Choosing a Youth Hunting Bow – Part 1: What Type of Bow Should We Start With?

So, last hunting season, my daughter who was age 11 at the time managed to connect on a hog, and two bucks with the 6.8SPC II rifle.  If you want to read how we came to the conclusion on which rifle to choose for her small frame, then check out my article Choosing a Hunting Rifle For a Child. This year our goal is to have my daughter, now age 12, achieve success at bowhunting.   Therefore, we must acquire and setup a bow that will fit her.

Choosing the Type of Bow:

Options:  Your choices here in Louisiana are many for hunting during archery season.  Where you hunt the laws may differ, so check them out before making a purchase.  Here you may choose from any of the following:

  1. Longbow;
  2. Recurve Bow;
  3. Crossbow; or a
  4. Compound Bow.
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That’s right, creepy eyed Robin Hood used a longbow, but you may not want your little arrow flinging tyke to (just yet).

1. Longbow & Recurve: Due to my daughter’s age, strength level and lack of archery experience, the longbow, and recurve bow are out of the discussion.  There is a minimum draw weight of 30lbs in Louisiana in order to deer hunt with the equipment.  A new bow hunter shooting a low poundage bow, that lacks the efficiency, and let-off of a bow of the wheeled variety, is a little more of a handicap than I’m willing to undertake at this juncture.  Once we’ve got some fundamentals under our belt, then we can transition her into a longbow or recurve, and away from fixed pin sights into an instinctive or gap shooting setup. The longbow & recurve are my favorite hunting weapons, and what I spend most of my season hunting with, so I hope that my daughter will eventually want to join me in traditional archery.  If she were looking for mad bowhunting street cred, we could try to have her first bow kill be with a trad-bow, but I’m not that sadistic.

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Crossbow:  Good for Zombie Apocalypse, Bad for Youth Bow Season

2.  Crossbow: A crossbow definitely isn’t lacking in the efficiency department, but it’s too cumbersome, and dangerous for a first time hunter to load, and shoot in a field situation for me to feel comfortable starting my daughter out with a crossbow.  In addition, I want for her to learn the fundamentals of archery.  A crossbow is not “archery” by my definition, meaning that it is more closely related to the form, and skill of shooting a shoulder mounted firearm or air gun than it is to archery.  From a safety standpoint, I’ve heard horror stories of grown men completely or nearly completely severing their thumb or fingers that got in the way of the string when the weapon is being fired, or cocked.  Mrs. Greatoutdoordinary is really fussy about me returning our kids with all of the parts that we left with, and she was specific that all of the parts still had to be attached.  I’m not knocking guys who want to hunt with this type of equipment, but I personally don’t think it belongs in the same class of weapon, or the same hunting season as archery.  Needless to say, from a personal preference and safety standpoint, the crossbow was out.

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Compound Bow:  If it’s good enough for John James Rambo, then it’s good enough for little Chester to take his first deer, right?

3. Compound Bow:  Let’s just say, winner winner chicken dinner. The compound bow has all of the following attributes going for it:


  • It has the efficiency to cast a properly tuned arrow, and a properly selected hunting broadhead out of a low poundage bow with more than enough power to effectively, and ethically harvest a deer, or even hogs.
  • Unlike a longbow or recurve bow, a compound bow has “let-off.”  Let-off means that the mechanical advantage derived from the cams (wheels) on the bow, enables the shooter to hold back only a portion of the total poundage of the bow’s draw weight once it is drawn to full draw.
  • The form used, and muscle development is in line with that of traditional archery, so if my daughter wanted to “lose the training wheels” and move up to a traditional setup (which I hope she does one day), then the transition will be a snap with the right coaching and equipment.
  • Compound bows are also currently the most prevalent form of archery hunting equipment, so there are plenty of options with regard to equipment and information out there.

Soap Box: Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been fed up for years with the ridiculous amount of thinly veiled commercialism in the world of hunting.  Don’t get me wrong, innovation, marketing, advertisement and capitalism are great, but the constant barrage of garbage-like, infomercial style, junk that is pushed on the modern hunter is ridiculous.  I absolutely love purchasing, using, and learning about new products.  Hell, that’s a part of what this blog is about, but sometimes I just want to watch a hunting show, or read an article about hunting without someone trying to convince me that I can’t harvest a deer, or decoy a duck without the new and improved Whatcha-Mah-Dingle. I’m pretty sure hunters have been killing all sorts of beasts without the use of modern tools with efficiency for millennia.  So, don’t get caught up on which bow that I chose in this series of articles.  Rather, focus on what made me choose the bow, and what will work best for you and/or your little hunter.

Categories: archery, bowhunting, diy, hunting, Shooting

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Excellent advice. I also tend to agree that crossbows have more in common with shoulder-fired weapons than real archery gear. Very nicely done!



  1. Choosing a Youth Hunting Bow – Part 2: Picking Out a Compound Bow – Greatoutdoordinary

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