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Old November 20, 2009, 04:07 PM   #1
rickyjames
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Archery question, draw weights

Archery hunting seems to becoming more popular. Archery hunting shows seem to be taking over the hunting TV channels. Many of these shows are now featuring children and women bow hunting deer and other even larger game. There are even commercials advertising womans camo hunting gear and certain bow makers are now making lines of bows exclusive for women.

My question is what is a minimum draw weight needed for deer and larger game? My bow is a 50 to 70 lb adjustable draw, it came set at 70 and I have never thought of lowering it . I know that most of these women and all of the children are not capable of drawing weights like that. I'm not sure what draw weights the women and kids are using but at least the magic of TV makes it seem like they are taking game.

This isn't really a question about women or children bow hunters but is there a minimum draw weight for hunting certain game animals? I always thought draw weights were like bullets, the heavier the better.I see arrows that barely penetrate game, some pass right thru the animal. Some compound bow hunters seem to struggle drawing the bow before let off and others draw the bow with what looks like little or no effort. The hunters are usually quick to advertise what bow they are using but NEVER say what draw weight they use. I'm now thinking most of the hunters have their bows set closer to the minimum draw weight than the maximum and perhaps the right way to learn to shoot and be accurate.

My bow came set at 70 lbs and I have never changed it. Maybe thats why I suck at shooting my bow. I had never thought about adjusting the draw weight down until watching some of these shows. What draw weights are you guys shooting at? What would be the lowest draw weight advisable for hunting deer and such? Thanks
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Old November 20, 2009, 04:28 PM   #2
Buzzcook
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Back in the sixties I was told 60 pounds was a minimum for deer. Given that the last time I shot a bow, Nixon was still president I'm betting that answer has changed.
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Old November 20, 2009, 04:38 PM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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The minimum legal weight in NY is 35 lbs.

Draw weight actual means very little without knowing the amount of stored energy that the bow can use.

Here's an example:

Until this year I shot a 1993 model York compound bow set at 59 pounds draw weight. It shot a 369 grain arrow at 213 feet per second, generating roughly 37 ft/lbs of energy. Now, I shoot a 2008 Hoyt Katera XL set at 59 lbs which shoots the EXACT same arrow at 264 ft/s, generating roughly 57 ft/lbs of energy.

My Katera will EASILY generate more energy that a 10 year old 70 lb draw weight bow, probably more than an 80 pound 10 year old bow and more energy by far than a 100 lb draw recurve.


However, for whitetail deer, my old bow was more than enough, in fact bows with far less power than that one are more than enough.


About the TV shows.... most of those guys shoot FAR, FAR more weight than they should be. They are showcasing the product. They want to show you massive penetration and have you hear the "WHOP!" when the arrow hits. Notice how they practically aim into the sky when they draw the bow? That is a certain indication that they're pulling WAY too much weight.

So, how much weight should you daw? Without drawing, aim your bow at the target like you're about to shoot. Now, draw the bow. If you can't hold it on target THE ENTIRE TIME then your drawing too much weight.

That said, there's a lot more to accurate archery than draw weight. Learn to words "Back Tension". Learn how to shoot that way. You'll never believe the results.
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Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; November 20, 2009 at 06:18 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old November 20, 2009, 04:55 PM   #4
fastforty
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My first compound was a Pearson Cobra II set at 70 when I got it, no chance of drawing that sucker. I backed it off to the minimum recommended, 50 & it was possible but not comfortable. I finally set it at 45 and had a LOT of fun shooting it. After a few weeks it seemed too easy, so I went back to 50 for a while, then 55. Changing draw weight gets to be a pain after a while, because all of your sight pins have to be reset. I settled on 50 pounds, so it wouldn't be a chore if I hadn't shot it in a few months. I have 7 pins on my sight, every 10 yards out to 70. With no wind, I can easily keep 6 out of 6 hits at 70 yards within an eight inch bullseye and they go at least a foot deep in tight straw bails.
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Old November 20, 2009, 05:12 PM   #5
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Peetzkilla hit it right. One bow can be perfectly good at 40lbs while a different bow may need 50lbs to generate the same amount of energy. I use an older Hoyt Reflex and it is set to just over 60lbs.
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Old November 20, 2009, 05:29 PM   #6
trooper3385
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During the summer, I went to a hunting show in san Antonio. I had a chance to speak to Lee and Tiffany from the hunting show on tv. I asked them what his draw weight was and he said 60 lbs. He was saying that with all the advancements in bows and how fast they are now, there is no need for a real heavy draw weight. He said 10 or 15 yrs ago, he was drawing close to 80 lbs, but he gets better speed and penetration out of bows these days set at 60 lbs then he did with the older bows set at close to 80. I believe he said Tiffany's bow was set at 55 lbs for hunting. Basically, if you can't pull your bow straight back without having to point your bow over the target, then you need to back off on your pull weight.
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Old November 20, 2009, 06:00 PM   #7
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I love getting old enough to say things like

"Back in the day"... In the late 80's/early 90's I shot a PSE Mach Flight V. That beast was set at max and it was either 85 or 90 lbs. But that was when I was way younger, way stronger, and shot constantly.

