Bow Hunting For Beginners – 2021 Beginner’s Guide

| Last Updated August 14, 2021

So, you decided to try your hand at bow hunting as a new hobby, but you don't know how to get started. Well, we have your back. While most people think bow hunting is hard, it really isn't when you know the right strings to pull for the ultimate kill.

There are several things to pay attention to when getting started with bow hunting. You must get the right equipment and learn to use it, know what to hunt when and where, get a bow hunting license, and finally get on to the real hunt with the same enthusiasm as before.

In this article, we explore what you need to know and do as a beginner bow hunter to bring you up to speed with bow hunting basics and set you up for success. Read through to the end to learn what you need to implement for your first kill and beyond.

Bow Hunting Terminology and Common Concepts For Beginners

The technical nature of the bow hunting sport or hobby might scare beginner hunters away because of the many otherwise complex terms and concepts used by experts around the sport. Here's a breakdown of some of the common ones you'll hear often.


Bow hunting stance refers to the body form or shooting posture you assume when getting ready to shoot with your bow. The best stance is to stand sideways relative to the target with your feet roughly about your shoulder-width apart and perpendicular to your target. 

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For a stable stance, distribute your total body weight evenly between your legs, shoulders fully squared, the legs and back straight, the head facing your target, and only the arms moving appropriately. 

You should also always avoid the temptation of leaning over during the draw as you will easily lose on accuracy. 

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Most people lose accuracy points in bow hunting because of a bad grip on the bow.

You should support your hunting bow with the web of your bow arm rather than the fingers or palm. The fingers should dangle or be fully relaxed for a soft grip

The Draw

For a good draw, push out your bow arm toward your target with a slight bend at the elbow.

Then, use your other hand (the release hand) to pull the back of the bowstring past your chest, placing the elbow of the release hand past your back and pointing to the sky. 

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Anchor Point

During each draw, you need a good spot to rest the end of the bow closest to you, which consists mainly of the bowstring, the rear end of the arrow, and the release aid if you are using one. 

For most people, the front jaw point or corner of the mouth is the most preferred anchor point when they draw the bow. The best approach is to find your favorite and most comfortable spot for each shot if you want consistent accuracy. 

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When you draw your bow, you'll have to aim at a specific point on your target. If you are accurate enough, this is the spot where your arrow hits the target. 

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The Release

Since you can't hold a fully drawn bow for long and because your target animal might be on the move and out of the shooting lane in seconds, you must release the bowstring to let go of the arrow. 

Your eyes should be on the target during the release, especially on the specific spot you want to hit. If you are using a release aid, you only have to squeeze the trigger with your index finger or thumb, depending on the type of release aid you have. 

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Once you shoot your bow, you should follow through by holding the bow in place as it were during the aim until the arrow hits the target. That means your eyes should also be focused on your aim. 

A proper follow-through enhances your accuracy and thus your chances for a good game kill.

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How To Get Started With Bow Hunting

To best get started with bow hunting, you need to select the right bow and other equipment, learn how to use it, and know what to hunt with your chosen bow. Let's get you started with these three aspects to you into the fold. 

What Can I Hunt with a Bow?

There are several games you can hunt with a bow. The type of animals you should be interested in include but are not limited to:

  • Deer (such as white-tail deer)

  • Moose

  • Boar

  • Goats

  • Bear

  • Sheep
  • Elk

  • Bison

  • Turkey

  • Rabbits

  • Caribou

Some people also like to hunt varmints (small animals regarded as pests) such as squirrels, skunks, groundhogs, coyotes, raccoons, geese, and pheasants. 

It's always advisable to start with a bigger game such as moose before hunting smaller games like deer

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How to Select the Right Bow For a Beginner

The expert at your local archery shop should advise you best on what type of hunting bow you should choose. For starters, it is best to start with the less demanding types such as longbows and recurves before trying the more complex compound bows and crossbows. 

Longbows and recurves are more traditional and are your best bet for quick, short draws and releases. Most people use compound bows because they reduce shoulder strain at full draw and allow them to hold the draw much longer. They also offer options for adding accessories. 

If you want to go for the least movement and the highest shot accuracy, crossbows are the choice for you as you only have to aim and pull a trigger to shoot your arrow. 

