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Finding a Good Deal for Used Archery Equipment

Updated on September 16, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

A Quality Bow Is Pricy

Archery is an expensive hobby, no matter how you reduce costs there will always be a fair amount of expense involved in the equipment. There are ways to reduce the costs, you can buy used archery equipment. Like anything else though, buying used equipment is a risk, and the risk can be extreme. Buying a bow sight unseen then firing it can be dangerous if you don't inspect the bow carefully enough.

Having just bought used hunting archery equipment I will share with you some of the tips I learned along the way.

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Never Dry Fire a Bow

Dry firing is pulling back and releasing the bow string without an arrow notched. Dry firing releases all the energy into the bow arms and could crack or shatter a bow.

Why Do You Shoot

What type of archery appeals to you the most?

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What are You Using it For?

The first question you must ask yourself when setting out on your quest to find used archery equipment is, what will you be using the bow for. Will you be hunting, indoor target archery, outdoor target archery, or a mix. Bow setups are different for different settings. For instance you don't want a bright and flashy bow for hunting but rather something that will blend in with the surroundings. For target archery you may want a long stabilizer rig to help you keep your shots steady, but this might get in the way in the field. There is also the question of do you want traditional or compound, the two fire differently and have vastly different skill sets.

It is important to know what you want your bow to be capable of before you begin your search. Once you have your needs determined then you can start considering what bow to get.


As with everything, it is always a good idea to research what's out there before you consider buying. Read up on archery. Magazines are often a great font of the latest greatest, but books will give you the basics.

Check for Damage

Before buying a used bow. Use a dry cotton ball and rub it along the length of the bow arms to check for micro-fractures which could be serious dangers.

How To Read Bow Specifications

When starting out looking for used archery equipment you will be thrown a lot of mysterious numbers when told the description of a bow. At first it seems complex, but really its relatively simple, and at a glance you can tell if a bow is right for you or not.

Draw Weight: Measured in pounds this is the amount of force you have to pull on the bow string in order to draw the bow

Let Off: This is only for compound bows. Measured in percentage, this is at what point the force of the arms lets off and relaxes. Compound bows are designed so you don't have to use as much energy to hold the bow drawn, different bows let off at different points. For instance a 70% let off means that when the bow is 70% drawn it lets off and you can hold it easily, an 80% let off means at 80% draw it lets off. While 70% let off is easier to draw it looses some power, the greater the let off the greater the force, but the lower the let off the greater the forgiveness.

IBO: This is the speed rating as measured by the standards set out by the International Bowhunting Organization. This is measured in Feet Per Second. So your bow may be rated at 330fps, this means that at ideal settings the arrow will fly from the bow at 330 Feet Per Second.

Draw Length: This is the length the bow draws back. Most compound bows have an adjustable draw length to a certain point. Make sure you know your draw length. Go to an archery store and ask them to measure you, they usually have no problem with that.

Mass Weight: This is the total weight of the bow without any add ons, the lighter the bow the more portable it is, depending on what you are using the bow for this may or many not be important to you.

Length: This is measured Axel to Axel on a compound bow. A shorter bow may be handier in the field then a longer bow, depending on conditions.

New Archers Benefit From Adjustable Bows

If you are relatively new at archery consider a bow that has more adjustability, as you become better you may want to increase the draw weight and thus the power of your bow.

What Type of Bow

What type of bow are you looking for

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Know Your Limits

Obviously the more powerful the bow the better, so naturally you want the bow rated for the heaviest pull, but can you pull back a 90# bow? Know your limits is the first rule to buying your own bow, make sure you know what you can comfortably pull back time and time again. Remember you'll not just be loosing one arrow then packing it in, while practicing you will want to be able to fire 100 arrows without getting an exhausted arm. You can be just as accurate with a 35# bow as you can with a 90# bow. At the end of the day accuracy is infinitely more important than power.

Know Your Brands

Preserve your resale value

Brand isn't always important, it is infinitely more important that the bow you buy is comfortable to shoot for YOU! That being said you want a bow that will last, and you want a bow that, should you decide to buy a new one that you can sell to another archer for as much as possible. There are hundreds of bow companies out there, so visit bow and hunting stores and get a feel for what's available. Here are some of the bigger name bow companies:

Never Buy A Bow You Can't Shoot First

If the seller refuses to allow you to fire (assuming you have a safe shooting area) or even draw the bow don't buy it. You will want to draw the bow and ensure there are no cracks hidden.

Mossy Oak Bow Quiver
Mossy Oak Bow Quiver

Bow quivers are extremely common now and attach straight to the bow so the quiver is never in the way.



Your quiver may not be foremost in your mind when setting out to set up your first archery rig, however a quiver suited to your needs is terribly important. How quickly and/or quietly you can withdraw an arrow from the quiver can be the difference between a shot made, or a waisted opportunity. Do you want your quiver on your side, mounted on your belt, or perhaps slung over your back, or do you want it mounted directly on your bow. These are all very important things to consider.

Allen Three Blade Grizzly Broadhead, 125 Grain (Pack of 3)
Allen Three Blade Grizzly Broadhead, 125 Grain (Pack of 3)

Broadheads are hunting tips, this is a fixed blade broadhead.


Arrow Tips

The point of your arrow is obviously important, but it is a feature often overlooked by most new archers. If you are looking to shoot for hunting you want broadheads, however you also want some target points to practice with since you don't want to shoot your broadheads at targets.

© 2012 Jeff Johnston

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    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @WriterJanis2: Thanks, I spent a lot of time researching before I bought my latest bow, I thought others might find the info I found informative.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Very useful tips.