Here's my 2 cents on buying a bow...
I have the opportunity to shoot a lot of different archery equipment each year and would definitely agree that there are differences between bows that make them more individually suited to each shooter. As a member of the Red Head prostaff, I bristle a little bit every time I hear someone talk about the "inexperience" of the professionals in the archery department of a big box retailer. I have found that they are as knowledgeable as and sometimes even more so than a local archery shop. They generally work on and sell a wider variety of equipment than a local guy that sells 1 or 2 brands. HOWEVER, there are shops out there that have true masters in their craft. The problem is finding one.
If someone will not let you test shoot a bow, DO NOT BUY it. It's that important. If you are anywhere near one of the great outdoor festivals, SHOT, or Eastern Sports Outdoors Shows that manufacturers display at, you should go and shoot several bows at the same time.
As far as the brand of bow to shoot, I believe that should be a personal decision. There are too many variables such as: 1. Anatomy - something as simple as the size of your hand can make a HUGE difference. 2. Bow performance at high or low draw weight- quite frankly, some bows and arrows companies perform better at lower draw weights, some better at higher draw weights. 3. Adjustability of draw length- does it require a press? is it as simple as moving a few screws or does it require the installation of a whole new cam? 4. Feel- this is the most difficult thing to judge. I tried one of the most popular and highly rated bows on the market and it just didn't "feel" right to me.
On Gear in general- I have actually given entire seminars and education sessions on this very topic. A great example of what not to do is to be like the guy that spends $500-$1000.00+ on a rifle and then tops it with a $99.00 scope. Remember, this is a piece of equipment that will last you many years and may very well mean the difference between the trophy of a lifetime and an exercise in frustration. It is always better to wait longer, save a little more, and buy the best equipment that you can afford rather than put something together that is less-than-optimal. The same goes for accessories like sights and quivers. Buy the best you can, because the worst time to have regrets is when you are on that trip of a lifetime!
The forums there can be a great resource. An option to save money--Shoot a bunch of bows, then buy a used one from gunbroker.com or other site. Just make sure you get a guaranteed return for 30 days so that you can take it in to be evaluated and shot by a pro. Best of luck, Ace
Ace Luciano has been a consummate outdoorsman for over 30 years and has travelled the globe in pursuit of both game and fish throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Africa, Europe, and Australia. He is a Read Head (Bass Pro Shops)and Mossy Oak hunting Pro and a member of the pro staff of or companies representing Leupold Optics, Traditions Muzzleloaders, Browning, Barnes Bullets, Magnum Research, and BLACKHAWK! tactical and hunting gear. Ace is also a partner in the adventure booking agency World Game Hunts, Ltd. . He is involved in numerous conservation organizations and youth projects and was a 2006 semifinalist in the Field and Stream Total Outdoorsman Challenge.