Selecting a Kids Bow

posted in: Archery, DIY Archery | 0

Whether you’ve just finished watching Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire or are gearing up for the kids to join you on an archery hunt, here’s a couple pointers to keep in mind when selecting a new kid’s bow.

shooting-at-fort-collin-outdoor-range
Fort Collins Outdoor Range

First, compound or traditional – this one comes down to personal choice.  My little guys have shot both but with turkey hunting in Nebraska right around the corner I thought the accuracy provided by a compound would make life a little easier.   So this put us in the market for a compound.

  1. Adjustability – this was my number one requirement when buying a youth bow.  We all know how fast kids grow and I didn’t want to have to make a new purchase every year.  I wanted something that was capable of increasing draw length and poundage until they’re big enough to shoot adult models.
  2. Lightweight – not draw weight, but the physical weight of the bow, or mass weight.  Holding a heavy bow straight out and up is always a challenge for the younger shooters.

Second, you’ll need a couple baseline measurements taken before you start shopping.

checking-eye-dominance
Barrett Checking Eye Dominance
making-sight-picture
Barrett Making Sight Picture

 

The first step is determining eye dominance of the shooter.  Both my little guys are right handed but left eye dominate.  To determine eye dominance, have the kids stand facing you from about 10 feet.  With their arms hanging down, have them make a triangle by crossing their thumbs and index fingers.  Then have them lift their arms, without bending their elbows and look at your nose through the “triangle” formed by their hands.  Watch and see which eye they’re looking through, this is their dominate eye.  You want them shooting a bow based on eye dominance, so if they’re looking through their left eye, you want a left handed bow.

 

 

 

 

 

measuring-draw-length
Beau measuring draw length

The next step is determining draw length.  The simplest way is to use a yardstick (or any straight length of material), placing one end in the center of their chest and with their arms held straight out in front of them; clasp the yardstick between their palms with their middle fingers extended.  The measurement at the tip of their outstretched finger is their draw length.  This will get you close and be an approximate measurement, each bow will need to be individually adjusted and fine-tuned.

Draw weight, this is the force required to pull the string back.  For kids just getting started it will likely be pretty low (12-18 lbs) for a 4-8 year-old.  The one thing I’ve noticed is that with just a little shooting they quickly develop the muscles required to pull a bow and you’ll likely be increasing the draw weight pretty quickly.

With our criteria defined and measurements in hand we settled on the three bows listed below, ultimately going with the Bear Apprentice.

All three offered packages including a 3-pin sight, arrow rest and bow quiver.

 

 

Diamond Atomic

Bear Apprentice

Hoyt Ruckus

Draw Weight

6-29 lbs

15-50 lbs

15-45 lbs

Draw Length

12-24”

15-27”

18-28”

Axle to Axle

24”

27 ½”

28 5/8”

IBO Speed

191

265

258

Brace Height

6”

6”

6 5/8”

Weight

1.9lb

2.9lb

3.0lb

Press Required

Yes

No

Yes

The Atomic is a little smaller bow than the other two so it doesn’t match up well in all the categories, but I will say this little bow is a smoker and sends arrows downrange with amazing speed.  My only complaint is, to my knowledge it’s only available in a right handed configuration.  But this is a great bow for the younger archers or those smaller in stature.

The last point I should make is both the Atomic and Ruckus require a bow press to adjust draw length, depending on where the length module aligns with the limbs.  At the lower poundage there are some ways to work around this but I’d probably be setting myself up for a lawsuit if I described them here! 🙂

Ultimately, we ended up going with the Bear Apprentice; the 50 lb max draw weight was too good to pass up.

 

 

 

 

 

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