Bow weights for beginners and Juniors

At a recent coaching course I was co-running, the question of bow draw weights for beginners and junior archers was raised. This is both a very important question and a complex one, with no easy answer.
The true answer is partly dependent on what age the archer is when they start along with their physical development. Everyone is different and trying to standardise and prescribe anything in stone simply doesn’t work. So here are some points to consider to help you decide.
  • If you start with too high a poundage in draw weight  for the newbie they can become fatigued quickly and their form will suffer as the archer struggles to cope.
  • Too heavy a mass weight can tire the arms of young archers, resulting in dropping their arm.
  • Another factor that is worth considering is how some young archers develop in height earlier than others but this does not mean they have muscle development for longer draws.
There are other elements that play a part here too, such as peer pressure which can occur when coaching a group or even a family if there are two siblings that try to compete with one another. Peer pressure can cause anxiety and increased stress associated with being watched and not doing as well as others or drawing the same poundage as their fellow archers.
I was lucky enough to be shown the specifications that the scouting organisation in the UK use which provides some good guidance on potential draw weights for different age ranges.
Age Range Maximum bow weight at start of course Maximum draw weight by end of the course
Up to 12 yrs old 14 lbs 16 lbs
13-14 16 lbs 18 lbs
15-16 18 lbs 22 lbs
17-18 20 lbs 24 lbs
19+ 20 lbs 24 lbs

I have to say I am a fan of using small “jelly bows” that are very low draw weight and light in hand. Ideal for under 10 year old. We bought a couple of these from Merlin Archery (https://www.merlinarchery.co.uk/ek-crusader-bow-kit.html) though we don’t use the arrows provided.

On take down recurves I start low 10lb or 12lb and let them see how it feels. We have a selection of limbs which we can swap out and have found this of great benefit. Again we bought some bows from Merlin – the Core Pulse in both 54 inch and 64 inch.
When I get the opportunity I will write up a review of these bows in the near future.
The best advice I can give anyone is start with a low draw weight and light bow. If they aren’t having to fight the bow or struggle holding the mass weight they are more likely to learn and in turn succeed.
Thanks for reading.
Close up of Sharon shooting

Whats your top 3

I’m calling all the archery coaches and instructors out there for your input please.

If you coach complete beginners or nationals champions, traditional archer or Olympic recurve. I’m trying to compile some coaching materials on two main topics, one being the most common faults you encounter and the other being areas of improvement you target with your students.

So can I ask you, what you think are the 3 top or most common faults that you encounter when coaching archers?

Maybe you think its’ stance, or release? What about consistency in anchor?

Secondly what are the top 3 things that you think make the greatest impact on improving someone you are coaching?

Likewise this might be associated with shot sequence or simply slowing down? What about equipment and tuning?

The list is endless and I’m looking forward to hearing your input

Thanks for reading.

What target is best for me?

So you might have got a bow for Christmas and are wondering if you can get a target to do some practice. What works and what doesn’t? How much will they cost? How long do they last?  Well all the answers to  these questions are dependent on what you are shooting or wanting to accomplish. Archery targets come in all shapes and sizes. As with everything there are merits and flaws for all but I’m going to try and summarise my thoughts and offer some factors to consider if you are thinking of investing in one for yourself or club.
I’m going to look at 3 types of targets
  • Bag bosses
  • Layered foam bosses
  • 3D targets
Mybo bag target

Mybo bag target

Bag bosses

These comprise of a bag made from a plastic weave similar to builders rubble bags and are packed with pieces of foam, fabric and plastic wrapping. They are normally the cheapest option and come in a couple of different sizes. I’ve had a couple of different ones of these over the years.
I’ve found they are good for low to medium poundage bows. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for compound or crossbow archers as the arrows would quickly wear them out.
This brings me to the downside which is the bag material itself can get shot out as you shoot the centre. The bag material can be replaced or patched as I’ve known a few clubs to use old builders rubble sacks for coverings. I wrote a review of the Mybo bag boss a while back.
Being a boss you can pin different faces in them as required and this does help with spreading the wear and tare.
Overall they work pretty well for light usage and we’ve bought a couple for the club to use at have a go events and occasional use.

Layered foam bosses

Target Boss

Layered foam bosses are very common on most field courses and consist of layers of thin foam with a wood frames on two of  the long  sides that are then bound together. Mine have been out for a couple of years and still work well.
While more expensive than bag bosses they do work for heavier poundage bows.  Normal sizes are 90 x 90 cm or 130cm x 130cm.
The advantage of these is you can pin any target face on them, so this makes them versatile .
Things to consider are
  • The wooden frames rotting over time as the wood is not always pressure treated. We’ve used fence preserver on ours to help them last longer and disguising or camouflaging the frames so they are less obvious.
  • Try to avoid setting shots so arrows enter at an angle to the layers as this promotes the foam being torn or damaged more quickly.
  • Over time the banding can slacken so you may need to re-tighten or replace the banding.
  • The boss can get the heart shot out, with foam sheets tearing over time. A solution to this is to dismantle the target and move the torn sheets to the side and less damaged ones inward then rebind them.
  • Make sure the wood frame is on the side of the boss and not top & bottom. You don’t want an arrow to glance off the wood and fly high.
Its a common practice to repair these bosses and sometimes you’ll find you might be repairing 2 or 3 of them at a time. The end result being two usable bosses and the damaged sheets being used to stuff bag bosses.

3D targets

3D target set up for shoot off

3D target set up for shoot off

3D targets look great and can prove very useful if you are training for hunting or maybe a specific tournament. The downside is they can be expensive with a decent 3D deer costing a few hundred pounds. They are also pretty limited as unlike foam or bag bosses you can’t pin a different target face up and shoot that.
They can be repaired when they get shot out and there are some good YouTube videos covering this. Greg at 3D archery YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4HdCXofIA4jsWi1q9AdBUA) has run a series on repairing a variety of 3ds.
I feel that some of the smaller 3ds are not worth the money as they will get shot out quickly or are so hard lighter poundage bows struggle to penetrate.
A quick Google search will show there are several manufacturers of 3Ds,  Gamut (https://3dtargets.co.uk/), Rinehart (https://www.rinehart3d.com/), Delta McKenzie (https://dmtargets.com/) are just a few. All of them are now offering a variety from raccoons to grizzly bears.
Rinehart targets whilst expensive do provide the option of replacement centres which are sold separately. Not all manufacturers do this so.
Personally for my home range I have a couple of layered foam bosses which work well for practice and coaching. I’ve also got a couple of bag bosses but they need to be repaired.
Anyway I hope this has proved to be helpful. If you have any comments or feel I’ve missed something then let me know.
Thanks for reading