Today’s archery a whole new game

Austin Albright, archery manager at Backwoods Outdoors, says that archery as a means of hunting and as family recreation is growing steadily.

Austin Albright, archery manager at Backwoods Outdoors, says that archery as a means of hunting and as family recreation is growing steadily.

ALBANY — Archery as a sport and as an alternative for hunting deer appears to be growing rapidly, according to observations and some local sources.

Austin Albright, archery manager at Backwoods Outdoors in Leesburg, said he has seen his store’s bow-related sales increase by as much as 30 percent annually for the past three years.

Albright added that he figures about 75 percent of his customers are hunters using bows to get a good six-week head start on the deer season each fall before going back to the gun.

“Deer hunting is easier with a rifle,” Albright said. “Most anybody can do that, really. A big part of bow shooting, whether for the sport itself or for hunting big game, is the challenge to the shooter. Deer stands are more difficult with a bow, and you have to be 40 yards or closer. The bigger deer didn’t get that way by being dumb.”

Albright said he became a hunter at around 12 years old or so, his weapon of choice a .270 rifle. At least it started out that way.

“I was a kid, you know,” he said. “When I got my first (deer) with the rifle, then I went to the bow.”

Albright said he enjoys not only the challenge of using a bow, but also the increased closeness with nature he experiences than with the more traditional hunting weapons.

According to Albright, most bows sold in south Georgia and across the nation are of a general design first marketed in the 1970s. The weapons are called compound bows. Patented in 1969 by Wilbur Hollis Allen, a mechanic searching for greater power in a bow, the compound design bears little resemblance to the traditional bows many of us saw as children or in physical education classes.

The variety of compound designs varies greatly, but most are constructed from cast or forged aluminum with a roughly triangular-shaped pulley, or cam, mounted at the end of each of the two limbs of the bow. When the bow is drawn over the cams, a cable system helps bring the opposite limbs closer together. Most bows can be adjusted fairly easily to account for personal preferences such as draw weight.

Smaller shooters, women or children may be comfortable with lower draw weights of around 30 pounds, while mature shooters may go with 70 pounds or better.

A big advantage to compound users is the unique let-off feature of the bows, made possible by the end-mounted cams. As the bow is drawn nearly to its limit and pulled over the end of the cam, the original resistance of the pull decreases by 50 percent or more, depending on the bow’s design. This allows the shooter to more easily hold the draw until he’s ready to release. Albright refers to other bow designs, such as long bows and recurves, as primitive.

One regional representative for archery accessories sees the sport as one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways of introducing young people to hunting or the outdoors, saying that with basic safety precautions, almost any backyard can be adapted to archery practice.

Even though it’s possible to invest more than $1,500 in a premium high-tech bow, perfectly adequate bows are available for children and adults for around $500, the representative said.