Should I Upgrade to Premium Limbs?

I have an Olympic Recurve student who is also a coach and he has been considering moving up in draw weight. I gave my standard recommendation: start with inexpensive limbs until you settle on a draw weight that clicks, then move up to higher end limbs then. Jumping into a new set of high end limbs can be really expensive if they do not work out.

Here is the question I got back today:

These $81 36 lb. limbs are working fine for me. I think I could even go to 38 lbs. My question is what real ROI do I get by upgrading to Win&Win limbs for $400 or so? There’s got to be solid reasons why the Korean team uses them rather than my A+ limbs.”

And here is my answer:

* * *

With regard to the high end limbs, the elites use them because they are sponsored and don’t have to pay full price or at all (in part). With regard to quality and performance, yes, they are better but … most archers (IMHO) are not skilled enough to realize the benefit or all of the benefit. In the Frangilli’s book The Heretic Archer, Vittorio and Michele did an evaluation of a large selection of limbs, which most people have neither the time, money or skill to do. Their conclusion … at that time … was that the quality of the limbs was determined primarily from the quality of the components in the limbs. All of the designs were so similar as to be the same. The differences were small, mostly noticed in the form of the harshness of the shot, not in significant differences in arrow speeds or anything else. So the differences in limbs are small (and expensive).

As long as the inexpensive limbs work for you (you have a baseline of personal comparison with your old higher end limbs) I’d stick with them. If you wanted to try a heavier pair of limbs, I would go up 4#, not just 2#, because you can back them out 10% so 38# limbs can be backed out to 34.2# which overlaps substantially with the 36# pair. 40# limbs can be backed down to 36# (40# – 10%) which is your 36# limbs maxed out … ta da! These are the nominal draw weight values (@ 28ʺ), not at your draw length, but I think it gives you the idea. Once you settle on a pair of limbs and a draw weight adjustment, shoot those for a while. Then, if you can borrow a pair of high end limbs of the same specifications, you can make a direct comparison as to whether the $$$ limbs are better. For one, they should feel more “taut” and energetic. The arrows should hit higher on the target for your old sight settings, etc. If you don’t find enough to get excited about, stick with the less expensive limbs and use the savings to buy other gear!

I suspect that many archers look at their bows as being on a ladder. As they gain expertise, they expect to get more and more expensive equipment. We often start with used gear, then graduate to buying new. We buy less expensive gear while we are finding out what spine arrows work for us, etc. Then we move up. In many cases, this is justified. A $350 bow sight flat out functions far better than a $35 bow sight, but is it far superior to a $250 bow sight? And the sight isn’t responsible for performance. Things like bows, limbs, tabs, release aids are.

There is almost zero help in deciding whether an equipment upgrade will provide benefits to an archer at any skill level. The manufacturers want you to buy their gear. The responsible ones will tell you that you do not have enough skill to benefit from Fancy Bit XYZ but you have to consult with someone highly skilled in making those decisions and most shop staff don’t have that kind of expertise. (I have seen this happen and it is a joy to see.)

Most coaches are not trained well enough to help. I have yet to see any aspect of a coach training program address such things.

Let me know if there is anything else I can help with!

 

3 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

3 responses to “Should I Upgrade to Premium Limbs?

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    Steve, you mention the more expensive stuff not necessarily out performing the “cheap stuff”. I am with you on this!!
    I now have a top end bowsite for each of my bows, along with expensive scopes. Yes, the site has extra bells & whistles and the scopes are Zeiss lenses. But…that quickly ties up $600 or more for each combo!!
    I also still have my original Killian Chek-it bow site with a TR-Bar site extension ($50 for site, $15 for bar), purchased in 1972,
    With a $25 6x Magna-site scope.
    I shot all of my lifetime personal bests indoors and out with the Killian/Magna-Site combo!!!!!
    Just for grins, I mounted my 6X Magna-Site on one of my spare scope brackets. Tell you what: the $25 Magna-Site is every bit as clear as the $200 scope. The difference? The Magna-Site lens is not interchangeable and the bubble is smaller
    The Killian does not have the microfine “click adjustments” for elevation or two ways to get your settings on the vertical bar. La-de-dah!
    I would say that 557 field and hunter round lifetime high scores outdoors and numerous 60X 300’s and numerous 450/450 and 300/300 Vegas round scores..all shot with cheap equipment pretty much demonstrates that the high end stuff might add convenience….but it won’t necessarily make you shoot better.
    T

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom Dorigatti

    Steve, you mention the more expensive stuff not necessarily out performing the “cheap stuff”. I am with you on this!!
    I now have a top end bowsite for each of my bows, along with expensive scopes. Yes, the site has extra bells & whistles and the scopes ate Zeiss lenses. But…that quickly ties up $600 or more for each combo!!
    I also still have my original Killian Chek-it bow site with a TR-Bar site extension ($50 for site, $15 for bar)
    With a $25 6x Magna-site scope.
    I shot all of my lifetime personal bests indoors and out with the Killian/Magna-Site combo!!!!!
    Just for grins, I mounted my 6X Magna-Site on one of my spare scope brackets. Tell you what: the $25 Magna-Site is every bit as clear as the $200 scope. The difference? The Magna-Site lens is not interchangeable and the bubble is smaller
    The Killian does not have an the microfine “click adjustments” for elevation or two ways to get your settings on the vertical bar.
    I would say that 557 field and hunter round lifetime high scores outdoors and numerous 60X 300’d, and numerous 450/450 and 300/300 Vegas round scores..all shot with cheap equipment pretty much demonstrate that the high end stuff might add convenience….but it won’t necessarily make you shoot better!!!
    T

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you! I loved my Sebastian Flute lower-end Win & Win (now WNS) wood and carbon limbs when I shot recurve. Great value. Same should likely be true for any name brand limbs of the budget variety.

    Like

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