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Getting the correct equipment for bowhunting seems like an endless task. There are so many tools and gadgets on the market that preparing to go out is overwhelming and even considerably expensive.
In reality, it's doable with a few essential items. A good set up is the one that offers protection, effectiveness, and comfortability.
For beginners, having these base items in your arsenal is an excellent way to get into hunting, while for more experienced individuals it’s a challenge as they acquire more advanced products to enhance their hunting. Here are a few things we think are essential for bowhunting.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Archery Equipment
Comparison of the Best Archery Equipment
Our Top Pick
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Types of Archery Equipment
While the most critical part of archery is, of course, a bow, there’s a wide range of accessories that perform different and specific functions to make your trip more productive. Here’s a small list of the most important ones:
Not everything fits your pockets. Storage space lets you take along the gear you need but also do so in an efficient way to avoid fatigue. You don’t always want your bow in your hands, and a good backpack can also function as a quiver.
A sharp and durable blade is probably the most critical piece of equipment you can get because of its versatility. A dull blade is going to make skinning feel like a headache, and you’re equally likely to injure yourself with one. Quality is of utmost importance here.
It’s impressive to think that our early ancestors used to hunt barefooted. Thankfully we live in a day and age where with the right gear we can even defy extreme climate conditions. A good pair of boots makes you mobile through uneven terrain and even keeps your footsteps silent so you can get closer to your target.
With repeated use, a bow can cause severe and long-lasting damage to your fingers and their joints. A problem like this is why it’s critical to use protective gear. Archery gloves give you a grip on the arrow which, in turn, makes you accurate while protecting the tip of your fingers.
How to Choose Archery Equipment
While getting bow-hunting tools you should look for characteristics like durability and cost, which are of course, necessary. The problem is that hunting is an unpredictable activity and that means that the gear you have needs to be designed in an excellent and quality driven way. Here are some additional considerations you should look for:
This trait contains all the characteristics that a reliable choice should have like durability, cost, and effectiveness. High-grade products are not just the ones created to be sold but to also be reliable.
The more versatile your gear is, the fewer items you’re going to require. Essential items like an exceptional knife or water-resistant clothing save you from carrying extra equipment, meaning you’ll move more quickly and get tired less.
There’s a balance for everything. You shouldn’t buy a product just because it’s either expensive or cheap. The safest and most reliable option is often the one in the middle.
Review of the Best Archery Equipment
This list offers a set of core items any experienced or aspiring bowhunter should look into in order to build or complement their kit or find a replacement for a piece of equipment:
1. RAPTOR Compound Hunting Bow Kit
Compound bows are the most effective types of bows are they are rigid and customizable, which ensures usability and accuracy. This model has an adjustable draw weight between 30 and 70 lbs. and adapts to the type of game you’re hunting for powerful shots. It’s designed to let off 75% of the weight, so pulling the arrow feels lighter.
This product comes fully equipped with a five pin sight, stabilizer, four arrow quiver, biscuit-style rest, peep sight, and D-loop installed. The whole set of accessories makes for a comfortable and user-friendly, yet effective tool. The length of the draw is also adjustable which has an impact on the speed of the arrow.
Given its many adjustable settings, this option fits seamlessly to anyone, whether man, woman, or youth. In terms of dimensions, the model is 30 inches from axle to axle. The many accessories mean that to properly function, the bow needs to be properly tuned. Something else to keep in mind is that this is a product designed for right-handed people and has a warranty of 30 days in which the model is fully refundable.
This model is designed to get the job done. It delivers a large amount of power in the right hands but can still be adjusted to fit anyone's style or frame making it a choice to fit different situations. The addition of varied accessories makes for a well-balanced and effective weapon.
2. ALPS OutdoorZ Matrix Crossbow Pack
This is a practical hunting pack that allows you to safely carry a crossbow or a rifle with multiple attachments. It’s fitted with many secured pockets of different sizes so they can organize your gear however you want. The model is also fitted with many storage accessories such as a quiver holder and a strap to fit a clip handgun holster.
The distribution of the storage space can help in reducing fatigue and it comes with a camo pattern that can match a similar clothing style. It includes a hydration pocket which becomes useful when you’re moving around for long distances and long periods of time. Should you decide not to carry a gun, the wing pockets can carry extra equipment.
The fastening system can easily secure the weapon to the pack. While the gun holder works exceptionally, it lacks zippered pockets, as there are only a couple on the backpack. It includes a rain cover for situational moments.
