A Beginner’s Guide to Bowhunting

Hunting can be a rewarding experience but even hunters skilled with a firearm can find switching to a bow challenging. Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks out there that will help you fall into the practice of bowhunting much easier. These pointers will help get you started on the right foot and keep you on track your first few times in the field.

Getting Your Hunting License

To hunt legally and safely with either a bow or firearm, the first thing you need to do is obtain a hunting license for the area state you’ll be hunting in. Without one, you risk not only safety concerns but legal repercussions as well. The exact steps and requirements for obtaining a hunting license vary from state to state, so you’re going to want to carefully research what you need to do to obtain your license. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has a handy resource list for each state.

When you actually go out into the field, you’re going to need to keep a copy of your hunting license on you. This way, you have proof of your right to hunt on you in case you are asked for it.

Choosing the Right Bow

Before you can hit the field, you have to make sure that you have the right bow for any kind of game you might be interested in hunting. There are plenty of different models available to choose from, though, and this can make the process of choosing seem pretty overwhelming. Luckily, there are some key features to watch out for.

The first thing to consider is your dominant eye. Typically, your dominant eye is the same as your dominant hand but it isn’t always the case. To test this out, place your arms out in front of you and create a triangle with your hands. Put a dominant focal point on the wall in front of you such as a colored piece of paper. Close each of your eyes to gauge whether looking with your left or right eye will keep the focal point in place. Your dominant eye determines the dominant hand you should shoot with. For instance, if your right eye is dominant, you’re going to want to look for a right-handed bow.

The draw length of the bow is also important to consider. You can measure this yourself by measuring the length from the middle finger to middle finger when your arms are straight out and then divide the measurement by 2.5. You have a little more room for preference when it comes to axle-to-axle measurement. You aren’t going to want anything too unwieldy. For example, a long axle-to-axle measurement won’t be your best choice for shooting from ground level.

Finally, you’ll want to choose the right draw weight. As a beginner, you’re going to want something with a lower draw weight that will be easier to handle. Many compound bows have an adjustable draw weight, so you can make adjustments as you gain more experience on your bow.

Consider Your Release Mechanism Carefully

When you’re choosing a bow, you’re also going to want to pay attention to the release mechanism of the bow which will either be traditional or mechanical. Traditional release systems work the way most of us think a bow does; you pull the bowstring and release it when you’re ready to fire.

If you’re a beginner, you might want to opt for a mechanical release bow instead. These bows rely more heavily on a trigger system and are a popular feature in compound bows. These tend to be more accurate and easier to fire with precision. Keep in mind that, whether you’re a beginner or advanced, you need to choose carefully the different types of gear for bowhunting.

Consider Your Release Mechanism Carefully

Choosing Arrow Points

When you’re practicing with your bow, you might be using arrowheads called field point arrowheads. These are more bullet-shaped than most arrowheads and create a small point of impact.

On a hunting trip, though, you’ll want to make sure you’re using broadhead arrowheads. On a strictly technical note, these wider, razor-style arrowheads create a broader cut when you land a shot which lends itself better to make a fatal shot rather than just injuring an animal. These are also a more humane choice and more widely legally accepted compared to field point arrowheads. It’s a good idea to practice with these broadhead arrowheads as well, so you know what to expect from them specifically.

Practice, Practice, Practice

This is an absolutely crucial point to bowhunting. Firing a bow isn’t impossible but it isn’t something that you’re going to be completely accurate the first time you pick up a bow. Instead, you’re likely to need plenty of practice before you take a single step out into the field.

It’s a good idea to find plenty of time to practice using your bow before you move out into the field. You can find help at the shooting range but it’s a good idea to take lessons or turn to someone with more experience if at all possible. This way, you can be sure that when you take a shot in the field, it’ll hit home.

Know Your Game as Well as Your Bow

Knowing how to handle your bow is only part of the equation when it comes to bowhunting. You also have to know your game well enough. For instance, where is the best place to take a shot when you’re hunting a deer to make a clean kill? You don’t want to simply harm the animal or make the death inhumane. That’s why it’s best to make sure you do your research on the biology of what your hunting as well as the technical aspects of how you’re hunting and where you’ll be.

Bowhunting isn’t impossible but it does take some practice, skill, and preparation. You’re going to want to make sure to take these tips and tricks into consideration when you’re getting ready for your first bow hunt. They’ll make sure that you have the chance to find success early on in your hunting career.

What gear do you need for bow hunting?

Bowhunting is fantastic as it teaches you many things and allows you to build unique skills. However, you will need the proper gear to develop and improve your skills.

What gear do you need for bow hunting

Ready-to-hunt bow package

If you’re new to bow hunting and have no idea where to begin, we recommend you start with buying a ready-to-hunt bow package. Most models include everything you need for bow hunting, such as sight, stabilizer, rest, and quiver. You will still have to buy tips, arrows, and at least one release.

