Archery bows: A beginners buying guide

slick stick bow

Whether you’re just starting out in archery or have been shooting for some time, finding the right archery bows to choose from for your particular shooting style and level of comfort makes all the difference to performance – never mind experience and taste.

It’s safe to say that you may not even use the same bow throughout your archery career, which is why you should start acquainting yourself with some of the more common forms of archery bows and the accessories that can come with them as you progress, it is a lot to take in with huge back catalogues along with the history of the designs so pace yourself.

No two archers are the same – which is why you shouldn’t ever worry about trying a different type of bow or become fixated that one type is better than another, there are pros and cons to them all and we in this age are the beneficiary’s of all the historical forms along with recent materials science and modern adhesives, meaning they are not pure nostalgia but a continuation of bow design.

Traditional Bows

Traditional bows by which we mean Flatbows, Longbows, Recurves and their derivatives are perhaps understandably, at first glance the most basic archery bows of all compared to modern versions or compounds, all have considerable history behind them – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

These ancient models still work wonderfully well for a variety of archers, though they are perhaps more sought out by those who are looking for historical appeal rather than Olympic precision of aim &release- regardless, they are wonderful pieces of workmanship and with practice have an honesty in their use that is rewarding in-itself. That being said there are competitions on a local to international level just for these types of bows with specific rules and sub categories.

Click here to see our range of Bodnik – American Longbow / Flatbow / Hybrids.


While you may already know which type of archery bow you think will suite you the best, while shopping for the best piece of equipment for your budget it’s also worth considering a few other specifics, the 3 critical points below could fill pages but your clubs archery expert or coach will be able to help you if you are in any doubt.

You must firstly consider Draw Weight, as it is essential to your performance overall. Which should be marked on the bow at the now industry standard of 28”. This is a measurement of force – the higher the weight, the greater the effort on your body and energy that will be put into a cast arrow – beginners shouldn’t be looking at draw weights any heavier than around 30-40lbs.  Comfort and consistency are key to getting the best out of archery, recommendations to scale up can be made once you’re in best practice and physically capable.

Your Draw Length which is the length of an arrow at full draw when on a bow’s string is the next thing. A good way to measure your draw length can be calculated by dividing your arm span by 2.5 and rounding to the nearest half-inch, down wherever possible. If that happens to be 28” then you are blessed but its
recommended that you get to grips with these details.

The Draw length capability of the bow is now important if you have a long draw yourself. Most production archery bows will accommodate a 30” draw but will “stack” thereafter- basically more effort for less reward. For each 1” of draw under or over the marked weight as above, a bow gains or losses 2-3 lb of draw weight which is the true factual poundage you are shooting, it does not sound a big deal and really for the beginner it’s not as long as you are happy and capable at practice; you may have already guessed that someone with experience and a short draw could opt for a slightly higher poundage bow to compensate for the loss or train up a couple pounds.

It is critical to know these details when selecting or making arrows – a topic for another day – just be sure to note the bows weight, your draw length and the factual poundage to start off.

Buying Your Bow

Here at Shire Archery, we have a wide range of fantastic archery bows and accessories to help make your game that little more precise and that little more comfortable. We’ve provided as much information as possible on the essential facts which arrive with each bow we sell or maker we support. However, if you’d like more information or have something on your mind your unsure about, call us directly on 07581 726161 or email us via web form at your convenience!