Archery articles, tips and advice

Choosing your first bow and arrow

Written by: Merlin Archery Centre

This can be confusing. So what I have written here will simplify things a great deal. There are a great many levels of archery, and we supply equipment suitable for fun, leisure shooting, right up to the supplying the equipment of World Champions!

This guide is to help the complete novice through the first stages of selecting all the essentials requires to be up and shooting with some quality equipment at minimal cost. How minimal? Well, the cost of the bow listed below is under £60.00.

If you want to upgrade your existing equipment, or if you want to jump straight in with some competition level equipment, then you should call us to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Equipment Essentials - Bow
take down recurve bow

Your not going to get far without one of these!

Although we sell some lower cost fiberglass bows, if you are looking for something that will reward your good shots with repeatable accuracy the Polaris Wooden Take-down Bow is our recommended bow of choice. (We also offer a range of sets with everything you need to get started.)

This has a superb price/quality ratio and is the perfect for learning the correct technique.

When choosing one of these bows from our web site you will be given three options to choose from.

The first is 'choose hand'. A right handed archer would hold the bow in their left hand and draw the string with their right hand. Choose 'right handed' if this is you.

The second is 'choose length'. This refers to the bow length. Bow length relates to your arrow length. To help you judge approximately what arrow length you need,

draw length

fully stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms together and your finger tips fully extended. Ask someone to measure from the centre of your chest to the tips of your fingers. Add ONE INCH to this measurement and this will give you an approximate arrow length. (see picture on the right). Use the chart below to help you pick the right bow length. If in doubt, go with the longer bow length.

Your arrow Length Bow Length
14-18 48"
18-20 54"
20-22 58"
22-24 62"
24-26 64"
26-28 66"
28-30 68"
30+ 70"

The third option is 'choose weight' . This is the poundage of the bow when pulled to 28". If the bow is pulled more than 28" then the poundage will increase. If you pull the bow less than 28" the poundage will decrease. A little bit of judgment has to be used to determine the bow weight. The poundage change is approximately 2# per inch.

Typically, a man would choose the 28# draw, a woman the 24# draw. Also consider your draw length. If you are a man with a short 26" draw, then maybe you should consider the 32# bow. Or a woman with a long draw might want to lower the poundage.

If you are not sure, go with a lower poundage, as even at 20# these bows are powerful!

That's it! You should be able to select your first bow now.

Equipment Essentials - Arrows
Flame Arrow

The Merlin Flame is an excellent arrow for fun use and intermediate tournament use. There are cheaper alternatives available, but nothing matches this arrow for the best price/quality/performance ratio.

You should have worked out your correct arrow length by now. Select the length from the 'Length Selection' option. There is nothing wrong with shooting arrows a bit too long, so if you are in between sizes, always go long.

the next is 'Spine Selection'. This might take a few minutes to work out, but the right spine arrow ensures it will fly straighter and group tighter. Spine is the stiffness of the shaft. Heavier bows require a stiffer arrow, and lighter bows weaker arrows. The correct spine depends on two factors. The first is the length of the arrow (which you should know by now) and the second is the weight of the bow.

Taking into consideration the change of bow weight when a bow is pulled a different distance than 28" (See the section above) you can work out the actual bow weight you will be holding.

e.g. You are going to choose a 28# bow and will be pulling it to 29" draw length. Adding 2# per inch makes the actual draw weight 30#.

Using this arrow selection chart cross reference column 'Recurve Bow Weight', with column 'Correct Arrow Length' to find the correct spine. E.g 25-29 lbs @ 29" arrow length = 1816 spine.

If you need help, then drop us a line.

Equipment Essentials - Accessories


If you don't want sore fingers your going to need one of these! Several styles to choose from, but a simple leather tab wil cost around £1.50


Not everyone needs a bracer, but until you know for sure you should buy one! Fits around the bow arm and guards against the string hitting your arm.

bow stringer BOW STRINGER

Essential item to help assemble your bow. The limbs on your bow can be twisted if not done correctly. This helps prevent twisting the bow while stringing.

Finished. Everything you need to get started. Have fun!
archery for beginners.
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