I'm about 15 months into it.
First, I bought a ready-to-shoot bow at cabela's on clearance for like $279 while not really knowing anything about bows.
After playing with it for awhile and reading up on it I found out that it was actually a very highly recommended bow. I guess I scored on the bow in the same way I scored on the miata and my SV650. Had no clue getting in that I was doing pretty good.
As far as the actual bow, it doesn't really matter what you get. If you're buying new, don't worry about the weight - they're all light - and the ones that advertise as being the lightest probably are the lightest - and you're going to double the price.
Get something with a whisker biscuit arrow rest. Why? Regardless of what rest is on the bow, you're either going to replace it, or else you're not. Whiskers are plenty good for deer hunting, and if it doesn't matter what comes on the bow, (you'll either replace it or you wont, regardless) the best value is a bow with whiskers. Just know that you won't be hitting quarters at 30 yards with them - Maybe 50 cent pieces, but not quarters.
Split vs. Solid limbs. It doesn't matter.
"Limb Parallelism", It matters a little bit. The more parallel limbs tend to be less shocking to the hand. Important to consider if you want to shoot often. Less important if you're "going to shoot a dozen arrows to sight 'er in, and then go huntin'"
Dual Cam vs. Hybrid vs. Single Cam. It doesn't matter.
Sights on the bow. Don't try to get a bow with an awesome sight. Your decision to replace the sight or not will not be based on the sight on the bow, regardless of if it's a POS or a decent sight. Just the same as the arrow rest.
Bow string. This is one place where you should have a good idea before getting into it. If you buy the really expensive bows, they're going to have a pretty badass bowstring. If you buy the value bows, they're going to have value strings. If you never replace the sight or the rest, you'll probably also never care about the string. The significance of the string is stretch. A quality string will allow for minimal stretch over the useful life of the string. String stretch affects twist of the string which is important if you're using a sight peep without the deadly rubber hose. Strings that stretch tend to twist the peep over time, which is why the rubber hose thing exists. Strings that don't stretch do a much better job holding the alignment of eye-safe peeps like the G5 Meta. Remember, the peep tubing is stretched to its maximum pull when your eyeball is steady on the back end of it. Equate it to someone shooting a rubber band into your eye when their forward finger is resting 1/4" away from your eye.
Draw weight - get something with a minimum draw weight that you feel you could pull at least 20-30 times in succession. You can shoot a bow with a low draw weight all day, but the fun will quickly fade if you can only fire 5 or 6 arrows in a session. Your accuracy will also go in the ******* if you're pulling too heavy.
Draw length - find a guide and read it to determine your draw length. Try to get a bow that allows you to pull exactly that draw length - many are adjustable within a range.
Arrows - find arrows that look pretty and don't break the bank. You're just going to break and/or lose them.
Arrow heads - no use in getting anything other than field points unless you already know what you want to kill. I've found that cheap broadheads do great on backyard raccoons and groundhogs, while the small game tips with 4 claw looking wires do a fantastic job pinning squirrels to the fencepost.
Stabilizer - You'll either replace it or else you wont. Many bows won't actually have a stabilizer - they'll have only a rubber damper that looks like a stabilizer. Stabilizers add weight, which looks bad when you hit the "compare" button on your favorite website.
What did I do?
I bought a previous year's PSE Brute X, ready to shoot. Then shot it several hundred times into a bag target.
I first replaced the whisker biscuit with a QAD Ultra-Rest. HDX ULTRAREST? - Quality Archery Designs
Then I swapped the lame-o-cheap 3-pin sight with a Trophy Ridge REACT sight. You adjust 2 pins and the sight automatically adjusts the rest for you. Probably a little less accurate than a sight where you adjust all of the pins manually, but I ain't got time to be adjusting all of the pins manually. This one also has an assload of fiber for the sights, and a sight light for when it gets too dark to legally hunt. (Great for taking out raccoons tearing up the back yard) React | Bow Sight | Bow and Hunting Accessories | Trophy Ridge
Soon after replacing the sight, I decided to replace the peep with a quality peep Meta G5 - which meant I also replaced the string with a non-value string - I even picked my string colors. $10 for the peep, $80 for the string, a few $ for the serving which ties the peep to the string.
Once I had all of that on, I decided I needed to tune the bow. This took 2 weeks of frustration before I finally tore the new string off, retwisted it to the manufacturers specified length, raised my nock height by 3 billionths of an inch and finally nailed the paper-tune A perfect hole with 3 fins sticking out of it.
Last summer I added a 7" stabilizer which tightened my groups up by 50% or so at range.
Once I had the right length arrows, and they were flying straight, and not contacting the drop-away rest, I found that I was destroying arrows. Like a dumbass, I was shooting 6 at a time at the same target on my bag, and with tuned stuff, each successive arrow was tearing the fletchings off of the previous. I'm not sure it's possible to "robin hood", but I definitely was pulling bundles of arrows out of the same enlarged holes in my cloth bag target. Not bad. Now like a more smarterer guy, I select different target circles on my bag target when I'm practicing - unless I'm shooting at 60 yards.
Then I bought a fancy bow case. I didn't tell my wife how much it cost.
All this, and I still "missed" the first time I released on a deer. I didn't really "miss", so much as I "fucked up". I don't imagine many guys release their first game arrow on an 8-point whitetail. I was all nervous and ****, I picked the 30 yard sight pin when he was 15 out. He was quartering toward me, and he was looking at me. I nailed him in the shoulder blade. Several hours later, the dog tracked down the bloody broken arrow shaft 300 yards away. But the deer was probably just pissed off that he had a festering broadhead sticking out of his shoulder. We never found him, and I'll never do that again. This year, we're going to build a heated elevated deer stand with a barrel feeder on the property. Bows sure do get expensive.