Last update: 05.07.2017. Added images and improved readability.
If you are looking for more detailed information about compound bows in general, take a look at our selecting a best compound bow guide.
- 1 How Youth Bow Differs From Regular?
- 2 9 Aspects to Consider For Kids Bow
- 3 Outdoor Empire Recommendations
- 4 Before You Start
One of the greatest traditions in bow hunting is passing it on. This means introducing the next generation to the joys of chasing animals with archery tackle, and using woodsmanship and keen skill to take the game.
The downside is that many hunters must wait for the right time until they’re able to use a full-sized bow that is strong enough to kill the game at a distance.
The answer here is to look towards the new breed of youth compound bow models that offer several advantages such as reduced overall weight, reduced pull weight, and other features that can help new hunters enjoy archery sooner and a lot more.
How Youth Bow Differs From Regular?
A compound bow made specifically for the youth hunter is smaller than an adult bow. Smaller meaning shorter draw length, less weight, and shorter axle to axle length.
A long, heavy bow is easier to shoot for adults but is difficult for a young hunter to hold it up and balance. Especially for a shooter hunter, they may have trouble banging their bottom axle on the tree stand steps while trying to shoot at an animal.
Packages for youth hunters are often just leftover pieces of gear from adult setups that don’t fit the bill, as well as purpose-made equipment does. Smaller sized arrow rests, releases, sights, and quivers all make for a light bow and easier to use setup.
Another important part of a bow setup is a larger peep and more silencing materials.
- A larger peep helps a younger shooter settle on a sight alignment and make a good shot.
- More silencing material is important because youth bows tend to shoot slower and string jump is a real threat.
Arrows & Broadheads
Youth sized arrows must be shorter because the draw lengths are shorter. The good news is, the quality of bolts that both adults and kids use have the same standards.
Just because a hunter is younger or inexperienced doesn’t mean you should have to use subpar equipment. For marksmanship training, use cheaper arrows until they stop losing them, and then get a good set for hunting.
Stay away from expandable broadheads. They sap energy and can limit penetration. Plus, youth bows already lack power and speed. Use a high-quality fixed broadhead until they step up to a standard draw weight.
Accessories for archery tackle can be just as important as the bow. A high-quality release aid and comfortable sling both make using a bow joyful. Even little things like an arrow puller, a fun target, and realistic shooting gear makes hunting and training a blast.
Tip: If you’re stuck between two items, pick the one that the youth hunter wants if safety or ethics is not a concern (as of the moment) while hunting.
9 Aspects to Consider For Kids Bow
When you are shopping for a new bow for a youth hunter, remember a few things. Buying one is much like getting an adult’s compound bow with a few key differences because of who they are designed for.
Most youth hunters chase whitetail deer. For the lucky little guys who get to go out on a western elk or a black bear hunt, each game needs a different kind of compound bow. The bigger and tougher the game, the stronger bow is needed.
No one needs a 90-pound draw weight, including the youth. The rule of thumb is 45 lbs minimum for even the largest game. Use your good judgment when choosing.
As ranges move out, speed needs to increase so that you can ensure a flat trajectory to make a reliable hit. This can mean ratcheting up the draw weight to get a faster arrow speed or using a slightly lighter arrow.
Most youth hunters should hunt at closer ranges where the target distance is more forgiving, around a maximum of 25 yards. That way, there’s room for error if they get nervous. Unlike a 40-yard shot that most adults can make, but with much practice.
Axle to Axle Length
As a rule, longer is better. But with a youth bow, you must reach a happy medium.
Many bows have gone with a fad of short and light weight but they are hard to shoot. Youth bows should be smaller but avoid the tiny novelty bows and awful recurve bows that do not shoot effectively.
Every state has a minimum draw weight for both compound and recurve bows; they also impose recommendations that a hunter should look for.
A good rule of thumb:
- For the medium thin skinned game like deer, 35 lbs is a decent weight that’ll kill it down reliably every time.
- For a big boned game like elk, bear or large hogs, 45 lbs is a battle.
- For any game, including state minimum, 25 lbs is usually the norm.
The overall weight of a bow should be as light as possible.
Hand shock isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be in old school lightweight bows, so go as light as possible. Use a lightweight bow to begin with and use lightweight sights, slings, quivers, and arrow weight.
It doesn’t matter as much during hunting, but your kid will certainly feel it during long practice sessions leading up to the opening day.
Let-off is the weight reduction due to the shape of the cam on a compound bow when held at full draw.
