All About Archery Forgiveness

Mar 1, 2023Bows

Archery requires a certain amount of skill, patience, and practice in order to master. But even the most experienced archers will benefit from some degree of archery forgiveness in their bows. A forgiving bow can take you to the next level, so let’s learn all about archery forgiveness and how it can benefit your shooting.

What Is Archery Forgiveness?

In simple terms, archery forgiveness refers to a bow’s ability to minimize mistakes that are made by the archer. A forgiving bow can help with things such as poor form, an inconsistent release, or slight movements made during the shot. Even if the shooter is not perfectly aligned or executing the shot in the best possible way, archery forgiveness can help reduce the effects of mistakes or errors in the shot to some degree.

It’s important to note that a very forgiving bow will not entirely correct the mistakes of an archer. If you set up your bow incorrectly or have poor shooting form, the bow will not magically correct and adjust for the mistakes that have been made. No matter how forgiving the bow, it can’t help the arrow fly straighter or adjust for everything. Instead, it’s better to view forgiveness as a level of sensitivity. A less sensitive bow would be considered a forgiving bow. A very sensitive bow would be less forgiving and enhance any imperfections caused by human error.

What Makes a Bow Forgiving?

There are a number of factors that will contribute to a bow’s forgiveness. All of these factors can have some influence on a bow to some degree. You can use these things to help choose a bow that is more (or less) forgiving. These contributing factors include:

Brace Height

Brace height is the total distance between your bowstring and the deepest part of the bow grip. Bows with a higher brace height tend to be more forgiving. It allows for more room for error in an archer’s form. Higher brace height means the arrow comes off of the bowstring sooner. This leaves less time for you to make a mistake with your bow hand, grip, or form. Should you drop your bow hand or torque at the shot, the arrow will ideally already be off of the string and not be affected.

Bow Length

Bow length refers to the overall length of your bow from axle to axle. The longer the bow, the more forgiving it will be. This is due to each movement you make from the center of the bow making less of a change and angle than that of a shorter one. Longer bows are also much more stable and tend to have a smoother draw cycle. Longer bows, however, will contribute to more weight in the overall bow and be a little harder to manage. Bowhunters may want to avoid longer bows. Shorter models are easy to maneuver and shoot from treestands and ground blinds.

Single Vs Dual Cam

The type of cam on your bow can also determine the level of forgiveness that you can expect. In general, a single-cam bow will be a little more forgiving than a dual-cam bow. This is because the design allows for a more consistent and smoother draw cycle. An archer can hold the bow more steadily, and the simpler design of a single cam means less can go wrong at the shot. Dual cam bows are generally faster and more powerful than single cams, but this comes at a price. All of the additional adjustments that are needed and the increased speed and power can make the bow less forgiving for the average archer.

Arrow Speed

While arrow speed is not usually considered when talking about archery forgiveness, it’s an important consideration. Bows with faster speeds sometimes use more aggressive draw cycles, higher draw weights, and create more vibrations at the shot. All of this can make it harder to achieve a consistent shot. On the other hand, you don’t want a bow that shoots too slowly. This can allow more time for errors to be introduced into the shot. When it comes to arrow speed, most archers try to find a solid middle. Faster speeds can result in an aggressive bow that’s harder to shoot while slow speeds can allow more mistakes. In the end, somewhere in between is typically the ideal option for most people.

Bow Weight

I’m sure you are probably seeing a trend here. The taller, longer, or heavier the bow is the more stable and forgiving it will be. If your bow is heavier, it will also have increased inertia. While a heavy bow can be more challenging to hold for long periods of time, it will be much more stable. There will also be less vibrations at the shot and it will typically be much easier and more comfortable to shoot. All of these things combined provide a more forgiving bow.

Stabilizers and Counter-balancers

Speaking of shooting a stable and balanced bow, stabilizers and other counterbalances are specially made to stabilize a bow while shooting. They also offer additional weight at strategic places on the bow to increase the weight and inertia. This all contributes to a more forgiving bow while also helping to absorb much of the shock and vibrations from the bow at the shot. These things can contribute a lot of weight to the bow, so many archers may choose to play around with the ideal weight and configurations of their stabilizers and counter-balancers to achieve the ideal setup.

Why Choose a Forgiving Bow

Forgiving bows are not the right choice for everyone. So when should you choose a forgiving bow? Bows that give you a high degree of forgiveness can be a great option for beginners or those who struggle with shooting form. Because these bows will help to minimize human error and try to correct it, they can help an archer become more consistent and accurate.

Forgiving bows can also help you more easily learn the art of shooting and improve your archery skills. They are also a popular choice amongst hunters and others who might be taking shots in unusual and awkward situations. These shots are typically made very quickly and under less-than-ideal conditions. With a little bit of forgiveness in the bow, a bowhunter can feel more confident in their abilities and make these tough shots.

What’s Right For You

It all comes down to personal preference. This is very apparent in the different types of bows that you will see among competition archers. It’s true that many professional archers like a heavier and longer bow, but this is not always the case. Some high-level competition shooters opt for a shorter and faster bow that compliments their shooting style or skills. Others may prefer bows that are a little more mild and forgiving.

Bowhunters are no different. While you will typically see most hunters using a short, light, and fast bow, it comes down to their personal preferences. Some bowhunters will shoot a heavier and longer bow as it provides better stability when shooting in the wind. So whether you intend to compete in competitions, bowhunt in the woods, or simply want to use your bow for target practice, it will be up to you to decide what aspects of the bow and its forgiveness are most important to you.

Final Thoughts

Archery forgiveness often goes under the radar and isn’t talked about enough. A forgiving bow can be an important tool in helping to improve someone’s shooting experience and help them become confident as an archer. If you learn what factors contribute to a bow’s forgiveness, it can help you to make a better decision when it’s time to get a new bow. Whether you are a brand-new archer or a veteran that has been shooting for years, a forgiving bow can be a great addition to your arsenal of tools!

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