Bowhunter with bow draenBows and arrows are not toys and should be handled as carefully as any firearm. Bows can propel arrows hundreds of yards, although most hunting shots are between 20 and 40 yards. Shot placement is critical to hunting success, therefore becoming an accurate shooter before attempting to hunt is very important.

Safety Tips

  • Don't ever "dry fire" a bow- Always use an arrow when firing a bow.
  • Don't ever be careless with broadheads. Treat bows and arrows like you would a loaded firearm - carry or store broadheads covered, and always keep them pointed in a safe direction.
  • Don't ever shoot bent, cracked or broken arrows- Always check bows and arrows for cracks or separations.

Modern bows and arrows come in a variety of styles. Many stores that specialize in archery have indoor ranges and will let you try out a bow before purchasing.


Young archer drawing compound bow

Longbow- typically called the “traditional bow,” early longbows were sometimes 6 feet long and could puncture armor.  The limbs of the longbow are relatively straight but when strung, form an arc.

diagram of a long bow

Recurve Bow- looks similar to the longbow but the limbs curve noticeably, especially toward the tips. This design delivers more power in a shorter length. Longbows and recurve bows are rated at different weights, such as 65#. This means it takes 65 pounds of pressure to draw this bow to its shooting length. Most archers learn with a lighter draw weight and build up to the bigger draws. Texas has no minimum draw weight for hunting, but a recommended draw weight should be around 30 lbs for bowhunting game animals.  A responsible bowhunter knows their limitations and will do what is right for the resource.

diagram of a recurve bow

Compound Bow- this is truly a modern bow and has become the most popular bow in use today. The mechanics of the wheels and cables reduce the amount of effort that the shooter must exert to hold the arrow when the bow is fully drawn. Compound bows can also be adjusted to shoot at different draw weights. Compound bows are also shorter than longbows or recurves, making them the overwhelming choice of hunters who frequently find themselves in a confined space.

diagram of compound bow

Arrows and Accessories

Traditionally, the shafts of arrows were made of wood and the fletching made of feathers. Today arrow shafts can still be made of wood but more commonly they can be made from carbon and aluminum alloys. Usually the arrow’s tips are threaded to allow various types of arrowheads to be changed. At the rear tip of the arrow is the nock, a slotted piece made of plastic that allows the arrow to attach and hold in the correct position on the bowstring.

diagram of an arrow

Fletching- traditionally made from feathers, today they can be also be made of plastic. Fletching stabilizes the flight of the arrow and can allow the arrow to rotate, much like a spiral of a bullet. Usually there are three feathers or vanes on the arrow. One will be a different color from the rest and is called the “cock, the others are called the “hen.” When mounting an arrow on the bowstring, the cock feather points out and parallel to the ground when the bow is drawn. The nocking point on the bowstring is a metal ring, clamped in place at a position that aligns the arrow so it sits level to the arrow rest.

nocked arrow  nock point

Arrowheads come in a variety of styles, depending on the intended target.

arrow points

Broadheads have razor sharp steel blades used for turkey and big game animals like deer and feral hogs. Broadheads should be handled with extreme care.

broadhead arrows

Broadheads must have at least 2 blades to be legal, most have 3 or 4. Width upon impact must be at least 7/8 of an inch to be legal.

broadhead blades

Mechanical broadheads open wider upon impact, and the width must be at least 7/8 of an inch to be legal.

mechanical broad blades

Arm and Finger Guards- protect you from fatigue and injury by the bowstring.

archery glove and armband

Releases- many archers, especially those that use compound bows use a device that attaches to a loop at the nocking point that releases the string in a very smooth manner. This makes the mechanics of the shot more consistent and should help improve overall accuracy.

Compound bow draw trigger release

Releases strap to the wrist and many have a small trigger that the archer squeezes to release the drawn arrow.


A bow stringer is a separate accessory that helps you to bend the bow to attach and secure the bow string.

Bow stringer