You've probably noticed we review a lot of recurve bows from Southland Archery Supply, or SAS. That's because we love them, but we also know that so many bows from one manufacturer can make it difficult to choose. That's why we're doing this in-depth SAS Spirit Bow review with pros, cons and comparisons to detail the reasons it's our top budget recommendation and help you determine if it's right for your personal situation.
What's Included in the Package?
The SAS Spirit bow package includes the basics to assemble a bow, namely:
- A riser: Made of wood on the Spirit, this is the central part of the bow where you hold it.
- Limbs: Made of laminated maple wood and fiberglass, these are the parts of the bow that bend and hold tension to shoot the arrow.
- Bowstring: The Spirit's string is made of quality Dacron fiber that maintains tension over time.
Unfortunately, though, the Spirit doesn't come with arrows, so you'll have to get these separately. However, it does include pre-installed brass bushings that allow you to attach your own accessories like a stabilizer or sight.
Assembling the SAS Spirit
The SAS Spirit has a tool-less takedown design that makes it especially simple to assemble. Just insert each limb into the limb pockets and secure them by tightening the knobs.
The bow itself is assembled now, but you do need to string it. This isn't difficult, but you must do it correctly to avoid damaging the bow or hurting yourself.
You should use a bowstringer device, which is unfortunately not included. This device uses a cable that you can step on to pull down the limbs while you slide on the bowstring. Study the exact process of this method first before stringing your bow.
The SAS Spirit is available in draw weights ranging from 18 to 34 pounds in four-pound increments. This is a middle range that's manageable for beginners while still providing speed on the upper ends.
That said, keep in mind that many states have minimum draw weights for hunting certain game like whitetail deer, often 35 or 40 pounds. If you live in one of these states, you can't legally hunt these animals with the Spirit. Even if your state doesn't have a minimum draw weight, we wouldn't recommend hunting big game with less than 35 pounds of draw weight unless you're experienced and skilled.
The SAS Spirit is 62 inches long. This is on the long side. However, the draw length still isn't very large, and SAS only recommends this bow for those up to 5'10". This excludes a lot of archers taller than this.
Plus, while shorter archers can use the bow, they won't be able to take advantage of the full power. Since the Spirit isn't an especially powerful bow anyway, this means we wouldn't recommend it for archers much shorter than 5'6".
The SAS Spirit only weighs 1.8 pounds, insanely lightweight for a takedown recurve bow. This makes it easy to hold steadily and shoot accurately, particularly for beginners.
Pros and Cons of the SAS Spirit
What We Like
The SAS Spirit is our top recommendation if you're looking for an affordable recurve bow. With a price tag right around just $100, you get an effective bow without having to invest too much.
This makes it good for beginners who may not be 100% sure archery is the sport for them or plan on upgrading in the future. It also makes it a great gift.
Smooth and Quiet Shot
Budget bows often have a lot of vibration when they shoot and need bow string silencers, but that isn't the case with the Spirit. For one thing, this makes it quiet in case you do use the bow for hunting.
More importantly, the smooth shot helps you learn good form and practice your accuracy if you're new to archery. It keeps your shots more consistent so you learn from repetition.
Takedown recurve bows are already convenient, allowing you to change out the limbs or remove them for storage or transportation. SAS made the takedown on the Spirit even easier with a tool-less design.
You don't need an Allen wrench or anything like that. Instead, just loosen or tighten the knobs as needed.
Frankly, we thought it was a bit weird. SAS doesn't include any accessories or even a finger tab with the Spirit, yet they include bushings that let you attach aftermarket accessories like stabilizers and bow sights. This is definitely an advantage, and you should consider finding these accessories to improve your shooting experience.
At just 1.8 pounds, the SAS Spirit is one of the lightest takedown recurve bows we've seen. As a result, it's an excellent bow for beginners and people wanting to learn accuracy and form. Since it isn't heavy, you can hold it up longer while you make sure you're in the right stance, and it minimizes the strain on your shoulder so you can get used to long practices.
What We Don't Like
One of the reasons the Spirit is so inexpensive is because it comes unfinished. You don't have to finish it to shoot it, but we highly recommend it to protect the riser from the elements and increase the life of the bow, especially if you plan to use it outside.
The SAS Spirit is not an especially powerful bow with the highest available draw weight just 34 pounds. This is fine for beginners and even archers who are only interested in target shooting, but it's low if you're interested in hunting, particularly larger game like whitetail deer.
