The Meat Bow: Strip Down Your Hunting Rig to the Bare Essentials

Competitive target archers are sponsored by bow companies and ultimately influence bowhunters. After all, it's hard to argue with a guy who can consistently hit a bull's-eye at 120 yards. But target shooting and hunting differ. Murphy's Law haunts the woods. Wild animals and weather are unpredictable, so hunters should simplify their rigs.

1) With all things being equal, fast bows are superior. But things aren't equal. Competition bans rangefinders, so speed mitigates errors in range estimation. But hunters can use rangefinders. Therefore, a hunting bow's quietness and ease of drawing trump speed.

2) A meat bow wears a large-diameter peep sight for low-light shooting and has tough and simple sights. Multiple or single pins are fine with practice, but hunters have problems when they feel they must manipulate their "dial-in" sight for every 5-yard increment. Deer often move.

3) Wrist slings are designed to improve an archer's grip. But for hunters who shoot the same bow all season, they degrade accuracy when you add gloves to the equation.

4) Stabilizers? Some dampen vibration, but all change the bow's balance. Get used to your bow without it, and lug around less weight. Target archers use 4-foot stabilizers just as bench-rest shooters use 12-pound rifles. But at the relatively shorter ranges hunters commonly face, a 5-inch stabilizer isn't worth its weight.