Economy grade carbon arrows from well-known manufacturers are a great choice for budget-minded bowhunters.
We are all sick of hearing about the economy, so I'll just skip that part. Value is in, so for this column I'm going to focus on helping you buy archery gear with an eye toward getting the most bang for your buck.
You can buy a new bow. That is always fun. But I have given some thought to several items you can buy for a combined total of $140 that will have more impact on your accuracy than a new bow. Let's take a look at these value-added hunting aids.
Back tension release: I have written plenty about them. Now, it's time to actually buy one -- and learn to use it. You want the bow shot to take you by surprise just as it does when you are shooting a rifle. After a summer spent practicing with a back tension release (they have no trigger and fire through a turning motion of your hand), you will be much better at making a surprise shot by squeezing the trigger of your normal hunting release.
The cheapest back tension releases are called spikes. You can expect to pay about $60 for a spike from companies like Carter Enterprises and T.R.U. Ball.
Big peep sight: When it is bright daylight, no peep sight seems too small; however, in low light on an overcast evening, it seems there is none large enough.
Well, now you can buy a 1„4-inch diameter peep sight from Jim Fletcher Archery or a ¼- and 5„16-inch peep from G5 Outdoors. The Fletcher model is cheapest at just under $5.
Our budget can sure bear that bite given the new peep will definitely improve visibility while aiming. To keep from giving up accuracy with the larger peep sight, consider centering your entire pin guard inside the peep's view rather than just one pin.
High-performance fletching: The goal is to reduce wind planing by increasing the arrow's spin rate. I really like New Archery Products' 3€‰1„8-inch QuikSpin vanes. The arrows definitely spin faster; there is no doubt about that. Certainly, there are others on the market that have the same properties. Many top hunters are now using Bohning Blazers, for example. For 36 fletchings, we will have to shell out about $20. Also consider Norway Industries' new Fusion vane.
Compact broadheads: Everyone knows mechanical broadheads are accurate, but not everyone wants to use them. Some new, compact, fixed-blade heads have short bodies and small blades set at sharp angles to reduce blade surface and wind planing. Examples include the Wac 'Em Triton, Rocky Mountain Turbo, NAP Nitron, American Sonic, Wasp Bullet and Muzzy MX-3. Total cost for six of these is a bit over $30.
Arrow squaring device: I've started using G5's ASD (Arrow Squaring Device) every time I make a new batch of arrows. The heads seat square to the shaft. Straight broadheads mean straight arrow flight.
The ASD sells for about $45. Rather than borrowing from mom and dad, we're going to get two buddies to chip in $15 each. We can pass it around.
Straight nocks: Your nocks need to be perfectly straight or they will drive the arrow off course. Think about all the abuse nocks take when you repeatedly pound arrows into each other all summer. You can buy a dozen replacement nocks for about $10. Money well spent.
We just spent $140, and you should be shooting at least two times better. Who says you can't buy better shooting?
Let's say you actually do need a new bow or are looking to upgrade. There are several very good choices out there. I shoot literally dozens of different bows every year. As long as the grip feels good, most of them shoot accurately. So, if you can't afford the high dollar bow, don't worry about it. You'll tag just as many animals with one of the value-priced models.
There are a number of good bows on the market selling for under $500. Most of the bow companies have bows in this price range. You just have to ask. Even if you have plenty of money to spend, these are still good choices. Most are good-looking, high-quality bows you can be proud to carry in the field.
The Fiber Tech sight from Impact is one of the most affordable multi-pin, fixed-pin fiber-optic sights on the market.
Arrows You Can Afford
Carbon arrows have been coming down in price each year and are now affordable enough to forget about aluminum -- unless you just like large diameter arrows for some reason.
You can find lower priced carbon shafts in finished arrows for around $65 per dozen from www.edersbow.com. These are economy grade shafts from top name manufacturers. I'd buy these every single time. They are straight enough for good accuracy at all bowhunting distances.
You can also get good deals on arrows from your local pro shop. And if you don't need a full dozen, you can always buy six.
Keep Your Budget In Sight
I wouldn't compromise too much on sights. They are a vulnerable accessory that can really cost you big time if you buy low quality. Make sure the sight you select has at least three fiber-optic pins that are well protected for their entire loop out from the sight body and into the pin's head. Unfortunately, most of the good sights on the market are very expensive, some pushing $200. They are quality instruments, but budget breakers nonetheless.
There are a few models that fit my criteria for value. I would sure love to find several for under $50, but the options at the low end of the price range are very limited. Take a look at the Cobra Boomslang for about $65 and the Copper John C-4 (which they make for Cabela's) for around $40. Impact Archery's Collector is another good choice at $55, as is their Fiber Tech sight at just under $40. You can find both at www.keystonecountrystore.com. The Axion Simplex three-pin is also a solid sight for around $60.
Rests At A Good Price
I have written extensively about my love for simple archery products, and I can sure echo that sentiment when it comes to selecting a rest for hunting. You can spend more and get fancy, micro-adjustable rests, but you run the risk one of those screws will come loose when you can least afford it.
Basic rests that will repeat their position
indefinitely are all you need. You never have to wonder if the rest is going to hold the arrow in the right place. Those are the only ones I will consider here.
I am a big fan of drop-away rests and full-capture rests. These simplify tuning and ensure the arrow will be resting in the correct place when you hit full draw. Some can be expensive, however.
Once again, Cobra comes through with value. Their Diamondback Drop Away rest sells for around $40. HHA's Dart Drop Away is also in the $40 range. The GWS Strike Force is a drop-away model that sells for an amazingly low $25. NAP's new QuikTune Freedom drop-away sells for around $50. The Trophy Taker Xtreme SL also falls into that price range. The Whisker Biscuit Quick Shot at $50 also is a solid value.
Buying A Used Bow
Of course, I don't have to say this, but it is buyer beware when purchasing used equipment. I have bought several used items off eBay over the past few years, and most of the time the transaction works out fine. I have been burned a few times, though. Shop carefully and you can expect to get a top name bow with minimum use for about half of current retail.
If you've been wanting to upgrade your bowhunting gear but have been scared to unload a lot of cash this year, you can still improve accuracy tremendously with careful attention to value. You can put together a great hunting bow and still have cash for little things like feeding your family and paying the electric bill!