Compound Bow - Buyers Guide

Compound bows are the bows of choice for hunters and hobbyists alike. Designed with cables and pulleys, they offer more ease of use, as well as more accuracy and speed then the standard bows of the past. Because compound bows are manufactured in many shapes and sizes, it is easy to find the right bow for your needs. Just consider the following hints and tips when shopping for a compound bow.

Understanding Speed

Speed is often considered one of the major selling points for major bow manufacturers. Honestly, speed does matter and is an important element to consider, but faster does not not always mean better. Faster bows offer a more direct trajectory compared to slower bows which cause arrows to arch downward as they lose velocity. Having a straighter shot is more ideal, but faster bows are often more difficult to handle. The Archery Manufacturers Association tests bow speeds and assigns a speed measured in feet per second. Experts tend to agree that a moderate speed bow is ideal (235-245 fps). Speed is less important for the hobbyist who prefers target shooting or for the hunter shooting game from shorter distances.


The cam is the pulley mechanism on a compound bow that makes drawing the bow easier than with a standard long bow. These cam systems can be difficult to understand and maintain. A single cam bow is easier to use and tends to stay tuned longer, thus is more often recommended for beginners. Double cams require two pulleys to work in sync, requiring more skill to operate.

Draw Weight

The draw weight refers to the amount of force you will need to draw the bow back. The more force you use, the faster and stronger your arrow go. Lets be realistic though – if you have to struggle too much to draw back the bow and holding it steady is near impossible, then your shots will be inaccurate. Most adults can handle between 50 to 70 pounds of draw weight. To test your draw weight, draw the bow and hold for about 20 seconds. If you can hold the draw and can keep the bow from shaking, then you have found your draw weight.

Draw Length

Finding a bow that fits your draw length is important. If your arms are too short, you will not be able to maximize the speed and power of your bow. To determine your draw length, extend your arm in front of you. Have someone measure the length of your arm to your mouth. This is your draw length.

Bow Length and Bow Weight

The size of your bow often determines the accuracy and speed of your shots, but there are a few things to consider when choosing your bow. Heavier bows tend to be more stable and the more stable a bow, the more accurate the shot. Unfortunately, heavy bows are tedious to lug around. If you know you will not have to carry the bow far and if you will be shooting from a set location, then bigger bows will work fine. If, on the other hand, you plan to carry the bow while hiking, a medium sized bow may be a good compromise. Also, keep in mind that smaller bows – though light-weight and more maneuverable – are a lot less accurate. Smaller bows should be reserved for experts or, at least, those with more practice and experience.

All the Bells and Whistles

Bow manufacturers are continually coming out with the next best design technique or bow gadget to enhance the speed, effectiveness, and stability of their bows. Many bows today are equipped with silencers and vibration-destroying mechanisms or you can purchase them separately and install yourself. Whether you need these extras is really up to you and your needs based on how you plan on using your bow.

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