Just as there are riflemen who believe bigger is better when it comes to calibres for big game, there are archers who believe that the heavier the draw weight of the bow, the more suited it is to hunting. In both cases, this isn't always true.
With rifles, if you can't handle the recoil, you'll develop a flinch and never be consistently accurate. With bows, if you can't handle the draw weight comfortably, you won't shoot accurately.
And, if you can't do this, you have no business bowhunting.
A manageable draw weight is even more critical to the traditional archer because we do not benefit from the 65 to 80 percent let-off in weight that's common on most modern compound bows.
If you use a recurve or long bow you pull the full draw weight. So if your traditional bow is marked 65 pounds at your draw length, that's what you better be comfortable handling. Otherwise a host of shooting form issues, and perhaps even injury, can develop.
For most men, being over-bowed is a result of misplaced machismo. We think that we handle heavy bows simply because we are men. But drawing the bow once in front of your buddies or a sales clerk at the store isn't any indication that you can handle that bow.
If you have to "sky draw" a bow to bring it to your anchor point (sky drawing is when your bow grip hand rises towards the sky as you draw), for instance, you ought to seriously consider a lighter bow. If it's a struggle to maintain good form or hold for a second or two, go lighter.
The traditional bow you choose should be one that you can easily shoot several times a week for the duration of lengthy practice sessions, because that's what it's going to take before you gain the confidence and skill to hunt with it.
It's always best to err on the side of light when it comes to a hunting bow (so long as its legal for the game you are hunting). For most new archers who plan on hunting deer, 45 to 50 pounds at your draw length is a good place to start with a traditional bow.
Bows are marked with draw weights measured at 28 inches so bear in mind that you lose about 2.5 pounds of draw weight per inch you draw under 28 inches and gain that amount per inch you draw over. So a bow with a 50-pound draw weight at 28 inches would have a draw weight of approximately 47.5 at 27 inches and 52.5 at 29 inches.
If these seem like light draw weights to you, remember that 40 pounds is all that's legally required to hunt deer in many jurisdictions and that a razor sharp broadhead and accuracy goes a long way in mitigating any disadvantage you perceive a lighter draw weight to have.
When it comes to using too heavy a bow, I'm speaking from experience. For years, my favorite longbow was a 67-pound beast. And while I had moments of brilliance with it, I also had practice sessions where my accuracy was less than consistent. I can honestly say that the best thing I ever did for my traditional archery accuracy was to drop my bow weight to 52 pounds at my draw length. I handle this bow easily; can practice as often as I like (which is lots); and, as a result, shoot very well.
If you are considering purchasing a longbow or recurve, don't let false pride get in the way of the path to shooting success. Get a bow you can handle and be proud of the fact that doing this means you've just upped the odds of success in the field.