We want to highlight that most ready-to-hunt bow packages aren’t ready to hunt. You will still have to tune your bow and examine the correct draw length.

Build your bow

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s tricky for a new bowhunter to know which shooting bow is right for them. Many professionals recommend starting with deciding a budget and building up from there.


You can go with single pin or multipin sight, with the latter as the best choice for beginners. When you go bow hunting, your success depends on how you move when your game is within 50 yards. If you use a multipin sight, you no longer need the movement after you range your game and draw your bow.

With a single pin, though, you will have to adjust the sight to the range of the animal to get the precision you need.


There are two types of rests for bow hunting: fall-away rests and full-containment rests. Each kind has its advantages. The fall-away rest typically generates fast arrow speed, whereas the full-containment rest has a simple design that keeps the arrow quiet and in place. Some believe that fall-away rests ensure excellent accuracy, whereas others prefer a containment system as they move freely in treestands/stalk while the arrow doesn’t come off the rest.


When you use a bow for hunting, the stabilizers serve two purposes: they dampen the noise and vibration at the shot. The second is that the stabilizers keep the bow steady when in the shot. You can find stabilizers in many shapes, sizes, and lengths. We recommend you not buy the most expensive stabilizers initially; there’s always a place to upgrade.


The release is one of the main components of compound archery as it captures the bowstring. The release is what you pull back on to draw the bow; it features a thumb button/trigger you hit to “release” the string before sending the arrow. You can find several kinds of releases, but two are most frequent: the handheld/finger release and the wrist-strap release. You need a good release right from the beginning, so don’t stop looking until you find one you like.


Even if there are several kinds of quivers to choose from, the bow-mounted quivers are the most frequent kinds in compound archery. Such quivers can hold up to seven arrows.


Unless you ask for advice from an experienced archer, you will have difficulty selecting your arrows as a beginner. You should check out a brand’s arrow-spine chart—it’s a chart helping you choose the proper arrow for the length, draw weight, and poundage.


The tips of the arrows are the broadheads and they help with penetration. Broadheads are crucial as they produce hemorrhaging in the game animal for a fast and ethical kill. Fixed blade and mechanical broadheads represent the main types of broadheads. It would help if you chose the broadheads based on your game animal and the individual bow setup. It will also be necessary to find field points that weigh as heavy as the broadheads you will use for hunting.

If you plan to use 125-grain Iron broadheads, you will also have to find 125-grain field points when practicing on foam targets.


You would need to be one of the best archers to approximate the distance to within 1 yard of your targets. The range estimation is a crucial skill for bowhunting and you might need years of practice until you master it. A rangefinder will ease out your efforts and give you accurate ranges to your target. Surprisingly, even the best distance estimators will laser-range their targets.

Bow case

Truth be told, the bow case isn’t crucial to get you on the range. However, it’s helpful to keep all things organized and you can have your pick from a lot of models made for specific requirements.


Unlike other shooting sports, you won’t need immense space to practice your shooting. You can set up a range in your backyard most of the time. You only need a target for the beginning.

What else do you need for bow hunting?

Apart from your gear, you will need a backpack, proper clothing, footwear, etc. Here’s a list of things you need if you want to become a bowhunter:

What else do you need for bow hunting


You don’t need advice from an experienced archer to buy a backpack, as there are so many options to select from. You want a pack to carry your first-aid kit, a flashlight, and some calls. Pay attention when buying as you want your backpack to suit the challenges your hunting area brings.

If you go bow hunting whitetail, you need a small backpack for your lunch, water, and some hunting gear. Most bowhunters use small packs to have their hands free throughout the day.

Field-Dressing Kit

The field-dressing kit contains a sharp knife, a knife sharpener, a bone saw, and latex gloves. Ideally, you will use the field-dressing kit on every hunt. Field-dressing is a complex task and you need to learn as much as possible before attempting it the first time.


Needless to say, your hunting clothing has to match the season and conditions of your hunt. Regardless of these aspects, use the layering principle with apparel. Opt for merino wool and polyester/nylon fabrics as you want clothes that keep you warm, wick moisture away from your body, and don’t get wet. Cotton is never a good choice for hunting or any other outdoor activity.

Pay attention when buying your clothes for bow hunting. Your clothes shouldn’t be baggy, so they don’t snag your bow.

Bring warm hats, gloves, and socks when hunting in the colder season.


Look for breathable boots when hunting in the summer and rubber boots in marshes and wetlands. For the cold season, seek to get insulated boots. Always break in your footwear before you go hunting and get extra warm and comfy boots when hunting from a ground blind/tree stand.

Maps, compass, flashlight, and first-aid kit

Always pack a compass, maps, and first-aid kit when you go bow hunting. Also, pack a headlamp and a backup flashlight. We recommend you not compromise on the quality of essential gear because you want to be back home safe and sound, even if you go empty-handed!