Southwest Archery Spyder Review
We're going to be honest right up front: we really, really, really like the Southwest Archery Spyder, just about as much as we like its brother, the Samick Sage. Both of them are easy to set up, easy to shoot, and a lot of fun to use. And not only do we like them a whole lot, we're strangely grateful to them: because they make archery so easy and fun, they've gotten an incredible number of new archers involved in the sport. They’re light years better than the recurves of yesteryear, and if you're coming back to archery after a few years away, you may be surprised at how much more capable these bows are.
So in this post, we'll provide our Southwest Archery Spyder review. We'll go over everything we like about it—and there's a lot we like—but we'll also go over a few "imperfections," and tell you what you may want to keep in mind if you're thinking about getting this bow. We'll start with an overview and then get into the details.
SUMMARY: THE SOUTHWEST ARCHERY SPYDER REVIEW
They Spyder is an attractive recurve built to match the best features of the Samick Sage—and improve upon them in some ways—and it delivers in both ease-of-set-up and ease-of-use. It's got an ergonomic riser that's designed to feel great to hold; it's got reinforced limb tips, a solid arrow shelf, and ports for a bow sight, stabilizer, and even a bow fishing reel; and with its takedown format, you can change the draw weight of the bow by purchasing new limbs. It would be great if it came with some of the gear that beginners need, and we'd like it if the Spyder—and bows like it—were shipped with higher-quality bow strings that lasted a longer time. Aside from those small complaints, we find the Spyder to be a great option for just about everyone—men, women, and teens—of all skill levels, and all activities (target shooting, bow hunting, recreational activity). It's a great all-around bow for all-around use.
Alright! Now let's talk more specifically about what we like and what we don't.
Spyder Features: What We Like
We'll start with a feature that's especially important to folks just starting out in archery...
It's Easy to Assemble
The first thing we like about the Spyder is that it's pretty simple to set up. The riser should arrive with the two limbs, and all you need to do is hold the limbs in place over the riser, and screw them in with the bolts that come with the bow (you don't need any tools; the bolts are big and you can screw them in very tightly with your hands—they're designed for that). Then, you attach the bow string to the top limb and bottom limb, and you’re good to go.
It's pretty simple, but if all that sounds like a little bit much, there's a step-by-step manual that comes with the bow, and it features photos, which is absolutely fantastic. We wish bows came with that sort of thing when we were getting started.
And, if you want an even clearer idea of how to go about setting the bow up, here's a great video from Lancaster Archery that walks you through the process. Keep in mind, the bow they're setting up in this video is a Samick Sage—a different bow—but the main idea is the same:
It's Designed for Just About Everybody
The bow is sold in one length (62 inches), and while that makes it too big for kids, it should fit most everyone else—women, women, and teens. 62 inches is actually a really common bow length, for that reason—it's right in that "Goldilocks Zone," where most people 5-feet-and-above can use it.
The one group of people who may want to look elsewhere are people who are 6-foot-tall and taller. Those folks may want to go with a bow that's 64 inches long, and for those folks, we usually recommend the Southwest Archery Spyder XL. It's basically the same bow, but taller, so it can accommodate a taller person's longer draw.
The Spyder Features Threaded Bushings to Add Gear
This is important, especially if you want to start using tools that can increase your accuracy: the bow features ports—little holes drilled into the riser—where you can attach a bow quiver/bow sight, a mechanical arrow rest or plunger, and a stabilizer or bow fishing reel.
While some high-end, single-piece recurve bows may not have those ports, most takedown bows do—so while it's not an uncommon feature on a bow like this, it's an important one.
With Some Modifications, You Can Take It Bow Fishing
We feel like this feature gets overlooked, because bow fishing isn't as broadly popular as bow hunting (and we think that will soon change)—but you can add a bow fishing reel and take the Spyder out to sea! Or to river! That's wonderful, because bow fishing can be a blast—it's a great way to spend an afternoon, and it is waaaaaay more relaxed that regular bow hunting.
That sort of versatility is another factor we like about the Spyder—it makes it a "man for all seasons," so to speak, and you can use it for everything from target shooting to bow hunting to bow fishing. Not all bows are like that.
And, speaking of versatility...
The Spyder is Solid Enough for Bow Hunting
We need to be careful when recommending bows for hunting, because there are a lot of models that are good—and great for target practice—but just not up to the task of bow hunting. Either they're not accurate enough, or they don't shoot arrows with enough speed or force, or they're just too loud to take hunting, and they'll scare your game away.
Luckily, we believe the Spyder can be up to the task: with a bow sight (and a capable archer using it!), it can be accurate enough to down game efficiently; if the draw weight is high enough (and we'll talk about draw weight in a second), you can deliver arrows with enough momentum to penetrate quarry; and with some modifications (such a string silencers and maybe a stabilizer—and we'll talk about this below, because the Spyder can actually be pretty loud), this can be a reliable hunting bow.
If you are interested in bow hunting with the Spyder, we'd urge you to really get your practice in. Bow hunting with a recurve bow is a lot harder than bow hunting with a compound bow—and that’s true even for a capable bow like the Spyder—so you want to be sure that can put your arrows exactly where you want them when using a recurve.
It’s Made in a Wide Range of Draw Weights
This is one of the reasons the bow is a fantastic option for bow hunting: it's manufactured in a wide range of draw weights, from 20 to 60 pounds (20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60), and many of those weights will provide enough force for you to successful put down game. Keep in mind, you'll need to check with your state's requirements to see the required draw weight for game (in many cases, the required draw weight for deer is 35 pounds, but it varies from state to state).
