I started bowhunting over 40 years ago. The bow was my equipment of choice through wrist, shoulder and elbow surgeries. Finally, I had to go to the crossbow. I started bowhunting with a recurve and went through the gamut.
When I first got a compound, I shot instinctively and with fingers. At some point I added one pin but always shot fingers. During the days I evaluated and tested bows, I often shot 100-times a day. So I have had a little experience with archery equipment. I still own six or eight compounds and three crossbows and one retired recurve. With archery equipment, I hunted many of the North American big game. As Editor-at-Large for the oldest bowhunting magazine in the U.S., I had a lot of opportunities to hunt many places.
That is all by way of bona fides. I worked for a few bow companies. When I did, I shot their products. But there is one thing I always told anyone thinking of buying a bow. "Do not look at the brand name. It doesn't matter. The best bow you ever shoot is the bow you shoot the best. It doesn't matter one bit who made it."
I'm posting this because this is the time of year hunters start thinking about new bows or getting started in bowhunting. The ATA show is coming up and all the shiney new toys will be out. Speed will once again high on the list of priorities as will short, light bows.
So if you will, allow me to pass on some things I learned over the 40 odd years I shot bows.
1- The faster a bow, the faster you can miss. Speed is relatively unimportant to anyone but the manufacturer. The faster a bow, the more unforgiving it is. Leave speed to the tournament shooter. All of them today are plenty fast enough.
2- You do not need a release or a stabilizer. They might be of some minimal help but are not required. Fingers work just fine and are seldom dropped or left in camp. I have never found a need fo rmore than one sight pin, set dead on at 25-yards. For me, that worked for everything from 0-45-yards. It was all a matter of knowing where to hold.
3- One of the most critical things you must do is match the arrow to the bow. If you don't know how, find someone who does. The tune the broadhead to the arrow.
4- You do not have to shoot carbon arrows. They have one advantage. They are either straight or broken.
5- Most broadheads will fly like a field point if they are properly tuned.
6-Unless you shoot some every day, don't shoot 100 times on a weekend. If you practice poor form, you will shoot with poor form. If you shoot 12 good arrows, quit. And always quit on a perfect shot.
6A- Practice long shots frequently although you should not take them in a hunting situation. Shooting at 50-yards makes a 30-yard shot seem easy.
7**** A $250 bow may be just as good as $950 bow. It all depends on who is shooting it. Buy what suits you, not what suits your best friend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a used bow if you can try it out and it suits you.
8- Practice shooting from all positions, especially sitting. 90% of the deer I killed from a treestand, I killed while sitting. I was sitting for all of the bear. Most of the elk I killed, I was kneeling. I was standing for all the caribou. So practice it all.
Finally, one of the handiest things you will ever have is a bow sling. You can make one out of a piece of string or the strap off an old briefcase. I even have one on my crossbows.
You don't have to carve all those in stone but you might at least scratch them in sand.