I know to some this may be pretty basic for the parent who has been shooting for years. I am trying to help make it easier for the parent who may have never touched a bow and now their child wants to get into archery because they watched the Avengers/Hunger Games and Hawkeye or Katniss inspired them. Or to the parent that has been away from archery since they were a kid.
With 2016 just getting started all of the bow manufactures are gearing up to get their new lineups out on the shelves and in the public and most pro-shops are discounting the previous year models. I recommend going to a pro-shop vs a department store when shopping for a new bow. A pro-shop will take the time and make sure the bow is properly fit to the archer and tuned properly before you leave which will make for a better experience overall. Most pro-shops also offer free adjustments and checkups of your bow if you purchase it them. With that being said there are several things to consider when looking for a bow new bow for a young shooter. I will be sighting various models as examples throughout this article but there are many other options to choose from and find what suits the shooter best.
For starters, what draw length (DL-when you look at the specs) do they need. This can be determined by having the young shooter spread his/her arms to the side out straight and measuring the distance from fingertip to fingertip and then dividing by 2.5 (example a child with a 55” arm span would be a 22” draw length). Most bows being offered now on today’s market at pro-shops have a wide array of adjustability to suit a child both now and as they grow. For example the Bear Cruzer has a draw range of 12”-30” The pro-shop will help you get the draw length adjusted properly to fit your child.
What draw weight does the child need? The draw weight is the max amount of force needed to draw the bow at the hardest point of the draw cycle. Once again a knowledgeable archery pro-shop employee will be able to assist in determining what the child can comfortably pull after the draw length is properly set. When buying a new bow that you want the child to be able to use for many years look for something that has a wide range of adjustability. If the bow shows just peak poundage for that model that is the heaviest for those limbs and it can be dropped down by 10 lbs. For example the Diamond Infinite Edge is adjustable to suit archers able to pull 5-70lbs, the PSE Mini-Burner comes in 20, 29, 40, and 50 lbs draw weights and is only able to be adjusted down by 10 pounds.
Some other specs you will see when shopping include total weight of the bow, the length of the bow which is measured from axle to axle, speed of the bow and the let off and the brace height. Most of these will pertain to the shooters needs or comfort. You don’t want a bow that is too heavy or too long for the young shooter because they will be overwhelmed and struggle with the size even if the draw length and draw weight are set correctly for them. Let the child handle the bow and shoot it several times before you buy. Once again the pro-shop should honor this request if they haven’t already suggested it. The speed of the bow is not quite as significant as some of the other specs and will slightly be misleading because the speed shown will be what was tested with the bow being set at max draw length and max draw weight. True speed can be determined by shooting the arrow you have selected for your child through a chronograph. The let off is the percent of the draw weight the shooter is holding at full draw. The higher the let off, the lower the poundage will be at full draw. For example a youth bow set at 40 lbs with 80% let off will allow the shooter to hold back only 8 lbs at full draw and a 40 lbs draw at 75% let off the shooter will have 10 lbs at full draw. The brace height is the distance from the back of the riser where the arrow rests to the string. Normally the longer the brace height is the more forgiving the bow is to shoot if the archer has a slight move during the release and is slightly slower in speed. A really short brace height can also result in the string slapping the arm or back of the wrist if the shooter is not using good shooting form but is also slightly faster at launching and arrow.
I hope you have found this article to be informative and useful. Below a few links to some bows you can check out online before heading to the shop to buy. There are several others your local shop may offer that are worth taking a look at.
Bear Archery– Click here for more info on Bear Bows for Kids
Diamond Archery– Click here for more info on Diamond Archer for Kids
Mission Archery– Click here for more info on Mission Archery for Kids
PSE Archery– Click here for more info on PSE Archery for Kids
Hoyt Archery– Click here for more info on Hoyt Archery for Kids
Parker Bows– Click here for more info on Parker Archery for Kids