Speed vs. Accuracy For Bowhunting

Speed vs. Accuracy For Bowhunting

Today's speed bows have come a long way since the first radical bow designs, but have they come far enough?

Generally, the faster a bow is, the harder it is to shoot. Fast bows offer more forgiveness in terms of judging the yardage, but is that worth the hard draw, low brace height and very sensitive nature of these bows?

Of course it is, but not if you can't handle it. Most speed bows will shoot well as long as your shooting form is good. But when small form variations occur, accuracy suffers more than it would with a slower bow, which usually has a larger brace height (more forgiving) and is easier to draw (which makes it more fun). Speed bows also tend to be less dependable because of higher maintenance needs. The hard hammering of the speed bows reduces the life of the components.

Do any of these stigmas still hold true with today's speed bows? We love the idea of a fast bow, but in the past, these bows were just too critical to shoot very accurately. But now, we are a lot more knowledgeable and a lot better shots than we used to be (at least we like to think so). So, we decided to give one of these speed bows another try.

Our speed bow tester was surprised when the bow tuned and shot a lot better than the last speed bow he remembered shooting. He thought the bow had real potential, so he shot some 3-D tournaments with it and was pleased with the results.

But when he went back to his spot bow, he got a big surprise. His spot bow hit exactly where the pin was, and that made him realize the speed bow wasn't. He had been lying to himself about how good the speed bow was actually shooting. Still, he revisited the speed bow, bent on fixing the situation and making it work. He really does love speed. When he had done and tried everything he could think of, the speed bow shot well but still lacked the forgiveness and precision of his slower spot bow.

This got him thinking. He wanted the speed to help with misjudging range, but he also wanted precision. Unfortunately, this wasn't going to be an option. He was going to have to choose. Which option was worth more points on the 3-D course, and which would help get better hits on the animals he was hunting? Further investigation seemed prudent.

So, he took his spot bow (which was shooting 270 fps) and his speed bow (which was shooting 300 fps) and put them in a shooting machine. He sighted them in at 50 yards, roughly the furthest he would shoot on a 3-D course. Then, he backed up the machine one yard and shot the bows with a 50-yard setting. Of course both bows hit low, but the difference in impact was a mere 5⁄16-inch; not near as much as he was expecting.

This made the decision on which bow to use much easier. He decided the accuracy of his spot bow would be worth more points than the 5⁄16-inch window his speed bow allowed. He decided to take his spot bow to one of the largest 3-D shoots in the region and was ready to be ridiculed by his peers, each and every one of whom was shooting a speed bow pumping arrows from 310-335 fps. The outcome was shocking; he outscored second place by 10 points. Nobody believed he was shooting only 270 fps until he shot through the chronograph for them.

Sure, he had to judge yardage a little tighter than his competitors, but the accuracy was where he felt the points were gained. He missed some points on the long stuff, but unlike his speedy competitors, he didn't miss a 12 ring under 30 yards.

Is speed all it's cracked up to be? Our answer is no, and we now only shoot as much speed as we can handle with pinpoint accuracy.

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