Friday, June 27, 2008

Simplicity Rules My Bow


Bows are a personal choice for most hunters and target archers, and the choice is as important as the color of their new car, the toothbrush they use or their politics and religion.

There are several things in life that one never does. They never insult another man’s wife, spit into the wind, criticize another person’s bird dog or child, pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger, or tell another bow hunter what to put on their bow.

All I can do on this personal weblog is tell you what I do. I’m not here to influence your judgment or tell you what is right or wrong. All I can do is lay out the three basic scenarios, and let each bow hunter decide for themselves on how to trick out their bow.

The first is to use a bare bow, no sights or other equipment or gadgets, and learn to shoot instinctively. It’s not easy nor is it difficult but it requires a great deal of practice.

The middle-of-the-road approach is a bare bow with a quiver attachment, a Game Tracker string tracking device and a red-dot sight or some form of sight pins. My personal preference is a clean bow. The fewer gadgets mean the fewer things that can go wrong when a shot is taken.

There is a small side issue for bows. Me and many of my friends remove the arrow quiver while hunting. A quiver filled with arrows with feathers or vanes is simply a problem waiting to happen when a shot is taken. Too many shot opportunities are missed when a hunter tries to swing his bow to aim and shoot, and the arrows sticking out of the bow quiver hang up in clothing or a tree limb and mess up your aim.

That again, is a matter of choice. For me, the quiver comes off, and is placed out of my way. It helps me get on target faster.

My bow, other than the obligatory arrow rest, has a red-dot sight and the Game Tracker canister. The bow is clean and responsive to my needs.

On the other hand, for them who like such things, a tricked-out bow can be a thing of beauty or as ugly as a dog’s breakfast. Sights are a wonderful thing, and hunters choose what they are comfortable with. There are seemingly hundreds of bow sights on the market to choose from.

Some sights have three, four or five different pins for different distances. All pins are stacked one on top of another like cord wood. The major problem with sight pins is remembering the yardage distances of each pin under the pressure of an impending shot at a great buck.

Let’s see now. The top pin is 20 yards, the next one down is 25 yards, and the third down is 30 yards. The next two are for 40 and 50 yards. Right? Right! It’s easy to forget, and use the bottom pin for the wrong distance, and miss the animal completely, or worse, wound it.

I used a single pin on my bow for many years. It was set to be dead-on at 20 yards. If the deer was at 30 yards, the pin was held just above the heart-lung area. A hold level with the top of the back would insure a hit out to 45 or 50 yards when my bow was set at 60 pounds of draw weight but I never took such long shots.

It became less confusing for me to use a single pin. And frankly, using a red-dot sight is very similar to taking a shot with one pin. Gap the deer by holding a bit higher when the animal is out at a certain distance. Learn what a different hold will do on a deer-sized target. Long shots are difficult, and it’s wise to remember that most Michigan deer shots are taken at 20 yards or less.

Many bows I’ve seen have a peep sight. The problem is a peep must be installed correctly or when the bow is back at full draw, the peep sight isn’t lined up with the eye. A peep makes it a bit more difficult to shoot accurately when the shadows in the woods get long, and hunters are straining to see an exact aiming point. This can be solved somewhat by buying a peep with a larger sight aperture, but I found them too difficult to use when shooting light and legal shooting time is just seconds away.

There are other things used to trick out a bow: stabilizers, a flexible finger that holds the arrow shaft on the rest but releases its hold when the bow is drawn, lighted sight pins, fiber optic sight pins and other paraphernalia.

Someone once told me about the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid, and it must have sunk in years ago. A simple bow, properly sighted in, and your choice of pin or red-dot, and that what works best for me. Anything else except for a removable quiver is excess baggage that most hunters really don’t need, but that is just this man’s opinion. It doesn’t have to be yours.

Just make certain that whatever you use works well for you. A bow hunter who is uncomfortable with his sight picture at full draw is doing something wrong, and some form of change is required to make things right.

Posted by Dave Richey on 06/27 at 04:18 PM
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