Shoot Like a Girl

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Shoot Like a Girl

Current Bow Specs: PSE Levitate S2 Cam
26 ½” draw length, 58-lb draw weight, 390-grain total arrow weight, 100-grain expandable broadhead, 293 FPS, 80% let off

A female enters the hunting world – a man’s world – where there is a lack of variety regarding clothing, boots, packs, and weapon options. Now, imagine it that's a small-stature female with a driver’s license claiming 5’6” and 130 lb (who will stick to both of those numbers for all eternity). Options in the above-mentioned categories decrease drastically for the small-framed woman. Clothing, boots, and packs are an entire subject to discuss within themselves – but what we are going to focus on is the weapon department and archery specifically.

Most major brand bow companies come out with several new bows each year, including a flagship or two that make some improvements from the prior year. In the female-specific bow department – a couple of new bows per year come out if we are lucky. An unfortunate reality I learned early in the last decade of shooting a bow.

Choosing a Bow - Against the Grain

One thing to keep in mind is just because you’re a female does not necessarily mean you have to shoot a “female bow”. Don’t skip over flagships just because they aren’t specifically marketed for the ladies. There are a lot of bows and companies out there that have options for shorter draws with more aggressive speed cams. This took some realization nine years ago when I outgrew my beginner bow. I thought my only options were the three female bows the shop I was at had.

Now, like anything in the hunting world – boots, packs, etc. – you must find what fits YOU best. What is the most comfortable for you and what aligns with what specific goals you have in mind? That might be a new female bow, but for me, I chose speed because speed kills.

I have had good luck with focusing efforts on speed to produce the desired outcome in the field whether it is on a 3D range or 52 yards from an antelope buck. More often than not – my arrow can be found buried in the dirt covered from tip to tail in leftovers from the breadbasket. Shooting a fast arrow with a flat trajectory gives me confidence that after I have ranged, dialed, come to full draw, and that wild animal takes a couple steps to or from me – I will still be in the money with my shot without having to let down and redo everything. Now, as we all know, the actual most important thing regarding an ethical and quick kill is shot placement, so don’t forget that gem.

Read Between the Spec Lines

Luckily, having 26 ½” draw does open a few more options than just the female specific bows per brand. It is on the lower end of most bow abilities, but I have made it work shooting “male” bows over the years. For instance – the PSE Mach34 with the EC2 cam only goes down to 26 ½” draw length so I was on the very bottom of the draw length chart. What that means is it is a more difficult draw cycle and that you won’t get all the cam has to offer. In a perfect world, being more towards the middle or upper end of a draw length chart would be ideal. But I can’t change my arm length so I make what I’ve got work. The PSE Levitate with the S2 cam goes down to a 25” draw length. The Levitate was an easier draw cycle and more comfortable due to where I landed with my draw length being the limiting factor.

The most advantageous part about the Levitate with the S2 cam is my ability to draw a lower weight and still have a fast arrow. I ran a competitor company with big easy draw cams for many years and the most I could squeeze out of them was about 275 FPS pulling 65 lb with the same arrow set up. Currently, I am drawing 58 lb and shooting 293 FPS. The S2 cam is their aggressive cam but with my current weight and draw length I don’t ever feel the aggressive hump in the cam.

Increasing Draw Weight

In Idaho, the minimum legal draw weight that can be used to hunt big game is 40 lb. I did not get to 65 lb or even 58 lb overnight. I started out on a loaner bow from a friend who was drawing in the mid-30-lb range. An entirely different kind of strength – archery strength, took years to build up. I worked tirelessly increasing the draw weight a few turns of the bolt at a time. In my brain, if I was going to hunt, I was going to try to give myself as much of an advantage as I could. So, since I wasn’t going to sprout a bigger wingspan – the only thing I had any control over was my draw weight. I had a goal to be in the 60-65lb range without looking like I could hardly get the bow back, I wanted a strong and smooth 65lb draw.

Even with an athletic background and a frequent gym goer – the curls and pullups did not give me the strength I needed to draw more weight. The only thing that increased my draw weight was shooting my bow daily. I remember Steven, my husband, asking me, “Does the bow feel easy?” each time we shot together, and when it did, we would give it some turns. Pound by pound we went up and by my first hunting season the next fall I was pulling a comfortable 53lbs but it wouldn’t be until the following year I was at the goal weight.

When I made the leap to the Levitate – I had to get some kind of upgrade out of it. I didn’t want to keep pulling 65 lb with a more aggressive cam so when I got 293 FPS out of it at 58 lb, I was floored. It was comfortable, smooth, and held nicely at full draw.

Don't Settle for the Societal Norm

Being a small female comes with many disadvantages in the hunting realm, so control what you can and don’t settle for the minimum draw weight. Push the limits within reason because western hunting can come with longer and steep angled shots. An arrow that is fast with a flat trajectory gives you some forgiveness with our difficult terrain. Don’t be afraid to explore different options even if they aren’t the status quo. I am living proof that being a small female doesn’t mean I have to shoot a women’s bow at 40 lb. Now get out and shoot that bow and shoot it a lot.

PSE Archery

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Jess Laughter

Dental hygienist, wife, dog mom, and hunter.

Deep rooted traditions of pursuing game runs back to my childhood and carry’s on today.

Hunting at our house is treated as a lifestyle and not just a hobby. Year round work and mindset fuels the fire for fall tags.

Prefers archery equipment afield but isn’t opposed to a boom stick.

Finds type 2 fun to be the most fulfilling.

Documents adventures one small social square at a time: @wayupwestoutdoors | @justjess208

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