Compound & Crossbows 101: Ask Dustin

From all of the videos I produced, the archery tech tip videos seem to attract the most questions. That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to address a couple of points by answering a few questions I have been asked about about archery that should be helpful for beginners, old pro’s, and everyone in between.

What is the best brand of bow or crossbow? This is one of the most frequent questions I get. Due to lots of competition in a small market, the industry has weeded out the shady and poor quality manufactures of archery equpment for the most part so  are no brands I know of to avoid. Ask a bowhunter or target archery enthusiast what his or her favorite brand is and you will usually get an answer right away. I would consider a major name brand, however, as they tend to have better longevity and customer support. You get what you pay for as in any other purchase but you don’t always have to buy the newest or most expensive to get your money’s worth. As in most purchases, look for the best quality and value for your money. Both compound bows came to me used and are still are in great shape. Remember, newer doesn’t always mean better. For crossbows, I think Barnett makes one of the best products for the money.

Personally, I shoot a Barnett C5 Wildcat and Barnett Buck Commander Extreme Carbonlite (BCX) in the crossbow realm and a Martin Scepter II and an Oneida Screaming Eagle in the compound bow realm.  My new BCX Carbonlite has the features of crossbows costing over $1000 for a much lower price. It shoots fast and, due to the weight, packs super light.

For buying a used bow, check out my video below with me interviewing Red Hilliard from Tusker Archery. The advice works well for both compound bows and crossbows alike.

What are some shooting mistakes most archers miss when they start out? This is a great question. Most people do not want to make the same mistakes that others who came before them made. I have a whole video dedicated to this subject below. Here are a few things to watch for in the meantime:

1)Punching the Release. Many archers, myself included, have been known to punch the trigger of their release and jerk the shot off target in the processes. As I just mentioned, I used to be guilty of this but now have that part of my shooting controlled. Much like the trigger of a rifle, the trigger on the release should be treated with a smooth and easy stroke. I have tracked many wounded game animals as a result of  bowhunters punching the trigger too soon. Most  of the time, this happens out of rushing the shot. Take your time and make a smooth and solid press of your release trigger.

2) “Kung-Fu” Grip on the Bow Riser. The hand holding your bow should be relaxed when holding it, especially at full draw. One of the major recommendations for outfitting most bows these days is having a rope around the riser attached with a stabilizer. This prevents the archer from dropping the bow if the grip on the bow is too loose. Remember, the more you grip your bow, the more you will torque it off target when you release your string. Hold it lightly, especially at full draw. No kung fu grip is needed!

3) Re-Drawing the Bow off of Full Draw. Many times a bow can come down off of full draw due to the archer letting down pressure or a number of other things. The best thing you can do is let down from full draw completely and start over again. Redrawing a partially drawn bow can change the amount of energy stored in the limbs and affect your accuracy.

4) Looking at your sight, not your target. As we are taught in wing shooting and, if you concentrate on your sight and not your target, you will miss your shot. When shooting with sight pins on a compound bow or a red dot sight on your crossbow, concentrate on the intended target, not your sight pin. Let everything else be in the background. Focus on your technique. Aim small, miss small by picking out a small spot in the middle of your target to aim for and settle in on it. The experience should be almost like a meditation. Everything is smooth and calculated in your shot. You take your time. Your breathing should slow down and you should only be mindful of the target and making a good connection with it through your arrow. All other distractions disappear. This is what makes a good archer.

If you haven’t experienced the joy of archery, visit your local archery pro-shop today and give the mystical flight of the arrow a try. I am changed for the better being a target archer and bowhunter and think you will be as well if this is new to you. Have fun and be safe out there.


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