All posts by David James

How to identify the parts of a compound bow!

If you want to talk compound you need to know what you're referring to. In this article we're going to illustrate and explain the various parts of a modern compound bow. What they do, where they are and why you should know.

If you're wondering, our example bow is the feature packed Diamond Infinite Edge Pro in BlackOps finish.

The Riser

This is the main body of the bow. The riser has most of the mass and provides the mounting points for accessories such as sights, stabilizers and a quiver.

You'll normally find modern compound risers made out of aluminium although high end and low end bows can use different materials to lower weight or cost respectively.

​The riser is where the limbs attach and it's also where you hold the bow. The riser has to provide the stability for all the other components of the bow to flex against.

Riser

Riser (Highlighted in Red)

Everything Else

Parts Detail Diagram

Parts Detail Diagram

1, 2 - Axles

The axle is... well it's the axle on which the cam turns. You might think of this as the hinge or load bearing point for the cam. The distance between the top and bottom axle of a compound bow is called the 'Axle-To-Axle' distance and is usually outlined in bow specifications.

3, 4 - Cams

The thing that differentiates a compound bow from any other bow are the cams. These are located at the ends of the limbs and look like little wheels.

Cams​ can have different types such as single, dual (which the example bow has) or hybrid. Their purpose is to transfer and store energy away from the string. This is called let-off, and this feature of a compound that means when the string is fully drawn you get a more powerful shot than the actual weight you are holding back. For example on an 70 lbs bow with 70% let off, the archer needs only hold back about 49 lbs of weight and the bow will provide 70 lbs of force to the arrow upon release.

Cams

Cams (Highlighted Red)

5, 6 - Limbs

At the top and bottom of the bow are the limbs. These are the pieces of the bow that flex and that flex provides the power for the shot.

Limbs can be either single piece or split (2 piece). Split limbs offer durability, strength over single piece limbs however can introduce issues such as riser torque if they are inexactly matched.

Normally limbs these are constructed out of a composite laminated material which can consist of wood, fiberglass and carbon. Solid glass limbs are also available.

Limbs

Limbs  (Highlighted Red)

7, 8 - Limb Bolts

Limbs are usually attached to the riser by means of sliding into a limb pocket and being secured by a bolt.

9 - Sight

This bow is fitted with a pin sight which is an adjustable aperture with aiming pins through which an archer can aim.

10 - Quiver

This bow is fitted with a quiver. Not all compounds are fitted with these by the manufacturer so don't always expect to see one. Most risers will come with attachment points for a quiver even if one isn't supplied.

On this example the tips of the arrow will fit into the top of the quiver so that the arrow would point upwards and be stored pointing upwards seemingly (you might think) upside down.

Quivers can be fitted​ the other way up, this is usually a personal preference thing.

Quiver

Quiver (Highlighted Red)

11 - Cable Slide

The cable slide is a movable retaining slide that keeps the cables out of the way of the arrow whilst a shot is taken.

12 - Cable Guard

The cable guard is the pole attached to the riser that the cable slide attaches to and slides along.

13 - Arrow Rest

The rest that holds the arrow in place. There are a few different types of rest. They can 'drop away' after shooting and there's one called a 'whisker biscuit' that holds the arrow in place with whiskers.

14 - Shelf

The shelf is located just above the grip and on a traditional bow can be used to rest the arrow on during a shot (much like an arrow rest). Most compound shooters use a rest.

15 - Grip

This is where you hold the bow. Grips are normally ergonomically fashioned on modern bows and may be slightly cushioned or coated with tactile materials to assist in keeping the bow firmly in your hand when shooting or carrying it.

Much like other accessories on a bow manufacturers normally allow you to switch the grip insert for something aftermarket that suits you.​

Grip

Grip (Highlighted Red)

16 - Stabilizer

Stabilizers are optional and act to give the bow stabilizing balance when fully drawn. They usually screw into a mounting hole on the riser. They can help to resist twist or torque in the riser when a shot is fired and add weight below the grip of the bow.

Understanding how a stabilizer works is easy. Stand up and with your arms to your side, twist your torso. Easy? Now hold your arms straight out in front of you, keep them there, and twist again.... Gets harder doesn't it? A stabilizer acts like your arms, and helps to stop the bow from twisting from side to side when the shooting forces are released.

The additional weight of a stabilizer also helps to alter the center of balance of the bow at full draw, settling it quickly during the aiming process.

17 - Sling

You don't grip a bow, and if you hold and fire a bow correctly (without a sling) it will fall forwards and out of your hands. A sling wraps around the back of your hand and stops this happening.

18 - Cables

These cables run from cam to cam and are part of the workings of the compound bow. They do not touch the arrow.

19 - Speed Nock

Little weights added to the bowstring called 'speed nocks' that help to decrease the oscillations in a string as it is pulled by the cam during arrow release. This makes the string return to the groove in the cam more quickly. Less energy is lost in string oscillation and friction and this increases the speed rating of the bow.

20 - Bowstring

The string that you pull and that shoots the arrow forward.

21 - Vibration Arrester

The vibration arrester stops the string from vibrating once fired. Imagine a bow like a harp with one string, if you released the string it would 'twang'. The vibration arrester is make of rubber and stops that vibration making the shot quieter. This is useful when hunting.

22 - D-Loop

The arrow nock will rest on the face of the D. The bend of the D will be hooked onto a mechanical release aid. There are different types of release, thumb, wrist, trigger and even back. A release aid allows for a clean release of the string without any sticky fingers to affect the path of the string.

23 - Peep Sight

This peep sight is a 'tube' sight as it has a little tube attached that, when at full draw will allow the archer to sight down it. Bow sights are similar to sights on rifles, there are 2 things you need to align. The main sight on the bow has pins and you sight those pins to the target through the peep.

So now you know...

I hope this helped clear up any confusion you may have had when looking at compound bow and helped you understand things a little more clearly! If there's anything we've missed or you'd like detailing further, please let us know in the comments.

In a pinch? Get the best archery gloves

Finger pinch, callouses and blisters can all be avoided with the use of a good archery glove. Unless of course you’ve been shooting with your fingers for years, have excellent technique, and you’ve developed a nice thick skin…. For the rest of us normal humans who shoot traditional, recurve and longbows there’s the glove or the tab.

Tabs and gloves aren't only for protection though. The right material on the fingers can provide for a far smoother surface for the bowstring to slip off. Your fingers are coarse and designed to grip things, a tab or a glove can help your achieve a smoother release.

Some people swear by the tab, others by the glove. It really depends on what you learned with, what you’re used to and what you’re doing. We’re going to focus on gloves. Let’s take a look at what makes a good archery glove and what differentiates it from a tab.

All About Archery Gloves

Styles

​The normal style of archery gloves looks just like a glove. Take your usual run of the mill glove and remove the thumb and little finger from it, hey presto, you have an archery glove. This type of glove is designed to only cover the 3 fingers with which you pull the bowstring. They normally have reinforced fingertips for heavy weight bows and the opposite for lighter weight bows. The thumb and little finger are left out in the elements so that you can feel with them as they may be acting as part of your anchor.

​Traditional styles of archery glove expose even more of the hand to the elements. They are usually just 3 finger tip covers with 3 strands of material attaching them to a wrist strap. This is the minimum amount of material you need to securely cover the fingers whilst keeping the rest of the hand exposed.

Traditional vs Regular Archery Gloves

Regular (Left) vs Traditional (Right) Archery Gloves

Seamless

Whilst, no they aren't usually completely seamless, a good glove will have no seams on the sides or front of the finger. This means there won't be any material between your fingers to pinch​ when you apply weight to the string. 

Material Selection

​Leather is strong and offers good protection from heavyweight bows. However leather doesn't breathe like modern materials. Leather can also crease and wear. The top flight professionals tend to use tabs and gloves made from cordovan leather. That's one of the most expensive leathers in the world. Cordovan is slick and stiff, but expensive.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are gloves made from suede, canvas or nylon. These allow you to feel the bowstring through the glove and offer better breathability but less in the way of protection. 

Sizing​

Before you get any glove, check the sizing. Some are one site fits all. For others the manufacturers will usually offer some sort of sizing chart. You will usually need to know the distance from the tip of your middle finger to your wrist. Also the diameter of your fingertips for some ​better fitted gloves.

Tabs vs Gloves

​I've already mentioned that some people prefer the tab. If you don't know what a tab is, it's just a piece of material (usually leather) that is positioned between the fingers and the bowstring.

Archery Tab and Glove

Glove (Left) vs Tab (Right)

Over and above personal shooting preference, here's a few reasons why you might prefer one over the other.

  • ​Archery gloves allow you to be faster to ready and release a shot
  • Tabs are easily lost
  • A tab can be used over a regular (5 finger) glove when shooting in cold conditions
  • A tab must be stored before you can use your hand properly a glove does not restrict you so much
  • Tabs are usually cheaper and can even be home-made

Try Them Out!

When all is said and done, both gloves and tabs for the regular archer are inexpensive pieces of kit. Unless you're buying cordovan leather​ you can easily buy and try both until you find your preference.

