I originally wrote this as a series of facebook messages for a friend asking for advice. It turned out to be longer than I expected, and hence it is preserved for anyone who is interested in starting Asiatic archery.
The first thing you wanna know is what style of archery you want to practice. Depending on the style, the equipment will differ. You may already know this, there are essentially 3 big styles. Olympic style shooting, traditional Mediterranean, or traditional Asiatic.
I don’t shoot Olympic, so I’m not gonna talk about that.
Traditional Mediterranean is just known as “traditional” in North america. It’s essentially shooting of a wooden bow with the Mediterranean release (3 finger). I personally practice Chinese archery, so I practice the thumb release with a thumb ring. However Chinese, Mongolian, Korean and Turkish archery are essentially the same thing. Depending on your release style, your draw distance will differ. Generally the Mediterranean release is about 28-29″, and the asiatic styles are about 31-32″ or longer. It’s important to take that into consideration when buying a bow. Also the type of bow will differ. Because I shoot Asiatic style, I prefer bare bows, or bows with no arrow shelf built in. Bows like that are generally called “horse bows” in stores. Of course it’s not the preferred terminology.
Most bows sold in stores will come with arrow shelves, you need to know the bow is “right” or “left” handed if it does. The handed means the hand you pull the string with. They are build for the Mediterranean style in mind, so the “right” handed bow will have the shelf on the left side, and vice versa.
You will also need to get arrows to go with your bow.
A good rule of thumb is 5 grains per pound of your bow. So a 35# will need at an arrows that’s at least 175 grains, if we divide that by 32”, which is the most common uncut carbon arrowshaft length, then you need an arrows that’s at least 5.46 grains/inch.
Then you can decide on a spine. Spines are rated on how flexible they are. The numbers means degree of deflection. So a 500 spine is more flexible than a 300 spine. Therefore intuitively a 300 spine tend to be heavier than a 500 spine. If you want lightness AND rigidity, then the arrows start to get expensive, if you go to Tent City, talk to Nas about the type of arrow you’d want. Keep in mind also that if the arrow is too light, if you get a heavier bow later you won’t be able to shoot it.
Also, read this and weep:
If you want to get Chinese bows, here’s a good place:
I recommend a Han or Ming bow. I have a Qing bow myself, but Qing bows are not build for long distance arrow cast.
If you live in Toronto, Tent City is a good place to go to get arrows in Toronto, they have good customer service and Nas is knowledgeable if you need help. Bass Pro is ok if it has exactly what you want, but I find the prices there to be a bit expensive.
I started shooting in the basement at around 5 meters to practice my form. The Seton Park archery range is the place to be for archery in Toronto, go there if you can.
Aliexpress have bamboo arrows with free shipping to Canada. They are a lot cheaper than buying from North American suppliers. I would stay away from Chinese carbon fiber arrows though.
ATARN is a bible of asiatic archery: