Armory, Self Defense, And EDC > Bows and Arrows

Getting in to Archery

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UnderTheRadar:

--- Quote from: khristopher23 on May 04, 2009, 07:26:32 AM ---I've noticed a lot of good deals on e bay for bows, any advice on what to look for?

--- End quote ---

Recurves:

Look for limb twist.  Many old bows have it, and you don't want it.  Have them send a photo looking down from the top so you can see both tips and the riser, and tell if the tips are aligned with the center line of the riser.

Have them string up the bow and send photos of the upper and lower tiller using a bow square.  Many old bows have a limb that has weakened and you can tell if the measurements are off by more that 1/4 inch or so.

Get good close up shots of both limbs from every angle and look for cracks and fiberglass fatigue.

Get a photo with the bow on a bow scale at your draw length.  This shows draw weight and proves is can be safely drawn.

9 out of 10 craigslist and ebay recurves are junk.  You really have to be careful.  Buy local if you can so you can test fire it.  Wear safety glasses each time; I have had a limb explode and sometimes bits of epoxy and fiberglass come off.

Take-down recurves tend to be stored with the limbs off to save space.  This reduces opportunities for damage.

Compounds:

Draw length needs to fit you.  Most are adjustable, but many require a special part that you replace on the cam.  Don't count on finding these for older bows.  Draw weight and tiller is adjustable so you don't need to worry about that as much.  The limbs are less fragile than recurves but get good photos anyway.  Watch for stripped threads on the sight mount and stabilizer holes.  Look for damage on the cables.

UnderTheRadar

ebonearth:
Also check when the 'shoot all You Want' specials are going on. My local archery shop in NYC has great deals and even better atmosphere. From their website:

At a cost of only $13.00 per adult, $5.00 if your under 16 or over 65 one can shoot from opening to closing " a real bargain". Open seven days a week; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm; Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. For archery aficionado's, special shooting packages are available which result in additional savings off regular range fees.

DeltaEchoVictor:

--- Quote from: khristopher23 on May 04, 2009, 07:26:32 AM ---Archery is something I am also interested in, especially the recurve side. I've noticed a lot of good deals on e bay for bows, any advice on what to look for?

--- End quote ---

There are a lot of good deals on ebay to be had.  You do need to be careful, but it's not because 9 out of 10 bows bought on ebay & craigslist are junk....that's simply not true. ::) 

You do need to ask some basic questions before you buy a bow off ebay, but most of the people who move a lot of vintage type archery gear will answer those questions for you in the description.  They know what the concerns are & will describe the bow adequately enough to allay any fears you may have.  Sure there are scumbags on ebay, & there are also people who know nothing about the bows they're selling, those are the ones to avoid & they're fairly easy to spot.  I've bought many bows off ebay & only ended up with one bow that wasn't usable & that was my fault.  I have a 32" draw & I bought a short 52" Browning recurve to use out of a ground blind, I was way overdrawing the bow & popped a limb lamination.  The delamination can be fixed, but it's not something I've done yet.  The picture below is of the delamination, it's the dark gap in the limb.  Avoid bows that say delaminated....again, the bow was fine when I bought it.  I actually damaged it, not the seller.


In general, look for sellers who've sold several bows.  Just do a general search for "Bear Recurve" or "Pearson Recurve" or "Vintage Recurve", something along those lines.  Then look back thru the sellers ratings.  Read the entries from buyers of their other bows & see what the consensus is. 

Limb twist isn't a big deal for me.  If it says slight twist or minor limb twist, something along those lines the twist isn't typically enough to not take advantage of a good deal.  Most limb twist (98% I'd estimate) that is minor can be straightened out easily.  Obviously it's a case by case basis, but I've yet to buy a bow off ebay with a minor twist that I couldn't easily fix.  Most minor twists aren't enough to throw the bows cast off anyway, major twists or limb damage is a different issue entirely.

95% of vintage bows will have lines in the fiberglass, that's fine.  They aren't structural defects, they aren't cracks per se.  Constant flexing & compression causes these striations, what some people call crazing & it's normal in bows that are many years old.  Bows can be refinished easily with fine sandpaper & wipe on polyurethane.  I've done it many times.

If you should see something on ebay & are wondering about it, shoot me a PM with a link to the auction & I'd be happy to take a look.