Shooting Glove Roundup

Damascus DWC Archery Shooting Glove

Damascus Gear supply the armed forces and law enforcement with premium quality hand gear and have been doing this since 1955. Their leather shooting glove has fast become a firm favorite.

The leather is soft and supple, so it won't offer protection from heavyweight bows. Anything under about 50 lbs and you'll be fine.

A velcro strap secures this on your wrist and the fingertips are reinforced with an extra layer of leather to help with protection. That layer however does still allow for a good feel of the string.

Sizing of this one is more exact because Damascus themselves provide a sizing guide. Wrap a tape measure around your hand at the widest point and make a loose fist. Round the measurement to the nearest inch and locate your size in this table:

  • Small - 8" / 20cm
  • Medium - 9" / 23cm
  • Large - 10" / 25cm
  • X-Large​ - 11" / 28cm

Pros

  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Proprietary Sizing

Cons

  • Not for 50 lbs + bows

Neet Suede Shooting Glove

Don't be fooled by the name. The backing of this traditional style shooting glove from Neet is suede but the finger tips are smooth leather. This fastens to your wrist with a velcro strap and between the wrist strap and the finger material is elasticated. This means that even though you need to get the correct size the wrist strap and elastic will help to pull down and fit the tips snug to your fingers.

Neet produce a wide range of archery gloves and protective gear so you're shopping with a well established brand. They also have a full size chart that includes hand length (from tip of middle finger to wrist) and finger diameter measurements for their gloves. You can find it here.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Elastic backing
  • Attractive suede finish
  • Smooth leather fingertips
  • Extremely popular

Cons

  • Sizing confusion (use the chart)

Pellor Handmade 3 Finger Traditional Glove

Pellor make a lot of outdoor gear. This traditional style archery glove is one of the most durable leather gloves we've listed. The leather will take a little wearing in and time to soften and mold to your fingers but the result will be worthwhile. You may even want to condition or soak it to speed up the process. This is a nice looking traditional glove that fastens to the wrist with a buckle instead of velcro.

The benefits of this style are always that you can feel more with your hands. Those finger tips can be removed whilst it is still attached to your wrist also, allowing you to fully use your hands.

This glove only comes in a single size 7.5" or 19 cm from fingertip to wrist but it has an adjustable height of wrist strap with 4 settings so you can adjust it to fit.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Reinforced fingertips
  • Attractive traditional design
  • Adjustable height

Cons

  • One size only

ArcheryMax Handmade Leather 3 Finger

A cow leather 3 finger glove designed to offer a good level of sensitivity and feel for the bow string. This has a cow leather backing, velcro wrist strap and reinforced fingertips. As always with shooting gloves you need to make sure you get the correct size. 

It's a well made glove that will last, however due to being designed for sensitivity you probably won't want to be using it with a bow over 50 lbs in draw weight.​

Pros

  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Reinforced fingertips

Cons

  • Not for 50 lbs + bows

Alternatives To Gloves

CyberDyer Cow Leather Finger Tab

If a glove isn't your thing, you might like to try a tab. A tab is a much cheaper alternative which can sometimes offer even more protection.

You can use a tab whilst you are wearing a regular glove, keep one in your pocket and they're more useful for higher draw weight bows. You'll generally find top flight competitive archers using a tab over a glove.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Very Inexpensive
  • Reinforced fingertips

Cons

  • It isn't a glove

Finger Savers

A good alternative to both the tab and the glove is the finger saver. For kids or beginners shooting relatively low draw weight bows and are prone to losing things, this may just be what you need. You'll need to be able to string your bow to fit these. Your bow string threads through them and they simply rest on it and you pull the finger savers rather than the bowstring. You can get finger savers in a variety of funky colors to.

If you need to be fast on the draw when hunting and you're looking for something that's always just there that you can't ever lose. Maybe you find a glove or a tab difficult to use. These might be the thing for you.

Pros

  • Always there
  • Inexpensive
  • Color choice

Cons

  • Low draw weights only
  • Can be fiddly to fit

Hit Gold With The Best Target Arrows

What's a good target arrow? What makes a good target arrow for a recurve or a compound bow? What are some of the best and budget arrows you can buy? Let's take a look...

If you’re a bowman you need arrows, that’s a pretty indisputable fact. What you need them FOR, now that’s the question. Different arrows are designed for different tasks. A hunter needs a durable arrow with a lot of kinetic energy for penetration. A target shooter? Well the question then becomes what type of target shooting, what distance and where?

Indoor Target vs Outdoor Target arrows

Weather

Skinny or slim arrows expose less surface area to the elements. This makes them more resistant to the effects of crosswind and also rain. When you’re shooting outdoors the elements are a factor and, even though you’ll still have to correct for wind. The flight path of a skinny arrow will be less affected by it.

Vanes

The arrow fletchings are also critical to the aerodynamic effect of the elements. Again a low-profile vane will be less affected by them than a larger feathered vane. A larger or longer vane will cause more drag through the air, slow the arrow but give more steering control. This control will allow it to correct more quickly from the fishtailing effect straight out of the bow. This is useful when shooting short distances. Low profile and shorter vanes will be faster through the air and less affected by wind. Better for long distances. Helical or offset vanes will be a compromise, they will add a little more air resistance to the arrow than straight vanes, but they will also create more spin in the arrow. Spin also helps to stabilize the arrow faster when coming out of the bow.

Diameter

Fat shafters or thick arrows are designed for breaking scoring lines. If you shoot a fat arrow the tip is fatter and the hole you make in the target is larger. You are more likely to cut across the line of a higher scoring ring if you make a bigger hole. You’ll often find a competitive indoor target shooter with fatter arrows. World Archery allows up to 9.3mm or 23/64” diameter arrows, whilst some other organisations allow even fatter.

Material Composition

It is sometimes difficult to separate good aluminium from good carbon where indoor target arrows are concerned. One of the main deciding factors is usually how hard the targets you are shooting will be. If you shoot aluminium into a hard target, it may be likely to develop a bend, whereas carbon will keep it’s shape.

To Summarize

Fat Arrows​

  • Get higher scores!
  • Slow, heavy
  • Affected by wind
  • Used indoors​

Thin Arrows​

  • Light, fast
  • Less affected by wind
  • Used outdoors​

Big Fletchings (~4")

  • Better for short distance shooting
  • Fast flight correction
  • Slow the arrow
  • Affected by wind
  • Used indoors​

Small / Helical / Offset Fletchings (~2")

  • Better for long distance shooting
  • Fast through the air
  • Less affected by wind
  • Used outdoors​

Good All-Rounder Target Arrows

Easton Genesis II

The Easton genesis are made from 7075 aerospace grade aluminium alloy. Aerospace grade alloy is designed to be strong. These are also anodized to stop corrosion. The Genesis are the only arrow approved by the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) for tournament competition.

These are great practice and target arrows for a beginner or someone with a 45 lbs or less draw weight bow (recurve or compound). You may find with repeated use and abuse that they will develop bends because of the aluminium construction.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low/Medium

Material:

Aluminium

Color:

Blue

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.005"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-2.5 grain

Assembly:

None needed, complete arrow

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

1820

0.281" / 7.14mm

12.2

Pros

  • NASP approved
  • Complete arrows
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Unsuitable for high draw weight bows
  • Aluminium construction (may bend)

Easton XX75 Jazz - Feather

The Easton XX75 Jazz is an aluminium arrow fitted with a true flight feather fletching. These feathers have a helical offset to give additional spin to the arrow flight and assist when shooting both indoors at short distance and outdoors in wind. This makes for a universally competent arrow. They are specified for draw weights of up to 50lb. Fitted with either bullet or field points which can be easily replaced or changed as they are screw in. XX75’s are made from 7075 aerospace alloy with an anodized finish.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low/Medium

Material:

Aluminium

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.005"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-2 grain

Assembly:

None needed, complete arrow

Specifications

Size

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

1716

0.265" / 6.74mm

9

1816

0.281" / 7.14mm

9.3

Pros

  • Offset feather fletchings
  • Screw in tips

Cons

  • Unsuitable for over 50 lbs bows
  • Aluminium construction (may bend)

Budget Target Arrows

MAK - Targeting Arrows (M.A.K)

M.A.K are a budget arrow manufacturer from China. That shouldn’t put you off because lots of arrows begin their life in a Chinese manufacturing plant. M.A.K just bring them to you more directly without the usual intermediary to bump up the price. These carbon arrows are designed for both hunting and target practice and have replaceable nocks and tips. They come fitted with field points. Overall a good set of affordable practice or hunting arrows.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low

Material:

Carbon

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

Complete Arrows

Specifications

Size

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

Length

500/600 (Approx)

0.307" / 7.8mm

12.5

30"

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Pre-cut
  • Nocks and field points included
  • Good all rounder

