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Today we are going to talk about an instrument that has become a professional sport: archery.
Used in competitions all over the world, the bow and arrow has evolved and today there are several models, with different functionalities for each person, level of knowledge and objective.
Amid so many options, we will show you in this article what you should consider before buying a bow and arrow that will meet your expectations and needs.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best bow and arrows: Our Picks
- 3 Buying Guide
- 3.1 What is a bow and arrow?
- 3.2 When did the bow and arrow come into existence?
- 3.3 How did archery become a sport?
- 3.4 What are the characteristics of the target in the sport of archery?
- 3.5 What are arrows like in shooting?
- 3.6 What should I know in order to practice archery?
- 3.7 What are the curiosities about archery?
- 3.8 What are the advantages of archery?
- 3.9 How much does a bow and arrow cost?
- 3.10 Where to buy a bow and arrow?
- 4 Buying Criteria: What you should consider before choosing your bow and arrow
- Archery has become a sporting practice that attracts people of all ages.
- Today there is a huge variety of bow and arrow models for every purpose and every person.
- We will show you which characteristics differentiate one model from another and how to choose the ideal bow and arrow.
The Best bow and arrows: Our Picks
Whoever looks for a bow and arrow wants the perfect union of comfort and efficiency. Knowing this, manufacturers are investing in increasingly personalized models.
That is why, below, we will present to you the best bow and arrow models available on the market today.
Whether you already practice archery or not, it is important to know that, to buy the ideal equipment, it is necessary to take into account your goal, level of knowledge, among other factors.
Therefore, we have created this Buying Guide with all the information you will need to make the best decision when buying the most appropriate bow and arrow.
What is a bow and arrow?
Bows are made up of curved, flexible segments with two ends joined by a string. It is on the string that the back of the arrow rests, a rod-shaped projectile that has a piercing tip.
Once the string is tensioned backwards, the bow is flexed. And once the string is released, the arrow is propelled with great speed in the direction pointed by the archer.
The greater the pull, the greater the distance travelled by the arrow and the force of its impact.
Also, during the maximum pull of the string, you will need to sustain a weight of up to 120 pounds, which is about 54 kg. So you can already see that this is a sport that requires physical conditioning.
This is also why this equipment has evolved over time, including in terms of manufacturing materials.
Originally, the bow and arrow was made of wood. From the second half of the 20th century onwards, it began to be manufactured with stronger, lighter and more durable materials, such as carbon fibre, fibreglass and some metallic alloys.
Nowadays, there are many different types of bows and arrows, from the most traditional to the most modern.
Still, there are only two models of bow and arrow used as sport. We will talk about them in detail under Purchase Criteria.
When did the bow and arrow come into existence?
And this evidence appears in most cultures, from the Nubians, through the American Indians, to the Europeans and Chinese. In the beginning, the two main uses of the bow and arrow were hunting and warfare.
A weapon for hunting and warfare, the bow and arrow was used from the Palaeolithic period until it gave way to firearms. But with the appearance of firearms, the bow and arrow lost its importance.
Over time, however, until the present day, the bow and arrow has remained present both in the practice of hunting, in traditional cultures, and in sporting competitions.
How did archery become a sport?
The sport was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1900 and remained until 1920. In 1931, the International Federation of Archery (FITA) was founded.
In Brazil, archery arrived in the 1950s, brought by Adolpho Porta, a flight attendant with Panair do Brasil.
On November 19th, 1958, the Metropolitan Federation of Archery was founded in Rio de Janeiro. And, in 1991, the Brazilian Federation of Archery was born.
Although the sport was absent from the Olympics for a while, it returned in 1972 and continues to the present day. Brazil’s first participation in the Olympics took place in 1980, at the Moscow Games.
Today, archery can be played outdoors or indoors. The objective is to get the highest score possible.
To give you an idea, in the competitions organised by the FITA, the archer makes 144 shots, with 12 series of three arrows for each of the four regulated distances.
The score is obtained by adding up the results of all the shots. The bow used in the competitions is usually made of steel or compositions of fibre, plastic and wood.
Its dimensions vary: longer bows are characterized by stability, while shorter ones shoot faster arrows.
There is also a difference between men’s and women’s bows. Those used in male competitions measure between 1.73m and 1.83m, while those used by women range from 1.50m to 1.68m.
The arrows measure between 60 and 79 centimetres, with a maximum weight of 28g. In competitions, the archer can count on the help of a sight, as well as on different marks of guidance.