34 pounds of draw weight won't propel the arrow fast enough to give you much accuracy over a long range. Similarly, it decreases the chance that your shot will kill the animal, so it's less ethical.
No Reinforced Tips
SAS did not reinforce the limb tips on the Spirit. This means that high-quality strings like FastFlight strings with Flemish twists will damage the limbs. Instead, you should stick to Dacron strings such as the one that comes with the bow.
Not Appropriate for Tall Archers
Despite being 62 inches long, the Spirit is only appropriate for archers up to 5'10". Since more than a third of American men are taller than this as well as a small number of women, this excludes a lot of archers.
SAS Spirit Quality
The riser itself, made of wood, is decent quality. However, the issue is that it's unfinished. This exposes it to elements like water and humidity that could decrease its quality quickly unless you finish it yourself.
The lamination on the limbs is good and combines fiberglass and maple wood for consistent tension and flexibility. The tips aren't reinforced, though, which makes them susceptible to wear if you use high-quality bowstrings like FastFlight models.
Like other SAS bows, the grip on the Spirit is ergonomic and natural. It's easy to hold instinctively and improves your aim even if you don't have a lot of experience.
The Spirit's string is Dacron, a quality fiber commonly used for bowstrings because it resists stretch and therefore maintains consistent power over time. However, there are higher-quality materials such as FastFlight that you unfortunately can't use with the Spirit due to its lack of reinforced limb tips.
Is the SAS Spirit Good for Beginners?
The SAS Spirit is one of our favorite bows for beginners primarily because it's so affordable. You don't have to invest too much in case you want to upgrade to a more powerful bow in the future. Additionally, its smooth shot and tool-less takedown design are convenient for archers with little experience.
Is the SAS Spirit Good for Kids?
With an AMO length of 62 inches, this particular SAS Spirit is too big for children, but it might be a good choice for teenagers who are interested in archery. Just keep in mind that if they're more than a couple inches shorter than 5'10", they likely won't be getting the full power from the rated draw weight. Southland Archery Supply does make a Spirit Recurve Bow For Kids. It is the same as this bow, but in a 54" version.
Is the SAS Spirit Good for Hunting?
The SAS Spirit is not an appropriate bow for hunting whitetail deer, wild turkey or big game, but it may work for small game like squirrels and rabbits. The most powerful draw weight you can get for the Spirit is 34 pounds which isn't enough to legally hunt deer in many states and generally unethical to do so anyway unless you're especially skilled. If you're interested in hunting small game with it, make sure to check local laws for minimum draw weight and broadhead laws.
The SAS Spirit vs the Samick Sage
The Samick Sage is arguably the most famous takedown recurve bow on the market. Both are good models for beginners, but the Sage has higher available draw weights if you're interested in hunting. Meanwhile, the Spirit has a lower price tag if you're on a budget.
The SAS Spirit vs the Bear Grizzly
Though the SAS Spirit and the Bear Grizzly are both recurve bows, that's about as far as the similarities go. The Spirit is a takedown model with a low price tag that's ideal for new archers who want to practice and then upgrade later. The Bear Grizzly, on the other hand, is a quality bow with a lot of power and features that are geared towards serious bowhunting.
The SAS Spirit vs the SAS Courage
Both made by SAS, the Spirit and Courage are similarly designed takedown recurve bows that are affordable. However, the Courage is our budget recommendation if you want to start bowhunting while the Spirit is an even less expensive option that's better for getting started on the range.
The SAS Spirit vs the Topoint Endeavor Takedown Recurve Bow
The SAS Spirit is our top choice for archers on a budget, but we suggest the Topoint Endeavor Takedown Recurve if you're interested in competitive Olympic target shooting. The Topoint Endeavor model has a little more power and an aluminum design more appropriate for competition.
The SAS Spirit vs the PSE Razorback
Both the SAS Spirit and PSE Razorback are good choices for getting started with target shooting. However, the PSE Razorback is a bit more expensive and a bit higher-quality. If you're really on a budget and feel like you'll probably upgrade later, go for the Spirit.
Wrapping Up the SAS Spirit Bow Review
If you're looking to get into archery but don't want to spend too much on your first bow, few models are more affordable than the SAS Spirit. In addition to its budget price, it also has a smooth shot and tool-less takedown design that help beginners learn and practice.