Less Can be More


Most Americans are obsessed with speed. We like fast cars, fast internet, and super fast bows. Every year, bowhunters can’t wait to see how fast the latest bows are shooting. Twenty years ago, a 250-300 FPS bow was considered fast. Then bow companies cracked the 300 FPS mark, and now many bows are shooting 350 FPS. That is a lot of speed and kinetic energy going downrange. Although most bowhunters are obsessed with speed, speed isn’t everything. Below are a few reasons you should consider shooting less poundage.


Since today’s bows are so efficient, little of the energy that is stored in a bow when it is drawn is lost when the bow is shot. Most of the energy is transferred to the arrow and is sent downrange. Decades ago, that was not the case. Bows were not that efficient thirty years ago. As a result, bowhunters got into the habit of pulling back as much draw weight as they could because they wanted their arrow to penetrate the animal they were shooting at. There will always be penetration debates among bowhunters, but most penetration these days has nothing to do with how fast a bow is or the amount of kinetic energy a bow is producing. Today, bows produce a shocking amount of kinetic energy and speed, and the arrow retains most of that energy. A pass-through shot wasn’t very common 30 or 40 years ago. Today it is a commonplace.


Most modern bows even when set at 50 or 60 pounds, produce enough kinetic energy to pass through a deer. “A Mathews bow today set at 55 or 60 pounds will produce as much or more kinetic energy as a 70-pound bow from 1990,” said Joel Maxfield from Mathews Archery.


Now that you know it is okay to go into the woods with a 50 or 60-pound bow, let me highlight a few reasons why less truly can be more. Many bowhunters struggle pulling back 70 pounds. None of us want to admit that, but many of us have to grit our teeth every time we pull back a 70-pound bow. If you struggle to pull back a 70-pound bow, chances are your form while holding the bow at full draw will be a little off. If your form is a little off, your downrange accuracy will suffer. How can you tell if you are pulling too much draw weight? Sit in a chair and try to pull your bow back; without pointing your bow to the sky in an effort to draw. If you struggle to come to full draw with the bow out in front of you, you should reduce your draw weight.


All bowhunters should consider lowering the poundage on their bow because in the moment of truth when we are drawing down on a buck, sometimes we get buck fever. Drawing back a bow while having buck fever can be extremely difficult. Even if you get your bow drawn, sometimes waiting for the perfect shot opportunity can take several seconds. The more draw weight you are pulling, the harder it is to hold a bow at full draw and accurately aim the bow. The bottom line is you will likely have better form and make a better shot on big game animals if you are pulling less draw weight than you can actually pull. Just because you can pull back 80 pounds, doesn’t mean you should.


During November and December, most of us find ourselves perched in a tree in below-freezing temperatures. If you have bow hunted long enough, I am sure you have been in a situation where you couldn’t get your bow drawn while in your tree stand or blind because your muscles were too cold and stiff. One of the best whitetail hunters I know kills many big bucks in December and January. When December rolls around each year, he backs his bow down to 45 pounds in states where he can legally shoot that amount of weight. He has told me that he has killed many bucks that he wouldn’t have been able to kill if he was pulling 70 pounds because when the weather is super cold, he simply can’t pull back that much weight. It is important to note that even when he is shooting 45 pounds, most of the time, his arrow passes completely through the big old bucks he is shooting.


The final reason you should consider shooting less weight is that after decades of shooting bows, many bowhunters experience a torn rotator cuff in their shoulder, and is often the result of pulling a lot of draw weight. By backing your poundage down, you may be able to keep your shoulders healthy and strong for the duration of your life. I have rotator cuff issues, and I have found that backing my bow down a few pounds has really helped me keep the pain and suffering at bay.

High tech bows coupled with a high tech arrow/broadhead combo can completely pass through most big game animals the majority of the time, even when you are shooting a low poundage bow. Go ahead and back your bow down a few pounds this fall. You will likely be pleasantly surprised with how much more fun shooting your bow is. Your arrow groups will likely shrink as well.