After that, I shot a 70# recurve for several years with big heavy wood arrows, feather fletching, with a 160 gr broadhead. All that mass was slow, but it would penetrate like crazy.

Now I am shooting an Oneida Black Eagle set at 65#

Back to your question, minimum legal for deer in Oregon is 40# and 50# for elk. I would be comfortable with those, if I needed to go down to that. Of course, you are trading off a flatter trajectory by going lower.
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Old November 20, 2009, 06:50 PM   #8
rickyjames
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My bow is about a 15 year old Browning compound set at 70 lbs. It is still like brand new, I have shot it off and on but never enuff to get good at it, or very accurate. I'm thinking I will lower the draw weight to something comfortable and start practicing with it again. I suspect I will learn to shoot better and enjoy it more at a lower weight. I wonder why I never thought of that before. Now what is "back tension" and how will that help me?
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Old November 20, 2009, 07:06 PM   #9
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I would suggest having a 15 year old bow inspected at a pro shop. That is a long time for the cables and string to be under pressure. Even a full re-cabling is not that expensive.
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Old November 20, 2009, 07:10 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Now what is "back tension" and how will that help me?
Back tension is THE shooting method used by 99% of professional and serious amateur archers. It is the technique of releasing the shot. Many, probably most, professionals use a release that doesn't have a trigger or button of any kind. There are a couple of different varieties but they all rely on the back/shoulder muscles to actual fire the shot. This technique takes you (and all the error that you introduce) out of the equation.

It's hard to describe exactly on the internet, at least for me. Go to a pro shop and ask them if they can teach you to shoot back tension. If they say no, leave and find another shop, until someone says yes. If you really want to shoot well, there is no other way. Seriously.


Read through this articlefor a pretty good explanation of why and how.
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Old November 20, 2009, 07:24 PM   #11
Doyle
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Back tension release may be used by competitive shooters but it isn't used very much in hunting. The reason is that in a hunting situation, your posture is not always (in fact very seldom) in a perfect shooting form. In a treestand, you could be bent over sideways or hunched down to get around a bush, etc. Those bad-posture situations are not always condusive to using a back tension release.
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Old November 20, 2009, 07:46 PM   #12
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Back tension release may be used by competitive shooters but it isn't used very much in hunting. The reason is that in a hunting situation, your posture is not always (in fact very seldom) in a perfect shooting form. In a treestand, you could be bent over sideways or hunched down to get around a bush, etc. Those bad-posture situations are not always condusive to using a back tension release.
I use it. The guy who taught me uses it. Back tension takes away the error from poor execution. Form and posture problems are there regardless of release technique. To say that it "isn't used very much in hunting" is not true. You either use it or you don't. I know of VERY few people who switch back and forth.

Think about it. The one time where the pressure is highest and accuracy is paramount is the one time that you switch to a less accurate, less forgiving and error prone technique? It doesn't make sense.

Back tension has not pervaded the hunting world primarily because of, one, marketing and, two, laziness. The archery companies want money not what's best for the shooter and an awful lot of the best shooters don't want to teach other people... competition is bad. Combine that with the fact that most shooters are happy with mediocre accuracy and are too lazy to learn a new technique and you have all the reasons why back tension has not swept the hunting world.
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Old November 20, 2009, 07:54 PM   #13
davlandrum
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Nice link, Peetza. I guess I shoot back release (I shoot fingers) and didn't even know it. I thought everyones hand came back along the face during release....
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:08 PM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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I thought everyones hand came back along the face during release....
You COULD just have good follow-through. If your hand comes back "consciously" then it's probably more or less conscious (or habitual) follow-through. That wouldn't be a bad thing, but it's different from, or at least not synonymous with, back-tension.

A lot of fingers shooters also use what's called a "clicker", in conjunction with back-tension. It's another way of taking you out of the equation.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:15 PM   #15
koolminx
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This Back Junk is interesting... I'm a finger shooter, and now I'm going to se what this back stuff is all about.

Peetza... My bow CUTS the deer, it don't knock it over.... And my Cedar shafts are heavier and I believe will have more energy than your lightweight graphite.... Weight + speed = Energy..... That's the way I see it..

I read that link about proper shooting and it did nothing but confuse me really... I'm an excellent shot with my longbow and my Recurve. I finger shoot without a finger guard because I generally only shoot when hinting and they're bothersome at times...

Last edited by koolminx; November 20, 2009 at 08:24 PM.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:26 PM   #16
Brian Pfleuger
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the guy touting his 70 lb bow tossing more energy that a 100 lb recurve, is just silly to me... My bow CUTS the deer, it don't knock it over.... And my Cedar shafts are heavier and have more energy that your lightweight graphite.... Weight + speed = Energy.....
My friend, the equation for energy (for guns and bows) is (speedXspeedXmass)/450240.