Cons

  • Unsuitable for over 50lbs bows
  • No manufacturing tolerances

Antsir Fiberglass Target Arrows

Pre constructed cheap fiberglass practice arrows from Antsir. These come with screw in field points for target practice that can be replaced if you want to. They are completely assembled with fletched and nocks that will adjust to your bow. These are specified for use with bows upto 80lbs in draw, but you do that at your own risk. Maybe with an 80lbs bow and a short draw you’ll be fine. These are an affordable practice and beginner arrow, good for that but not for serious shooters.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low

Material:

Fiberglass

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

Complete arrow

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight

Length

500

0.314" / 8mm

42g (total)

31.5"

Pros

  • Suitable for upto 80lbs bows
  • Affordable
  • Pre-cut
  • Nocks and field points included
  • Good all rounder

Cons

  • No manufacturing tolerances specified

Fat : Performance Indoor Target Arrows

Gold Tip X-Cutter

Gold tip state that the X-Cutter is the most popular shaft in 3D archery. It has a large diameter and light construction which is everything you need to get an advantage. A durable carbon arrow shaft that can be coupled with the components you like @ 24/64” diameter.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium/High

Material:

Carbon

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.005"

Weight Tolerance:

+/- 0.5 grain

Spine Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

Need to be cut to size and finished

Specifications

Size

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

250

0.380" / 7.8mm

7.8

Pros

  • Reputable manufacturer
  • Popular 3D archery shaft

Cons

  • Shaft Only
  • Over World Archery approved diameter

Easton Fat Boy

Easton are a well known manufacturer, probably one of the most well known. The Fat boy arrow is exactly that, a fat durable carbon arrow. Designed for easy removal from target butts and to cut scoring lines to increase your chances of success. The 9.3mm diameter of these is the world archery maximum.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium/High

Material:

Carbon

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.003"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-2 grain

Spine Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

Need to be cut and finished - Shaft Only

Specifications

Size

Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

340

0.340"

0.366" / 9.33mm

8.3

400

0.400"

0.366" / 9.33mm

7.8

500

0.500"

0.366" / 9.33mm

7.1

Pros

  • Top manufacturer
  • World Archery approved diameter
  • Easy target removal

Cons

  • Shaft only

Skinny : Performance Outdoor Target Arrows

Carbon Express Nano-SST

These arrows are specifically designed for competition recurve target archers. They have an ultra-slim diameter and are ideal for long distance and field shooting. Made from carbon these won’t bend with repeated impacts like an aluminium equivalent.

They come in 3 color choices, each with a zebra print design on the shaft. You can get them ‘fletched’ with 2” raptor vanes or shaft only. They need to be cut to size and inserts added. These have GT Nocks, which are Gold Tips push-in nocks and each weighs about 11.5 grains and also come with Accu-Lite inserts at 12.1 grains each.

Key Features

Price Range:

High

Material:

Carbon

Colors:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.002"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-1 grain

Assembly:

Need to be cut to size and finished

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

400

0.229" / 5.81mm

9.62

Also available in sizes 550, 600, 700, 750, 800, 900

1000

0.195" / 9.3mm

5.11

Pros

  • Large range of spines
  • Ultra Slim
  • Designed for competition
  • Recurve specific

Cons

  • Shaft Only

Gold Tip Ultralight

Specifically designed as outdoor arrows. All things outdoor in fact. 3D, field or target this arrow should be right at home. They come in a wide range of spines and constructed from 100% carbon makes them durable and excellent for retaining tension. This is a light arrow designed for speed and accuracy over distance and minimum wind deflection.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium

Material:

Carbon

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.003"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-0.5 grain

Assembly:

Need to be cut and finished. Shaft only.

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

300

0.299" / 7.5mm

8.8

Also available in sizes 340, 400, 500, 600, 700

700

0.280" / 7.1mm

5.4

Pros

  • Slim
  • Light
  • Designed for all outdoor disciplines

Cons

  • Shaft only

Dead Straight – The Best Hunting Arrows

What's a good hunting arrow and what makes a good hunting arrow? What are some of the best ones you can buy?

Hunting, specifically bowhunting is ever popular in countries where you can legally do it. It’s one of the most challenging experiences you can enjoy with a bow. The thrill of the hunt, tracking, waiting. Finally getting in close proximity to your prey, being able to smell them and hear their sounds, see their breath on the air. If the hunt doesn’t get your heart racing (or you live in one of those places where it’s illegal) then maybe the competition of a 3D tournament is more your thing. If that's the case you may want to check out our guide on the best target arrows instead. Hunters… read on.

We’ve looked high and low to compile this list of some of the best arrows for hunting on the market today. Here are our findings.

What makes a good hunting arrow?

Toughness / Durability

When you miss, who knows where your arrow is going. Trees, rocks and the dirt are all good resting places. For a hunting arrow to survive a life like this, is has to be tough. Arrows manufactured from carbon are amongst the strongest and most durable arrows made today.

Accuracy

Accuracy of arrows depends really on the quality of the build and the archer! How straight and uniform are they. Are they given weight and spine tolerances so you know the batch you have will all be similar?

Price

Always a concern for most of us but an enthusiastic hunter will see the value in buying and maintaining good arrows. Good arrows cost a little more but will last longer and perform better.

Penetration (Weight gpi)

The heavier an arrow is, the more punch it packs when it hits. That ‘punch’ is technically called kinetic energy and a heavier arrow has more of this than a light one. The harder an arrow hits the target the further it will penetrate and the more chance there is of a clean kill.

Arrow weight is measured in GPI (grains per inch). A grain is a unit of mass equal to 0. 0647 grams. The reason arrows are measured in grains per inch is because a good arrow is manufactured at maximum length (32”-34”) and then cut to the size of the archer. If you know the GPI and you know the arrow length you can work out the weight of the arrow shaft when cut.Before you decide whether a heavy arrow is better than a light one, ask yourself what am I going to hunt with it? A heavy (9-9.5 gpi) arrow would be good for Elk or Deer but for just hunting Turkey you’d be okay with around 7 gpi.

Wind Drift (Surface Area)

The fatter the arrow spine and the larger the fletchings the more of the arrow that is exposed to the elements and can be blown by the crosswind. A skinnier arrow with a low profile fletching will help to reduce this effect.

Fletchings / Vanes

You’ll find nearly all hunting arrows come with short 2” vanes. A shorter lower profile vane won’t slow the arrow as much as a larger one. A faster arrow packs more punch. An arrow with a short vane also won’t make as much noise through the air. Some animals can hear arrows in flight and react accordingly! Hunting is also usually done outdoors and the lower the profile of the vane the less it will be affected by a crosswind.

Budget Hunting Arrows

ANTSIR Outdoors Carbon

Cheap hunting arrows for target practice, beginners or hunting with a lower draw weight bow. ANTSIR don’t supply manufacturing tolerances or weights for these arrows so you aren’t getting the quality you’d get from the well known manufacturers. However, you can’t argue with the cost. These were on sale as a pack of 12 last time we looked and the cost per arrow is exceptionally good in comparison to the others listed here.

They come supplied with 5/16 screw in, nickel plated fields points. Fixed nocks (which can be rotated if you’re willing to get the pliers out). The vanes are plastic and depending on the packaging they may be bent out of shape. Apparently you can rectify any bent or out of shape vanes by simply using a hairdryer to warm them up.

These are, without doubt good value for money. Probably not for the professional hunter though.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low

Material:

Carbon fiberglass mix

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

None needed, complete arrow

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Length

400

0.307" / 7.8mm

30"

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good weight
  • Field tips included
  • Great for practice

Cons

  • Durability
  • Quality
  • Fixed  length (30")
  • Not for high poundage bows

MAK Hunting Arrows (M.A.K)

More target and practice arrows from M.A.K. These come with nickel plated field points and the last we looked they were also being supplied with 3 free broadheads. We wouldn’t however encourage you to hunt larger game with these. They aren’t designed for high poundage bows. Small game, you’ll be fine. These have nocks that are removable and adjustable and a colored or ‘cock’ feather so you know which way is up when nocking your bow.

Good value for money. Again probably not for the experienced or large game hunter, but great otherwise.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low

Material:

Carbon fiberglass mix

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

None needed, complete arrow

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Length

Unknown

0.307" / 7.8mm

30"

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good weight
  • Field tips included
  • Great for practice

Cons

  • Specifications Unclear
  • Fixed  length (30")
  • Not for high poundage bows

Aluminium Hunting Arrows

Easton Game Getter XX75

The Easton Game Getter XX75 is a well known arrow. It’s an aluminium arrow. 7075-T9. T9 is a heat treated and cold worked alloy. Cold worked to improve strength. This arrow has been around for some time and is a tried and trusted bow hunting favorite. It’s also relatively well priced.

These arrows come with uni-bushings that allow you to adjust the nock alignment, nocks and inserts but they aren’t cut to size. They have a hard-anodized black finish.

