It may be time to trade in the old bow for a gentler one

My bow is tearing me up, and I’ve been thinking about shopping for a new one. With today’s technology, there’s no reason to keep shooting my old super-heavy dinosaur.

I’ve been shooting an old Browning Mirage compound bow since about 1994. It was the cream of the crop back when I graduated high school, and it was achieving arrow speeds other bow makers could only dream of. That was back when the heavier a bow was, the better. Mine was a special order somebody didn’t pick up, which is how I was able to afford it. The bow shop couldn’t sell it, because nobody wanted to monkey with a bow with a 90-pound draw weight.

I was young, strong and stupid, so I bought it. And it has served me well. With the heavy draw weight and the cams that were state-of-the-art back in the ’90s, it has more than enough kinetic energy to take down just about any critter in the Northern Hemisphere. But that comes at a cost, and the cost is my right shoulder.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to need rotator cuff surgery if I keep shooting that monstrosity. It would be cheaper and less painful for me to buy a new bow. If you’re shopping for a bow, too, keep in mind that heavier isn’t necessarily better.

The Easton arrow company recommends 25 to 41 foot-pounds of kinetic energy for antelope and deer; 42 to 65 foot-pounds for elk and black bear; and more than 65 for bigger animals like Alaskan grizzlies and moose. But you don’t need a 90-pound bow to get that. With today’s bows, you can get arrow speeds of 330 feet per second with a 70-pound draw weight from bows like the Mathews Z2 or the Hoyt Carbon Spyder. Shoot a 400-grain arrow out of that bad boy, and you’re at 65 foot-pounds of kinetic energy with a 28-inch draw length. The longer your draw length, the more kinetic energy you’ll get on the other end.

So don’t keep beating yourself up with a monster draw weight. The lighter your draw, the longer you can take to aim, and the more often you’ll take it out and practice. And the less likely you’ll need to have your shoulder surgically repaired.