I GUARANTEE you that my 59 pound draw weight Hoyt Katera produces more kinetic energy than most 100 pound recurves.

Tell me how fast your arrows are going and how much they weigh. Mine are 369gr and traveling 264fps, in other words, I make 57 ft/lbs of kinetic energy, a near 1:1 ratio to draw weight. Most recurves are lucky to make a 1:2 ratio. Some of the newest bows from Mathews and Hoyt (among others) are producing nearly 50% more KE than draw weight. In other words, approaching 100 lbs of KE from an 70-80 lbs draw weight bow.
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Old November 20, 2009, 11:49 PM   #17
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Pete's got some good info regarding bow technology. I began with a wheel bow (Hoyt Ram Hunter II), moved into a double aggressive cam bow (Jennings Carbon Extreme), and am now sitting in a Matthews Switchback. With today's technology, especially in the single cam bows, you can do so much more than you could with older bows. The speeds capable with full length arrows out of my Switchback at 70#s I had to use a 4" overdraw and 80#s to achieve with my Jennings. They are just so much more efficient.

Another part of drawing, which contributes to the bow raise during drawing, was a direct result of the radical cams installed on some bows. It took a LOT of practice to smoothly pull my Jennings over breakpoint and into the letoff.

Bottom line never changes, though: practice. You cannot practice enough. 3-D and 5-Spot tournaments are always fun and allow you to have goals for your practice like marathons are for runners. If you are unable to shoot year round, at least allow a good amount of time before the season to get back into bow shape.
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Old November 21, 2009, 02:52 AM   #18
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generally, a hunter with an average draw length (≈ 28") shooting most any hunting arrow (not those super skinny target things) with a broadhead only needs a 40# bow for deer size game. Check your local restrictions. Use no more draw weight than you can shoot accurately. My 60# longbow produces more kinetic energy than my 50# recurve, but I'm generally more accurate w/the recurve... Guess which one goes hunting more.
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Old November 21, 2009, 10:01 AM   #19
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My personal take on archery shooting (and probably guns as well) is that we get way to excited about the numbers. I honestly don't know what my draw weight is - I just slowly worked on it until it felt good and I could shoot 75-100 arrows in a session without getting too fatigued. I estimate somewhere in the 50-60 lb range.

I think people are so excited about pulling a huge bow or getting so many fps or whatever, that they forget that accuracy and shot placement with a razor-sharp broadhead (or proper bullet design) are what kills game. Sure, you need enough KE to penetrate to the vitals, but especially on deer, it's not that hard to do. Like a friend of mine says, "Accuracy kills every time. Everything else is just numbers."

After all, people killed deer by the thousands using longbows that only shot 150-200 fps and with muzzleloaders that only shot 1200-1500 fps (if that) for centuries with great success.
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Old November 22, 2009, 01:43 PM   #20
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I never really thought much about the energy since the lowest weight I ever used would slice through a deer and keep on going.
To me it's a matter of a more forgiving trajectory. There is diminishing returns because the higher draw weight require a stiffer thus heavier shaft.
Also keep in mind that what you can comfortably draw back in the proper position is different from an out of position draw that can be dictated by circumstance in the field.
Most successful hunters I know shoot 60 pounds or less.
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Old November 22, 2009, 07:30 PM   #21
jakec2789
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i pull 61 pounds, and launch my 100 grain broadheads and 200 grain arrows ( totals just under 360g with the inserts) at 270 fps. that has had many pass throughs on deer.
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Old November 22, 2009, 10:14 PM   #22
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I've been using a 45 lb recurve for 32 years. It has killed more deer and hog than you could shake a stick at. My draw length puts it at about 48 pounds of draw.
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Old November 23, 2009, 02:32 AM   #23
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lower every switch

I've gone from 68lbs, 555 gr arrow, 200 fps.........to 65 lb, 555/215.........60lb, 400 gr arrow, 260 fps.............53 lbs, 400 gr, 230 fps (this last an estimate)

My latest bow is quieter, and there is less where and tear on the rig and me!
I still get pass throughs w/ proper shot placement, including on on a quartering away 175 lb biggest ever, at 15 yds. I am also more accurate w/ the light weight rig than I have ever been w/ the 3 others setups, and I don't have to practice as much to maintain that level, though if I want to shoot I can w/o strain or injury.

I am a pretty big guy, active w/ a fitness program (well, until bow season started!) and could pull more, but decided I don't have to.
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Old November 23, 2009, 02:45 AM   #24
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I have an old Samurai bow that dad brought back when he was in the service (WWII). It draws at about 75lbs. I keep it in a special case and take it out once in a while to put a little oil on it (linseed) to keep it from drying out. Its a bit of a bugger to string and even tougher to draw. It makes you appreciate the technology of the compound bow.
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Old November 25, 2009, 08:22 PM   #25
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i killed a 6,7 black bear with a 38 pound bow 2 years ago...
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