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Archery When to Leave the Compound Behind & Consider Traditional

When to Leave the Compound Behind & Consider Traditional

Compounds are the most popular choice for archers in the woods, but more and more bowhunters have been moving to longbows and recurves in recent years.

If you’ve been shooting a compound bow but are considering switching to traditional tackle, here are some signs it’s time to make the jump.

You’re Ready for a New Challenge

Bowhunting with a compound can be tough enough. But swap out your rig for a recurve or longbow, and you’ll face an even tougher challenge.

Without sights and other added accessories, you’ll have to learn how to shoot instinctively rather than aim with a particular pin. A traditional bow won’t offer the same letoff as a compound, so you’ll need to adjust to the physical demands. You’ll likely want to stick to closing in on and shooting game at closer range. And all this combines for a mental challenge on top of the other challenges. It’s not easy, but that’s what makes it worthwhile for many archers.

You Want to Shift to a Simpler Style

Modern compound rigs are loaded with technologies that make them fast, quiet, and deadly accurate. Then there’s rangefinding sights, drop-away arrow rests, countless stabilizer configurations, and several styles of release aids. It can get pretty complex — and expensive.

But traditional archery generally requires minimal gear. There are fewer parts to maintain or that could potentially malfunction. And even if you opt for a custom recurve, you’ll likely drop a fraction of what you would on a compound and all its accessories. Traditional archery is just simpler — and your rig will be much more lightweight because of it.

You Have Time to Commit to Practice

Becoming proficient at archery demands a lot of time and dedication. But if you plan to bowhunt with a recurve or longbow? Expect to spend significantly more time at the range.

Although some principles carry over from compounds to traditional bows, you’ll need to master new skills and retrain your brain to become consistently accurate with a recurve or longbow. It’s not a great fit for someone who’s lazy and doesn’t want to invest time practicing. But for a dedicated bowhunter who’s willing to put in the hours, it’s worth the effort.

Traditional archery isn’t for everyone. But if you’re up for the challenge and have the chance to change up your setup, making the switch could be incredibly fun and rewarding.

9 thoughts on “When to Leave the Compound Behind & Consider Traditional”

  1. Plus being able to see the arrow in flight is a hoot!

    And if you have even more time, space, tools and patience; get book on bow making. You will not believe the amount of pride and satisfaction in taking game with a bow (and arrow and broadhead) you made yourself.

    If you start, you’ll not make just one. (My first two broke..) I have a dozen (or two) hanging around.

    • >>> You will not believe the amount of pride and satisfaction in taking game with a bow (and arrow and broadhead) you made yourself. <<<

      You said that right rk!

      Was squirrel hunting the other day when an ironwood tree (hophornbeam) called out to me saying "I'm a bow, I'm a bow! Let me out, I'm a bow!"

      So, I brought it home and split out some staves to work on when it's to cold to be outside. Planning a couple of selfbows and maybe a longbow or two.

      Hank

      • I currently have 10-12 hedge staves standing in the corner. Plus a couple black locust.
        The plan is to retire next summer. I’m sure shortly thereafter, the wood pile is going to get smaller.

        • Question for you rk, have you ever noticed that green staves that were standing in a corner take a “set” at the bottoms?

          I’ve had a bunch of staves that did that and l had to cut 12-18 from the bottom – fortunately I’d cut those extra long anyway. Taking advantage of the fact that the green wood will settle I always store/dry my staves horizontally on two pegs spaced 4 feet apart. The notches on the pegs hold the staves (bark side up) so they dry with a bit of a backset.

          Yeah, can’t resist collecting any piece of wood that could be a bow. Got maple, elm, cherry, hickory, birch and ironwood (my favorite) staves.

          Also have some Buckthorn I want to try. Beautiful orange wood that’s very hard and strong (fibrous), but it’s small (3-4 inches diameter) and grows with a lot of “character”. I’ll have to splice it to make a stave.

          Fun stuff!

          Hank

          • Hank
            All my staves were dried horizontal (2-5 years) before standing in the corner.
            I’m guessing Buckthorn is the same as Hedge Apple (Osage Orange, Bois de Arc) Different name for the same stuff. Depending on where you live.
            Hedge splits fairly easy when it’s green but is Very hard to split once dried. Have to drill a pilot hole to drive a nail.
            The crooked hedge trees make fence posts that will last for a hundred years. Black locust posts only last forty years or so.

        • rk,

          No Osage locally (Ontario, Canada) and I’ve tried to grow it (several times) but the saplings don’t survive the winter.

          Think you are right that the Osage and Buckthorn are related where the Osage is a tree and the Buckthorn more of an overgrown bush. Buckthorn has a distinctive white sapwood that turns a silver/gray when dry and the heartwood is a golden orange that takes a nice polish with lots of deep highlights. Makes great walking sticks, canes and slingshots.

          Hank

  2. TBB,

    Interesting thought that traditional archery is “something new” to try.

    I learned archery with selfbow long before compounds were ever heard of and I tried compounds out of curiosity. Hunted with compounds for a couple of years, found them to be too heavy, noisy, expensive and complicated compared to a selfbow that was a fraction of the weight and I could make in an afternoon.

    Never thought (traditional) archery was any more difficult that throwing a ball and that it was a heck of a lot easier than golf.

    Oh, IMHO, archery practice is not a penance – it’s a fun skill to learn. I must be wierd eh?

    Hank

  3. In truth,, the concept of instinctual shooting is completely unknown to the vast majority of bow hunters, today. It is the way I learned and when I pulled out an old 45 lb recurve from my closet, last week. I put three cedar shafts I in a pie plate at 20 yds. Amazed my son and a couple of his friends. ( amazed myself, too)

    Ed

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