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How to Choose a Compound Bow & Buying Guide

Compound Bow Buying Guide. This is a step-by-step guide on how you can buy a perfect compound bow. It would be wise if you pay attention to every detail, putting as many factors as you can into consideration to enable you buy a bow you’d love for life!

This article would focus primarily on those would are looking to buy a compound bow for hunting purposes. It would also apply to those who are buying compound bow for competition purpose or to achieve target shooting. Several options will be explored in this article that should cover both as much as possible.

Now below are some factors to consider as you go shopping for compound bows:

Types of Compound Bows

Types of Compound BowsFeaturesThe GoodThe Bad
Binary CamsThe binary cams were introduced in 2005 as a novel concept, by Bowtech Archery. It is an innovative 3-groove twin-cam design. This cam system slaves the bottom and top cams to each other, and not to the limbs of the bow.- Level nock travel
- Extremely high velocity
- Extremely complicated design, leading to regular tuning and maintenance.
Twin CamsTwin cams simply means the compound bow is integrated with two cams that could be elliptical or circular, on both ends of the bow.- Great accuracy
- High velocity
- Level knock travel
- Completely complex concept, which translates to repeated tweaking and maintenance.
Hybrid CamsThe compound bows with hybrid cams have evolved to become quite popular and widely sought-after in the past few years. Hybrid cams come with double or twin asymmetrically elliptical cams. On its top is a control cam, while on the bottom is a power cam.- Tuning is easy
- Minimal maintenance is required
- Reduced or minimal nock travel
Single CamSingle cam compound bows are also known as One Cam or Solocam. On the top of this compound bow design is a circular idler wheel, while the bottom features a power cam that is elliptical in shape.- User friendly
- Noiseless
- Compared to other designs, the Single Cam is more difficult to tune or tweak.
Cam Types Explained

Cam Types Explained

Technical Considerations for Choosing a Compound Bow

Now, when it comes to choosing a compound bow that is best for you, there are also some technical considerations you need to put in view such as the following;

Axle Length: This refers to the entire length of your compound archery bow. For shorter bows, maneuvering is easier. However, it is harder to shoot with short-length bows, requiring the user to put in more practice in order to master shooting. Short bows tend to be more popular among archers who shoot from tree stands.

compound bow illustration

Compound Bow Illustration

On the contrary, if you are just getting started with bow shooting, the bows with longer axle lengths are the most suitable for you, they are also more forgiving in design.

Draw Weight: The draw weight of a compound bow is expressed in Ibs (pounds). It simply refers to the extent of effort or work an archer needs in order to achieve full draw with his or her bow. The best bait is to go for an archery bow that you can pull back without pressure, and in a smooth and slow manner.

Body TypeSuggested Draw Weight
Small child (40 to 70 lbs.)10-15 lbs.
Child (70 to 100 lbs.)15-20 lbs.
Women and large-framed boys (100 to 140 lbs.)30-40 lbs.
Women with a larger frame & youth boys (140 to 160 lbs.)40-50 lbs.
The majority of males (160 to 190 lbs.)55-65 lbs.
Larger males (190+ lbs.)60-70 lbs.

To make it more practical for instance, if your compound archery tool has 50 Ibs draw weight or more, it is sufficiently weighty to hunt down a whitetail (if your plan is to hunt for games with your bow).

Brace Height: The brace height of a bow is nothing but the distance between the bow string and the grip at rest. If you want faster bows, then go for the ones with lower brace height; however, bear in mind that they are less forgiving, plus shooting is more difficult.

On the other hand, bow with higher brace height offers more forgiving feature, but performs slower. It is best to experiment with different brace heights to determine what works best for you. Averagely, a lot of compound bows come with 7 inches brace height.

How to choose a compound bow on the market

How to choose a compound bow on the market

Draw Length: This refers to the distance from a bow’s grip to its bowstring at full draw. Innovative bows usually come with adjustable features, including the draw length. So, you can get the length of your bow adjusted in a local archery shop to suit your shooting need.