Key Features

Price Range:

Low/Medium

Material:

7075-T9 Alloy

Color:

Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.003"

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

Need to be cut to size and finished

Specifications

Size/Spine

Available in 300, 340, 400, 500

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good weight

Cons

  • Aluminium construction

Speciality Hunting Arrows

Gold Tip Twister Flu-Flu

The Gold Tip twister Flu-Flu is a feather fletched arrow that has been specially designed to minimize flight distance and ensure easy arrow recovery. These are best for hunting small game or shooting aerial targets. Times when you aren’t sure where your arrow will end up and bright colorations will help you find it. To quote the manufacturer they are designed to ‘put em down and still be found’. If you’re shooting aerial targets with these, they aren’t designed to fly further than about 100 yards, even when you fire them into the air. Again this means you can get them back.

They’re a durable arrow, well made, however the speciality nature of the feather means the price is higher than some of the best hunting arrows.

Key Features

Price Range:

High

Material:

Carbon

Color:

White/Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.003"

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown / not specified

Assembly:

Need to be cut to size and finished

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

400

0.204" / 5.2mm

9.5

Pros

  • Easily Locatable
  • Enforced Short Flight
  • Best for small game/aerial targets
  • Durable Feathers

Cons

  • Expensive

The Best Hunting Arrows

Carbon Express Maxima Red

There’s a lot of buzz around the Maxima Reds. It’s the top of the hunting arrow product line from Carbon Express. Maximas are supposed to help control dynamic spine. This is the flex of the arrow introduced in flight. With a broadhead fitted this is dynamism is exaggerated and the dynamic spine management of these arrows helps to get it back under control.

Maxima Reds come in 250 or 350 sizes, apparently that’s all you need with these arrows, 350 covers everything right up to 29” 92 lbs draw. These are fletched with 3x Blazer vanes, which are reckoned to be one of the best vanes on the market. All these arrows come in a matched set (minimum 6) and these sets are matched with a weight tolerance of +/- 1 grain. You can be sure they are straight because they’re laser checked to within 1/10,000 of an inch. The nocks on these come with proprietary collars called ‘Bulldog’ collars that help to protect the arrow against impacts and feature ‘Launchpad’ nocks that are self centering on the shaft.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium/High

Material:

Carbon

Color:

Black/Red

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.0035"

Weight Tolerance:

+/- 1 grain

Spine Tolerance:

+/-0.0025"

Assembly:

Need to be cut to size and finished

Specifications

Size

Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

250

0.417"

0.295" / 7.49mm

8.11

350

0.342"

0.300" / 7.62mm

9.07

Pros

  • Dynamic Spine Control
  • Matched Set
  • Accurate
  • Launchpad Nock
  • Blazer Vanes
  • Bulldog Nock Collar
  • Low Manufacturing Tolerances

Cons

  • Cost

Carbon Express Mayhem Hunter

This is a quality hunting arrow. It’s one of the most popular arrows they’ve made to date. Carbon express have designed this arrow with build in ‘weight-forward’ technology. In simple terms that means that the balance point of the arrow is forward of center and the back end of the arrow is light and stiff. This improves recovery out of the bow and increases speed. These are claimed to have the ultimate combination of speed, accuracy and penetration all in one arrow package.

Mayhems come in 250 or 350 size and are fletched with 3x Blazer vanes. Available in a matched set (minimum 6) with a weight tolerance of +/- 1 grain. Laser checked to within 1/10,000 of an inch for straightness. The nocks on these come with proprietary collars called ‘Bulldog’ collars that help to protect the arrow against impacts and feature ‘Launchpad’ nocks that are self centering on the shaft.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium/High

Material:

Carbon

Color:

Mossy Oak Obsession Camo

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.0035"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-1 grain

Spine Tolerance:

+/-0.0025"

Assembly:

Need to be cut and finished

Specifications

Size

Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

250

0.481"

0.303" / 7.69mm

8.8

350

0.347"

0.300" / 7.62mm

9.8

Pros

  • Durable
  • Accurate
  • Weight Forward Technology
  • Precision Nocks
  • Low Manufacturing Tolerances

Cons

  • Cost

Gold Tip Ted Nugent

Gold Tip are a respected and popular arrow manufacturer and just in case you didn’t know ‘Ted Nugent’ is a bit of a ‘ledge’ (legend to anyone over 40) in the world of rock and roll, everyone's favorite uncle and a strong supporter of preserving outdoor heritage. Ted asked Gold Tip to create these signature series arrows for him. Love him or hate him, the result is a great arrow, good for both hunting or 3D.

They come in 3 color choices, each with a zebra print design on the shaft. You can get them ‘fletched’ with 2” raptor vanes or shaft only. They need to be cut to size and inserts added. These have GT Nocks, which are Gold Tips push-in nocks and each weighs about 11.5 grains and also come with Accu-Lite inserts at 12.1 grains each.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium

Material:

Carbon

Colors:

Pink, White, Purple

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.006"

Weight Tolerance:

+/-2 grain

Assembly:

Need to be cut to size and finished

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

300

0.313" / 7.95mm

10.8

400

0.301" / 7.64mm

9.3

500

0.297" / 7.54mm

8.4

Pros

  • Eye catching
  • Durable
  • Good balance of price / performance

Cons

  • Branding (for some)

Easton 6mm FMJ

Easton are a name you’ve probably heard of. Find a group of hunters and I’ll bet at least one of them has shot or is shooting Easton arrows at some point. The Easton 6mm FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) are a carbon core arrow encased in a 7075 alloy metal jacket. Manufacturers love to quote tech stuff at us… 7075 alloy…. It’s a an aluminium alloy with zinc as the primary element. Has a strength comparable to steel and high corrosion resistance. 7075 gets used in aviation and marine applications amongst other things. That jacket adds weight to the arrow, and weight adds penetration force.

You can get FMJ’s in 4mm, 5mm and 6mm diameter. We’ve picked 6mm as it’s the newest of the 3 diameters and provides the heaviest arrow. These come with pre-installed H nocks.

Key Features

Price Range:

Medium

Material:

Carbon Core/7075 Alloy Jacket

Color:

White/Black

Straightness Tolerance:

+/-0.003"

Weight Tolerance:

Unknown

Assembly:

Need to be cut and finished

Specifications

Size/Spine

Shaft Diameter

Weight (GPI)

320

0.236" / 6mm

10.6

390

0.236" / 6mm

9.7

470

0.236" / 6mm

8.8

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Designed For Ease Of Target Removal
  • Good Weight

Cons

  • Aluminium Jacket May Bend

How do you convert ATA to ASTM arrow spine measurements?

Choosing the ideal arrow is a common problem for any archer. The length of the arrow depends on your physical size, your flexibility, and your technique. The correct arrow spine can depend on the draw weight of the bow (at full draw), and also the bow type. An arrow with the correct spine rating and length will recover perfectly from the archer’s paradox and give you a good arrow flight. An incorrectly spined arrow doesn’t recover from the paradox as quickly and is much more likely to show up inconsistencies in an archers form.

Why the bow type?

Recurve bows and longbows behave similarly during release. The power is greatest at full draw, and the acceleration of the string diminishes as it moves closer to the bow. For compound bows, this is different. The cams allow for a low weight at full draw, and this corresponds to a small acceleration immediately after the release. Then the closer the bowstring comes to the bow, the faster it moves and the greater the resulting arrow speed. These differences in the application of force to the arrow also have an impact on the correct spine choice.

What Is Arrow Spine?

Arrow spine refers to the stiffness of an arrow. You’ll often find arrow spine measurements printed on the side of arrows by manufacturers. They will also usually be specified when purchasing arrows. But what do these numbers for ATA and ASTM spine actually mean?

Without knowledge of how arrow spine is measured, it’s just a number and not a very useful one at that. The reason for this is that different standards measure the arrow spine in a different manner. Therefore, the following article provides a short overview of these measuring methods.

Note: Arrow spine tables are only a recommendation and sometimes the number provided by the manufacturer does not really correspond to the measured values. There are several mobile apps which provide precise information about different arrow types, including diameter, weight, and spine. Two examples for free apps are “B4 Shaft Selector” and “Arrows”.

ATA, AMO, and ASTM

ATA (AMO) is the Archery Trade Association, formerly the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organisation. When they measure the arrow spine, they record the deflection in thousandths of an inch. An arrow is attached to two supports, 26 inches apart, and pressed in the middle with a weight of 2 pounds (907 grams). A deflection in the arrow of 0.4 inches gives an arrow spine of 400. The arrow spines of wooden arrows are measured according to the ATA system.

ASTM is the American Society for Testing and Materials. In their Test Nr. F2031-05, they record the deflection in thousandths of an inch. In this test, an arrow is attached to two supports, 28 inches apart, and pressed in the middle with a weight of 1.94 pounds (880 grams). The weight is smaller, but the distance between the supports is greater, which should give a similar deflection. Arrow spines of carbon fiber and aluminum shafts are specified according to the “modern” ASTM standard.

ATA and ASTM values can be converted as follows: ATA / 0.825 = ASTM, therefore ASTM*0.825 = ATA

Example: A carbon fiber shaft has an arrow spine of 500 according to ASTM (28″ distance, 1.94 pounds). 500*0.825 = 413 spine according to ATA (26″ distance, 2 pounds).

