Ok, you probably will believe what you can do with a 10 pound bow, but it’s actually pretty cool and way more than you might imagine:
You really can do all of that with a mere 10 pound draw weight bow. That bullseye shot is for real. With practice, and the right draw length and arrows, you really can shoot a 10 pound bow accurately out to 50 meters without sights. Which means those awards are for real, too, all of the standard USA Archery Outdoor Barebow Adult Achievement Awards, and an advanced Bronze (the bow can shoot the gold score, too, and has in practice).
Power and Distance
A 10 pound bow may be light, but it is a real bow, and you still need to treat it like one. It can even penetrate light plywood, which I did by accident when trying to shoot left handed for the first time, hitting the frame the target stand (always check your arrows for damage). The same power that lets you (accidentally) penetrate plywood can also launch arrows 145 yards. YMMV, of course. I have a 29″ draw length and am using light, 238 grain arrows. Or you can go for shorter distances with an arrow mounted GoPro camera – much, much shorter. The GoPro Hero3 I used is relatively heavy, as is the solid aluminum arrow I made to insure that the arrow wouldn’t break on launch, thus the GoPro mounted arrows shot from the 10 pound bow didn’t go very far, but the light draw weight also helped insure nobody got injured from an arrow breaking when launched. Even with the short range, the results are still pretty fun:
Preventing Sprains and Strains
In most cases, a light draw weight bow is a great way to ease back into archery after recovering from an injury. Archers can work on their form without straining their body, and still have fun shooting. However, if you do anything in a way your body doesn’t like you can get injured. Being “talented” in that regard I managed to sprain my wrist with one of these super light bows, aggravating the same tendons I injured years earlier with a heavier bow while using the same technique, a “high wrist” grip, one where the pressure is high on the hand and on the bow grip. What can I say, you really can do just about everything with these bows. The light bow let me get away with a technique I’d had to stop using with heavier bows, but my hubris eventually caught up to me and now I’m back to using the “low wrist” grip, with low hand pressure that I should have been using. As far as I know, I’m the only one who’s managed to injure themselves with a featherweight bow, and the bow grip that my body doesn’t like works well for many archers.
Should you shoot a ten pound bow?
So, you really can do all sorts of things with a plastic Rolan riser and 10 pound rated Quintessential limbs. Most of all, shooting the light bow is fun, and there is a lifetime of challenge in pushing it to its limits, and tons of fun in just enjoying shooting the bow normal distances. What can you do with one?
Now, would I recommend everyone get one? While I think they are terrific fun for all sorts of people, they aren’t for everybody or every purpose. As with all bows, you should consider what kind of shooting you want to do and pick a bow that will match your needs. The 10 pound bows are super easy to pull, and we start pretty much every adult archer and most teens on one. You shoot better when you are using a fraction of your strength, rather than all of it, to pull a bow back. The light bows allow people of all sorts to control the bow well. For people who are going to shoot a bow once a week or less it is critical they use a bow that they can shoot comfortably right now, not in some theoretical future when they are stronger, because if they shoot once a week or less they aren’t going to get stronger using the bow. This is where the light bows shine. They are bows you can shoot right now.
Devil in the Details
There are some special considerations to keep in mind. If you use a soft target bale, such as straw bales, light Ethafoam, or any of a number of targets for the JOAD/student market, the light bows work great – from close up to easily out to 18 meters with just about any arrow. We have many students shooting them barebow (without sights) out to 30 meters. And, as noted earlier, it is possible to earn all of the regular 30 and 50 meter USA Archery Adult Achievement Outdoor Barebow pins with one.
Stiffer target bales, such as those made of compressed layers of carpet, heavily compressed batting (Spyder Web targets), very stiff foam, etc. can be a problem for light bows. Many targets are made specifically to stop high energy arrows from compound bows, and some of those targets will cause arrows shot from light bows to bounce back. Test your arrows on such bales from enough distance that the arrow won’t bounce into your face if it should bounce. (They can bounce at least 7 meters, depending on many variables).
To get longer distances out of these bows you need a light arrow. With my 29″ draw length I can shoot full length aluminum 1716 arrows (with NIBB points or screw in points up to 100 grains) and full length 15/25 Super Club arrows out to 30 meters. To get to 50 meters without aiming up in the sky, I had to switch to full length 2000 spine Medallion XR arrows. Shooters with very long draw lengths will have to shoot heavier shafts because light, low spine arrows don’t come in long lengths. So if you have a 31″ AMO draw length, you’ll be losing some velocity in spite of your longer draw length and subsequent longer power stroke.
Where to Get Your Hands on a Ten Pound Bow
If these bows sound like fun you can see if your local archery club has some of them to use (Golden Gate JOAD does, of course) or you can purchase the Rolan bows and 10 pound limbs from Quintessential Corporation or from Lancaster Archery, where the riser and limbs are listed separately. To learn more about how the light draw weight bows can aid archery instruction programs, check out our post “The Ten Pound Draw Weight Bow–One of the Most Effective Archery Teaching Tools.”