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The following article was taken from the December 1942 issue of Ye Sylvan Archer.



Tom Imler, Jr.

I have felt for some time the urge to answer some of the opinions expressed on the relative merits of light and heavy bows. Because of the weight of my bows I have become quite innocently, and believe me, quite unintentionally embroiled in this deadly feud, so duck your heads, you "light bow" boys, here it comes.

First let me be understood. There seems to be no question that a 50 pound bow will kill deer and even larger game quite successfully. However, we also know that a 22 rifle will kill big game hut is barred by law in most states because it is not considered adequate- not enough margin of safety. Why then should we be satisfied with minimum killing power when we can quite easily have better?

For some time now I have heard said and seen published the statement that a 50 pound bow will do anything a 75 pound bow will do and that it is probably even better for all round big game hunting. It is usually said that the advantage of the speed with lighter bows and arrows more than off-sets the advantages of the heavier tackle. Don't let 'em kid you, fellows. If this is true then there are a lot of physics professors over the world that have been laboring under delusions for many years.

Most of the fellows who make such statements base their whole argument on an erroneous assumption. They generally assume all men are such weak creatures that when they shoot a 75 pound bow they shake violently with exertion and only succeed in drawing 21 or 22 inches of a 28 inch arrow. I assure you this is is not the case. It has been my observation that almost any man can build up to a much heavier bow than 50 pounds. When the time comes to shoot big game the archer has no trouble drawing any bow with which he can normally shoot a full clout. He is more apt to overdraw on normal length arrows than to under- draw 3 or 4 inches, as is claimed.

Now, think for yourselves. If a 50 pound bow will throw a 500 grain arrow at a given velocity and through a given trajectory curve, then a 75 pound bow- will throw a heavior ar row through an equally flat trajectory curve (conceding, of course, proper design of equipment) - Then it logically follows that a heavier arrow traveling at the same velocity expends, on striking,, a greater amount of energy Then too, a heavy object moving at a given speed is much harder to stop than a lighter one because of its inertia. In the case of an arrow this energy is expended almost entirely in penetration. Therefore add energy and you add penetration.

Aside from the ballistics on paper, I have actually seen many big game animals killed with both light and heavy bows. What I have seen more than bears out anything that the ballistics show. There is always a fuss raised about penetration and narrow heads are advocated by some (usually those with 50 pound bows) to get penetration. I say use a heavier bow and you don't have to cut down on the width of the broadhead to get penetration. We all knew that a 50 pound bow will many times completely penetrate the chest cavity of a deer with the common broadhead. Any penetration beyond this point is useless. Death, is caused by hemorrage and the extent this hemorrhage is determined by the width of thc hole cut by the broadhead. The obvious thing then is to use wider broadheads (within practical bounds) until all the energy is expended in the job it is sent to do.

The additional penetration obtained by use of heavier equipment makes possible those shots in which the arrow goes "clean through" a big boar or a bear and keeps on going instead of just sticking in his ribs. To those of us who have been fighting for ten years to get archery hunting legalized in our respective states these demonstrations of penetration have been of tremendous varlue. I have actual slow motion natural color movies of such shots to back up my stories. The greatest archery hunter of modern times, Art Young, used very heavy bows and arrows and wide heavy hroadheads when he went after big game.

We surely haven't forgotten the lesson learned by the English en the invention of the long bow. Those who claim that weight of arrow should be sacrificed for the high trajectory should remember that the high trajectory bow was replaced by the English long bow that threw a heavy arrow. Penetration of armor was thus attained when the high trajectory bows and light arrows had proven useless. The men who came to these conclusions were not playing at archery-their lives depended upon the effectiveness of their bows. Penetration of animal flesh is similiar, in as much as it depends upon striking power.

This leads up to weight of arrow and bow. I'm afraid I'm going to shock terribly some of the "light bow tribe" by saying that in one most important point I heartily agree with their advice to the novice. The beginner in field archery should never start with a bow over 50 pounds no matter how strong he is. Many men should start with much lighter. Bad habits of form and loose are easily formed by a bow that is the least bit too strong.

But here my agreeable nature ends. Any normal man (physical handicaps, of course, are excepted) can, by starting with a weak bow and systematically building up to a stronger one, draw and shoot sucessfully a much stronger bow than he ever believed possible. Most normal men can use a 70 to 80 pound bow with ease. Why! even Joe Cosner1 with his old broken down muscles, was able to build up to a 70 pound bow and he even hits things once in a while, even if they are only gopher holes. If Joe can do it, anyone can. I'm not asking anyone to "over bow" himself. I made my 100 pound bow only for bear and for heavy penetration stunts. I'm no superman and I prefer my little 80 pound Osage bow for roving, but I use the heavier one with ease. I merely say don't be satisfied with that 50 pound how just because you won't build up those biceps and triceps. The factor of physical exercise is important in field archery, so why not get the most out of it.

Far be it from me to force my ideas down anyone's throat, so if any of you have read this far and don't agree, just stop here. There are many of archery's "old Foggies" who will "pooh pooh" this writing. There are other "old Foggies," myself included, who will say, "Boy that's telling 'em."

I address it not to any of them, but to the new fellow, who should, by all means, hear the "Heavy Bow" side of the story, which I have tried to present as logically as I am able. It's all in fun. As long as we can have differance of opinion and friendly arguments, archery will never get in a rut.