Archery | Old School Bows – and Problems
Articles Blog

Archery | Old School Bows – and Problems

August 10, 2019


Recently I’ve been pretty busy practising my Olympic recurve. But, I volunteered to take some time to look at school equipment, to get it back into reasonable condition, so they can see more usage. Suffice to say, it’s quite different for my normal use. When I say these are old-school bows, I do mean in both ways. This is old equipment, belonging to the school, and the bows come from the era before me. Some of you may recognise these models, and they are certainly not bad bows. However, they are outdated, compared to what is available in the market today. It’s actually very hard to find these bows for sale, these days. These were probably popular around 20 – 30 years ago. A lot of them are handed down, been kept around schools and camps. I know these bows have been kept in storage for around 15 years, and only been taken out and used very sporadically. These were popular for schools and camps, and the occasional curious individual because, they were so cheap. These are the old equivalent to the beginner kits, you can find online. They come in around 50$. A typical kit will include the bow, a bow string, a couple of arrows, along with a finger tab, arm guard, a target, and maybe a quiver. These are one piece, fibreglass, recurve bows. Although, similar models do straddle the line between being simply recurve or longbows. Most junior fibre glass bows today are less than 20#. Although, the bows I have here are 30# and 35#. This Indian bow in particular is sometimes being used by adult backyard shooters. So, I wouldn’t quite call it a kids bow. As you can probably tell, it is incredibly simple in design. Unstrung, it’s basically a stick. The limbs are solid fibreglass, and the grip is made from a plastic and rubber material. One of the reasons this kind of bow is popular for schools and camps is that it’s ambidextrous. There is no window cut out in riser, so the arrow goes on either side, on top of the grip. So it can be shot right, or left handed. The arrows are made from the same material, and are spined for 30#, the weight of this bow. I can’t say that they fly tremendously well, but they do the job. I find that they are too stiff, and arrow clearance is a big problem. Additionally, the finish and quality of the arrow is very poor. Don’t be surprised if the point comes off. Now, I personally consider the baseline for archery equipment to be the sort of equipment you find in a club. Clubs are more likely to use wooden take-down recurves, such as the PSE Razorback, or the FUSE Focus, or even the Mathews Genesis compound bow. You won’t really find this sort of bow at a club. It’s not that they are bad, but they are very limited in their function. They are really, only meant to be used by the occasional, casual shooter, which is why you find them in schools, sometimes. If you are looking at getting equipment for your school, your camp… this sort of thing is extremely cheap, it’s a good, budget buy, and it’s just passable. You won’t leave a great impression of archery on the person who uses it. Now, if you have equipment lying around, or you are about to use it, there are a few things to watch out for. One thing to keep in mind is draw weight. Now, for the laymen, the draw weight is how heavy the bow is when you pull it back, not how heavy the bow itself is, but the strength of the bow on the fingers, as you pull it back. If you don’t know anything about archery, the numbers won’t make any sense. One thing that you have to keep in mind is, when you pick the bow, the draw weight has to be reasonable for the people who are using it. If you are running archery at a camp, or a school, and you are looking at people who are 12 – 15 years old, then you don’t really want to give them a bow that’s too heavy. A good benchmark for a junior bow, is around 12# – 15#. While this may seem like a very light weight, and a lot of teenagers will use heavier bows, remember you are catering for the least capable. You are not giving bows out which are overpowered. These bows for example are 30# bows, and even the 25# bow is a little much for kids. Yeah, you might have the big, bulky, muscular kid who plays football, and it can pull a bow back and be like “Yeah, this is so easy”, but you get a lot of little Year 7 girls who can barely pull it back, part of the way, so it’s a really big issue, a lot of it is to do with confidence. If you are not taught to shoot properly, and you are given a bow that’s too strong for you, it’s not going to be as fun. Just remember too that, a lot of adults can’t pull back a 30# right away, so, be reasonable. Also, keep in mind the condition of the bow. Equipment tends to be left in poor storage, or there is wear and tear, and sometimes you might see some ad-hoc repairs without much of an idea as to what they are doing. Often, archery equipment is left in an unsafe, or unshootable state, and, it’s often due to the lack of expertise to maintain and repair them. The string normally takes the most damage, The serving can unravel and eventually come off completely, and the string itself can break. Because schools and camps usually lack archery expertise, they are unable to replace the string, and the bows are left unstrung, and