In other words, an ATA shaft will always be stiffer than an ASTM shaft with the same “number”. Carbon fiber arrows measured with an ATA device will appear slightly “softer” than the manufacturer listed value.

Note: These values are static and relative. They relate only to the aforementioned conditions. They are a good starting point, but no silver bullet for every situation. The perfect stiffness of the arrows can depend on:

  • Bow type
  • Shaft material
  • Arrow length (longer arrows are softer than shorter ones)
  • Arrow build (weight and shape of the arrowhead, weight, and shape of the fletching, possible tapering of wooden shafts)
  • Shooting technique (Mediterranean archers and thumb archers have different arrow dynamics)

Wooden arrows

Wooden arrows are usually not marked with a spine measurement. Rather, they carry the corresponding draw weight, with which they should be shot. The draw weight for an arrow with a certain deflection is calculated by dividing the ATA test distance (26 inches) with the measured deflection. If a shaft deflects at 0.900 inches, the corresponding draw weight is 26/0.900 = 29 pounds, for a 26-inch long arrow.

If the archer is looking for matching arrows for a certain draw weight, 26 is divided by the draw weight at full draw in order to calculate the desired deflection. An archer with 30 pounds at full draw requires arrows which deflect at 26/30 = 0.867 inches. However, experienced wooden arrow archers are recommend to use arrows which are 5-10 pounds “stiffer” (26/35 = 0.743 or 26/40 = 0.650 inches). Additionally, it is recommended to add or subtract 3-5 pounds for every inch over or below 26, respectively.

The ATA/AMO table below lists deflections in inches and their corresponding spines. The matching arrow spines of carbon fiber shafts according to ASTM are also provided.

ATA to ASTM

Deflection in inches Corresponding draw weight in pounds at 28 inches of draw Corresponding ASTM arrow spine Deflection in inches Corresponding draw weight in pounds at 28 inches of draw Corresponding ASTM arrow spine
1,300 20 1576 0,426 61 516
1,248 21 1513 0,420 62 509
1,196 22 1450 0,413 63 501
1,144 23 1387 0,407 64 493
1,092 24 1324 0,400 65 485
1,040 25 1261 0,394 66 478
1,005 26 1218 0,388 67 470
0,971 27 1177 0,383 68 464
0,936 28 1135 0,377 69 457
0,902 29 1093 0,371 70 450
0,867 30 1051 0,366 71 444
0,842 31 1021 0,361 72 438
0,817 32 990 0,357 73 433
0,793 33 961 0,352 74 427
0,768 34 931 0,347 75 421
0,743 35 901 0,343 76 416
0,724 36 878 0,338 77 410
0,706 37 856 0,334 78 405
0,688 38 834 0,329 79 399
0,669 39 811 0,325 80 394
0,650 40 788 0,321 81 389
0,636 41 771 0,317 82 384
0,621 42 753 0,314 83 381
0,607 43 736 0,310 84 376
0,592 44 718 0,306 85 371
0,578 45 701 0,303 86 367
0,566 46 686 0,299 87 362
0,555 47 673 0,296 88 359
0,543 48 658 0,292 89 354
0,532 49 645 0,289 90 350
0,520 50 630 0,286 91 347
0,511 51 619 0,283 92 343
0,501 52 607 0,280 93 339
0,492 53 596 0,277 94 336
0,482 54 584 0,274 95 332
0,473 55 573
0,465 56 564
0,457 57 554
0,449 58 544
0,441 59 535
0,433 60 525

Example: An archer has a 35 pound draw weight at full draw and is shooting 32 inch arrows. Matching wooden arrows for that archer would have a spine of 35+10+6*5 = 75 pounds. This corresponds to a deflection of 0.341 inches. Matching carbon fibre arrows would have an ASTM spine of 421, rounded down to 400.

Courtesy of ARCO Vienna

Created in collaboration with Konstantin Tomanov from ARCO Vienna. One of the best places for archery, in a penthouse, right in the centre of Vienna.

ARCO Vienna

ARCO Vienna

What’s the Best Survival Bow in 2017?

Do you want a durable, compact collapsible bow you can take absolutely any​where that has a really small footprint and fits inside your day pack or grab bag?

Maybe you are a keen survivalist... or maybe even one of the ever growing numbers of preppers? If you don't know what a prepper is a quick scout around the multitude of prepping and SHTF websites around today will fill you in with the details. In brief though a prepper is someone who spends time preparing for all eventualities. The next world war, the apocalypse, Zombieland, serious terrorist attack, you name it really.

A survival bow is a designed to fit with the requirements of these people and more and in this article we're going to take you through our top picks for 2017 and give you our winner.​

Our Best Survival Bow Picks for 2017

Survival Bow Buying Guide : What Features do I Need?

Portability

The overall size and weight of the collapsed bow is a critical feature. This type of bow is something you want to be able to easily shoulder and carry in a case. It's something you want to be able to fit inside your day pack or bug-out bag. Nothing cumbersome and certainly nothing heavy.

Most of these types of bows will come with a carry case that you can use to store the bow when collapsed. The quality and extra functionality offered by that case should also be​ a deciding factor. Does it double as a quiver? How many extra pockets does it have? 

Price & Affordability

Depending on exactly what you want to use it for the price of a survival bow will have a  bearing on your decision. If you want something you're going to stick under the seat in your car or squirrel away in a secret cache then you probably aren't going to want to spend a lot on it. However if you intend to travel a lot, and practice regularly, better quality and design may be where you want to invest.

Bow Size / Draw Length

A longer bow will have a longer draw length. There are ways to easily measure your draw length for shooters of recurve and compound bows. Your ideal length of bow is a factor you probably won't be able to achieve when looking at a survival bow. Due to their defining feature being portability they break down small and that means they are shorter bows when assembled. A longer bow gives you a longer, smoother draw, a more forgiving shot. That isn't to say you can't be accurate with a survival bow, but they aren't designed for target archery competitions. A long bow that doesn't sacrifice portability is a better choice than a short bow that breaks down too small for your needs.

Durability & Corrosion Resistance

Survival situations are going to mean you may need to get wet or live in wet conditions. You're certainly going to take a few knocks and bumps along the way. When these things happen you  need the bow you've chosen to take those knocks and still work afterwards. It needs to be able to get wet and not start to rust. You also want it to be durable and to do this repeatedly over long periods of time, possibly years.

Arrows and Arrow Storage

A bow isn't much use without arrows. What arrows (if any) do you get with the bow? You can purchase take-down survival arrows separately if your choice does not have them included. A very useful feature of any survival bow (or included carry case) is storage of arrows. If the folded unit includes a handy place to store and protect arrows this is a bonus.

Left or Right Handedness

Modern recurve and compound bows come in left and right handed variants. The riser is cut through to provide a shooting shelf on which to rest the arrow so that it sits as close to straight with the path of the string as possible. A survival bow doesn't usually cater for this as the riser is normally a single piece of durable metal. There may be an offset between string and arrow path. This means if you're a modern bow shooter you'll need to adjust your aim to correct, much like you would if shooting a traditional longbow.

Not having a shelf does mean the bow becomes a truly ambidextrous bow that anyone can pick-up and shoot either left or right handed. This is something to be aware of. If you're in a survival situation with other people it may not be you that ends up needing to shoot your bow. The more people that can use it, the better.

Assembly

A collapsible bow breaks down into pieces, nobody has developed one that morphs out of a wooden staff just yet! Those pieces, how many there are, how easy they are to lose, and how they go together should be another factor in your decision. Something with lots of bits that you can't assemble quickly isn't what you want. You aren't going to find something you can just flip up and shoot. But you need to think about the pieces and how easy they are to keep track of. A survival bow that's missing one of the limb ends or a retaining bolt that fell out of the case is no use to you at all.

Styling / Appearance

The styling of a survival bow really isn't going to be much of a concern, when you're trying to survive you aren't going to care too much about how you look. The only caveat to this may be that you want to remain hidden and blend in with your surroundings. A camo finish on the bow would be a bonus in this situation. A non-reflective finish may also be a good idea for night hunting or even sunny situations so as not to scare prey. Certainly a bow that allows you to modify the finish yourself to suit your situation would be ideal.

Warranty

Different manufacturers give different warranty periods with their bows and will generally only ever cover the riser and limbs and not things like the string or arrow rest. A warranty on something you're going to tuck away and may not use for years is possibly not a major concern. Knowing what type of warranty comes with your bow is always a good idea.

Our Top Picks In Detail

SAS Tactical Survival Bow

A high quality survival bow made from aerospace grade aluminium and marine grade steel. Resistant to corrosion, coated with non-reflective covering. This  bow folds down small, (not the smallest, but small) into a 21" package and even has storage inside the riser for take-down arrows. The pieces are easy to assemble and have little danger of being lost. Assembled this is a 60" bow that is available in a range of draw weights from 45 to 55 lbs. It isn't the cheapest example, but it is one of the best appointed. The supplied camo-bag can also be used as a back quiver when the bow is in use. Read the full review here.