What are the characteristics of the target in the sport of archery?
Each target is divided into 10 concentric zones, numbered from one to 10 (from the centre to the edge) and identified by colours.
To hit the arrow in the centre of the target, that is, in the centre of the number 10, is the great objective of every archer, which is also known as X.
Check below the score according to each area of the target and their respective colours:
|Colour of each area of the target||Score|
|Yellow||10 and 9|
|Red||8 and 7|
|Blue||6 and 5|
|Black||4 and 3|
|White||2 and 1|
If the arrow touches the line between two scoring zones, the higher score counts. For example, if a competitor hits the line bounding scoring areas 8 and 9, their score will be 9.
If the athlete misses the target, their score is, of course, zero or M.
The size of the target obeys international size standards, which vary according to the distance at which the arrows are shot and the category of the competitor.
When beginners begin their training, however, the target is placed between five and 10 meters away from the shooting line.
With time of practice, the athlete begins to train with longer distances, until reaching 18 meters, which is the standard measurement of indoor competitions. In this case, the diameter of the target is 40cm and has 10 rings.
In outdoor competitions, the distance between the firing line and the target, the diameter and number of rings of the target depend on the category in which the archer competes.
Below is a table with information regarding the target according to the indoor competitor’s category:
|Category||Target distance (m)||Target diameter (cm)||Rings on target|
What are arrows like in shooting?
The arrow is sharpened at the tip or is fitted with a separate tip at the end and has a nock for attachment to the bowstring.
Arrowheads come in a variety of types, depending on the intended use of the arrow, whether sporting, hunting or military.
Just after the nock the feathers, or vanes, are attached. Usually three feathers are glued on.
There are several sizes of arrows that are considered according to the athlete and their pull. It is necessary to consider all these factors to choose the ideal one for you.
That is why we recommend that you talk to your coach beforehand. But we will also talk more about this later in Purchase Criteria.
What should I know in order to practice archery?
Furthermore, breathing must be controlled, as a simple sigh at the wrong moment can take away the shooter’s focus and cause him to lose his aim.
The posture and the correct biomechanical structure are also decisive for the stability, strength and resistance necessary to practice this sport.
The feet, for example, should be shoulder-width apart. Furthermore, the distribution of your body weight should be 60 to 70% on the front of your feet and 40 to 30% on your heels.
Concentration is another critical step. Experts recommend that one or two deep breaths help in this process.
This way, the routine for beginners and professionals includes training to improve motor coordination and strengthen muscles of the spine, hands and arms.
In addition, of course, there are precautionary recommendations. The practitioner should never aim in the direction of people or animals. Furthermore, one should not aim upwards, since the arrow can reach great speed on its return.
What are the curiosities about archery?
Therefore, we have gathered for you three great curiosities about archery. Check them out below:
- Robin Hood: The Middle Ages hero Robin Hood lends his name to one of archery’s rarest moves: the one in which the competitor manages to hit the back of an arrow, which is already stuck in the target, breaking it in half.
- Record medals: Belgian Hubert Van Innis holds the record for most medals won in Olympic archery. At the Paris Games in 1900, he took two gold medals and one silver. Twenty years later, at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, he won four gold medals and two silver.
- Korean dominance: The South Korean athletes dominate archery on the international scene. Of the four gold medals at the London Olympics in 2012, the Koreans won three.
What are the advantages of archery?
Although it is a physically demanding sport, another advantage is that archery works the back muscles, helping with posture, concentration, breathing and relaxation.
Archery is also used as a therapy for self-knowledge and emotional control.
Another advantage is that archery is also a good tool for practising patience. Furthermore, this is a sport that can be practised both indoors and outdoors.
Still, there are some disadvantages. To compete, the cost of the weapon and accessories is usually quite high.
Below you will find the main advantages and disadvantages of archery:
How much does a bow and arrow cost?
Of course, you do not need to buy the most expensive one, unless you are a professional. For beginners and amateurs it is possible to choose the lower value ones.
Where to buy a bow and arrow?
This is because, in general, professional archery has a better offer in online shops. And, besides, you still get the equipment from the comfort of your home.
Buying Criteria: What you should consider before choosing your bow and arrow
As we have seen, before buying your bow and arrow you need to analyse your goal, your level of practice and your physical structure.