The archery expert will determine your draw weight at the archery shop to help you pick the right bow. They should also let you try out the bow at their archery shop range. It's good to seek the opinion of two or more experts at different shops so that you pick the best bow. 

Beginner's Equipment For Bow Hunting

For a successful bow hunting experience, you'll need a host of equipment and accessories other than a bow. Some of the items to have include:

  • Arrows

  • Arrowheads

  • Quiver

  • Release aids

  • Silencers

  • Finger tab or gloves
  • Sights

  • Armguard

  • Treestand or ground blind, depending on the type of game you are hunting

  • Safety harness for the treestand

  • Wind checker or indicator

  • Bowhunting rangefinder
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    Please check out our recent article for a detailed overview of the equipment you need for bowhunting as a beginner.

    Prepare for the Hunt

    Once you have bought the right equipment and learned how to use it, it's time to prepare for the actual hunt. Your preparation will largely depend on the type of game you want to hunt, but the steps below generally cut across regardless of the target game. 


    Every successful bow hunting session calls for proper scouting of the area or location where you want to pounce on your target. During scouting, you tour the hunting grounds to familiarize yourself with it and the behavior of your target game. 

    Scouting helps you learn the life and behavior of the target animals concerning where and when they go to eat, drink, rest and sleep. Establishing these spots helps you know where you can set up your stand for higher chances of a clean kill.

    For even higher chances of success, you should avoid disturbing the animal habitat too much as your scent and presence there may scare away the game. 

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    Gear Prep

    It always counts to get your bow hunting gear or equipment ready long before the actual hunt. Ensure you have all the equipment required for the hunt well packed into a convenient carrier such as a backpack from which you can easily and quietly reach each item. 

    Setting Up Your Stand

    During the preseason scouting, you should identify several sweet spots where you can set up your treestand. It’s best to set up several weeks before the start of the hunting season to ensure the target game gets used to them as part of their habitat.

    The prevailing wind patterns, topography, and living corridors of the game are your best clues on where to put up your treestand. The stand should be at least 20 yards from the corridors and 15 or 20 feet up a sturdy tree. 

    If you prefer to hunt from the ground level, you can set up your ground blind early on as well so that they appear to the game as part of their usual environment before the beginning of the hunting season. 

    Bagging Your First Kill

    The most exciting part of bow hunting for every beginner is making their first kill. Stay composed and patient on the D-day to ensure you don’t spook your target because of unnecessary noise or miss it due to trembling. 

    After shooting the target in a delicate spot like the heart or lungs area, you should follow its blood trail and other elopement signs to find your kill. You can then dress it in the field by removing the unwanted internal organs before processing it further at home. 

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    How To Shoot a Hunting Bow For Beginners

    Most beginners find it difficult to shoot properly, especially with compound bows. That doesn’t have to be you. Here's how to shoot a hunting bow as a total beginner. 

    • Take up a good form or stance: The trick to getting your stance straight even the first time is to stand in a slightly open position with one foot in front and a bit outside of the target. 

    • Practice painless drawing: Drawing and holding the bow can exert on the muscles, especially if you use a bow with more draw weight that you can handle. As you keep practicing drawing, your muscles relax and the shoulders get used to it. 

    When drawing, you should have a fairly loose grip on the bow and then pull back the bowstring until you reach a comfortable anchor point for more accuracy. 

    • Aim at a specific spot on the target: The pin in your bow sight comes in handy during the aim. A sight with a level serves you best since you can align the aim such that the level bubble stays in the center. Aim at a specific spot instead of the whole target. 

    • Release the bowstring to launch the arrow: Once you have drawn and aimed properly, you next let go of the bowstring to shoot the arrow towards the target. 

    A release aid with a trigger comes in handy to safeguard your fingers, especially when using a compound bow. 

    For a better shot at accuracy, you should follow through by remaining as calm as possible between the time the arrow launches and when it hits the target. 

    Be sure to check out the video below for a detailed overview of the shooting process using a hunting bow. 

    Bow Hunting 101 Graphic

    To provide deeper insights into bow hunting, here's a comprehensive bow hunting graphic you can use as a checklist to ensure you have things in check for your first and subsequent hunting trips. 

