Actually my first preference would be to own and develop skill with some sort of sporting gun, having been introduced to firearms during my military endeavours, but that sort of thing is encompassed in a world of regulations, legal restrictions and official scrutiny that I am not prepared to put myself under just for the pursuit of a hobby or pass-time. Archery is not subject to those things, so far, in Australia. With archery being regarded as a sport, the necessary equipment, other than crossbow ownership, is entirely unregulated.
Until recently, the last year or so, I had never owned or even used a bow, other than those every young boy made from stick and string in the halcyon days of my innocent youth when cowboys and indians and western movie heroes were still a big thing, television in the home was something yet to be experienced, and electronic devices had probably not even been conceived in even the most advanced scientific mind.
I own two bows now. The first was bought just on a whim, with an eye to possible futures, from a survivalist website. It wasn't an overly expensive purchase, which suited my experimental purposes. This item consists of a five part take-down survival bow, with carbon nano-tube arrows that are in two parts which screw together quite effectively. The whole thing, when packed, is only 16 inches long (archery stuff is still measured in inches for some reason) and can be carried in any normal backpack. It is a real bow, with a draw weight of 45 pounds, giving sufficient power to bring down any game that might be encountered in this country. Not that I, being a vegetarian and maintaining some affinity with little furry or feathered creatures, will be doing any of that sort of thing.
Having practiced with this in my backyard (rural living does have advantages beyond what would normally be considered) for a few months, shooting at straw bales, I realised that this was something that I enjoyed and was getting some sort of extra benefit from over and above developing a skill and a little increased arm muscle tone. There was some weird meditational aspect to it that I also found beneficial. The problem was, I found that the bow was never going to be all that accurate, even though I had subsequently bought some better quality one-piece carbon arrows, due to the nature of its construction and it only being equipped with a rudimentary wire arrow rest. My own eyesight may have had something to do with that too of course. Whatever. It had served its purpose. I was hooked.
Now, I should say at this stage that it was never my intention, still isn't, to join any organised archery club, for tuition, development, camaraderie, competition, or anything else. I don't think I would fit in with that sort of culture and I would find the rules and regulations to be soul-destroying. So, I will restrict myself to back-yard archery. I am lucky to have sufficient space to do this at my new place of residence.
I could write at length about my research and study to find a different bow but to cut a long story short I will just say that I bought a new, quality, expertly made item from a brand that is used by many Olympic archers. I bought a Hoyt Dorado, which is a three part take-down recurve bow, again with a 45 pound draw strength, through Pat's Archery in Adelaide. There are other archery shops who also sell Hoyt gear in Australia but Pat's offered the best price I could find.
The Dorado is designed mainly as a hunting bow although it can be used for competition, and is tooled to accept the type of equipment which goes with that. It is a 60 inch bow with a metal riser (the central handle part) incorporating a wooden grip and the screw-down anchor points for the two laminated timber limbs which can be ordered in different draw weights and colourings. It is supplied with a Flemish twist fast-flight bow string.
The limb tips are specially strengthened to allow use of 'fast flight' bow strings which can damage unstrengthened limbs. A disassembled bow can be carried in the protective bag it is supplied with.
My bow, because I am left-handed and left-eyed and therefore required a left-handed bow, could not be supplied from stock. It needed to be made and imported from the USA but was well worth the long wait for it to arrive.
I had already decided that I would continue to use the carbon arrows that I already owned, which have soft plastic fletches (flights) and while the Dorado riser has a shelf from which to shoot the arrows, this can only be used successfully with real feathered fletches. So again I needed to add an arrow rest. A left handed one at that. That was ok, and I have been using that set up since receiving the bow. But I always felt that I wasn't getting as much as I could from the bow.
From the start , I determined that I would not use any form of sighting equipment or balancing counter-weights that the competition people are so fond of. I wanted to use my bow as naturally and traditionally as possible since reading about Instinctive Archery.
Instinctive Archery is a form of shooting where the archer doesn't aim, for instance by looking down the length of the arrow and pointing it at the target. Instead, the instinctive archer does not look at the arrow at all, but concentrates vision on the point of aim on the target by focusing on some small area of the target, leaving the body's natural skills to steer the arrow in precisely the right direction for the prevailing weather conditions. This can be viewed as a form of meditation or Zen practice.
For this sort of thing, I considered it absolutely essential that I shoot from the shelf, not from an arrow rest. This meant that I needed feathered arrows and preferably traditional timber arrows. Good arrows of this sort are not easy to find. After much research, fretting, worrying about the cost, giving up, and starting over, considering buying cheaper arrows from China, I came upon an eBay item. Just what I was looking for. Beautiful hand-crafted and decorated arrows from America, made by someone who obviously takes great pride in his workmanship. I couldn't believe my luck. But the postage cost to Australia was phenomenally high (~$39) just for a half dozen arrows. I inquired about the cost for a dozen and was told it would be only $3 extra. I was sold, and ordered a dozen.
I knew I could get something similar in Australia. There is only one outfit that I know of that does that, but they are twice as expensive and do not appear (from photos) to have work of the same artistic quality as CAS Custom Arrows which was where I obtained mine.
The arrows arrived a couple of days ago, having taken less than three weeks to get here. On the left is an eBay photo. What follows is a selection of photos of my own.
Needless to say, I am very pleased with my new arrows.
Since receiving them I have reconfigured my bow for shooting from the shelf by removing the arrow rest and installing glue-on felt 'rugs' on the actual shelf to prevent damage to the arrows.
Something similar to the photo below, which is not mine.
Finally, here is a small GoPro video of my archery equipment.
Added sometime later :