Updated September 24, 2018 by Sam Kraft

The 10 Best Archery Sets

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Looking for a new hobby? Satisfy your athletic urges, improve your hand-eye coordination and strengthen your mental focus with one of the archery sets listed here. We've included models that are ideal for children just beginning the sport as well as options for intermediate archers interested in competitive shooting. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best archery set on Amazon.

10. Crosman Sentinel

9. Southland Archery Quad

8. Bear Archery Scout

7. Bear Archery Brave

6. Barnett Vortex Compound

5. Crosman Elkhorn Jr.

4. Barnett Sportflight

3. SAS Siege

2. Southwest Archery Samick Sage Takedown

1. Genesis Bows Original

A Brief History Of Archery

It wasn't until the advent of the firearm in the 12th or 13th century that the bow and arrow began to wane as the prominent projectile weapon for military use.

A bow and arrow is one of the oldest projectile weapons still in use today, though in modern times most civilizations use them for recreation rather than warfare. Throughout history, archery was a vital hunting and military skill required for survival. The weapon plays such a prominent role in human history that it found its way into the mythologies of many cultures. For example, Arash, a legendary archer in Iranian lore, shot an arrow that traveled for three days before landing and determining the border between Persia and Tooran.

It is unknown exactly when humans first started using the bow and arrow. There is direct evidence showing mankind using the bow and arrow at least 8,000 years ago, but indirect evidence points to their use some 10,000 years ago or more. Many academics believe that humans made use of the bow and arrow as much as 40,000 or 50,000 years ago. In fact, recent discoveries in the Sibuda Cave in South Africa point to evidence of the bow and arrow existing 64,000 years ago. It is interesting to note that pre-civilized people on nearly every continent developed a similar form of bow and arrow.

Archeologists found the oldest definitive bows in Holmegård swamp in Denmark. They are made of elm wood and date back to roughly 6,000 B.C.E. Archeologists also found what they believe to be arrows dating back to sometime between 9,000 and 7,000 B.C.E. near Hamburg, Germany. These primitive arrows had a pine shaft and flint points. Shallow grooves near the base indicate they were shot from a bow, but the evidence is not conclusive.

Historians believe that archery spread to the Americas in roughly 6,000 B.C.E. by way of Alaska. It most likely didn't arrive in temperate zones until some 4,000 years later. It wasn't until the advent of the firearm in the 12th or 13th century that the bow and arrow began to wane as the prominent projectile weapon for military use. By the 1500s, most European armies had begun to replace archers with firearm divisions. Armies in China, however, continued to use bows and arrows alongside firearms until as recently as the 1800s.

Understanding The Different Types Of Bows

While there have been different types of bows throughout the years, modern bows generally come in three distinct styles: longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows.

Longbows are the most traditional form still commonly used today. Soldiers used them in battle from the 13th to 16th centuries C.E. Longbows are so named because of their size, which is often roughly equal to the height of the user. As you might imagine, this makes them somewhat unwieldy and difficult for beginners to use. Their long size also means they have a fairly long draw that requires a good deal of strength.

Compound bows may have a recurve or traditional longbow shape.

Recurve bows address some of the shortcomings of the traditional longbow, mainly the size to power ratio. Because of the unique design of recurve bows, in which the tips of the limbs curve away from the archer rather than towards them, they are able to store and produce a greater amount of energy in a smaller form. This made them ideal for use in pursuits where a longbow was problematic, such as on horseback or in dense brush. It also makes them a good choice for beginners, as they don't require nearly as much energy to produce high-velocity shots. Most beginners learn on barebow recurves. These only have bow limbs, a string, an arrow rest, and a riser. As a student's skill increases, they may begin to use recurve bows with more accessories, such as stabilizers, pressure buttons, and sights.

Compound bows make use of a complex system of pulleys and eccentric cams that make it easier to hold the bow at full draw. The limbs of compound bows are more rigid than those of longbows or recurve bows, which means they require more strength to initially draw the bow. The high rigidity makes them more energy-efficient and capable of extremely powerful shots. The idea behind the compound bow is to give the archer more time to aim their shot, without causing excessive fatigue. Compound bows may have a recurve or traditional longbow shape. Due to the complex design, compound bows are not recommended for beginners.

Common Methods To Practice Archery

Most modern bow and arrow enthusiasts participate in one of four types of archery pursuits: target, field, 3D, or bowhunting. Each form requires different skills, and the type you plan on participating in will have some impact on which type of bow you should purchase.

Bowhunting is exactly what it sounds like: the practice of hunting game using a bow and arrow.

In target archery, archers stand with their feet level with a stationary shooting line and shoot at distance-denoted, fixed-position targets. Archers can use any type of bow in target archery. Those who find the concept of standing in a single position and repeatedly shooting at a target boring, may be more interested in field archery. In field archery individuals or teams work their way through a course, often set over rough terrain, shooting at targets from pre-set colored pegs in the ground. Each set of pegs is placed at a specific distance from the target depending on the skill division. Most archers in field archery use compound or recurve bows.

In 3D archery, archers shoot at life-sized, three-dimensional targets in the shape of a variety of different animals. The targets are most often made from foam. Traditionally, most archers participated in 3D archery as a way to hone their skills for bowhunting, but it is gaining in popularity as a purely recreational sport. Unlike with field or target archery, there are no shot distance markings in 3D archery, which means the archer must know how to properly estimate distance. Bowhunting is exactly what it sounds like: the practice of hunting game using a bow and arrow. The majority of 3D archers and bowhunters use compound bows.

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Sam Kraft
Last updated on September 24, 2018 by Sam Kraft

In addition to his corporate career as a marketing and communications professional in Chicago, Sam runs a popular blog that focuses on the city’s flourishing craft beer and brewery scene. He received his degree in journalism from DePaul University (which spurred his interest in freelance writing) and has since spent years developing expertise in copywriting, digital marketing and public relations. A lifetime of fishing, hiking and camping trips has left him well-versed in just about any outdoors-related topic, and over several years spent working in the trades during his youth, he accumulated a wealth of knowledge about tools and machinery. He’s a travel junkie, a health and fitness enthusiast, and an avid biker.

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