Pros

  • Light
  • 21" day pack compatible folded size
  • Arrow storage inside the riser
  • Powerful 55 lbs draw available
  • Useful quiver / camo bag
  • Non-reflective coating
  • Ambidextrous

Cons

  • Arrows not included
  • Limited grip ergonomics

Xpectre Spectre II

This is a very affordable survival bow with a great price point. If comes in a choice of draw weights from 35 lbs all the way upto 55 lbs meaning you can get a lower draw weight bow. A lower draw weight is always a good choice if you aren't an experienced archer. The assembly for this bow is probably the quickest of all the bows we've reviewed. 3 pieces slot together and then you string it, simple as that. The carry case included is very basic but functional. This bow however is 23" long when folded so you need to be sure that fits inside your chosen day-pack otherwise you'll be carrying it on your shoulder seaprately. Read our full review here.

Pros

  • Low  to high draw weights 35, 45, 55 lbs
  • Tool free, speedy assembly
  • Ambidextrous

Cons

  • 23" folded size
  • Supplied arrows not take-down

Xpectre Nomad

The Nomad is the slightly more expensive brethren of the Spectre II. This survival bow breaks down to a pretty impressive 17" in length. That's short. In order to achieve this though the bow comes in 5 pieces, each limb is 2 pieces plus the riser. That is a few more to keep track of even though there are no tools required for the assembly. The Nomad also usually comes with 3 take-down arrows which is a big bonus. This is the smallest and most complete survival bow package available and even though it is more expensive than the Spectre it is still affordable. Read the full review here.

Pros

  • Very compact 17" folded size
  • Supplied with 3x take-down arrows
  • Tool free-assembly

Cons

  • Only available in 45 lbs draw
  • Only 48" long when assembled

Verdict : Best Survival Bow 2017

Our choice for 2017 is:

The SAS Tactical Take-down Survival Bow
.

You get what you pay for.

Best Survival Bow 2017

My grandma is always saying that... the longer I live the more I think she's right. It doesn't always hold true, some things that are more expensive just aren't worth the money. Then there are things that are, and the SAS survival bow is one of them. The design is one of the best, it folds small and assembles into a decent size powerful bow with a good 31" max draw.

It has nifty features like being able to store 3 full arrows inside the riser, or 5 rear halves.

This helps to protect them as arrows are a vulnerable part of the package.

Sas Tactical

In-Riser Arrow Storage

The supplied carry bag is camo, comes with 2 shoulder straps and doubles as a back quiver.

SAS used quality materials in the construction and coated them with non-reflective paint. They've done everything then can to make sure this bow is  a quality product and it shows.

This is our pick for the best survival bow for 2017.

SAS Tactical Survival Bow - In Use

In Use

Xpectre Spectre Survival Bow Review

Spectre II Compact Takedown Survival Bow » Review

Spectre was a great film. This isn't the sequel. No the Spectre is a compact take-down survival bow from Xpectre. They produce a small range of these types of bow and the Spectre is the most affordable of them all.

A survival bow is designed to fold down small be durable and be something you can take anywhere and assemble with ease. Lets see how this one stacks up.

Spectre II String, Bow Pieces (x3) and Case

Spectre II String, Bow Pieces (x3) and Case

Scores

Riser

Portability

Limbs

Assembly

Accessories

Shooting

Styling

Pros

  • Choice of draw weights
  • Tool free and quick assembly
  • Affordable

Cons

  • 23" folded size

Our Verdict

At this low level price point the Spectre II is a great piece of kit. It isn't the smallest survival bow when broken down and it doesn't have the best accessories. What you do get is a good functional survival bow you can take anywhere, assembly is quick and easy too. You can pay more for a survival bow, but you need to think about what you need this for. Get one to tuck away in a cache and it's a great investment.

Key Features

Draw weights (lbs):

35, 45, 55

Draw length:

24-27 inches (estimated)

Weight (lbs):

2.3 lbs (in case)

AMO Length (inches):

Varies 50 @ 35 lbs, 48 @ 45 lbs, 46 @ 55 lbs

Folded Size (inches):

23

Riser:

Metal

Limbs:

Fiberglass/resin, black finish

Price Range:

Low

Handedness:

Usable in left or right

Warranty:

12 months manufacturer

Video Reviews

An in-depth review of the Spectre showing how to make a nifty paracord grip to improve the ergonomics of the riser.

Product Review

Riser » 4/5

The riser on this bow when broken down measures 23" in length. When assembled and ready to shoot it is effectively just a square metal tube. There is nothing added to the riser for grip or comfort ergonomics. You can always make your own enhancements to the riser to make a more comfortable grip using paracord or any material of you choice. Still, this isn't something designed to be used for long periods of target archery!

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest on this bow is just a plastic coated metal wire guide that is screwed onto the side of the riser.

You can't move the rest as there aren't attachments points on both sides of the riser. In order to change the handedness of the bow you simply turn it upside down and the rest will be on the other side.

Spectre Arrow Rest

Spectre Arrow Rest

Portability » 4/5

One of the things you absolutely want a survival bow to be is portable. This one breaks down into 3 pieces (and the string) the longest one measuring 23". That's small, but not the smallest survival bow we've reviewed. A 23" long case however is still something you won't find difficultly transporting around, especially as you can shoulder it in the carry case.

Assembly » 5/5

In order to assemble the Spectre you need to fit 3 pieces together and string them. Each of the limbs slide into the riser and locate on a securing pin.

Once these pieces are in place the final step of assembly is to string the bow. The limbs are designed to stay in place by virtue of the tension of the bowstring. You're probably best stringing this bow with step through method to keep things from sliding apart before the string tension is in place.

Once strung the bow is complete and secure and the pieces won't fall apart. The entire process is tool free and could be accomplished in less than a minute if you wanted to get good at it.

Accessories » 3/5

String

A Dacron endless loop black string is supplied, this doesn't come with a nock point and it's probably a good idea that you add one in your preferred way.

Looking at the manufacturers website where they sell replacement strings​ you can infer that the Spectre  requires:

  • 50" string for 35 lbs draw
  • 48" string for 45 lbs draw
  • 46" string for 55 lbs draw​

The higher draw weight bows require slightly shorter strings.

Case

A basic black nylon carry case with a shoulder strap that is big enough to carry the broken down bow, arrows and string.

Arrows

Normally the package supplied with the Spectre includes 3 arrows. These aren't takedown arrows like you get with the Nomad. They're single piece 30" carbon fiber arrows with fields points and plastic vanes.

Spectre Supplied Arrows

Spectre Supplied Arrows

A field point isn't going to be much good for hunting, so if you're after this bow for a real survival situation you probably want to look at sourcing some broadhead tips to fit to those arrows.

Limbs » 4/5

These limbs are single piece fiberglass and resin composite. Replacement limbs are available direct from the manufacturer should you lose or break one. You may also want to mark your limbs after receiving them so that you always insert them in the same orientation. This will make sure that they're always bending the same way when you shoot. That should give them a longer life.

Shooting » 3.5/5

This is a short bow. At anywhere from 46-50" depending on the draw weight you're not getting the length of limb that a normal traditional or recurve bow shooter would be looking for to give them the most forgiving shots. As a survival tool however the bow shoots well.

Styling » 3/5

Not a thing of beauty, this bow is a thing of function. The limbs aren't the same color as the riser so there's a 2 tone look to this bow. You can paint it and give it whatever finish you desire but we aren't going to give this top marks for styling. It's something to keep in a cache or bag somewhere for a survival situation. 

"How does it compare?"

SAS Tactical Survival Bow

Usually more than twice the price and not supplied with any arrows. But... you get what you pay for. The SAS Tactical is a longer assembled bow at 60" AMO. This may give you a more forgiving shot. This one has storage inside the riser for takedown arrows. It comes with a camo carry bag rather than plain black. It's lighter overall due to the materials used in construction being of a higher grade. Comes coated with a non-reflective paint too. The SAS is a longer when assembled and slightly smaller 21" when fully broken down.

Xpectre Nomad

The Nomad is from the same company as the Spectre. It's usually slightly more expensive and is limited to a 45 lbs draw weight. The reason for that is probably because the limbs on the Nomad break down into 2 pieces, making the bow 5 pieces fully disassembled. This means it can break down further and only measures 17" when in storage. That's pretty small. 4" shorter than the Spectre. The Nomad also usually comes with take-down arrows too although everything else about it remains the same as the Spectre.

About the Manufacturer

Xpectre produce bows in the USA. They dedicate themselves to providing dependable survival products. All of their product range is geared towards survival with the odd camping accessory thrown in. You can visit their website here.

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Xpectre Nomad Survival Bow Review

Xpectre Nomad Survival Bow » Review

Xpectre are specialists in survival gear, and alongside the Nomad survival bow they produce several others such as the Spectre and Rapture. The entire range is well priced and functional. You might be a prepper or you may just be a general survivalist, either way you're probably interested in exactly what you get for your money.

A survival bow is designed to fold down small be durable and be something you can take anywhere with ease. I'm guessing that's where the name Nomad comes from. A bow you can travel easily with and take anywhere.