However, if you decide to go for a compound bow that doesn’t enable adjustment, it is better to choose the one with less draw length, as ‘more’ or additional draw length would mean increased negative impact in terms of accuracy and speed.

Overall Bow Weight: This is an essential consideration if your target is to employ your bow for hunting. Bows with light weight will promote ease in lugging around your hunting area or in the woods.

However, get ready to endure the noise since lighter-weight bows produce more vibration. On the contrary, bows with heavier weights are burdensome to carry around while hunting in the woods. However, they are usually quieter since they vibrate less.

What’s Your Price Range?

The prices of compound bows vary, just like any other sport equipment. You will find bows that go for as low as $50 and as high as $1500. Your budget would determine what you get.

A good quality compound bow targeted at beginners and middle-range starters would cost around $350-$550. State-of-the-art bows would range between $600 and $1000 or above. If you are buying a bow for the first time, we would suggest you go for a complete bow setup that cost below $500.

And, the package would usually feature a bow, release, block target, arrows, as well adjustment features; unless of course you can afford something bigger.

Other Things to Look Out for

Since you now know where to get what you want, you need to know the things to look out for in an ideal compound bow. What do you want your bow to have? While there are lots of things to add to your bow, it would be good to focus on the most important, which are accuracy, possible power, and quietness. Also, you may consider camouflage feature as well.

You need a bow that suits you properly in terms of your shooting needs such as strength. This is what will make you maximize the kinetic energy that your arrow requires to produce the desired force and effect.

While some people think energy is stored in the bow’s string, the truth is that the energy produced when you draw your bow is stored n the limbs. The string actually, is just an avenue of transmitting energy to your arrow from the limbs. If you transfer great energy to your arrow, it will become heavier, thereby imparting more kinetic energy onto your target. It’s that simple.

Get a befitting bow and play your own part in maximizing the energy deliverable. Draw weights that are heavier store higher energy and will lead to increased arrow weights and velocities. Go for a very high draw weight, which will at the same allow regular practice.

Accuracy

If you have a bow with all the power in the world but cannot aim accurately, it is just a waste of time. Great sights, ideal form, some quality arrow rests and a correctly set bow are some of the properties that depict accuracy.

Best Arrow Rest

While the others can be bought, a proper form is learned in time. Buy top grade three-pin sight (e.g. brands like Tru-Glo, Cobra, Apex, as well as Sword) and an innovative arrow rest (e.g. the Trophy Ridge). Then, get your local archery shop to set it up to meet your shooting needs.

Silence

Arrows do not fly in a fast manner. The fastest archery tool (bow) is much slower compared to a gun considered to be the slowest. Your quarry therefore may be able to hear the sound of your shooting prior to the arrow getting to them. If you intend to hunt therefore, ensure that your vibration reduction and sound inhibition are on point.

An animal’s reflex action as it looks up is sufficient to make you miss a shot, or make you achieve a wounding or a crippling hit. Buy a great stabilizer bar, limb dampeners and string silencers. You will find lots of them in the market and in different price ranges.

Camouflage

This is not so much of an issue as you can find wide range of varieties in the market, and will be able to choose 1-2 good ones that would match the bow of your choice.

Camouflage hunting

Your camo finish can be redone by hydrographing (sending it out for dipping). The game you intend to hunt and your environment will determine your choice of camo pattern. It is not quite a needful feature as a good number of bow shooters shoot without a camouflage.

Conclusion

Indeed, bow shooting can be a fun sport and hobby. However, your performance will largely depend on your choice of compound bow, which is why we have taken out time to provide this extensive and valuable guide on how to buy the right compound bow for you.

As long as you keep all of the considerations, features and factors pointed above in mind, you can be sure of landing the best compound bow that will promote overall optimum bow shooting performance.

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Justin Knox - February 10, 2016

Thank you for the guide. I am hoping to buy my first compound bow soon. I am leaning towards getting a hybrid cam bow since I have not used bows much in the past. It sounds like it is a little less tedious. Do you think that would be a good bow to start with?

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Cody - November 29, 2016

Good list of things to consider here. Very useful for a beginner. If you or anyone else is interested in learning more about how a compound bow works

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