Deciding which style of bow to purchase and train with is an essential decision for any new archer, and it’s important to understand the very significant differences between the two. The first step in making this decision is of course what the archer intends to focus upon – if hunting game is the ultimate objective, then of course hunting bows are the route to follow. On the other hand accuracy and target archery will need practice with bows intended for that purpose. Here we’ll take a look at the key differences between the two bow styles and present the pros and cons for both.
The Key Differences
In absolute layman’s terms the essential difference between hunting and target bows comes down to a compromise between power and accuracy. Hunting bows are designed to fire heavier arrows (usually with serrated heads) that will impact with more force than a standard projectile. On the other hand target bows fire much lighter, slimmer arrows with a very precise pointed tip. Naturally these are lighter and generally more aerodynamically stable when in flight, allowing for even further accuracy.
There’s quite considerable debate over whether hunting or target bows demand a greater level of skill when it comes down to accuracy. You’d expect at first glance that target bows demand greater precision – after all they have much more variable sights that involve moving pins in order to ascertain as accurate a range as possible. On more advanced bow optics these can be extremely precise and require plenty of practice to learn how to use them with consistent accuracy.
On the other hand the majority of hunting bows incorporate fixed sights that are usually variable over just three approximate ranges (near, medium, far). This is mainly because the hunting style of archery requires an approximate target hit rather than being utterly clinical within the inch. There’s a strong argument that hunting bows require a greater level of natural skill when taking a shot, as there’s a much greater degree of instinct involved than with that used in target archery. It’s a debate that’ll never be settled, but serves to highlight the inherent differences between the disciplines.
The Power/Accuracy Compromise
Hunting bows require more power – usually anywhere between 60-80lbs on the draw. Target bows are usually around a third less powerful. The logic behind this is that obviously a hunting archer wants to make sure his prey goes down, while a target archer benefits from a lower velocity because it reduces the vibration and resonance that can affect the flight of their arrow.
Over shorter ranges the difference may not be especially noticeable but over longer distances target archers generally have a far higher accuracy. Bear in mind also that weather and wind will play a major role in affecting accuracy; hunting arrows suffer less deviation due to their greater weight and speed, target archery depends upon taking these factors into account when aligning sights and range.
Ease Of Use
Hunting bows are shorter, designed to be portable and easy to carry when stalking prey. Target bows are designed for more static range firing, are often considerably larger and with more ergonomic grips to assist with encouraging a comfortable stance. An absolute beginner will find it much easier to pick up and use a hunting bow with any degree of competence rather than a target bow, which can take a great deal of practice before being able to consistently achieve good groupings.
Bear in mind that the bow market is vast and there’s a huge variety of hybrids and adaptable’s that allow for a great deal of modification to be made depending upon individual preferences. In regards to pricing it’s sensible to spend towards the higher end of the budget when considering a target bow as the core materials used in the manufacture will be essential in helping with accuracy. Good quality hunting bows can be found for considerably less, just be sure to opt for as much draw power as possible.
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