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Fancy Bows for Archery, what difference do they make?




The images above are from Flatline Bows, which I admit do make some very pretty looking bows.

Note - Flatline Bows did not pay me any money to write this post or to mention their bows.

Fancy Bows Vs Beginners

So here is the thing...

Beginner archers sometimes decide to buy a more expensive / fancy bow for their first bow. They do this for a variety of reasons:

  1. They are pretty nice to look at. Just like owning a sports car.
  2. They sometimes think that more expensive also means more accurate.
  3. They want to avoid buying a cheap bow, because they feel embarrassed.
  4. They want a fancier bow because it is a status symbol.

It is a bit like Apple iPhones. Most people who buy them are not buying the iPhone for its operating system or quality, they are buying it because it is a fashion accessory and a status symbol, because there are other companies out there that produce phones that are better.

Thus the same thing happens with beginner archers. They sometimes buy an expensive / fancy bow, and far too often in my opinion it ends up collecting dust in their closet.

They bought the fancy bow, but then they discover the poundage was too difficult for them to shoot. They lose interest in archery. They stop coming to the local archery range. The bow and their other archery equipment collects dust in a closet.

What Should Beginners Buy?

It is my personal belief that beginner archers should find themselves a decent bow that works, preferably one that is a 3-piece recurve so that they can swap the limbs out whenever they want to switch to a heavier or lighter poundage.

So for example they could buy a Samick Sage (typically about $150), which is the bow I bought my girlfriend/wife years ago, and she later married me and she is still shooting that bow.

I have written previously about the Samick Sage multiple times. It is basically the "Ford F-150 of bows". It is an affordable, commonly used bow that is everything you need in a beginner bow.

Some of my past posts:

The Bear Takedown Recurve Vs the Samick Sage

What kind of bow should I purchase?

Recurve Bow Brands and Models

The last post talks about different manufacturers who make bows similar, cheaper, more expensive than the Samick Sage. There are lots of manufacturers to choose from too. PSE, Martin and Bear all sell recurves for a variety of price ranges. Just because I recommend the Samick Sage regularly, it doesn't mean it is the only bow I recommend.

Years ago I also decided to get a Samick, but I opted for a slightly more expensive version: The Samick Red Stag 3-piece recurve. (They also made a 1-piece version and a longbow version of the Red Stag.)

So someone who still wants a slightly fancier bow could simply go up 1 price margin to the next more expensive model.

3-Piece Recurves Vs 1-Piece Recurves

So here is the thing. If you break something on a 3-piece recurve, you just replace that limb or riser with a new one.

If you break something on a 1-piece recurve, you have to replace the whole bow. (Or be really good at fixing things.)

I have in my foyer closet a 1-piece recurve (a Stemmler Jaguar) that I found broken at the Toronto Archery Range. The previous owner broke one of the limbs and threw the whole thing in the trash. Me? I looked at it and speculated about whether it could be repaired in some manner.
  • I could cut both limbs off it, add bolts and turn it in a 3-piece recurve.
  • I could cut both limbs off it and add the limbs to a crossbow stock.
Either way, I will eventually figure out a way to fix it and make it usable.

But the average person isn't going to go through all that extra trouble.

So to the average people who are looking to buy their first bow, get a 3-piece recurve.

Preferably one that is affordable.

And then if you really get into archery as you progress, you can buy more expensive bows later on. In which case then you can start thinking about buying the 1-piece recurves. You can see some of my collection of 1-piece recurves in the photo above behind the the Stemmler Jaguar limb.

So are fancier bows more accurate?

Nope.

They sure do like nice, but no, generally speaking, they are not more accurate. It is the archer that makes the big difference.

In 29 years of shooting, I have determined cheap brand name bows can go toe to toe with more expensive brand name bows and there is very little difference in their accuracy, and that the major difference lies with the archers themselves. The type of arrow rest being used effects the arrow more than the bow does, so if you are going to invest money in hopes of getting more accuracy, then you should invest in a nicer arrow rest.

Longer bows are also more forgiving, which is why longbows are considered to be quite accurate. You can sometimes make a mistake with a longbow and still hit the target.

A shortbow or horsebow is not very forgiving. If you make a mistake, you probably missed the target by a foot or two.

Same thing goes with compound bows. Yes, more expensive, but the longer compound bows (measured from axle to axle) are often the more forgiving and accurate bows when compared to shorter axle to axle compound bows.

Some people will spend a tiny fortune having a custom bow made out of exotic woods - Flatline Bows for example exclusively makes custom bows. Having all those expensive exotic woods in the bow doesn't make it any more accurate. It just makes it more expensive.

You could add diamonds and rubies to a bow too, it won't make it shoot any more accurately.

Flatline does make some pretty bows... but seeing as I currently need to repair that broken Stemmler, my efforts and money are probably best directed at finishing that project first before going out and buying any more bows.


PS. I actually have a flatbow for sale if anyone in Toronto is interested. It is an Eastern Woodlands flatbow made by Rudder Bows of California. Barely used. I bought it around the same time I ordered a custom pyramid bow from a local Toronto bowyer, and I very much prefer the custom pyramid bow. I only shot the Eastern Woodlands bow a few times. I am asking $180 for it. Send me an email to learn more: cardiotrek@gmail.com.

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