Most have 60-85% let-off. This isn’t a big deal as many people make it out to be, especially with a youth bow. Youth hunters rarely hold their shot for very long so it has little use in the field.
It can be a bad idea if the shooter gets complacent with the shot and lets the bow string creep forward. This sudden yank of the bow while attached to the string at the wrist can scar a kid for life.
Youth bows will often be put together with much looser tolerances than others. This isn’t inherently a problem because these are only used for a few years anyway.
Some of the novelty camouflage patterns that has come out in the past few years featuring pink, lime green or blue are fine for the youth hunter. Camouflage is icing on the cake anyway. So if your kid happens to like the novelty camo, go for it.
Hunting should be first and foremost FUN!
High-end youth bows exist. But the more expensive the bow is, the harder it is to justify. Unless of course, you have an unlimited budget. Most likely, this youth bow will only be used for a few years and will ultimately become a keepsake.
It just needs to be capable of serving for a couple of years and doesn’t need any luxury features of levels of quality. A final price should be around $300 total for a package and arrow setup.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
|Model|| || ||
|Axle-to-Axle||27.5 in||26 in||27.5 in|
|Draw Weight||15 - 60 lbs||15 - 25 lbs||19 - 45 lbs|
|Brace Height||6 in||5.5 in||6.8 in|
|Let Off||70%||65%||60 - 70%|
|Draw Length||15 - 27 in||13.5 - 19 in||21 - 27 in|
|Weight||2.9 lbs||2 lbs||2.3 lbs|
Bear Archery Apprentice 3
If your kid shows a strong interest in archery hunting, this is an excellent bow to get before the opening day.
It feels more like a compact adult bow rather than a kid’s. It has the same feeling on the hand and performs just as well. It’s made for a price point and made smaller for the kids.
- Pre-tied D-loop
- Adjustable draw weight and length
- High-quality rise
The package includes a whisker biscuit arrow rest and conventional fixed pin fiber optic sight. A clip-on quiver rounds out the package.
- Draw weight: 15 – 60 lbs
- Draw length: 15 – 27″
- Brace height: 6″
- Weight: 2.9 lbs
This is a good bow for anything that a youth hunter is likely to be pursuing in North America.
The only measurable downside is its grip since it’s not well formed and can be hard to grasp with sweaty palms. On the bright side, the grip is very thin and is hard to torque one way or the other while shooting.
Bear Archery Brave
A starter bow for a youth hunter needs to have several qualities.
This is a great option from Brave that is perfect for starting a hunter off just before they’re able to hunt until they begin to chase game more seriously and at extended ranges.
- Great bare bones kit for getting a youngster ready to hunt.
- The kit includes a basic pin sight, a whisker biscuit arrow rest, and a basic clip on the quiver.
- It is very much a basic, quality kit for little money.
- Draw weight: 15 – 25 lbs
- Draw length: 13.5 – 19″
- Brace height: 5.5″
- Weight: 2 lbs
A little on the longer side for a kid’s bow, this is still great for a 5 or 6-year-old ready to respect the safety rules and begin to learn how to hunt with archery tackle responsibly. It is ideal for hunting small, thin skinned game.
Barnett Vortex Hunter
Barnett, a name normally known for their crossbows and accessories, brings this excellent small-framed bow to the market that comes with everything that a youth needs to get started in the woods.
- Four arrows, a fixed pin sight, quiver, and an arrow release are included in the package.
- If you need an affordable yet effective bow for your youngster and you want a one stop shop for arrows, sight, and a bow ready to go, this is the best route.
- Draw weight: 19 – 45 lbs
- Draw length: 21 – 27″
- Brace height: 6.8 in
- Weight: 2.3 lbs
This is one of the strongest compound bows for youth hunters. It is effective for hunting thin skinned game like whitetail deer and small hogs. It is something that can be used for season after season until the kid hunter is strong enough to move on to a full-sized bow.
Before You Start
Introducing a new hunter to the outdoors is a fragile time.
You must walk a tight rope of providing a fun, easy-going hunt but you also want to show them the tough side of hunting. This is applicable to every youth hunter, especially to those into archery hunting.
Intentionally limiting your range and lethality by using archery tackle is a big deal for youth and dialing in their bow is important. Equipment goes a long way to make sure you get to see the game and be successful on your hunt.
A good youth bow is smaller with higher let-off and a lighter draw weight. Bells and whistles are hindrances, and so is trying to get a bow to do it all. Search around for a plain-Jane gear, train up for the opening day, and get the little ones to the woods!