How To Find The Best Bow For The Money

How To Find The Best Bow For The Money

How does one go about finding the best bow for the money? The easy answer is to slip into the nearest pro shop or big-box store and lay yourself at the mercy of whomever is working the archery counter. The better bet, however, is to set a realistic budget and educate yourself. How much are you willing to spend on a bow (including all of the accessories)? What kind of bow will best suit your needs? All of these questions go into the equation for finding the ideal hunting and target bow without busting your budget. Here are some tips that will help you find the best bow without breaking the bank.

A great bow, with which you can hunt anything in North America, doesn't have to break the budget.

Beginning Your Search

In the last few years flagship hunting bow prices have crept into four-digit territory, which has priced out plenty of bowhunters. There are plenty of compelling arguments for spending well in excess of $1000 for a new rig, but there are just as many arguments to the contrary. Of the latter, the most poignant is that an awful lot of folks simply can't afford it, or can't justify the expense. Should they be left out of the woods this fall or be forced to use subpar gear? Of course, not. They just need to identify offerings that they can afford that will perform well enough for their needs.

The Problem With Used Bows

It wasn't too long ago that these hunters would walk into a pro shop and peruse the used-bow racks. Some hunters can't stand shooting their bows for more than a season or two, so they trade in, upgrade, and eventually, lather, rinse and repeat.

This option is out there for anyone and sometimes it can work out just fine. However, the problem with picking up a used bow is often one of fit. A bow needs to be set to your specific draw length, not some strangers'. And if you should be shooting 40 pounds of draw weight, but the used bow you like can only be cranked down to 60, or even 50, then your shooting experience will be less than enjoyable. This happens a lot.

Problems also occur with hand-me-down bows. In many of these cases, getting a free bow is more of a detriment than anything. After all, what are the odds that the bow your uncle is moving on from is set up to your specs? Not high.

In this case, the receiver of the free bow will try to make it work, but it won't work very well. This is bad enough with adults — who should know better — and is very common with women just getting into archery. Where I see the hand-me-down thing happen the most, unfortunately, is with youngsters. If you want a kid to give up on target shooting, hunting, or both, have them shoot a bow that is set up for someone else. The call of the iPad or local baseball field will be too strong to ignore after just a few frustrating shooting sessions.

Most whitetail bowhunters would be well-served to use a single-cam bow that is easily adjustable and designed for performance without the price.

What's Right For You?

Newcomers, or hunters looking for the kind of smooth draw cycle that is perfect for those touchy situations when you're drawing on a cagey whitetail, will want to look at single-cam bows. The genius behind the single-cam system, especially when built into a bow with a seven-inch brace height, is that you'll get plenty of deer killing speed without the arm-fatiguing draw cycle and holding weight. The importance of this can't be overstated.

You'll also want to consider not only what your bow budget is, but how much you're willing to spend on accessories. The price of most bows is the price of just the bare bow, meaning to make them fully operational and fun to shoot, but your credit card is going to experience some more mileage. That's reality, but fortunately there are bow companies that sell quality bows that are available fully accessorized, some even to the point where they come with arrows and field points as well. That type of one-stop shopping is much easier than trying to buy a bare bow and then pick out everything from a peep sight to a stabilizer, and then of course, paying to have them all attached.

The last criteria you'll want to consider is adjustability. Most high-end, flagship bows are built to a 10-pound draw weight range, and sold with a specific draw length. When it comes to adults, that's not a big deal. For women who are just starting out and would like to work their way up from 15 pounds of draw weight to a deer-skewering 40, adjustability is nonnegotiable, just as it is for children.

Kids grow, and if their bows don't grow with them, they are at best a two-year tool that soon becomes obsolete. A rig that doesn't allow for serious draw length and weight adjustments isn't going to cut it, especially for a youngster that first wants to spend some time at the range and eventually (hopefully) in a tree stand, or for the adult who wishes to pass down their bow.

If finding all of this for a reasonable amount of dough sounds too good to be true, it's not. You just need to know where to look.

A single-cam bow is ideal for bowhunting whitetails because of the buttery smooth, shoulder friendly draw cycle.

Affordable Options

Gen-X Archery offers an entire lineup of bows that are perfect for all archery enthusiasts and bowhunters. They're made right here in the USA, feature the Gen-X Solo Cam system, Gordon Composite Limbs, Zebra performance strings, and operate off of the revolutionary Versa Cam technology.

What this does is make bow adjustment sans a bow press extremely simple. For example, this VCS technology allows you to take their 3.7-pound LR8™ bow and adjust the draw weight from 15 to 70 pounds, meaning it can be shot by bowhunters ranging from balloon-popping youngsters to moose-hunting archery addicts. That same system allows for draw length adjustments from 19 to 30 inches, which covers an awful lot of people. This bow, can be had bare for under $300, or in a kit that contains accessories, arrows and pretty much everything you need for under $400. In other words, that's roughly 20-percent for what you'd spend on a flagship bows and accessories, without having to sacrifice performance or that intangible 'bow feel' that matters so much.

Gen X also offers the Versa™, which starts at $249 and the Dawn™, which sells for only $149, meaning that the barrier to entry for a truly enjoyable archery experience is about what you'd pay for one month of phone and Internet service.

If adjustability, quality and performance in a hunting bow are important to you, but cash is tight, then you might want to check out Gen-X's offerings, which are highly adjustable and affordable.


There is the temptation in all of us when dealing with new or engrained hobbies to go big, but in some cases, it simply doesn't make sense. This is true with anyone looking to get into archery and bowhunting, just as it is for the seasoned bowhunter looking for a great back-up bow, or a bow with which they can hunt anything in North America while saving serious cash for their taxidermy bills. If that sounds about right, do yourself a favor and check out the bow line from Gen-X.

You won't be disappointed.

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