In the price range you are looking, I would strongly suggest that you look at a used bow. For $500 you can buy a 2-3 year old top-of-the-line bow from either Mathews or (I can't believe I'm going to say this) Bowtech. Those are the two companies to beat- they win the VAST majority of archery contests, with Mathews being the leader in wins for a number of years now. There is no reason you can't be accurate and successfull with the other major manufacturers, but you wil have an easier time of it with a Mathews or Bowtech and your bow will retain more value over time; so, when you go to sell it because you want to upgrade to a new bow, you will recoup more of your investment than you will with a PSE, Bear, etc. Plus, there's a REASON why the top-of-the-line Mathews and Bowtech bows are so expensive- they're worth it in terms of "forgiveness" (extremely helpful when you're new to archery), consistency, durability, etc. So, your $500 will go A LOT further when it's used to buy a used Mathews or Bowtech, in terms of the quality of the bow you get.
Most important- DO NOT buy a bow from a chain retailer like Cabelas, Sportsmans Warehouse, Bass Pro, Academy Sports, etc!!!!!!! They have such a high turnover rate that they rarely have a bow "tech" worth a damn! I could spend hours telling you HORROR stories about idiot things their techs have done that I see come in the Pro shops I hang out and shoot at. Find a good, privately owned "Pro shop" in your area and spend a little extra for your bow accessories and arrows with them in exchange for their expertise working on your bow- you will get a properly tuned bow and ACCURATE information from them. Heck, you can't even get a "tech" at the chain stores to "paper tune" a bow. Most of the time they don't even know what that is. However, if you're going to shoot a arrow with a broadhead on it, you SHOULD have your bow paper tuned- you will be able to shoot more broadheads accurately with a paper tuned bow than with one that's not. Go to them and shoot some Mathews and Bowtech bows to get a feel for the difference between the brands (they have their own unique characteristics and 'feel') and once you select the one that suits you, start looking on Ebay and archery forums (i.e. TexasBowhunter.com
, and Lone Star Bowhunters Association
) for a 2-3 year old bow. You can find Mathews SwitchbackXT's for $500 these days and comparable Bowtech bows for the same price. These bows will be leaps and bounds better and easier than any bow you can buy brand new for $500. Your local pro shop can also be a great place to find a deal on a great used bow- there's always SOMEONE they're trying to sell a new bow to that needs to get rid of his old bow first! Tell the guys at the pro shop you're in the market for a used Mathews or Bowtech and you may be surprised at the deal you find.
Make SURE you have a good Pro shop verify your draw length! I've seen a lot of people who go to places like Cabelas shooting bows that are too long or too short (in terms of draw length) for them. You will never reach your accuracy potential with a bow that doesn't have the right draw length for you. Don't trust ANYONE to tell you your draw length except a Pro shop that had you ACTUALLY pull back a bow and arrow specifically set up to measure draw length! The arrow will have graduated marks on it so that they can read your draw length when you are at full draw.
I hope this helps. if you have any questions or I can help you out at all, please email me. Best of luck to you!