unused. In an effort to encourage more use of the archery equipment, I replaced most of the strings with Dacron strings I made myself, with better serving material, and a bit of wax. The result is something that is better than what the bows originally came with. I’ve noticed that some junior bow kits come with this kind of string. It’s a very stiff material that doesn’t stretch. As a result, the bow feels much stiffer when drawing. The lack of serving material and nock points means that, the arrow won’t stay on, implying that you are meant to pinch the nock, which is a big NO NO in archery. If the arrow doesn’t stay on the string, I don’t consider it safe to shoot. Furthermore, it’s also quite painful on the fingers. Speaking of fingers, many places lack protective equipment. I’m talking about arm guards, and finger tabs. These are basic safety items, and they are often overlooked. I personally would not want a child, to shoot without these items. It is painful, it is not really dangerous, but it can hurt, and you don’t want children hurting themselves. It can be a hassle to have a set of finger tabs, and you have to hand them out to everybody, so I do understand why places don’t often give them out, but it is important to have some kind of protection. An alternative to finger tabs are rubber finger guards, such as the no glove, which are put onto the string and stay there. This is ideal for clubs and schools who go through many shooters, allowing participants to pick up the bow, and use it safely, without having to lose or damage finger tabs. If you find yourself in need of archery repairs, and don’t have access to an archery expert, the best option is to seek help from an archery store. Now, there are 2 things which can really go wrong with school equipment, either the bow itself is damaged, or the string is damaged. Now, if the bow is damaged, I’m talking about a cracked limb, or the thing snapped, that is gone, there is nothing you can really do about it, especially with older bows. But, if the string is damaged, you can replace it fairly easily. You can order a new string to be made at the archery store, and all they need to know is how long the string should be. By the way, most likely, if you are using this kind of bows, you want a Dacron string a lot of these strings that I showed before are some kind of natural fibre, but most stores only make Dacron as a minimum. You don’t want to get things like Fast Flight, or Trophy, or any fast strings, Dacron is fine. You want to state the length of the bow string. Now, most of these bows have the length of the bow indicated somewhere on the inside. It is either printed or written on, or on a sticker, in this case there’s a sticker here, and it says 60″ AMO. When you buy the string, you want to quote that figure, so, you ask, “I want a 60″ AMO Dacron string”. They will make one to exactly match this bow. The AMO is important because, it’s actually, the string itself is not actually 60″, it’s shorter, but if you say 60″ AMO, the shop will know to make the appropriate string. If you don’t have these stickers, what you need to do is, to measure the bow string, from tip to tip, and then use that figure. It’s measured in inches, not centimetres. If you are measuring the string itself, make sure to quote the figure WITHOUT AMO, so say it’s the actual string length, not say 55″ AMO. In fact, do try to get most of your material from archery stores. It maybe cheaper, and “easier” to get them from a school supplier, or from Amazon, or eBay, but, if you get them from an archery store, they’ll pick the right equipment for you, they’ll give you ongoing support, and they have the expertise to help you. So, it’s better than having perfectly good bows lying around, because a bit of string is broken. Finally, one thing that is often overlooked in setting up an archery activity for young people is, having the right training. More often than not, sites will just hand out bows like toys tell the supervisor to point the bows somewhere in that direction, or a big target, and let the kids pop balloons. While this is fun, in my opinion, the participants are getting a lot more out of the activity if they are thought how to properly hold and shoot a bow. It’s the same with any sport, I mean, once you’ve learned the skills, playing the sport becomes a whole lot more fun, and the same goes with archery. That means as teachers, or as camp coordinators, or whatever… you may want to undertake basic archery instructor training, and there are courses which will teach you how to use a bow, as well as, how to implement safety practice, and how to look after your equipment. Anyway, this is NUSensei, hope you found this helpful, and I’ll see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Good info – I got a glimpse of my school's gear the other week and I think I may be following your advice! Some of it hasn't seen the light of day in over a decade I would wager! P.s. Wow so much brighter! haha

  2. I remember using things like these on school camp. Nothing like your recurve or my Hoyt Maxxis 35. It shoots like a dream. Even though I'm a compound guy, I don't mind having a shot with recurves either:)

  3. Does anyone have any thoughts on the Hoyt Grand Prix Horizon Pro? Im looking to buy one as my second Olympic Recurve riser.

