If you’re reading this, I take it that you read my previous guide to buying your first compound bow. If you haven’t, stop and go read it first. But, if you have a new compound bow, chances are you wanting to know how to go about upgrading it. If you purchased it used, it could have been sold fully tricked out, with just a basic setup, or just a bare bow. If it’s just a bare bow, you obviously have more to purchase. And if its a basic setup, it should get you by for a few months while you start practicing. There will come a time though, when you decide that you need to upgrade. I came to the same decision with my bow. It took me quite a while to prioritize what parts to upgrade and when. So here’s a guide I’ve put together using my own experience and planning decisions.
Upgrades In Order of My Percieved Importance
Tune-Up and Set-Up
Before you even start thinking about whether or not a stabilizer will improve your accuracy, you better bring that bow to a pro-shop and get it properly set up according to your strength and draw length. You can adjust these on your own, I’ve done it. However, you have to be extra careful about maintaining the proper tiller and possibly not messing up the cam timing, especially on a binary cam bow. It can throw it all outta whack. Bringing your bow in to a shop is especially necessary if you bought this bow online or in a face to face sale. You don’t always know that what the seller says about the draw length and weight is exactly correct. You could be instilling poor form while you struggle to make a bow that’s supposed to be your size work, when in reality it’s an inch too long. This whole tune-up and set up should also include a new string, serving, and center nock, if need be. A pro shop employee will be able to tell you if a new string is in order, or maybe just repairing your serving.
In my opinion, the order of importance when it comes to upgrades is dictated by the arrow and everything that contacts the arrow. Firing the arrow is the entire purpose of the bow, therefore, any upgrades to improve its delivery and flight trump everything else. So, the first thing you can do is invest in a set of good quality, custom-cut arrows. You don’t need a full dozen, a half-dozen works just fine for practicing. I prefer only putting about 6 arrows into a target since I don’t want to Robin-Hood any and have to go buy more. A decent set for a half dozen arrows, fully fletched and cut should run you anywhere from $50-$80. It’s the best investment you can make aside from a pro set-up when you’re first starting. Getting them made by a pro-shop or someone who knows what they are doing ensures that the arrow spine and weight are properly matched for your poundage and they are cut according to your draw length. These are all vital to ensuring proper and consistent arrow flight. An arrow that has too much flex will porpoise through the air, and arrow that’s too long will not fire with the highest possible accuracy.
Making sure you have a quality arrow rest in good working condition is your next concern. A cheap or improperly tuned rest will be frustratingly difficult to practice with, as it will constantly be throwing your shots off. Some rests are easier to tune than others. Whisker Biscuits and NAP Quicktune rests are a breeze to adjust and mess around with, while drop-away style rests require a bit more finesse to get right. For any beginner, I recommend they get just get a Whisker Biscuit Kill Shot. Unless you are trying to shoot arrows with an exotic vane design, like a Starflight, a Whisker Biscuit will treat you well. Even though I said they are simple to mess around with, it’s still wise to set one of these up with either a pro-shop or a buddy who knows what he’s doing. There are a few concerns with maintaining center shot keeping the arrow aligned correctly when messing with the rest.
The bow sight is often the coolest and most interest part of the entire bow. It’s also a theoretically unnecessary part of the bow too. Think about it. In theory, just like any traditional or recurve, the bow could be shot without a sight at all, given enough skill. That might be why sights come in more flavors, shapes, and sizes than any other piece of archery equipment. Now, ‘m not recommending you go out and try to shoot a compound bow without a sight, especially at an animal, but you get the point. You can spend anywhere from $20 to over $200 on a bow sight, and you get what you pay for. You don’t have to buy a $200 Spot-Hogg, but also don’t go with a $20 Wally-World special. $50-$100 is a good budget for a decent quality sight. You want something that has horizontal and vertical adjustment, along with individual pin adjustment. A higher quality sight will also allow you to get pins that are thinner, allowing less of your sight picture masked by the pin. Also make sure to get one with a bubble level. I currently have a Sword Apex Hunter on my bow, and am very pleased with it. I would recommend them in a heartbeat, but as always, shop around and find what appeals the most to you!
Since we are talking about compound bows here, you’ll obviously need a mechanical release. I wouldn’t bother finger shooting a compound bow, it can be done, but will take quite some time and practice. It’s also murder on your fingers. As far as releases go, there are a few different varieties while the two main are: thumb releases and index finger releases. Of these two main popular types, the specific activation mechanism is what will vary. For whatever reason, index finger releases have generally been left to hunters, many target shooters won’t touch them. I do know many hunters who prefer a thumb releases though, especially those with shoulder ssues and prefer to shoot “apache style” with their hand inverted. Releases are priced for all budgets, all the way up to custom jobbers that are made to fit your specific hand. Get one that has a trigger with adjustable tension, adjustable length, and preferably does not have a Velcro strap. The one I bought when I was first starting out has Velcro, and although its comfortable, it is very loud if you need to re-adjust it out in the woods (can happen if you’re wearing gloves).
Quivers are a funny thing. I always wondered why they sell 5 and 7 arrow quivers for compound bow hunters. If you’ve missed a deer or turkey 4 or 6 times in a row, you really have no business being out in the woods with a bow in the first place (unless you’re backpack hunting and need spares). Also, if you’ve had the opportunity to take that many shots at the same animal, it’s probably a decoy, buddy. I currently use a Alpine Soft Loc 3-arrow quiver. It’s lightweight; it holds my broad head arrows, and it was cheaper than a 5-arrow quiver. Make sure that the quiver you are picking up works with the broad heads you intend to use as well. Not all foam insert quiver heads will function with mechanical broad heads, and some quivers won’t be able to fit specialty broad heads like Magnus Stingers.
I’m currently in the market for a stabilizer, so this is at the fore front of my mind right now. Stabilizers are a tricky thing to purchase correctly, since it all depends on the balance of your bow. This is determined by the weight and location of your accessories. A sight that hangs farther out the front of your bow make act as a stabilizer when you draw, more so than a traditional stabilizer. Or it might not do anything at all. If you mount a heavy quiver on the right side, it may want to tilt your bow in that direction obnoxiously. A stabilizer can be added to address balance issues along with reducing felt vibration or hand shock. I have this moved further down the priority list because I recommend you get the other stuff purchased first and then determine if you need just a forward aiming stabilizer or a stabilizer that goes sideways, like the Fuse Side Blade or LimbSaver Windjammer . A lot of people have been asking me to recommend specific products. I created this Amazon page that I am keeping updated with accessories I would recommend to make things easier for you guys. Enjoy.