The range of draw weights also gives it a lot of "mass market appeal." 20 pounds is definitely on the low side, and should be good enough for teens and people without a lot of upper-body strength. 60 pounds is on the very high side—which is why it's neat that the Spyder is offered in a weight that high; it's pretty uncommon for a bow like this to be manufactured in a draw weight that high—and you need to be very fit and very strong to put a 60-pound draw weight over and over again. There’s something for everyone, in other words.
But here's the big advantage when it comes to takedown bows like the Spyder...
You Can Buy Replacement Limbs
This makes the bow a great option for people who are just getting started in their archery career: you can buy the bow at a certain draw weight, and when you're ready to move up to a higher draw weight, you can purchase new limbs at a heavier draw weight. So, for example, you start out with 30-pound limbs, and after a few months of practice you find that it's relatively easy to pull the draw string back, then you can get a set of 35-pound limbs, and work with those. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Spyder makes Southwest Archery Takedown Recurve Limbs, and they're pretty simple to select. With that said, if you do eventually decide to get replacement limbs, MAKE SURE that you're getting the right type. Spyder has a number of different bows and makes them in a range of sizes, so you want to be certain you're selecting the right replacement limbs for your bow.
Its Shape Feels Good in the Hand
The bow that preceded the Spyder was the Samick Sage Recurve Bow (review here), and of all the technological advances the Samick Sage brought to the market, one of the most valuable was its riser design: it was smooth, streamlined, and contoured to fit the hand like a glove.
The Southwest Archery Spyder—as the "next-and-best" upgrade to the Samick Sage—continues in that tradition, and it's got a great feel.
That "feel" is one of our favorite aspects of modern recurve bows. There's been a resurgence in the popularity of longbows recently, which is fantastic, but longbows don't have that same contours in the riser, and that is—in our humble opinion—one of the best aspects of this bow.
The riser is gorgeous, too—it's made from actual wood, and it features a three-tone color scheme: light wood, dark wood, and a cherry-color accent that connects the two. Very attractive. Keep in mind, those colors tend to vary from bow to bow, depending on the wood that Spyder uses when they make a particular bow.
Limb Tips are Designed for Sturdiness
For years, one of the problems with mass-market recurve bows was that the limb tips—the upper-most and bottom-most parts of the bow, that curve forward—would disintegrate over time. It was irritating, and dangerous, because it meant your bow string—and therefore your arrow—could jump unexpectedly. Not a good thing!
The Spyder has reinforced limb tips, designed to take care of that problem, so that's wonderful. It's also a good thing because it allows you to use higher-quality bow strings (which we'll talk about in a second, because the string that usually comes with the Spyder is... not great, in our experience).
There Are Package Deals Sold
One of the things we don't really like about bows like the Spyder, and the Samick Sage, and the PSE Razorback Recurve is that they're great beginner bows—but they don't come with a lot of the gear that beginners need.
And—archery is confusing! Beginners don't always *know* what they need—or how to collect those items, if they do need them. There's a lot of research that goes into buying archery products, and bow manufacturers often drop the ball when it comes to getting new archers everything they need to get started.
So, that's why we like the Spyder Ready-to-Shoot Archery Set package deal: it comes with the bow, the bow string, 3 carbon arrows, and an arrow rest, as well as an armguard—and we absolutely love that. We sincerely wish that all bows made for beginners came with safety gear.
It also comes with a hard case, which is a really fantastic addition—if you're going to be using your bow at a range (or really anywhere away from your property), a bow case is a great safety item that can protect the bow, and hard cases (like the one that comes in the Ready-to-Shoot Set) are much sturdier than soft cases.
Spyder Features: Features You May Find Lacking
Alas! Nothing is perfect, and even the Spyder—which we clearly like—has a couple of quirky features you need to know about. And because we’d be remiss if we didn’t include them in our Southwest Archery Spyder review, here they are:
The String, In Our Opinion, Is Really Lousy
This is common for bows like the Spyder, and it's true here, too: the bow string is "meh" at best. It's designed to get you started, but it's not designed for long-term use. Even when you take care of it, it's just not going to last very long.
So we recommend you get a new bow string when you can, and if you see your bow string fraying, that's the bow string trying to tell you, "Replace me!"
It Can Be a Bit Twangy
If you're bow hunting, you want a bow that's as quiet as possible, and bows like the Spyder do a LOT right—but they can be loud. They create a lot of vibrational noise, and while our ears can't hear all of it, most of the game you'll hunt can. It can make sense to add some string silencers to tamp down some of that noise and vibration.
And while you may not think that noise is that big of a deal if you're target shooting, the vibration that creates the noise can be a problem, because it can shake your bow a little bit—and thereby rob you of some accuracy. A stabilizer added to the bow can help a lot, and the Spyder has a bushing right on the front of the riser for you to a stabilizer. You don't need a stabilizer to shoot accurately—and plenty of people shoot accurately without it—but it's something that a lot of people use.
You May Want to Replace the Arrow Rest
The Spyder usually ships with an arrow rest, and that's good, because it can be difficult for new archers to shoot "off-the-shelf" (that is, to place the arrow on the wooden platform on the riser, and shoot from that). However, it's also a little "meh," and you may want to upgrade.
And... that's about it! There's not really too much wrong with the Spyder, in our humble opinion, but those are the features we take issue with.
We're Not Fans of Real Spiders, Honestly…
But we like the Southwest Spyder. We think it's a great option for men, women, and teens, from beginner to intermediate, and we love the "feel" of the bow, and that it's available in such a wide range of draw weights. Just be careful to pick the right size bow (it's good for everyone 5-feet and over, but if you're 6-feet or taller, it'll be too small, and you may want to check out the Spyder XL), and pay attention to that bow string, and replace it if you see if fraying. Other than that...
Good luck, God bless, have fun, and happy shooting!
For the Spyder Recurve Bow, you can...
And for the Spyder Ready-to-Shoot Archery Set, you can...