May 17, 2012
By Patrick Meitin
In these tough financial times it's tough to justify a brand-new bow. Be that as it may, owning a bow more than ten years old also means you're missing out on a lot of worthwhile innovation. The latest bows are faster (to my mind meaning I can shoot a heavier arrow and maintain arrow speeds considered speedy yesterday) and especially quieter.
Lucky for the budget-minded archer there are still those out there who believe they must remain abreast of the latest developments in bow design. This creates a flood of bows on the used market, in most cases smoking-hot bargains for the bowhunter happy to take to the field with last-year's perfectly-good technology. Like nearly any hard goods I could name, the minute you walk out the door with a new bow you've lost money. A lightly-used bow only one to three years old is normally worth only half of what it was new on the pro-shop rack.
These deals arise in local bow shops, pawn shops and through word of mouth while attending summer 3-D tournaments. More likely today, the best deals are found on the Internet. Swap-meet forums like those found on Archery Talk, for example, most especially on-line auctions like those on eBay, can relinquish real deals. I've seen top-flight bows go for as little as $250 to $300; instead of the $700 or $800 they fetched new.
The modern compound's pretty durable. Add this to the fact most bowhunters don't invest in enough shooting to actually wear a bow out and used bows normally have plenty of life left in them. No matter where you buy a used bow, though, make sure to leave the option open for returns and a refund if you find the bow has a problem, doesn't fit you properly or jive with your shooting style. In regards to on-line auctions, return policies are normally par. Worse-case scenarios mean a cracked limb (rarer today) or bent axles following a dry fire. Both of these problems are easily remedied with replacement parts.
The biggest wear normally occurs in strings and buss cables, typically due to improper care or things like wear caused by a lot of time spent, say, bouncing on an ATV rack or inside a case. This is no big deal in the big picture. Replacing original factory strings and cables with top-quality aftermarket wares from Winner's Choice, Stone Mountain, First String, Vapor Trail or America's Best Bow Strings is a good move on even a bow you've owned awhile and personally taken care of. In most cases you're looking at an investment of $90 to $100 — money well spent in terms of long-term accuracy, dependability and 100 percent reliable peep rotation down the road.
Over the years I've gifted many "old" bows to relatives, friends and helpful guides. Many of these bows are still in active service today, continuing to get the job done years after I regulated them to the bench after investing in the latest model.