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    Other Factors Bow Hunting Beginners Need to Consider

    Before you hit the ground running for your first hunting expedition, there are several other things to consider. 

    Firstly, you have to be sure of your intended hunting location - which could be public or private. Public hunting lands are allowable by the state, while private ones belong to landowners. 

    You also want to check with your state and local authorities to ensure that the hunting season is on and that you won't land into any trouble for your hunting activities. Luckily, bow hunting seasons in most states run longer than the gun hunting seasons. 

    For better results, scout the hunting ground and set up your treestand or ground blind a few weeks before the onset of the hunting season. 

    It's also important to consider your experience level before venturing out to hunt. If you don't feel confident enough in your bow shooting skills, perhaps you should wait and practice a little more before the actual hunt. You don't want to dampen your spirit by returning empty-handed. 

    Bow Hunting Tips For Beginners

    Since bow hunting might be a bit challenging when you are first getting started, a few tips from experts come in handy to set you up for repeat success. 

    Take Bow Hunting Classes

    Although not a requirement to be issued with a license in some states, attending bow hunting classes helps you with several things. For example, you learn of the target game to understand their behavior, feeding, watering, sleeping, and resting practices. 

    Safety First: Wear the Harness

    Wearing your safety harness every time you are up on a treestand is non-negotiable. As much as you want some sweet game meat, your safety comes first. You don't want to fall off the stand and injure yourself. A fall might even kill you, and you would become the hunted. 

    Hunt with an Expert

    Whether or not you are fully confident of your newly learned skills, it pays off to walk in tandem with a seasoned bowhunter who can show you the ropes to the sport. 

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    All you have to do is ask to accompany them on their next hunt. 

    Keep a Low Profile

    Most game, such as deer, are very observant of their habitat for weird additions or human beings in the vicinity. The last thing you want when you spot a good target, say, a deer, is to spook it by making noise or having it get wind of your scent. 

    You can use a ground blind or treestand to manage your scent profile, while hunting camouflage is great for covering as much flesh as you can on you. 

    Bow Hunting Laws, Regulations, and Licenses

    Like gun hunting, bow hunting has laws and regulations that guide hunters on what they can or can't do. For example, there are hunting seasons and shooting hours, and you can't shoot your bow before or after these have passed. 

    Hunting grounds are also highly regulated, and you can't just hunt anywhere that the state or local authorities have not earmarked as legal hunting areas. 

    A bowhunting license is another key issue to consider. It's always advisable that you have a valid one with you when you are out scouting or hunting. If you are hunting in someone else's private land, be sure to get their written permission beforehand. 

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    Bow hunting does not have to be hard once you know what to do, how to do it, and all the necessary items you require, such as licensing and basic equipment and accessories. 

    Research widely on the best hunting bow, where to hunt, what to hunt, when to hunt, legal aspects around bow hunting, and how to prepare and conduct yourself during the actual hunt. 

    People Also Ask

    You may still have lots of questions on your mind before you find your footing in the bow hunting world. It's okay since they are the starting point for learning new aspects whenever the need arises. Here are some common questions about bow hunting. 

    How Much Does It Cost to Start Bow Hunting?

    Depending on the type of equipment and accessories you choose, you can spend anywhere between $600 and $1,000 to start bow hunting. 

    To keep your costs as low as possible, if you are on a limited budget, you should consider taking the most basic equipment first, such as a bow, arrows, quiver, arrowheads, silencers, finger tab, and release aids. 

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    How Difficult is Bow Hunting?

    Any honest expert will tell you that bow hunting is not for the faint-hearted. Since you are dealing with living targets that are usually constantly on the lookout for their safety, it's easy to go for a long time without a kill if you don't know your way around bow hunting. 

    The good news is that you can easily learn how to bow-hunt by attending classes, asking experts for helpful information, practicing successful shooting, and finally getting yourself muddied up in the hunting grounds during actual bow hunting sessions. 

    What is the Minimum Draw Weight on a Bow to Kill a Deer?

    Most states set the minimum bow draw weight as 40 pounds for killing a deer. 

    If you hit vital organs such as the lungs or the heart, a 40-pound draw weight will effectively and humanely fell the deer within the shortest time possible to eliminate undue pain and suffering. bowhunting

    My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.