This backpack stands out thanks to its many accessories and utility when it comes to carrying a weapon, giving you the option to travel hands-free. It’s ideal for archery, given the quiver holsters it comes with.
3. Buck Knives 113 Ranger Skinner Knife
This is a durable, corrosion-resistant skinning knife that is fitted with a downward angled point design to avoid accidents. The tip is narrow but wide, making it ideal for slicing through thick layers. The steel blade keeps itself sharp with edge retention technology, so it’s safer to use, as dull knives are prone to accidents.
This is not a folding option but a fixed blade. It comes with a leather sheath that is fitted with belt loops in case you want to carry this product on your belt, providing faster access and a tight fit so it stays in one place. The trademark of the 113 Ranger is that it’s made to last and that’s why it includes a lifetime warranty so you don’t need to worry about its reliability any time soon.
The handle may feel too small at first but it tends to fit the hand comfortably. The wood is not as glamorous as in the pictures but at the end of the day, this is not a product you get for its a cosmetic appeal, but its utility.
It may not be much in terms of how it looks, but this knife can stay sharp for an extended amount of time with a design ideal for skinning the thickness of multiple layers. The model's wide blade offers protection against accidents and the handle is comfortable.
4. Irish Setter Men's 2870 Vaprtrek Hunting Boots
One of the most important pieces of protective gear is your boots, because of the sheer number of situations it can help you avoid. This rigid choice comes with a rubber sole and scent control technology to keep you more concealed. They are made out of a synthetic waterproof material that is 40% lighter than traditional boots.
The fabric on this model is also breathable so your feet don’t get damp in warmer climates, which reduces the chance of generating smell while keeping your foot dry. The rubber sole also provides an excellent grip on different surfaces, which is critical in unpredictable terrains. High-wear areas are reinforced to improve durability.
These boots come in a camo print that is simple to match with other clothing or gear choices so that it stays consistent. The materials used on this product vary from leather to nylon depending on different parts of the boots to ensure its overall effectiveness. While this choice is excellent for inconsistent climates, they’re not insulated so are not recommended for extreme situations.
If you’re about to take on inconsistent or erratic terrain, this is an excellent option that offers good grip and protection. The breathable material and scent control technology are crucial to keeping you concealed while you move around in a comfortable, yet effective, choice.
5. Damascus DWC Archery Shooting Glove
The three-finger design used on this product provides mobility and protection needed to keep your shots accurate and your fingers safe. The tips are reinforced but still allow you to feel the arrows, which in turn, results in a better grip. The model is made completely out of leather except for the adjustable Velcro wrist strap that keeps the product firmly in place.
The glove can fit either left or right-handed users with ease and it generally fits ideally, thanks to its simple to read sizing chart. Generally speaking, the dominant hand tends to be larger than the other which is why it is advisable to measure both before purchasing any glove.
The leather on this choice is not hard to break-in, meaning it can achieve its desired fit with less effort than other models. While this product is excellent for middle to high draw-weight bows, the thin design tends to make fingers feel numb after an hour or so of use.
In terms of utility, this model offers a lot of mobility and grip, which in turn, allows for more accurate shots. The adjustable Velcro wrist strap keeps the glove in place and the leather is simple to break-in.
Benefits of Investing in Great Archery Equipment
The better the quality of your equipment is, the more useful it becomes in a variety of situations. The right choices can help you improve in many different areas like:
Large amounts of equipment tend to slow your pace or get you tired faster. While many variables have an impact on this, the options listed here are designed to provide you with exactly what you need and make you less fatigued on hunts.
Game animals can detect you in many different ways, aside from vision. Your scent plays a critical role here and that's why scent control technology is a must, not only on your clothing choices, but on other types of protective gear like your boots.
Versatility is the name of the game when you’re using the most efficient gear. How it adapts, not only to climate, but to the different situations you may find yourself in is what separates a mediocre product from a top tier one.
To be an efficient bowhunter you don’t need a long list of equipment but just the right pieces of gear to keep you both efficient and protected. Excellent products are versatile and can provide different uses depending on the situation. For beginners, this is a question of learning the basics, while for experienced users it's a challenge.
There are hundreds of articles about what a novice bow hunter needs to deer hunt. This one will be using the "KISS" theory: "Keep it Simple Stupid." No, that's not an insult, but if you started listing all of the stuff that even any TWO deer hunters may suggest, you're going to end up with all types of different equipment, arguments galore, and a thousand different reasons why "I'm right, and s/he's wrong." Stow it all. What I've done is compiled a generic list of items from experienced guides that I believe is a fair grouping of items that meet the general needs of a novice deer bow hunter. Is it "written in stone?" Of course not. People vary. Needs vary. Regs vary. Terrain, weather, seasons vary. It's all different. But on balance, I think it's a good start – and since like a savvy politician I want to be able to cover my-you-know-what, I'll readily say as a "disclaimer", my list can be modified for anyone's particular, personal requirements.
