Arrows away!

June 10, 2011

Faith Outdoors

I shot a compound bow for the first time yesterday. It was so cool. I had purchased a Diamond Stud a couple of months ago at Gander Mountain in Lakeville.

I have wanted to get into archery for a number of years, but was scared off by the difficulty, complexity and expense involved. Finally, I was swayed this year by the fact that my 13-year-old son, William, wanted to not only try archery, but get a traditional, recurve bow.

That got me thinking about trying it myself. When I asked William if he would like me to do it with him, he instantly said yes. So, I bought one for myself.

Getting started

My research back in March showed that more bow manufacturers were making bows costing less than $500. And, more than one source said the Diamond Stud was the best bow in this price range. So, I decided to check them out.

The best part is, when I went to Gander Mountain, I discovered that the store carries this bow, and it happened to be on sale for 40 percent off. So, the original price of $499 was down to $299. There were only two left, so I bought one of them. The store was trying to clear out inventory due to a major remodel, plus close out inventory of 2010 products.

When I bought the two bows, the head of the archery department, Junior Garcia, said it would take two to five hours to get the bows set up for target shooting. It seemed like a big investment, but it was well worth it.

Learning how to shoot

He started with William, and first showed him the proper form. He emphasized being relaxed and shooting from a relaxed stance. That advice was helpful to both William and I. William was a little tense at first, but Junior made the shooting process so easy that William was able to get comfortable after a while.

Same with me. In fact, once Junior adjusted my first sight pin, I was consistently hitting the bullseye at 10 yards. I know that’s not very far, but Junior went on to say that the average shot distance at a deer is only about 20 yards. So, if I can be consistent at 20 yards, I will be ready to hunt.

The key will be to practice a lot between now and the opening of archery season in September. The first step will be finding a place to shoot. I put William to work trying to find outdoor archery ranges in the Twin Cities. Then, we’ll have to commit to shooting regularly.

The only things left for me to buy are a case, quiver and broadheads. Junior recommends the Muzzy brand for broadheads. I have done research online, and these broadheads have gotten very favorable reviews, especially the three-bladed ones. A lot of new products and product styles have come on the market in recent years, but the Muzzy broadheads are considered reliable and dependable. Sounds like a good way to go. And, they’re not that expensive — $30 for six.


For those thinking about getting into archery and bowhunting, I offer these tips on both products and shooting:

— Keep the process simple. Stay relaxed, and keep your head straight. Then, simply raise the bow and bring it to you.

— Find an anchor point and use it every time you shoot an arrow! Junior told William and I to touch the knuckle of our index finger to the little indentation behind the right ear lobe (for right-handed shooters). Then, simply touch your nose to the string. In the case of a compound, you will then look through the peep on the string, which should be adjusted so it’s level with your eye and you can look through it without moving your head. The way Junior adjusted it was he had me find the anchor points with both my index finger and nose, then close my eyes to make sure it felt right. Then, he would have me open my eyes. We did this several times until I was able to look through the center of the peep as soon as I opened my eyes. This is an important adjustment technique for the peep that Junior says a lot of people miss. We got it right on mine, and now I won’t have to worry about it again until I replace my string.

— A good arrow release is very important. I have a friend, Steve Huettl, who’s a bowhunting expert, and he recommended what’s called a single-caliper release. His favorite brand is Scott, and I ended up buying one called the Little Bitty Goose. Worked fine at Gander’s indoor range, and I have every confidence it will be a reliable release. Some people buy cheap releases to save money, but this is a very important piece of equipment, and not the place to try and save a few bucks.

— For bowhunting, Steve recommends using carbon arrows. I bought some made by Gold Tip, though Steve said most of the carbon arrows on the market are good.

— When it comes time to hunt, make sure you do some target shooting with your broadheads, and be sure to buy broadheads of the same weight as your field points (75-grain, 100-grain, etc.). There may be a difference in where your arrows hit the target with broadheads versus field tips, in which case you will have to adjust your sight pins.

— Be sure to wax the string on your compound after every shooting session. The wax is cheap (I paid $1), and it only takes a couple of minutes. That will keep the string from getting frayed and, ultimately, will help it last longer.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek