Casing the Joint, er, Bow

I just received a number of emails from a concerned new compound archer as to whether a “soft case” would be adequate to protect his bow on bus rides, etc.  Well, there are bus rides and there are “bus rides” if you know what I mean. In Costa Rica I saw potholes the size of Volkswagens, so bus rides can be perilous. (Heck, some of the larger ones in Chicago can swallow motorcycles.) But allow me to address ordinary, civilized bus rides and car rides, and so on and what kind of bow case you might want.

Right off let me say you do not need a bow case … at all. I have carried bows around naked in my car. I have carried takedown recurves in pillow cases. This is not a “must have.” I would call the purchase of a bow case, a “prudent purchase.”

Hard plastic bow cases tend to be much less expensive that aluminum cases. Some come with wheels so you can roll them through airports. Note there is room for arrows and stabilizers and quivers and binoculars, etc. inside of the case.

I do not recommend that my students carry a naked bow on public transit as that act can attract the wrong kind of attention. So, a bow case serves to mask the contents of the case and people who are not familiar with them might think it was a case for a musical instrument or something.

Bows receives some bouncing around traveling in a bus or car, so a bow case protects your investment in a fairly expensive sporting good. So, it has that merit, also.

When traveling by plane I put compound bows in a plastic “hard” bow case. This is because luggage is stuffed into cargo holds in airplanes and then a hired gorilla jumps up and down on it to make sure it is packed tight. (Just kidding! It just seems that way!) I honestly do not want the cargo in an airplane I am traveling it to shift around, so I want them to pack it in safely. But that means you have to protect your bow from having a small mountain of luggage piled on top of it. If you expect to be traveling by air, consider a hard case for your compound bows.

A soft bow case can be a bit pricey but the less expensive ones tend to be less than the hard cases. Note the number of “side pockets” which can hold equipment. If you are flying I would put anything I put in a side pocket in a hard case of its own (sight case, etc.).

When I travel locally, I always use a soft case. They are lighter, easier to pack, and can take quite a beating. I prefer padded bow cases, as the ones that are not padded don’t provide much protection. Bows have become quite a bit shorter over the last 20-25 years. When I first got into archery, compound bows were 44˝-46˝ axle-to-axle in length. I found a good supplier of high quality bow cases on the Internet that were 52˝ in length and all of my bows fit. Today, bows are much more likely to be less than 40˝ ATA and so bow cases sold today are considerably shorter. The only “long” one I was able to find after a quick search was 46˝ long which would fit a bow of about 42˝ATA. If you put an old bow in one of these cases, one end of the bow sticks out. That end is not protected at all.

So, measure the full length of your compound bow, not just ATA, and make sure the case you are buying is 1˝-2˝ longer than that. If it is padded, it will protect your bow on car or bus trips. Most of these cases have a large side pocket that will accept arrow tubes and stabilizers.



Filed under For All Coaches

2 responses to “Casing the Joint, er, Bow

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    For those of you with bows of 40″ or longer axle to axle length, be AWARE and forewarned. Nearly all the bowcases being made these days won’t hold a 40″ or longer ATA bow, and this includes the hard plastic bowcases.
    Steve gives the best advice: Measure the entire length of the bow from end to end, including the cams.
    The “will fit bows with ATA of 40″ isn’t going to cut it if you are ordering on-line!
    I have a bow (manufacturer will remain anonymous) that is 38” ATA. My soft bowcase (manufacturer will remain anonymous) is “designed” for longer bows of 41″ ATA…and my 38″ ATA bow just barely fits into the bow case. The bow case has wheels, and the cam at that end of the bow case is in contact with the interior part of the wheel cover! NOT a good thing.
    Now, to make matters worse, I have a 41″ ATA bow of a different brand, but due to the length of the bow, it has smaller cams on it, and that bow fits into that same soft bowcase just fine.
    My hard cases are OLD hardcases and those will fit any of the bows I have except an ancient 4-wheeled compound bow that has an ATA of 56″. I don’t have a bow case that will accommodate that bow!
    My recommendation is to go to the archery shop and try out any and all bow cases you are considering to purchase. Ordering on-line just because the description says the case will handle bows of ATA up to 43″ may well not cut it.
    I would say the cut off point for ordering a bow case that “says” ti will accommodate bows up to 41″ would be bows with ATA of 35″. IF it says the bow case will handle up to 43″, the cut off could be an ATA of say 36″ or 37″. You do NOT want those cams in contact with the ends of the bowcase and especially not in contact with the wheel housing.
    I know people that travel airlines with soft cases, but they bubble wrap, use foam inserts and rubber blocks to help protect the cams, the cable guards, and especially their fall-away arrow rests! The last thing you need is to have your fall-away all jammed tight when you arrive at the tournament site and unpack your bow from your case.
    I KNOW…I had that happen to me on a trip to Vegas. The bow was in a hard DONNITE bow-case and padded to boot….my fall-away arrow rest was jammed and wouldn’t work. I had to re-set and re-tune the fall-away arrow rest and it wasn’t the best thing for my psyche!
    Oh, and don’t forget to zip tie or cable lock the bowstring so that the bow cannot be drawn back by anyone that is snoopy and gets into the bow case to “inspect the contents.”


    • Re “Oh, and don’t forget to zip tie or cable lock the bowstring so that the bow cannot be drawn back by anyone that is snoopy and gets into the bow case to “inspect the contents.””

      I had never considered that … good point!

      On Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 2:48 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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