  4. I have an old short fiberglass recurve bow probably made by the same people that made the red recurve bow you show in this vid, lol though I damaged it slightly through a moment of stupidity (I previously didn't know you're not supposed to dry fire a bow :P)

  5. haha that was my first bow!!! I gave it to my brother in law – however I moved onto a compound in 1983 and still using the same one…..

  6. Those old red Indian bows are probably the most durable piece of archery equipment ever manufactured on a large scale. They may not group as well as a proper recurve, but compared to today's "youth bows" such as you've shown, their performance fit and finish are stellar. I've seen a person show up to a range with one of those strung backwards and draw it to 28" before anybody could stop them, pulling the string off the nocks and dry-firing it backwards. The bow (and shooter) somehow survived.

  7. I always advocate to use the lightest bow to train form. Accuracy build self confidence quicker than pulling 50lb.

  8. We have one random red indian recurve bow at the boy scout camp in lake arrow head, we also have two random small blue bows shown. From a sample size of at least 2 thousand kids this summer, there were only a few kids that were able to do a full draw on it and aim. Our primary bows were the Genesis compound bows.

  9. I was thinking of taking up archery as a hobby and I was thinking of using a traditional bow, but the problem is that I'm a big, bulky guy and I don't know my draw or pull. I believe my draw is more than 28", but I'm confused how much should I pull to begin with.

  10. Whats your draw weight? I've been thinking about getting a recurve, I'm tall but not big. I've been shooting a 60 lb compound bow some and I feel going 50 lb would be better

  11. i started in 1988 with a bow like that type 🙂 and won my 3 first competitions with a bow like them 😛 and the other gyus had more high class bows then they were a bit supprised

  12. this is my channel ( im also cpunktc81 here ) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbxczmF2tB5glXqXL3WUygw/videos

  13. I teach a lot of kids using Ragim and PSE Razorback takedowns with a higher than fistmele brace height. (I don't have a say in the equipment). What I have found is that they rarely need arm-guards because the string never hits their bow arm. All I do is check that they can't hyper-extend their bow arm. If they can, I give those archers an arm guard to wear. It saves a lot of mucking around with equipment.

  14. I want to buy a bow at Walmart or Amazon. I'm not looking to compete just to shoot ones in a while. Any thoughts on that? I rather buy cheap one than go to a range and pay a $100 to shoot once. 
    Any thoughts? 
    I seen some at Walmart for around $70 so I figured I can just go to a park and save money that way.

  15. It sounds such a fun idea to find a old vintage bow like that Indian fiberglass recurve. But i cant find that similiar red one anywhere. It would be such a nice add to my hobby. As backyard shooting is so fun and harmless with good safety in mind. I thougth that kind of bows are common item in archery stores. But ohh boy how wrong i am.. again 😀

  16. I have one these kimd of bows except it's a 40# Ben Pearson recurve bow would you recommend putting a strike plate and a arrow rest on top of the plastic handle so it doesn't scratch and wear down the fiberglass and the plastic self?

  17. I found one of theese bows in ebay and brouhth one for my self as birth day present for my self 🙂 There is this one guy who is selling theese. Looking good ^^ I always wanted one just for fun 🙂

  18. Got one today and the arrow clearance seems to be the biggest issue. But it shoots well and its fun alternative for Olympic archery 🙂

  19. Ha Ha Ha I had to turn down the sound curious about what bird was singing outside my window. 8-D

    I am advance beginner impatiently awaiting my riser to ship in from vendor ( to the shop) I wish I had watched THAT video before I procrastinated at going to the shop, which is attached to my club.

    Enjoying your videos very much and learning a great deal. The video on setting up a recurve and checking measurements I will watch over and over. We went over it in class yesterday an d I was happy to see, in person, much of what you presented.

    I took my first class series ( not at my current club) from a gent who made his own wooden bows much like these.

