very expensive - however using lighter weight / more durable materials can sometimes be a good way to increase overall speed, so there can also be a speed benefit by using better materials.

Note - Most compound bows already shoot in the range of 300 to 350 fps anyway, so you do have to wonder what difference a few extra fps actually makes? Answer: The biggest difference is more accuracy at longer distances - in which case if you are shooting that far then you had better learn how to breathe properly while shooting because a simple error like breathing into your chest and lifting your shoulders can ruin a shot.

When should you get a different style of bow?

When you feel like trying something new and different. Nobody is forcing you to use one style of bow, and no single style of bow or archery style is "better" than other styles, it is simply different and comes with its own pros and cons.

Someone who shoots compound bow and later decides to get into longbows might decide that longbows is something they feel is better simply because it is more enjoyable and challenging. Some people really enjoy the simplicity of shooting longbows.

Detail of arrowrest on fibreglass backed laminated wood longbow.
Or vice versa, someone who is getting older and wants to keep shooting despite some physical ailments might decide to swap out their old longbow for something different - like a wooden compound bow made by Black Hawk, example below. This way they still get to shoot a beautiful wooden bow, but get to relax a bit more thanks to the 50% let off.

Black Hawk Warrior Wooden Compound

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