March 03, 2021

Improve Your Game - Purchasing Secondhand Archery Equipment

This week on Improve Your Game, we are learning the dos and don'ts of purchasing secondhand archery equipment!

This is a very commonly asked question: what should I look out for when purchasing secondhand archery equipment? What do I need to know? Where can I buy secondhand equipment?

What to look for

When purchasing secondhand archery equipment online, you need to be aware of a few things. Firstly, the cost. Is it a good price? Roughly work at 75% of the cost of brand new equipment from an archery shop, or less. This obviously depends on the condition, age, etc. of the bow you're looking at.

Be aware of what you are purchasing. Do you need it? Are you ready for it? Always talk to your coach or club members if you are not sure. Your archery journey is personal to you, you will grow with the sport when you're ready. The equipment you're purchasing should be in line with your growth and strength.

Spread your budget across the whole set-up. If you're looking at purchasing a full secondhand set-up, know your budget. Every bit of equipment is important. Ensure you have enough money within the budget to get the level of equipment you set out to buy.

Is it safe to purchase secondhand archery equipment?

The simple answer is yes. Providing you know what you are doing, you have somewhere safe to shoot (an Archery GB registered range), and you can verify there is no damage to the equipment. It probably won't be in perfect, fresh out of the box condition. This does not mean that you should avoid it.

Ask for more pictures of the equipment you are looking at purchasing. Can the seller provide a picture with a written date and their name? Ensure that everything is legit, as you would purchasing anything online.

If you want to check the purchased secondhand equipment is 100% safe, take it to your local archery shop. They will be more than happy to check it out for you and give you any tips to help.

Recurve and Barebow

Purchasing a secondhand riser

A riser is the easiest thing to invest in when purchasing on the secondhand market. This will last you a good while. They can also take a lot of wear and tear. Be aware of the measurements: is it a 27", 25" or a 23" riser? Also, if possible, ask for the weight of the riser. There is some variant in the weight. If you're a beginner, speak with your coach about which would right for you.

Another thing to look at is the riser ILF (International Limb Fit) or Formula fitting. This will determine which limbs you will be able to purchase to go with it. By the time you're ready to purchase your own bow, you will know if you're right or left-handed. This is essential information as risers are right or left-handed. Eye dominance determines whether you are right or left hand, not just which you write with!

Purchasing secondhand limbs

Much like a riser, limbs don't tend to wear out. You will need to know the length (64"/66"/68"/70") of limb you need, along with the poundage. If this is wrong, everything will be out: your strength, arrows, grouping, etc. Just because they are good value does not mean they are right for you.

If you have just started out, look online at archery shops for limbs of your price and your current level. Most limbs are ILF. This means that they are (mostly) interchangeable, so you could have a Hoyt riser with Sebastien Flute limbs.

The recommendations for bow-length from Archery 360 are:

  • 66-inch bow for 26 1/2-inch draw length and shorter
  • 68-inch bow for draw lengths between 26 1/2-inch and 29 inches
  • 70-inch bow for draw lengths 29 inches or longer

Your draw length is dictated by how far you pull back the string before releasing it. This will be explained to you at the beginners' course. The course will show you how to check your draw length and therefore you'll know which length bow you need.

Purchasing a secondhand button

If you purchase a button on the secondhand market, make sure you clean it when you get it. If you want to learn how to, have a look here at Tom Hall showing how to clean a button.

Buttons can wear down with use, so be sure to check the condition before purchasing.


Purchasing a secondhand bow

Compound bows are totally different to recurve bows. When purchasing secondhand, odds are you will be buying the whole bow, not components. You will need to know your draw length, axle-to-axle, poundage, adjustability, to name a few things.

Most cams have modules; you will need to know your draw length to know which cam and module you will need. As a grassroots archer, your coach will be able to help with this. The draw weight needs to be something you can easily work with. No point in going for a 50-60lb bow when you've never shot more than 24lbs.

Ensure that the strings and cables are in very good condition. Again, this can be checked by an archery shop and if needed, fitted with new strings and cables.

If your draw length is under 28-inches, look for an axle length no longer than 37/38-inches (ish). A draw length of 29-inches and upwards, look at the longer 39 - 40-inch axle bows. Remember this is just a generic assumption and there are anomalies.

As with everything, ask for videos or pictures of the bow. Check every angle you possibly can and be sure it is what you want. Compound bows will be pricier than a recurve riser or set of limbs because it's the full riser and limbs with strings and cables.

Purchasing secondhand release aids

A release aid will last a long while, provided it's been looked after. However, the springs and inside will probably need a clean and potentially replacing if they have rusted. It is always worth checking the inside of the release aid once you get it.

If possible, spend a decent amount of your budget on this, simply because you want to have a release aid that will last a while. They are an essential part of your kit and your technique. Talk to your coach about what type of release aid you should look for. A lot comes down to personal preference, so maybe try a few different ones before committing.

Purchasing secondhand arrow rests

Arrow rests for compounds have more components than recurve or barebow. The blade might be a bit rusty, but that can be replaced easily. When purchasing a secondhand arrow rest, look out for any damage. Ensure all screws come with the rest, otherwise, there will be issues.

All of the micro-adjustments should still be in working order if that's available on the model you are purchasing. If the rest has been screwed on too tightly previously, there might be damage, so just check for that.

There are different types of arrow rests available on the market, so do your research and learn which you want. Along with this, there are different blade sizes available. When purchasing blades, look at what model arrow rest you have purchased to make sure it fits.


Purchasing secondhand bows

Courtesy of The Longbow Shop

If possible, try to buy from a trusted source. This could be a friend, club member or recommendation from a friend. Make sure the length of the bow is right for you. The bow should be your height plus about 4-6 inches.

Make sure you ask for pictures: strung, unstrung and down the length of the bow. Ensure sure the bow isn't twisted is essential for longbows. To check, follow the string, bent when unstrung, and both limbs have a smooth arc.

The person selling should be able to show this either with pictures of a video.

Find out how much it has been shot. Also, when was the last time it was shot. Longbows can be more prone to breaking if they have not been shot for a prolonged amount of time. Check the nocks, where the string sits, are in good order.

Avoid purchasing a longbow that's been used by someone who has a longer draw length than you. There is a massive chance of the bow breaking due to the fibres in the bow.

It is imperative that you check the bow from top to bottom for any cracks and marks before stringing it. Checking the quality of the string as well. Be really careful when you string and draw if for the first time.

Check poundage on bow scales before purchasing; is it right for you? Longbows also drop poundage with age so what's written on the bow may not be what it actually is.


Purchasing secondhand arrows

Arrows can wear out with use over the years. It is also essential you select the right length, spine and point weight for your set-up. Your coach and club members will be able to help with this, as it can be a bit overwhelming.

If you can, try and buy brand new arrows, as you will avoid unknown damage. Investing in new arrows will be better than secondhand, but your budget can be an issue. Key things to ask: are they straight, do they have cracks at either end, how old are they, have they mostly been used indoors or outdoors?

Roll arrows on a table or spin on your hand to check their straightness after purchasing if you can, to ensure they're safe.

Check all purchased arrows over before shooting and make sure there are no marks, also ensuring the piles and nocks are in good condition with no cracks. Ask where they have been stored prior to purchasing. Quite often arrows that have been stored next to a heat source have brittle nocks and will explode when you shoot.

It would be worth changing all of the nocks on the arrows that you have purchased, just for peace of mind. Ensure that you know they won't break on you. You should also know the weight of the point in the arrow as this will affect your grouping and tuning.


Purchasing a secondhand sight

Purchasing a good sight is essential for recurve and compound archers. Sights can get worn out, so purchasing secondhand is not always best. Spending less and compromising on a sight will result in more money being spent long-term. This is because you will need to get a new one when the old one breaks. There are good-priced first sights available.

The higher-end sights can be bought for a great price on the secondhand market. Just ensure that you are spending the right money for yourself and the product. Have a look at the price in shops and compare.

Purchasing secondhand stabilisers

Stabilisers are great secondhand. They will be cheaper than brand new and will do the same job. Make sure that they haven't been damaged in any way. There are different lengths available, so ensure that you purchase the correct length for you.

You can also get weights to help with stabilisation. Your coach or club members will advise on this, but it usually comes down to personal feeling and strength. As Wales Archery explained last week, your personal archery journey will dictate when to use stabilisers.

Purchasing secondhand accessories

Quivers, bowstands, and bracing height gauges are all perfectly acceptable to purchase secondhand. There isn't really anything that can go wrong with them. Just ensure they are in a condition that you are happy to pay for. Also, compare the price with brand new and don't pay over the odds.

Finger tabs, gloves, finger slings, fletches, strings, are probably best avoided. These are things that take a lot of wear and tear and don't usually do well being used by another person. There are, of course, anomalies and if they have been used once or so, would be absolutely fine. Read the descriptions, ask questions and get pictures of the products.


Before purchasing any archery equipment, make sure you have done a beginners' course at an Archery GB club. Under Archery GB insurance, you are not covered to shoot anywhere but at a registered Archery GB range.

This article is to help anyone looking to purchase secondhand equipment to make the right choices. There are many opinions, brands, types of equipment and it mostly comes down to personal preference. 

Archery GB holds no responsibility for anything purchased online. The buyer does so at their own risk. This is simply guidance to help to purchase.

Our Partners & Sponsors

Follow us

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

OK, got it.