The reason I selected discussing bow hunting, is that its equipment is far more technically challenging than gun hunting. So it's tougher to do. We're not in Sherwood Forest, and no one's going to emulate Robin Hood with his ash bow, and hand hewn arrows. This is the 21st century. The novice should first and foremost do his/her "homework" - -big time. Go to a bow hunting seminar or show - -they're held all over. Here are just a few of the rhetorical questions, you'll want answers to: Do you want a recurved bow or a compound bow? What about the arrows? You need the right weight and length. Then there's the draw length that your bow uses, the multiple types of fletching (feathers or "veins" to "steer" the arrow when it's released), the material that the arrows are constructed of - -aluminum, carbon, plastic, wood - -combos. Then there's the type of broadhead and weight (there are some real "junkers" out there). Like in all things "hunting," the lists are endless – and every year there's something new.
My personal advice is that you find a friend, or a friend-of-a-friend, or a "guide friend" - -someone who really is an experienced bow hunter. Offer him/her a Jack & Coke, a brat, maybe even a ride on that big Hawg Harley of yours, and ask if he/she will "train, mentor, and teach" you about equipment and how it's used. And I know I'm sounding like the proverbial broken record, but again I will say, there's no substitute for actually being with an experienced hunter in season. There are so many things that you'll see and "feel" that no seminar, or "hunting professor" can describe. Hands on experience is indeed the best teacher.
OK – you're ready to buy. While there are plenty of used bows and equipment for sale, bow hunting is very "personal" when it comes to equipment. IF you can find good, used equipment that meets your personal specs, go for it. You'll save a lot of money. That being said, don't settle for "close." You need bow hunting equipment that fits you EXACTLY. "Close" doesn’t make it. Ask any successful bow deer hunter. So - -go into an outfitter, and based on what you've seen and been taught, go through the stock and test out equipment that makes you feel real comfortable. The pull of whichever bow type you've decided on is right. The weight is right. The kinds of arrows – all of that stuff.
OK, you've gotten your basic equipment, and they've taken a photo of you all dressed up in camo, behind the stuffed, 12 point buck you've supposedly just nailed, sitting on the plastic woodlands scene in the store (the photo to be used at the corner bar after you get skunked during the season), and you've kept your expenses down. Now what?
Well – there are so many additional accessories, that I don't have room to list them all. Sights, silencers, tree stands, tree ladders, decoys, - - just to name a miniscule few. What do you do? Stick to the "KISS" theory! Buy less to start. You can always add on, or make upgrades.
Here is a list of "gimmes" that ANY hunter- - novice or experienced should take with them, and it’s a compilation of what I was told by a number of different experienced bow deer hunting guides: Cell phone. Water or liquids (some of the guides suggested water tablets or other specialized water purification items). Snacks or simple non-perishable food - -energy bars are good (make sure you can eat whatever it is quietly - -no noisy wrappers, or crunchy stuff like taco chips or apples, and the like). GPS or compass. Rope. Combo tool. Gutting knife. Some plastic "zipper"-type baggies, and a couple of garbage bags. A luminous dial watch. Small flashlite. Matches, flint, or a "fire tool." Bug repellent. Small binoculars. One thing that I'd recommend is a group of "quick remedies" (not all the guides agreed with the things that I've listed, but my long experience in the wilderness tells me that I'm qualified to speak to these items): Blister gel, headache and pain pills, and a small first aid kit. You may also have special needs- - like an EpiPen for those who are subject to allergic reactions.
Please note all the items are or should be SMALL and lightweight. That's the secret. Don't overload yourself. You may set out feeling spry, but after walking the woods for a couple of hours, that spryness wears off real quick.
One final thing. I deliberately left out info or selection of things like clothing, rain gear, boots, etc. Those are items that I personally don't believe require "special mention." They are so obvious, and needed by any outdoors person - -let alone a hunter. Yes- -I know. What about camo? Well, that's part of "clothing," so there! Good hunting – and after you've gotten that prize buck, and are back home or at camp, THEN you can say like the bearded older guy whose surrounded by young Hugh Hefnerites in the Dos Equis ad: "Be thirsty my friend." Celebrate. You earned it.