I have been accompanying Henry Bodnik at his courses in the instinctive archery for about 1 1/2 years now. For some time, we have observed a phenomenon which I want to write a few lines about today: Many archers tend to lighter draw weights than before! Not only our personal experience but statistics from bow building also prove: there is a trend towards lighter draw weights. Of course, the material has become more efficient; but in addition, the insight seems to slowly arrive in the minds of the archers that one does not need 55 lbs and a lot of penetrating power to shoot a 3D target but tranquility in shooting and repeatable precision. We have tried and tested a few things and today want to drop a few lines about why it can be useful not to overdo it with the draw weight.
With a modern bow-arrow-combination, it is possible to achieve approximately the same ballistics at 50 meters distance with about 25 lbs as with a 50 lbs bow. You don’t believe us? Let us prove it.
First, we need to talk about a decisive factor that allows us to shoot low draw weights – the arrow. With the production of the Penthalon Slim Line carbon shafts it has become possible to shoot 20 # and 25 # bows without missing any accuracy even at long distances. Spine values of 1300 and 1600 have been on the market only for a few years. 3 inch fletches are just the right thing for these draw weights, and the 60 or 70 grs tips make our arrow light and quick. Since we do not need any penetration power at 3D animals, our arrow must also not be particularly heavy. My 29 inch long Penthalon Slim Line 1300s arrows with nock, tip and 3 inch feathers weigh about 197 grs – divided by 24 pounds of my bow’s draw weight, this is 8.2 gpp. Cannot be fast? Oh yes, it can!
I myself shoot a Bearpaw Hawk which we have honed down to a low draw weight specifically for our tests. From its original 30 lbs, we have brought this Hawk down to a whopping 24.07 lbs draw weight when drawn to 29 inches. The thin limbs are the second “secret“ for the arrow to properly absorb power. The lower the mass of the limbs, the more energy is given to the arrow when comparing the same draw weights of bows. I made a comparative picture in order to document the width of the limbs comparing a normal 50 lbs Hawk to our special Hawk. For this purpose, it should be mentioned that the limbs of our standard bow are not exactly broad.
So far this sounds pretty nice, but how quick is the whole thing now? The bow was shot with finger release to a 29 inches draw. I claim that I shoot relatively stably and repeatably; the measured variations of 2 to 3 fps from shot to shot prove me right. My shooting glove was the Bearpaw Black Glove, string was a Bodnik Whisper String with 8 strands and a small brass nock point. My arrows are 29.25 inches long, with a 60 grs. tip, 3 inch parabolic fletches and normal Penthalon nock. All the shots I made were between 191 and 193 fps! – with 24 lbs of draw weight on my fingers!
Of course I do not want everybody to suddenly switch to only 25 lbs draw weight now – but this example clearly shows that with the correct bow-arrow-combination and with a 35-40 lbs bow, one can shoot a complete 3D-parcours comfortably, health-friendly, and fatigue-free. Many of our trainees who train irregularly due to a stressful office job, suddenly have fun shooting with a 30 lbs Redman and Slim Line arrows. Their shooting technique can be executed clean(er) and they don’t have totrain themselves up to a high draw weight. Less sometimes really can be more – although maybe not for everyone. But certainly for one or the other a 30-35 lbs bow may fit much better than a 45 lbs bow. The rethinking is taking place – we experience it every day.