*Note: This article is an update to the 2008 Recurve Bow Recommendations*
“My son/daughter is interested in a bow, what should I buy?”
This question strikes fear into my heart. In a good way though, as I’m also excited that one of our archers are committing to the next step; bow ownership. This question is a bit like asking someone: “I like to drive, what kind of car should I buy?” The possibilities are daunting: SUV, sports car, station wagon? Mercedes, Honda, Ford? Now, imagine never being able to test drive the car before you purchase. That’s exactly what it’s like when someone wants to purchase an Olympic recurve bow.
If you’re not sure if you would like to purchase a Olympic recurve bow, a Traditional bow, or a compound bow, then hustle over to our “Quiz of 10 Questions” to help you decide what might be right for you.
I have never seen a shop in the United States that stocks Olympic recurve bows. I’m sure that they exist somewhere but I sure haven’t seen one. Therefore archers are left to make purchasing decisions based on recommendations of coaches, friends who have equipment, tiny pictures in catalogs, and scant recommendations in archery forums. I promise, absolutely promise, that my advice will be no better.
I’m assuming that this is your first bow, that you are budget conscience, and that you want good value for your money. If you have unlimited funds, you can go out and buy the very best. However, no amount of money will purchase a score at a tournament. Hard work, perseverance, and sweat equity will yield the best results of all.
With that in mind, lets talk about what you will need to purchase, followed by what are highly recommended items, and then optional equipment. Required equipment for Olympic recurve bows are the (1) Riser, (2) Limbs, (3) String, (4) Arrow Rest, (5) Plunger, (6) Nock, (7) Arrows. We’ll leave arrows to another article all on its own. Highly recommended items are (8) Finger tab, (9) Bow Stringer, (10) Arm guard, (11) Quiver, (12) String wax, (13) Bow case. Optional items include (14) Target Sight, (15) Stabilizer, (16) Chest Guard, (17) Clicker
I’ll include a really quick summary of what the items are but I think you’ll get the idea from the images that I’ve linked to.
(1)Riser – Is the thing you put your hand on and most everything attaches to. The riser is the foundation for the bow. I’m recommending one that you can grow with as you grow in height and strength.
(2)Limbs – These are the flexible boards that connect between the riser and string. These come in 2lb increments for Olympic recurve bows. You can change these out and keep the same riser and (often times) string as you get taller or stronger.
(3)String – Self explanitary but this is what flings the arrow when released.
(4)Arrow rest – A small ledge made of plastic or metal that holds the arrow in position, just off of the riser, and yet lets the arrow slide past the riser as it is shot.
(5)Plunger – A small device designed to help tune your bow so that the arrow, arrow rest, and string are all in concert with each other for maximum efficiency of the bow.
(6)Nock – Often times a small brass or plastic or even dental floss. The nock keeps the arrow from sliding up and down the center serving.
(7)Arrows – You know what these are
(8)Finger tab – This is a small device that fits in your hand and protects your fingers from the pressures of the string. A nice one may have a shelf that also helps with a tactile indicator of your anchor point.
(9)Bow Stringer – This helps you get the string onto the bow. Never leave a bow strung for an extended period of time.
(10)Arm guard – This is a “just in case” device. If you are out of your normal stance, or have bad form on a shot, it’s possible that the bow string will whap your forearm. Painful. This protects you from major harm in that circumstance. If Olympic archers wear one, you can too … and should.
(11) Quiver – A thing that holds arrows. I recommend hip quivers for Olympic archers. Traditional archers may opt for back quivers. Compound archers may have a bow quiver.
(12) String wax – This is wax meant to condition your strings and keep it in good shape.
(13) Bow case – A case that protects all of your equipment as you travel to all of these cool/fun archery tournaments.
(14) Target sight – A device that attaches to your riser allowing you to better sight in your shot.
(15) Stabilizer – A device that attaches to your riser moving the center of gravity of your bow lower and forward, giving the archer greater stability.
(16) Chest guard – A mesh or light weight fabric that straps over your chest and shoulder as a mechanism to keep clothing and other items from interfering with the bow string. Strongly recommended for the ladies. I’ll stop right there.
(17) Clicker – If you are really good, and you have stopped growing, and you have your arrows custom cut to your draw length, then a clicker may be for you. It gives an audible and tactile feeling when an archer has reached the exact draw length they’re looking for in a shot. To be honest, when you need this, you’ll know that you need it.
That’s it for my “dictionary” or “glossary” of terms. Three big questions remain before I get to the specifics of the equipment recommendations: (1) Should I get a 23” riser or a 25” riser? (2) What length bow (riser + limbs) should I get? and (3) What poundage of limbs should I purchase?
(1)23” or 25” riser? Check out some of the other references that I link to at the bottom of this article for more (better) information. I would say that the bottom line is, if your maximum height is going to be less than 5’9” or if the archer is very young (thus a long time before they reach their full height) then go with a 23” riser. If you are going to be 5’9” or taller, then go with a 25” riser. NOTE: The KAP T-Rex and the Samick Candidate riser I’m about to recommend only comes in 23” lengths.
(2)Length bow? If you are 5’7” or shorter, go with a 64” bow. From 5’7” to 6’0”, go with a 66” bow. If you are taller than 6’0”, then go with a 68” bow. All heights mentioned are for your full height. Small children should probably stick with a 64” bow.
(3)What poundage of limbs? The limbs for the recommended bow is interchangeable. The #1 injury in archery is shoulder injuries. Do NOT buy too heavy of a limb. You can sell these limbs and purchase up later. This is a really hard question to answer. The archer should be able to hold the full draw length for 10 seconds comfortably. I would think that no child should have limbs over 30lbs. A 20lb limb is a good start. A 12 year old healthy boy might be able to start out at 24 to 26lbs. A 12 year old girl, perhaps a bit less than that.
Enough talk, lets get to actual recommendations. We, as a club are currently recommending two bows: the KAP T-Rex, and the Samick Candidate. Our club is about to purchase two of the Samick Candidate bows so hopefully for the 2010 buyers recommendation, I’ll have a concrete review. If you notice, we had a big price reduction from last year on these bows! Welcome indeed. I’m not sure if that’s due to a slow market or a weakening of the US Dollar. We’ll take it either way.
Samick makes a comparably priced setup as the KAP above.
Since both of these risers take the ILF limbs, you can put the T-Rex limbs on the Samick Riser and/or the Samick limbs on the T-Rex riser. That’s part of the reason that we recommend these risers is that they will grow with the child and offer options for different limbs.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL PURCHASES:
OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL PURCHASES:
I recommend buying through the local shop such as Timber Ghost (Cumming, GA) or Mitch’s (Canton, GA). They’ll help with setup of the equipment.
I’ve done my best to get as much information into your hands as I possibly can, but I understand that buying sight unseen and out of a catalog or website can be daunting task. As always, turn to the experts from your local club to help you answer questions and help you make informed final decisions. Good luck.
For more information, check out some of these additional resources.
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