Nomad Survival Bow

Nomad Survival Bow

Scores

Riser

Portability

Limbs

Assembly

Accessories

Shooting

Styling

Pros

  • Very compact 17" folded size
  • Supplied with 3x takedown arrows
  • Tool free and quick assembly

Cons

  • Only available in 45 lbs draw
  • Short, only 48" length

Our Verdict

This is a survival tool. For the low to mid level price point, what you get is pretty good. Not really a bow you want to be using often if you're a keen archer but for the intended purpose you can't go far wrong with the Nomad. There are more well appointed and more expensive alternatives out there. But if the price point is good for you, get one to keep one in your cache, you won't regret it.

Key Features

Draw weights (lbs):

45

Draw length:

24-27 inches (estimated)

Weight (lbs):

2.735

AMO Length (inches):

48

Folded Size (inches):

17

Riser:

Metal

Limbs:

Fiberglass/resin, black finish

Price Range:

Low/Medium

Handedness:

Usable in left or right

Warranty:

12 months manufacturer

Video Reviews

Unboxing, assembly and shooting the Nomad.

Product Review

Riser » 4/5

This is a small compact 17" riser and when assembled and ready to shoot it is effectively just a square metal tube. There is nothing added to the riser for grip or comfort ergonomics. This isn't something designed to be used for long periods of target archery!

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest on this bow is just a plastic coated metal wire guide that is screwed onto the side of the riser. 

You can't move the rest to the other side of the riser so in order to change the handedness of the bow you simply turn the whole bow upside down.

Arrow rest

Arrow rest

Portability » 5/5

One of the things you absolutely want a survival bow to be is portable. This one breaks down into 5 pieces of which the longest is 17". That's small enough to fit many places easily and is one of the smallest footprints for a survival bow we've seen to date.

Assembly » 4.5/5

As already mentioned the broken down Nomad bow riser is only 17" in length. It's pretty compact. Because of that is in order to assemble it you need to fit several pieces together. Each of the limbs comes in 2 pieces each, combined with the riser that makes a total of 5.

The notched ends of the longer limb section slide into the riser and locate onto a securing pin. Once these pieces are in place you attach the ends of the limbs to the longer limb sections in a similar fashion. All these pieces are slide/push fit. The final step of assembly is to string the bow. The assembled pieces are designed to stay in place by virtue of the tension of the bowstring so if you aren't careful they can slip apart before the bow is strung. You're probably best stringing this bow with step through method so gravity keeps the assembled pieces together until you've finished stringing.

Once strung the bow is complete and secure and the pieces won't fall apart. The entire process is tool free and could be accomplished in less than a minute if you wanted to get good at it.

Nomad Survival Bow Pieces

Nomad Survival Bow in Pieces

Accessories » 3.5/5

String

A 48" Dacron string is supplied, this doesn't come with a nock point and it's probably a good idea that you add one in your preferred way. Adding either brass rings or material.

Case

A basic black nylon carry case with a shoulder strap that is big enough to carry the broken down bow, arrows and string.

Nomad Case

Nomad Case

Arrows

Normally the package supplied with the Nomad includes 3 take-down arrows. These are 2 part arrows that simply screw together. They come with field points and plastic vanes and are 31" long.

Takedown Arrows

Field Point Takedown Arrows

A field point isn't going to be much good for hunting, so if you're after this bow for a real survival situation you probably want to look at sourcing some broadhead tips to come alongside it.​

Limbs » 4/5

These limbs are 2 piece fiberglass and resin composite. We go over how they fit together in the assembly section. Replacement limbs are available direct from the manufacturer should you lose one of the 4 pieces that make them up, or break one.

Another good tip is to mark the limbs on this bow so that you always assemble them in the same front/back orientation. This will help to increase their lifespan.​

Shooting » 3.5/5

This is a short bow. At 48" you're not getting the length of limb that a normal traditional or recurve bow shooter would be looking for to give them the most forgiving shots. As a survival tool however the Nomad shoots well and is relatively powerful. With some decent broadhead arrows I'm sure this would be good enough to mid sized game from 40 yards or even further depending on your skills.

Styling » 3/5

Not a thing of beauty, this bow is a thing of function. The limbs aren't the same color as the riser so there's a 2 tone finish on this bow. We aren't going to score this well for styling. It's something to keep in a cache or bag somewhere for a critical situation. Something to keep hidden until needed.

"How does it compare?"

SAS Tactical Survival Bow

Usually more than twice the price and not supplied with any arrows. But... you get what you pay for. The SAS Tactical is available in more powerful draw weights, is a longer assembled bow at 60" AMO giving a better shot. It has storage inside the riser for takedown arrows. Comes with a more useful camo carry bag. It's lighter overall due to the materials used in construction being of a higher grade. Comes coated with a non-reflective paint too. Altogether the SAS is a  better bow, but at the risk of repeating myself, it's much more expensive and bigger when broken down (21").

Xpectre Spectre II

The Spectre comes in a choice of 3 draw weights, 35, 45 and 55 lbs rather than the fixed 45 lbs for the Nomad. The Spectre II is the slightly more affordable version of this bow however but there is a trade-off for that affordability. The Spectre has one piece limbs as opposed to the 2 pieces that the Nomad limbs break down into. This contributes to the Spectre being 23" when broken down which is 6" longer than the Nomad. The Nomad comes with takedown arrows as standard whereas to keep those costs down the Spectre doesn't and you get 3x standard one piece arrows.

About the Manufacturer

Xpectre produce bows in the USA. They dedicate themselves to providing dependable survival products. All of their product range is geared towards survival with the odd camping accessory thrown in. You can visit their website here.

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SAS Tactical Survival Bow » Review

A you a survivalist or prepper? If you are, you don't know exactly what you're going to be preparing for or what situation lies ahead. You want to be ready for as many eventualities as possible. I've blogged on several sites about the benefits of learning archery as a survivalist skill. If you really want to be prepared when the SHTF (google it!) you need a bow you can keep in your grab or bug-out bag. Something compact and powerful but easy to lug around. Checkout this piece of kit from the people at SAS (Survival Archery Systems). Their SAS Tactical Survival Bow is a great invention that fits exactly your profile.

SAS Tactical - A compact, folding survival bow

Scores

Riser

Portability

Limbs

Assembly

Accessories

Shooting

Styling

Pros

  • Light
  • 21" day pack compatible folded size
  • Arrow storage inside the riser
  • Powerful #55 draw available
  • Useful quiver / camo bag
  • Non-reflective coating
  • Ambidextrous

Cons

  • Arrows not included
  • Limited grip ergonomics

Our Verdict

Light, rugged, dependable, transportable, compact. This bow fits inside most day-packs and bug out bags. The useful storage for arrows (not usually supplied) inside the riser coupled with the camo accessory bag make this everything you need for survival archery inside one neat package that you can easily take anywhere.

This is an excellent survival bow. It isn't as polished as a modern recurve, but for the job it's been designed for this is ​an excellent well priced piece of kit. A smart addition to any prepper cache.

Key Features

Draw weights (right hand) (lbs):

45, 50, 55

Brace height (inches):

7-8 (recommended)

Weight (lbs):

2.2 (strung)

AMO Length (inches):

60

Folded Size (inches):

21

Max Draw (inches):

31 (estimated)

Riser:

Aerospace Grade T6 Aluminium, non-reflective coating

Limbs:

Composite

Price Range:

Medium

Handedness:

Can be used right and left handed

Warranty:

12 month manufacturer

Video Reviews

A high quality overview review of the SAS Tactical that includes an in-depth look at assembly, shooting and the component parts of the bow.

Our Review

Riser » 4.5/5

The riser on this bow is made from aerospace grade T6 Aluminium. If you're wondering exactly what that means, well... T6 refers to Aluminium alloy 6061-T6 which is commonly used, wait for it... in the construction of aircraft. Sorry, I couldn't resist... You'll also find T6 in the construction or bicycle frames, some rifles and car parts. Anything that needs to be light and strong. They even sent it into space aboard the Pioneer. T6 has a tendency to oxidize if exposed to the elements so you'll generally find it anodized and in the case of this riser also given a surface treatment to make it non-reflective. That non-reflective coating is an obvious boon for staying concealed from your prey in any environment.

Although it comes in matte black the riser surface coating can be painted should you want to give it a camo look.

Grip

Let's not beat about the bush here, there isn't really a grip on this bow. You're basically holding a rectangular piece of aluminium. It isn't ergonomic, and you may not find it particularly comfortable. The only thing that the bow does to enhance your holding of it is the addition of 2 adhesive pads on either side of the riser. These have the feel of light sandpaper and they do help to enhance the grip on what is otherwise just a piece of metal. They also do a little to help shielding a bare hand from the coldness of the coated metal. Which in certain conditions won't be a nice thing to grip for any length of time. These pads are only adhered to the side of the bow and may well become unstuck and wear with heavy use, but I suspect they could be easily replaced or even enhanced by an enthusiast.

