Choosing the right bow for a beginner archer may at first seem to be a daunting task. It can be especially difficult, when the parents of the child have little or no archery experience. There are longbows, recurves, and compounds, brand names, draw lengths, poundages, and numerous other factors to consider. Sifting through the options may seem impossible. However, do not feel discouraged, deciding on a bow is easier than it appears.
I see this scenario play out everyday at Wilcox Bait & Tackle, a timid and somewhat skeptical Mom and Dad come into the store bow shopping with their excited child. The parents don't know where to begin. However, after a few basic questions we have already narrowed down their choices and are close to picking out a new bow. The first question is...
"Are you right or left eye dominant?" Although this seems simple enough, this is the hardest question. Many know that they are right or left handed, but they are uncertain about eye dominance. Most right handed people are right eye dominant and the same holds true for lefties. However, this assumption does not always hold true. Sometimes a right handed person is left eye dominant or vice versa. If your child is right handed but left eye dominant, it is better and easier to shoot a left handed bow.
The best way to determine eye dominance is with a simple test. Have the archer extend their arm and use their pointer finger to point at an object at a distance (the further the distance away the better for this exercise). Then, have the child alternate closing their left eye and right eye one at a time. If their finger is still pointing at the same object with their left eye closed, then they are right eye dominant. It is common for young kids to not have full motor control in their eye lids and they cannot close individual eyes. If this is the case, simply cover their eye with your hand. After determining eye dominance, we move onto the next question.
"Do you have an interest in hunting?" Sometimes, the answer is no. The child does not have an interest in hunting, they just want to target shoot. In this scenario, the first bow I show them is a compound bow called a Genesis. The Genesis is a unique compound bow in that it has no set let-off point or draw length. To contrast, most compound bows have set draw lengths. At that point, the draw weight goes down dramatically. The benefit of a Genesis is that your child will not ever grow out of this bow. Furthermore, the draw weight is light enough for even the smallest of children to shoot. The poundage can be increased to around 20 pounds for older children. These bows allow for installation of sights, rests, quivers and other accessories to be installed if desired.
If the child is not interested in a compound bow, I show them our fiberglass recurves. This is great option for young children for many of the same reasons as the Genesis. They will never physically outgrow these bows and anyone can shoot them. These bows are not designed for sights or other accessories. However, some children prefer this. If they are a little older (10 or older), I will even show them a nice wooden recurve bow such as a Ragim Wildcat or a Eason Beginner Archery Set
If the youth is interested in hunting, I show them a few different compound bows. Popular ones include the Mission Menace or Craze. These bows are incredible. They have full draw length adjustment to fit the smallest of children to full size adults. The Menace is a lighter physical weight bow and goes up to a draw of 52 pounds. I typically recommend this for young girls because women rarely shoot over 50 pounds. Other the other hand, the Craze is little heavier physical weight bow but goes up to 70 pounds draw weight. This means that these bows are both are fully capable of any type of hunting desired and they will never grow out of the bow. Other popular options with similar adjustability is the Diamond Infinite Edge or Hoyt Ruckus Jr.
Any of these bows recommended are great options depending upon the objectives the shooter. I would encourage you to embrace the interest your young one has in archery. Parental support and encouragement is one of the most important factors in fostering a positive archery experience. It can help turn their interest into a lifelong passion that fosters fundamental life lessons.