Here are some of my bows.
Bear Alaskan longbow (an Ebay bow), it's over 50 years old.  I refinished it & carry it in the woods regularly.
 

A Bear 76'er.  Made in 1976 & a highly underrated little take down recurve, it was red, white & blue.  I camo'd it & put on a tennis racket grip to get my hand off the cold magnesium riser.  This is my other "go to" bow & it's highly accurate.  I was shooting black birds with it just the other day. ;)  Also, this bow has a slight twist to it's upper limb.


Three of my other Bears.


UnderTheRadar:

--- Quote from: DeltaEchoVictor on May 04, 2009, 11:44:16 PM ---.......... not because 9 out of 10 bows bought on ebay & craigslist are junk....that's simply not true.

--- End quote ---

My opinion is based on four years of people bringing in "great deals" on used recurves they just bought that would not survive a draw weight test.  Eventually I refused to string them, and had a release form to sign before they went on the scale.

The worst were the ones made in highschool wood shop.

It has been nearly 20 years since I was in the business, perhaps materials and production methods have improved reliability.

I'm not sure about asking a novice to take on limb straightening.

I like your flemish twist string; not too many people know how to make those any more.

UnderTheRadar

DeltaEchoVictor:

--- Quote ---My opinion is based on four years of people bringing in "great deals" on used recurves they just bought that would not survive a draw weight test.  Eventually I refused to string them, and had a release form to sign before they went on the scale.

--- End quote ---
I'm not discounting that you've seen bad bows, but if 1000 bows were being sold on ebay that would mean 900 of them were junk.  It's an exaggeration IMHO & not something I've experienced in all the bow trading I've done.  A correct draw weight test done on a recurve or longbow is a vastly different animal than one done on a compound, ya can't just throw it up on the scale & give it a pull.  Especially if the bow being tested hasn't been drawn regularly or shot in many years.  None of the compound shops in my area are well versed in traditional equipment, that I know from my own experience, YMMV obviously.  No doubt some of the problem stemmed from bow buyers not knowing what they were doing either, I'm sure. 


--- Quote ---The worst were the ones made in highschool wood shop.
--- End quote ---
No doubt, buying a second hand novice built bow is always a bad idea.  God forbid if it's been sitting out in the garage for a few years.  That's a bad time waiting to happen.  I'm talking about vintage (20 to 50 year old) bows that were made by some of archery's greats....Bear, Pearson, Wing, etc.  Those bows that were made with modern (for the time) materials are still very reliable & can be had at great prices, if one knows what to look for.  My oldest hunting bow is 50+ years old & still going strong.  It was ugly as sin when I bought it off ebay, but it was structurally sound & just needed some TLC. ;)


--- Quote ---It has been nearly 20 years since I was in the business, perhaps materials and production methods have improved reliability.
--- End quote ---
I'd argue the older Bears, which I'm a fan, of are more reliable because of the attention to detail that was paid to the vintage bows.  Bear's QC has gone in the crapper in the last 10 or so years.  It's like anything else though, there are good ones & there are bad ones from any manufacturer.  The modern custom bow makers though have the market cornered on QC IMO.  Production bows can't compare these days, or very rarely anyway.  Check out Black Swan Archery for some high tech built recurves & longbows.  I'd love to have one but there's no way I'm dropping $1,000 on a bow.


--- Quote ---I'm not sure about asking a novice to take on limb straightening.
--- End quote ---
Heck, ya gotta start somewhere.  There's enough information on the webz to make it an easy proposition these days.  Of course it all depends on how bad the twist is.  I hadn't straightened one either, until I did my first one.  Like I said, a minor twist isn't enough to turn me off of a good deal, but it's going to depend on the bow seller's knowledge base.  That's why I suggested sticking with auctioners that had an established reputation & knew what they were describing. ;)  No way would I buy one from someone that had never sold a bow before....with one caveat, like you said, they'd have to have a ton of pictures from the various angles, so I could get a good idea of the bow's condition.


--- Quote ---I like your flemish twist string; not too many people know how to make those any more.
--- End quote ---

Thanks.  All my shooters sport flemish strings these days.  The only one that doesn't is the 76'er & that's only because I actually had a couple of endless loop strings already that would fit it.  I prefer the flemish twist myself.

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