Because that grip isn't ergonomic, you probably aren't going to be able to hold it properly.​ Full hand grips are the order of the day with this. It doesn't snuggle into the fleshy part of your palm between your thumb and index finger like a modern recurve or compound grip would. 

SAS Tactical Survival Bow - Compact and folding

Compact Folding Aluminium T6 Riser

Arrow Storage

Because this riser is  a hollow piece of strong metal to k​eep it light there is room inside for storage. Conveniently SAS also produce a range of 2 piece SAS take down arrows. These are made from aluminium and come with a 400 spine and are 31" long. The riser allows for storage of upto 3 full arrows inside (6 pieces). However if you are using the bow with the supplied camo bag you can store 5 rear arrow halves inside the riser and 5 front halves inside the camo bag giving you a greater total mobile arsenal. This may be a wise move as whilst aluminium arrows are heavier and more all weather friendly than carbon, they can bend.

SAS Tactical Survival Bow - Arrow Storage

Arrow Storage in the Riser

When the bow is folded for storage there are 2 plastic end caps that fit over the end of the riser to secure the arrows. These when new may be a little stiff to insert and remove, and you can't assemble the bow without first removing them (and storing them somewhere).

Portability » 4.5/5

Fold this bow down and it's 21" long. That's short enough to fit into most day-packs and bug-out bags.​ In fact that size was specifically targeted by the manufacturers for that reason.

Limbs » 4.5/5

​The limbs of this bow are made using similar techniques to other modern bows on the market today. Sourced, no doubt, from the same manufacturing plants. Whilst SAS aren't forthcoming with exactly what that composition is you could probably take a guess at laminated wood and fiberglass. 

​The limbs of the tactical hinge from the riser and that hinge is attached using a retaining pin and screw. The retaining pin is made from 316 stainless. 316 is marine grade stainless that is specifically designed to resist corrosion. Whilst it isn't 100% corrosion resistant it is non-magnetic and in the case of this usage has again been specially treated with a non-reflective coating. The retaining pin bears the load but the screw that holds it in place doesn't and so it is made from black nylon. This helps to reduce weight and the nylon is less prone to vibrating than previous iterations of the bow that used a metal screw.

SAS Tactical Survival Bow - Aerospace Grade T6 Aluminium

Retaining Pin (316 Stainless), Limb Attachment Hinge, and Screw (Nylon)

Assembly » 4.5/5

Remove the velcro retaining strap, remove the end caps on the riser, assemble some arrows (if you're using takedown arrows).

Then you need to remove a retaining pin, flip open one of the limbs. Remove the second limb and reverse the hinge, then re-attach with the retaining pin and screw. If that sounds a little lengthy the reason is because in the takedown position one of the limbs on the riser is reversed in order to keep the folded length as short as possible.

Once that's done, which all only takes a few minutes all you need do is string the bow. SAS themselves recommend the step-through stringing technique where you rest the bow against your foot/calf and bend it around the back of your thigh. Stringing this way you can be finished in a few seconds with a little practice.

Step through stringing

Step through stringing

Don't be fooled by the product images and some of the online reviews of this bow, it isn't simply a flip up and shoot bow. It takes several minutes and some practice to be able to assemble this correctly and be ready to shoot. That's not a bad thing, the process is quick, it just isn't instant!

Accessories » 4.5/5

Usually when you order this bow it will be supplied with:

  • The bow itself
  • Dacron String
  • Camo carry case / quiver
  • An arrow rest 
  • Brass ring nock set
  • Velcro retaining strap
  • Owners manual and warranty
  • NO Arrows (arrows are usually sold separately)

Arrows

No arrows are usually supplied with this bow. You can shoot anything you like, it is a bow after all. If you want the arrows recommended and manufactured by SAS specifically for this bow. The ones that split into 2 pieces, are made of aluminium and originally of Easton design. You need to purchase them separately.

They aren't the cheapest arrows so it may be worth getting something a little on the less expensive side if you're going to practice with the bow and save your takedown arrows for trips or real emergencies.

Arrow Rest

There is no shelf on this bow, you need to stick an arrow rest to the side unless you want to shoot 'off the knuckle'. The Fred Bear arrow rest supplied is normally either left or right hand specific, and which you receive depends on what you specify when you order. But that is only an accessory and can be swapped out for anything you prefer, the bow itself is usable in either hand out of the box.

Retaining Strap

This is simply a velcro strap that is used to keep the hinged limbs in place when the bow is folded for storage. When the bow is assembled this can be kept strapped to the riser, so you don't lose it.​

Camo Bag / Quiver

A neat little camo carry case that has an internal pouch for the bow and a second pouch in the flap for carrying accessories like a wrist guard, spare string, arrows etc​. It fits the bow perfectly for transport and doubles as a quiver when in use. The case can be worn like a rucksack over both shoulders and when the bow is in your hand the long pouch in the case makes a perfect back quiver for assembled arrows.

SAS Tactical Survival Bow - Camo Carry Case

Camo Carry Case / Back Quiver

Shooting » 4/5

As I've mentioned already, this bow has no shelf. It isn't cut to center or anything like that. There is approximately 12.5mm of offset between the path of the string and the path of the arrow past the riser. This will require you to compensate with your aim and perhaps will require a little practice for you to properly get to grips with aiming this bow.

SAS Tactical Survival Bow - In Use

Shooting SAS Tactical Survival Bow

Styling » 3/5

This is a functional piece of kit. It looks functional. Styling wasn't the priority of the manufacturers when they made this. It's all black and square, hinges and angles. It certainly won't win any admiring glances at the archery range. You'll probably just get people asking you what it is. Not a bow to hang on the wall, but that's not why you need one right?

"How does it compare?"

Xpectre Spectre II

The Spectre II when broken down is 23" long, that's longer than this bow. Assembled however the Spectre is much shorter with a 50" AMO length. The Spectre II is much cheaper than the SAS and comes with 3x free arrows. Weight wise these bows are comparable, there isn't much in it. The real benefit of the SAS is in the compactness when folded and the slightly nicer accessories supplied. The Spectre also has no in-riser arrow storage like the SAS.

Xpectre Nomad

If you need something smaller and less expensive, the Nomad would be a better choice. That breaks down into a 17" package which is 4" shorter than this bow. The assembled Nomad however is a short bow with a 48" AMO which may not be suitable for some people with a long draw. The SAS has a much longer 60" AMO when assembled and consequently a longer draw. The Nomad usually comes with 3x free takedown arrows, again this is a bonus over the SAS which doesn't come with any arrows. No reflective coating or aerospace and marine grade metals in use with this one either. It also doesn't have that neat in-riser arrow storage.

About the Manufacturer

Survival Archery Systems are a company with over 15 years of design and development experience. They are a spin of from a design house in the petrochemical and automotive industries and pride themselves in going the extra mile with each and every product that they develop to ensure a high level of quality and safety for the customer.

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This next level archery is astounding!

.If you’ve never seen the “New Level of Archery” video by Lars Andersen then where have you been? This is the most watched archery video of all time on YouTube. Lars Andersen is a Danish painter (now famous archer) born in 1964. He’s spent years intensely practicing in order to become a master archer using the lost skills of yesteryear. He’s the holder of a couple of speed shooting records. In this video performs several incredible feats that really show his next level archery skills.

Hollywood Invented the Back Quiver Myth?

There’s an explanation of why the back quiver commonly seen in Hollywood films today is a pretty impractical choice for an archer who has to move at any sort of speed. Jump, roll, bend over and all your arrows just fall out. Modern archers and hunters don’t have to shoot on the move, so they’re okay. The life of a combat archer would be different.

Speed Shooting Technique

How does he achieve the incredible shooting speeds shown, shooting 3 arrows in 0.6 seconds whilst in the air? After researching the subject his view was that the quickest way to fire an arrow is from the same side of the bow as your draw hand and to hold the arrows IN your draw hand. Lars demonstrates how he can hold 10 arrows in this hand and shoot them all in quick succession.

This technique also makes Lars ambidextrous with his bow, he can shoot using either hand from either side of the bow without difficulty. He also demonstrates how this technique allows him to be able to shoot in pretty much any situation. Hanging upside down, in motion on skates, riding pillion on a motorbike, yep he’s pretty much got all bases covered.

Next Level Tricks

Arrow splitting is taken to the next level when Lars shoots an arrow at a static knife blade and splits it. He shoots a ping pong ball out of the air. Shooting one handed with your feet? Yes, he does that too. Throw a ball into the air, pick up your bow and shoot that ball out of the air, no problem, that’s demonstrated. One of the most impressive feats is when Lars jumps into the air, grabs an incoming arrow (whilst in flight) and shoots it back. Forget Robin Hood splitting an arrow in a target, Lars shows how he can split an incoming arrow with one of his own.

How is it Possible?

One thing Lars does divulge is that his bow and arrows are custom-made or home made and modified from anything you’ll find on the market today. He’s obviously spent a lot of time practicing how to perform these feats, but the result is pretty impressive. There’s no video trickery in this, everything he does he actually does. Many people have tried to debunk some of his theories and that’s why Lars hits back in his next video.

 

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