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The Fine Art of Buying Archery Equipment

Today I purchased some brass nock beads and some red bowstring serving (via Amazon.ca).

For me it was mostly a matter that I needed to buy some baby items for my son (things like safety covers for outlets) and I needed to get the order over $25 to qualify for the free shipping.

So I figured I might as well buy some archery equipment, things I know I will need eventually.

For example, I know I need the bowstring serving because I have a number of old bowstrings that need to be reserved / repaired, and thus made usable again.

I also knew I needed nock beads as I am currently running low on them. I sometimes sell them for $2 each to anyone who needs them, including free installation on my part. If I start running low then I need to conserve them and cannot sell any in case I need to replace one.

I see teaching people how to properly install a nock bead as an educational experience that every archer should learn. Same goes with learning how to make a bowstring, how to serve / reserve a bowstring, how to wax a bowstring, etc. These are basically maintenance issues that every archer should learn to do.

But on to my main topic, the Fine Art of Buying Archery Equipment.

There are some tricks here.

#1. Buy Generic Items Online

If you are buying generic things (like nock beads, bowstring wax, etc) you can definitely order online via Amazon, Three Rivers, Lancaster, Merlin Archery, etc. You don't need to buy these items in person unless you are in a rush to receive them.

#2. Try to Only Buy Things you know you NEED

Years ago I would sometimes buy things I knew I didn't really need right away. Fancy arrowheads, extra fletching just because I liked the colour, etc. I have three boxes of "archery supplies" now filled with things like that which are waiting for me to eventually repair arrows, replace fletching, etc - and to be honest I rarely find the time to do those things.

To qualify as something I need, I really need to NEED it right away. ASAP.

eg. Those pack of 6 broadheads that are still in the packaging? I probably didn't need those at all. (I do still want to go hunting someday, but until I actually get my hunting license I actually don't need to buy broadheads.)

The new bowstrings I bought a couple years ago and am currently using on several bows? Yep. I definitely needed them. It was just a matter of time.

If you are shopping for archery equipment for the first time I recommend taking a checklist of items to be buying. See Archery Equipment Checklist.

#3. Always buy Bows in Person, Ideally

Honestly I have broken this rule many times when buying antique / vintage bows off eBay. Buying a new bow, I always buy it in person and I have it strung in the store to double-check it is working properly. Buying a vintage bow off eBay, I am already aware that it is a gamble - hence why I prefer to only buy from people with perfect ratings and only bows which have photographs showing every part of the bow in detail.

#4. Avoid Impulse Purchases

See a fancy bow on sale, but it isn't what you are looking for? Don't buy it.

Sure, it is on sale, but the salesperson in the store just wants to make a sale and then get rid of you. The bow could be wrong for you. The wrong poundage, the wrong style, the wrong draw length, a lefty bow when you actually need a right handed bow, etc. Salesmen often just want to get rid of something and can/will lie to customers to get rid of an item.

Try to return it? "Oh, you bought it on sale. There is no returns on sale items."

Always better to "browse now, buy later" if you are new to archery.

#5. Learn the Lingo

Archery is rife with jargon terminology. New archers really should take some time to learn the names of different things so they can tell a hen fletch from a banana fletch. Read an archery glossary.

  • Hen Fletch - Usually faces towards the bow, whereas the cock/rooster fletch faces away from the bow. The two hen fletches are typically one colour, while the cock fletch is a different colour.
  • Banana Fletch - Describes the shape of a style of fletching because it is shaped like the curve of a banana. Other common shapes are shield fletch and parabolic fletch. Many archers get their banana fletching in yellow because it is amusing.

#6. Buy Arrows that suit the Bow

A very common beginner mistake is to buy arrows that are too flexible / too stiff for the bow the person is shooting. You should consult an arrow spine chart.

Read 3 Frequently Asked Archery Equipment Questions to learn more about arrow spine.

#7. Take a Friend / Family member

Hopefully someone who will talk you out of buying something you don't need / is unsuitable.

If you aren't sure about buying something, you really need a sober second opinion sometimes to remind you "Oh, wait. Isn't that a left-handed bow?"

FYI
  • You draw a right handed bow with your right hand (the drawing hand). You hold the bow in your left hand (the bowhand).
  • You draw a left handed bow with your left hand (the drawing hand). You hold the bow in your right hand (the bowhand).



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