Choosing The Right Compound Bow

Facts about Compound Bows

The compound bow is a complex modern bow. The limbs are bent using a levering system of cables and pulleys. Holless Wilbur Allen, Jr.’s invention of the airbow was in the 1960s. On June 23, 1966, he filed for a patent and received one in December 1969. After that, he modified a regular recurve bow by removing the limbs’ tips and adding pulleys (cams) to the end of each limb. One or more cables are linked to the opposite limb of one or both cams. When the string is released, cams turn, limbs of a bow bend and provide energy to the bow. The cams are eccentric, acting as levers and allowing the archer to hold the bowstring at maximum draw without too much force. This is referred to as “let down.” It allows for more precise and less tiring aiming.

The riser is the central part of the compound bow, and it includes limbs, sights, stabilizers, and quivers. It’s also why it’s constructed of aluminum, magnesium alloy, or carbon fiber to keep its form as stable as possible. Limbs are built of composite materials because they must be flexible yet not break under the energy stored to shoot the arrow (speeds of arrows fired from compound bows can reach from 46 to 113m/s). Plastic-coated steel was used to make the bowstrings and cables of a compound bow for the first time. Today, high-modulus polyethylene is utilized and created to provide excellent tensile strength while minimizing expansibility to allow the bow to transfer all of its energy to the arrow without loss.

The arrows used for compound bows do not differ much from those used with other types of bows. They are made of carbon fiber, aluminum alloy, or a combination of these two materials. They only have different “spine.” The spine of the arrow reflects how stiff it is, and, for example, an arrow with a more spine bends less. The spine (of the arrow) is reduced in a compound bow when compared to a recurve bow because the compound bow accelerates an arrow more gently and linearly. Wooden arrows are avoided because a compound is too powerful for them. This can break them and injure the archer as well.

The benefits of a compound bow include the fact that it stores more energy and shoots faster than other bows of the same size. The acceleration of the arrow can be controlled by the cam’s design and creating different bows for different archers; The way it works, it can be designed with horizontal limbs that reduce recoil and vibration and make the bow more accurate. The temperature and humidity levels do not affect its performance. It is accurate at all times. This bow is typically used by archers who utilize a mechanical release aid to hold and then let go of the string to ensure more consistent releases. They also use a sighting system, consisting of a back sight and a front sight, to help them aim.

There are certain disadvantages to using a compound bow. It’s a fairly complicated design with a lot of moving parts. They require more extra maintenance than other bows and create more points where a compound bow can break. When a bow is fired without the arrow (dry fire or dry loosing), it can be damaged even if only a single dry fire has been done, and warranties do not cover this damage. A special tool (bow press) that can only be found in archery pro shops is required to replace the bow string or cable. It is easier for the archer to twist the bow around the vertical axis and make left-right errors because the bow is so light.


CompoundBOWimages 1024x1024pxCAM SYSTEM

[Updated on 1 August 2021] There are a number of compound bow cam systems (eccentrics) available in the market and innovation in the technology has more coming out every year. Common configurations are single, dual, hybrid and binary. Each cam configuration with advantage and trade-offs as well.

CompoundBOW parts 919x1200pxOVERALL WEIGHT

Heavier bows are more stable than lighter bows and are much easier to shoot accurately. Too light of a bow is likely to veer off your target every time you draw.


More weight makes faster arrow speed, better trajectory, and more energy. But more weight also becomes harder to draw especially in an awkward position. If target shooting, this is not as big of a concern, but if you are hunting and need to quickly draw your bow, you may not have an accurate shot.

BraceHeight 600x600pxBRACE HEIGHT

A bow with a shorter brace height makes an arrow fly faster out of the bow, but it also makes the bow less forgiving and magnifies archer mistakes during draw and release.


Axle2AxleLength 600x600px

Longer bows are more accurate. Longer bows are easier to hold it steady at full draw towards a target. A2A  length greatly affects the let off of the bow as well as it’s the size.


A draw length differs from archer to archer. To determine your ideal draw length.

  1. Spread your arms wide apart and measure your middle finger from tip to tip.
  2. Take note your arm span and divide the number by 2.5.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Do compound bows need to be unstrung after each use?

A compound bow always remains strung, so the shape of a strung compound must be accommodated in your bow case. On the other hand, takedown recurve bows must be unstrung after each archery shooting session. Extreme temperatures and persistent dampness can permanently damage bow limbs.

What does the cable guard do on a compound bow?

A cable guard, or roller guard, is used to keep the cables out of the arrow’s path and the archer’s arm. When the bow is drawn, the arrow forces a gap between the two cables. The cable guard pulls the wires to the side to allow room for the arrow.

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  1. Ching Spinks Reply

    I am looking to buy a compound bow. I was wondering what brands to look at and what price range I should look into.

  2. BossTargets Reply

    The best value compound bow is one that suits the archer and his or her needs. After the basics are covered, you should look at each bow’s unique features and decide which one is better suited for your needs. For example, one bow might contain a regular sight where another offers a red dot sight which may help you for dim light applications.

  3. When I first came into archery, I hadn’t a clue about anything. All I know was that I needed my own compound bow (because the local archery range didn’t have any to rent out and that I knew that I had to set it up to suit just me personally)… so naturally I gravitated towards the definition of ‘sexy’ at the time – full camo hunting bows.

    Had no idea what axle length, brace height, cam type etc would suit me. All I knew was that the draw length & draw weight had to have a huge range of adjustability so that I was almost guaranteed to be able to shoot it somehow. Turned out it was a good bet!

    So I got a cheap Chinese one, the most decent one for what little money I was willing to throw at it. And only in the months of actually shooting the bow (lots of coaching & shooting) could I finally relate to all the info being presented here.

    Not before.

    I outgrew the bow towards the end of the year. But by then that cheap bow had taught me enough, not just merely in theory but in practical terms, to know exactly what specs I need to look for in my next one.

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