  20. How do you string these types of bows do you recommend a bow stringer or can you use the step through method or the push pull method?

  21. Would you consider Bass Pro Shop a good "archery" store or would you rather go to a dedicated, archery only store?

  22. So many younger people (teenagers) at my club and school think they are beast and buy or use heavy bows cause they are cocky and have a draw weight ego I can shoot a 60 pound traditional bow easley but my bow is 45 because it's comfortable and I can shoot it all day

  23. these tips are great 👍👍 especially for the fingertips and armed guards being overlooked fingertips does come in handy for protection and quicker release

  24. I still the red indian bow. I used it because my neighbor gave it to me for almost 2 years. I shot some old made in the usa (very old) gold tip hunter pros. I bought a sag recently because it was a much better upgrade. my sage is 35 pounds which I am comfortable with right now. but I do shoot a 1965 bear grizzly I'm 45 pounds sometimes. very smooth bow.

  25. Again I notice that when talking to the average beginner it is a must, without ecception to make the ststement that a bow, regardledd of what type is never draen dry(without an arrow in place pointing in a safe position, i.e. not and anything or anyone othe than the target.
    Failer to take this onboard straight away canresult in an explodion riser, the end result being exstremly painfull hand full of wood splinters or a burnt hand when talking about mag alloy risers.
    Thevreason is very easybto explain.
    The bow stores energy which is tranfered to thevarrow via the string.
    This is attached to the bow, andbwhen pulled back (drawn) all the energy is stored somewhere, usually in the limbs and the riser( the handle) .
    If let loose without an arrow there is nowhere for the energy to go and there is no more common place than at the centre , just where your hand is, because the energy is stored toeards the centre ofbthe bow, thevenergy from both limbs sends the energy to the riser.
    I can asure all those who are not sure about this, it is the most painfull thing going as well as very dangerous to those nearby.
    SO DO NOT RELEASE AN EMDXPTY BOW, LET IT BACK DOWN
    SLOWLY RIGHT BACK TO THE STILL POSITION.

  26. note: when you wanna sound 'hip' and you wanna use their lingo, ya gotta say,
    "Old Skool" when writing it down. If you write it as "Old School" you just sound like an old 'Tool'. Don't be a fool, stick with your vintage and just say, "Olden era School-Bows – and Problems.: But I forgive you in [just] this context [ONLY] becuase it works as a gag !

  27. I found it funny, when I was in the boy scouts I was always turned down from archery, there was a stigma against smaller fellows shooting high poundage bows. the first bow I got my hands on and shot was 61" re-curve with I think #50, with your advice I managed to "school" all my hecklers.

  28. I still have my Indian fiberglass recurve. My dad gave it to me after my wooden toy bow snapped from overuse. I even take it to the range and 3d course.

  29. I love these bows, especially the DACO range & have a 60" Indian 25-32lb(depending on the draw length), a DACO 60"30lb, a Jaques 60" 35/40lb & a 54" 18lb (+ a couple of ultra basic Armex solid glass bows for kids), which I generally use to tech friends & family the basics. They're almost indestructable. The Indian was the 1st adult bow I got, I was shooting a kids Slazenger 48" short-drawing to c23-23.5" just c15lb, & I was tempted to stop after first shooting the Indian as it was so much more powerful, especially at my proper draw 30-31". I got over that, went on to a 42lb take down to finish learning before going on to horse bows & Samick SKB hunters. Those solid glass bows do a good job, not up to the normal standard, though the DACO 60" 30lb virtually matches my lightest SKB for distance if not accuracy.
    NUSensei's advice, to always learn on a very easy draw bow, should be standard procedure. I'm always addressing the myth that you have to be strong to do archery. You should always be shooting a bow that is completely within your control & you should be able to shoot all day without strain or hazard. You don't learn to drive in a Ferrari or F1 car, but usually a cheap basic hatchback. Choose a bow within your strength after taking advice from a good archery shop or archery coach. Always wear a bracer & finger tab/proper shooting glove. The 1st lesson is not how to shoot a bow, it is shooting line & range safety.

  30. I have a bow like this except it's a Ben Pearson and it's draw weight is 40 lbs. How would I clean it? It's been collecting dust I just want to make sure that I am properly taking care of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *