This seems like a good time to put together a list of essential archery accessories for bowhunters. But archery season is over for most of us, so why now?
I’m a big advocate for bowhunting gear around Christmas time. Not just because I bow hunt and like gifts, although that is true. The main reason is that getting some awesome bowhunting accessories for Christmas is more likely to get you outside practicing again in the first half of the new year.
In fact, I frequently write to encourage fellow bowhunters to get out and practice more because I know it can be challenging, especially in the winter months…and also Spring and Summer if you fish.
So there is fishing, and travel, and days that are too hot or cold, and other days that are too nice. All this combined with seasonal laziness (just speaking for myself) can make it tough to pull out the bow and get in some target practice.
Get Motivated With New Gear
It may not be true for everyone, but new archery gear is motivating for me. Even something as small as new arrow fletchings will get me outside shooting.
I also understand some bowhunters being hesitant to try out new gear. Maybe you’ve been hunting with the same rig for years. You know it and it works. I get that.
My first compound bow was an old family hand me down that weighed just shy of 100 pounds. But I knew it and I loved it. I was accurate with it and I had no interest in changing. Then one year I shot a deer and perhaps from the excitement, I forgot to take my bow out of the truck when I got home.
Can you guess what happened?
Yep… Someone broke into my truck and stole it.
I was lost. It’s not just replacing the bow. You also have to replace the sight, the rest, the release, the arrows. It took some time to get a feel for new gear, but eventually I did. And it turns out, most of the new gear was better than my old stuff anyway.
There isn’t really a point or lesson to my story, except never leave your bow in your vehicle overnight.
I mainly want to encourage you to practice more and some new gear can really motivate you to do that.
Buying Archery Gear For Someone Else
Here are a few tips if you are thinking about buying archery gear for someone else. You may be looking for gift ideas for a friend or family member who bow hunts but you don’t know much about it. Don’t worry!
My wife doesn’t know much about it either. But, over the last ten years, she had employed a great strategy when looking for gifts outside of her areas of expertise. She asks people who know.
Ask For Recommendations From Family And Friends Who Bowhunt.
First, she will ask a friend I bow hunt with frequently. This should be your number one stop if possible because hunting friends usually have a decent knowledge of the gear they are using.
If this doesn’t pan out you can talk to the one you are wanting to buy for. Of course, if you never talk to them about their bow hunting gear they may get suspicious. But this isn’t always a bad thing. Personally, I don’t mind sacrificing surprise to get something I want.
In general, archery gear is specific to the person. In other words, each archer has equipment they prefer and perform better with. Every year they are coming out with new archery equipment.
While newer is not always better, there is some archery gear that really stands out. Here is a list of some of these “stand out” bowhunting accessories that you (or the bowhunter in your family) should try out today.
8 Essential Bowhunting Accessories
I’m only recommending arrows for practice. Arrow used for hunting can be quite spendy and archers can be picky about what they hunt with.
Still, losing or damaging a high dollar arrow makes you feel a little sick to the stomach not to mention the hit to the pocketbook.
Side note: I first purchased these arrows to begin target practice for the year. I didn’t know my bowsight had slipped way up and my first shot ricocheted off the dirt and sailed up over the target and into a field of super tall grass. I laughed to myself a little because loosing an arrow the first time you shoot it is ridiculous. I would not have been laughing if it was an expensive arrow.
In the spirit of this article, YOU NEED TO PRACTICE MORE! This means getting outside earlier this next year and letting the arrows fly.
My first choice for good, affordable practice arrows is Tiger Archery Predator Carbon arrows.
- Material: Carbon
- Length: 30″
- Full Length:31.5″
- Spine: 500
- GPI: 13.0 grain
- Shaft diameter: Outer 7.85mm Inner 6.2mm
- Weight: About 35g each
These are quality arrows at a good price. These are great for practice but many archers also hunt with them. They have also had a lot of great reviews. One issue I think new archers have relates to some of the arrow inserts being loose. Many arrows are sold without inserts in case the shaft needs to be cut to a different length.
The reality is that factory glue on arrow inserts is often not great. Regardless of what arrows you are using, my advice is to buy some gorilla glue like this and be ready to glue your own inserts, then you don’t have the issue anymore. It’s an easy fix.
Targets aren’t necessarily fun to buy but they are essential for bowhunters. Well-made targets can last quite a few years but practicing more means going through targets faster.
Some archers have a hard time spending money on targets since it is just something you shoot at. They opt for the cheapest targets available which are little more than stuffed bags. Never mind the arrows going through on every other shot.
Here is a maxim to live by-
poor quality gear ends up costing you more in the long run.
Targets are a good example of this. The targets I recommend aren’t the cheapest or the most expensive, but they are the best quality.
Recommended Field Point Target
Without a doubt, the best field point bag target isn’t the typical bag at all. For years I had the conventional 2 sided bag target and a block for broadheads. I always wondered why they didn’t make a 4 sided field point target.
Morrell finally did. The Morrell 131 Double Duty 450 FPS Field Point Archery Bag Target.
Recommended 3-D Archery Target
You may also be in the market for 3-D archery target. These are a great investment for bowhunters and they can be a big help for accuracy. 3D archery targets let you shoot from elevated positions and at angles which is crucial for making a good shot when it counts.
The best 3D target is the GlenDel Buck 3D Archery Target. This target is awesome! This target has the body of 200 pound buck and stands 34 inches at the shoulders. The best part about this target is the replaceable 4-sided core.
Not only does this extend the life of the target, you can also just replace the core when it finally quits stopping arrows. Being able to replace the core will end up saving you money in the long run.
3. Release Aid
By far, the most popular bow type for hunting today is the compound bow. I know there a lot of folks that enjoy hunting with a recurve. I enjoy mine also but it would make this article confusing if I combined the accessories for both types of bows.
Most compound archers use a release aid. The shorter limbs on a compound bow make a sharper angle on the bowstring at full draw and it’s less comfortable to release with your fingers. Using a mechanical hook or calipers also offers less interference with the bowstring when releasing.
The most common release aid used by bowhunters is the index finger trigger release. The majority of these are sold with a wrist strap already attached and they are user-friendly. This is the type of release I used for many years and it served me well.
Recommended Index Trigger Release
The best index finger trigger release on the market is definitily the Tru-Fire Hardcore Max.
This is the Cadillac of index releases. If you are currently using a caliper release, this Hardcore Max will feel very similar but the smooth performance is incredible.
Recommended Thumb Trigger Release
If you are willing to try out a different style of release, I would highly recommend the thumb trigger release. Shooting with back tension is much easier with this type of release which really helps with accuracy. It also helps to eliminate “trigger punch” which is a common problem for archers using an index trigger.
I now shoot with the Copper John Stanislawski SX3 Trio Archery Release. This release isn’t cheap. I never understood why almost all Stanislawski and Carter releases are somewhere near the $200 mark.
Then I held the Stan SX3.
I get it now.
4. Arrow Rest
The arrow rest is an important part of your accuracy, and like most compound bow accessories there are different styles available.
Many bowhunters use a full capture style rest, like the whisker biscuit. I also used one for a few years. I liked to have my arrow secure when it was knocked in a tree stand or ground blind. Before this, I used a cheap fall away rest that did not secure the arrow. Sadly, this cost me a deer when it fell off the rest (loudly) while I was getting into shooting position.
After that, I tried a whisker biscuit. This type of full capture rest secures the arrow which is nice in a ground blind or tree stand. This is one of the most popular styles or arrow rest for bowhunters. They are cheap and easy to use but the problem is that there is too much contact with the arrow when it is released. This has a negative impact on arrow speed and can also effect your accuracy.
I encourage every archer to try out a good fall away rest such as the Quality Archery Designs Ultra-Rest HDX. This rest offers the best of both world it secures your arrow and it doesn’t come into contact with the arrow in flight. I have found it to the best performing rest available.
5. Bow Sight
Almost all bowhunters shooting a compound bow are using bow sights. Bow sights don’t make you accurate, but they can be a big help for an accurate archer. There is a subjective aspect to bowsights because of several factors
The way you aim through sights- (both eyes open, closing one eye)
Your personal vision needs. (Nearsighted, farsighted, etc. )
type of archery
I won’t cover eye dominance or which eye you should close when shooting a bow in this article. I would recommend reading it if you are new to archery or if you are unsure which eye is dominant.
Personal vision needs are the biggest subjective factors with bow sights. I’ve seen my vision change in the last 10 years and it definitely noticeable when aiming with bow sights.
Still, aside from the subjective matters, there are a few quality bowsights that are preferred by a large percentage of bowhunters and archers. One of the best bowsight I’ve found is the Field Logic IQ Micro Bowsight.
This bowsight not only had incredible optics and is micro-adjustable, it has something called retina lock technology which instantly shows you if you are torquing the bow at all. This helps you improve your shooting form immensely.
I would encourage every bowhunter to at least try out this bowsight. You will wish you had it sooner.
6. Climbing Stand
The next two recommendations are both great tools for bowhunters. I encourage everyone to utilize both climbing stands and blinds because it allows you to access more areas when bowhunting.
A lot of bowhunters never try a climbing stand because it seems too difficult to use and unsafe. Good climbing stands are not nearly as difficult to use as they might seem. They are made of insanely strong aluminum and are fairly light (around 20 pounds.) This means you can pack these around and hunt just about anywhere with a tree.
Since a climbing stand has to support you 20-30 feet in the air for many hours of hunting, personally, I’m only interested in using the highest quality stand from a company with an incredible track record.
I don’t think I’d be willing to climb trees in a discontinued climbing stand from a company I’ve never heard of, just because it was 50% off in a bargain bin. Your thoughts may vary.
Summit Treestands is the biggest name in the industry and every stand they make has incredible reviews. I would highly recommend the Viper SD Climbing Treestand.
It is the best selling treestand and one of the highest rated. I have had mine for at least 6 years and it still just as good as when I bought it.
7. Safety Harness
Every Summit Treestand comes with a safety harness. I’ve climbed with the factory harness. I’m confident it would keep me from falling to the ground but it’s not a pleasure to wear.
Hunter Safety Systems makes incredible safety vest and climbing ropes. I would highly recommend the Hunter Safety System X-1 Bowhunter Treestand Safety Harness and the Hunter Safety System Rope-Style Tree Strap
With this set up you are safely attached to the tree while climbing up and down. I know this isn’t a glamorous bowhunting accessory, but it is a necessary one if you are climbing.
Tree stands are the number one cause of serious injury to hunters. Buy a good safety harness and climbing rope and use it. It’s not worth the risk to climb without it.
8. Pop-up Blind
Along with a climbing stand, a pop up blind is a great thing for a bowhunter to own. There will be times you hunt in areas with no good trees to climb and when this happens a portable pop up blind is helpful.
There are tons of pop up blinds available at every price point and they have improved the design and portability over the years. Still, not all blinds are good for bowhunting. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Hopefully, I can help you avoid that.
Important Issues For Bowhunting Pop Up Blinds
Size and window placement are the two most crucial factors to consider if you want to bowhunt from a blind. I purchased my first pop up blind without knowing any of this. After setting it up, I realized I would not be able to stand up in it. If you want to stand and shoot this rules out a lot of the blinds available. It depends on how tall you are, but there are a few blinds that are marketed for standing and shooting.
If you are OK sitting down and shooting from your blind, the next thing you need to consider is how wide the blind is wall to wall. After throwing a chair in my first blind, I realized it did not have enough room inside to comfortably maneuver with my bow. I could only hold my bow with the arrow nocked if I positioned it diagonally, corner to corner. This meant I had to put the chair in the corner of the blind.
Along with the size of the blind, window placement is major factor to consider when bowhunting. Many pop up blinds have shooting windows that are too high for shooting a bow sitting down.
Recommended Ground Blind For Bowhunting
The best ground blind for bowhunting is the Barronett Blinds Big Mike. Barronett got it right with this one. Not only is it spacious inside and tall enough to shoot standing, they also designed the windows correctly for shooting in the seating position. You can’t go wrong with this one.