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

How can Costa Coffee cups help your archery practice?

Sharon on the range

Sharon on the range

No, not a trick question, nor am I talking about cup shooting, and if you don’t know what Cup shooting is check out Grizzly Jim’s video here.

This is a tip from my better half Sharon came up with and was using this on our range the other day. It’s no secret that I like Costa coffee, in fact it has got to a stage where I can walk into the local Costa Coffee shop by my office and they have had my order ready for me by the time I reached the front of the queue. This means I tend to have a few spare cups floating round. Normally they get used for mixing paints or pant pots.

stack of Costa Coffee cups

stack of Costa Coffee cups

But how can they help with archery?

We have a 40 yard practice range marked out in five yard increments, behind our house. This means we can practice distances from five yards upwards, but we both like to mix up the distances we shoot from. So we might shoot a set of arrows at ten yards, then move to thirty five yards for the next set, then fifteen for the third set and so on. The key thing is not to shoot two sets at the same distance consecutively. Why? Well it improves your distance judgement.

The problem is when you are doing multiple sets it is quite easy to lose track of which distances you have shot at. Well Sharon, the ever intelligent one can up with a simple idea of how to track this using Costa cups.

First step is dropping a cup over each of the distance pegs at the beginning before you start. Then when you have shot from that distance you remove the cup to indicate you’ve shot the distance. When all cups are off the pegs, you know you’ve shot all the distances and can start again.

On the second round after you’ve shot you take the cup to the boss and stack them on top. This means when you’ve shot all the distance, all cups will be at the boss for you to collect. It is a simple and easy way of tracking the distances.

If you look at the picture below you will see some of the pegs covered and others with a coffee cup along side.

Close up of Sharon shooting

Close up of Sharon shooting

The only problem comes if it’s a windy day.

By mixing up the distances you shoot at you can develop great skills in judging distance. It is something that is mentioned in Beginner’s guide to traditional archery by Brian J Sorrells.

Thanks for reading and no this post was not sponsored by Costa coffee.