With this, you must also take into account the characteristics of each model available on the market today. That is why we have listed for you the main factors that should be considered before buying a bow and arrow:
- Dominant eye
- Bow type
Below, we will explain each of these factors in detail for you to make the best decision and invest in the ideal bow and arrow.
This is a fundamental factor that you should take into consideration before buying your bow and arrow.
Before choosing from the available models you need to find out your determining eye. In archery you usually choose the type of bow for right- or left-handed shooting.
Manufacturers provide this information on the product packaging. But this choice is made on the basis of the director or dominant eye, which can guarantee a more precise aim.
So that you can identify your correct eye follow these instructions:
- Look at an object that is 5 or 10 metres away;
- Place your hands forward, joining them, then leave a space between your thumbs and index fingers;
- When you notice that your hand will approach only one eye, it will be chosen as your dominant eye.
Types of Bows
There is a variety of bows and each one has its own characteristics. And, as we have seen, the effective use of the equipment will depend on the technique and posture used.
Therefore, it is important that you acquire the correct bow for you. We recommend that, before investing in this equipment, you consult your coach or trainer.
This is because there are several models of bows and arrows, such as the Traditional Longbow, the Flatbows, the Recurve Bow, the Compound Bow, among others.
Here, however, we will focus on the two main and most popular types: the recurve bow and the compound bow.
The recurve bow is the type used in the Olympics. This model has blades with double curvature, forming a smooth “S”. But, as it does not have pulleys, this type of bow and arrow requires greater effort to pull.
Furthermore, the recurve bow can be found in two formats: one-piece or collapsible. It can be made of wood or highly resistant materials such as metal, carbon fibre and fibreglass.
The compound bow is a more modern model that has a system of pulleys (or sheaves) at its ends through which the string passes.
The string is stretched with the help of the pulleys, which reduces the amount of force needed to stretch the string completely, thus facilitating aiming for the shot.
Furthermore, the compound bow is less affected by changes in temperature and humidity compared to the recurve bow.
It also offers the archer better accuracy, speed and range. Still, both types of bow and arrow can be equipped with accessories that facilitate accurate shooting.
Here are the main differences between the recurve and compound bows:
|Recurve bow||Compound bow|
|Format||Double bend||Pulley system|
|Used in the Olympics||Yes||No|
|Accuracy, speed and range||Lower||Higher|
|Force to stretch the rope||Higher||Lower|
|Interference of weather factors||Higher||Lower|
Another factor you should observe before investing in your bow and arrow is the weight. And in this case, we are not talking about the number of kilos the instrument weighs. We are talking here about the force you exert to pull the bowstring.
If you are a beginner it is recommended that you choose a recurve bow that weighs between 25 to 35 pounds (lbs), which is approximately 11 to 15 kg.
For compound bows, 50 to 60 pounds are ideal. This is necessary so that the beginner can execute the movements in the correct way.
To choose the size of your bow it is necessary to know the measure of your “pull”. The fact is that each person has a different “pull”.
To find out this measurement, you must measure the distance between the two arms stretched out to the side. Then multiply that value by 2.5 and you will have the pull in inches.
Check out the table below, which shows the size (in inches) of the bow according to your pull (in inches):
|Pull size (lbs)||Suggested bow size (lbs)|
|24 to 26||64|
|26 to 27||66|
|27 to 29||68|
|29 to over||70|
Finally, it is important that you consider the arrows when buying the bow. In many cases the instrument already comes with some arrows, generally between two and six. But this is not a rule, so be aware.
Just like the bow, the arrow has several specificities and units of measurement. One of these measures is the length of the arrow, measured between the nock and the end of the tube, discarding the size of the tip.
It is the archer’s wingspan that determines the ideal arrow size. So once again, consult your coach to make the best choice.
This is because an arrow that is too long can lead to unstable shots. A short arrow, on the other hand, can lead to serious accidents, since it is faster.
Another important measurement is the spine. This unit measures the flexibility of the arrow: the greater the spine, the greater the contorting movement of the arrow during flight to the target.
We also recommend that you look at the accessories that come with your bow and arrow.
It is possible to find only the bow for sale, but if possible opt for the model that already comes with some accessories, including arrows.
In general, a bow and arrow can include items such as a stabilizer, an arrow rest, a fiber-optic sight, a quiver for carrying arrows, a bow loop and a wrist slingshot.
The cost-benefit is usually greater when you buy the equipment with the accessories included.
(Featured image source: Vince Fleming / Unsplash)