Last Updated on
Looking For The Best Compound Bows? Find Out Below Which is Right For You…
Compound bows are a fun and exiting type of bow to shoot, whether you have previous experience with other bows such as Recurve or if you just want to get straight into compounds. The point of this guide is to help you learn as much as possible about compound bows.
The goal is that after reading this, you will understand exactly what this bow type is and what the different parts are such as the cams. There is also some advice on how to actually shoot a compound bow as it is a little different to other bows.
If you know that compound bows are for you, there is some tips on how to actually choose the right compound bow for your goals. Not all compounds are the same and some are more suitable for hunting than they are for target archery.
Right, after that into….Let’s get into the guide!
The Best Compound Bows 2018
There are many compound bows available and below you will find more information on what to look for in a decent bow. If you just want to find the most recommended, the table below will help show that.
You can find more detailed overviews of them further down this guide.
|Bear Archery Cruzer G2|
|Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro|
|PSE Brute Force|
|RAPTOR Compound Bow|
|Bear Archery Species|
|PSE Ready To Shoot|
|Genesis Original Kit|
What is a Compound Bow?
When I first saw a compound bow, I thought it was something very futuristic and thought they looked amazing! The are very similar to recurve bows, however they use cables and pulleys to help bend the limbs and generate the kinetic energy to shoot the arrow at your target.
Compound bows are fairly new when comparing them to other types of bows, they were first developed in 1966.
Many people enjoy using Compound Bows because of the mechanical advantages they provide. The limbs are more energy efficient on a compound bow as they are more rigid. This increased rigidity helps to make them more accurate than recurve bows and long bows, making it easier for you to hit your target.
When researching compound bows you will no doubt come across the term “let-off”, this is one of the benefits to using a compound. When you draw a recurve bow, the draw weight increases as you pull the string back. Your strength levels determines how much draw weight you can handle, the higher the draw weight generally speaking the faster the shot. High draw weight often results in it being harder to hold the bow and aim (as it’s heavier).
With a compound, when you draw the bow you initial feel that same draw weight. Once you draw it to a certain point, the weight decreases and this is the let off. This allows you to hold the bow drawn without the weight, which allows you to aim with the string drawn – helping you hit your target. This is one of the reasons why compound bows are often the chosen bow for hunting, as you can keep the bow drawn whilst looking for the target.
Parts of a Compound Bow
A compound bow does share some similar parts to that of a recurve bow, although it does have a lot more parts that move. When I first saw a compound bow, I was initially intimidated and thought they were more for advanced archers. This could not be further from the truth, they are ideal for archers of any level. Here you can see a breakdown of the different parts of a compound bow, which should help clear away any confusion and break away the intimidation.
Like other bows the riser is in the center of the bow and is where you hold it via the grip. It is used to connect the limbs but also allows you to attach additional accessories such as sights, stabilizers and arrow rest. Most compound bow risers are made from aluminum as it is a low weight metal. The more expensive ones are also made from carbon fiber, as this makes them even lighter.
The grip can be found on the riser and is where you will hold the bow. They are designed to fit the hand and therefore are not hard to find, many hunting compound bows use a slight cushioned grip as you will often have to hold the bow for some time.
Many compounds allow the use of universal grips, which means you can use one that is manufactured by someone else if you feel it is more comfortable. This is perfect as once you get better, you will want to find a grip that is ideal for you and your hand size.
You will find the limbs attached to the riser, there is one either side. These are made from planks of fiberglass that are flexible, they bend when you pull the bowstring. The limbs are essential as they generate the kinetic energy needed to shoot the arrows.
The limbs on compound bows come in two different styles, the typical D shaped limbs and then the parallel limbs. This is when the limbs are directly opposite each other and is often on most compound bows used for hunting. These are used as they are quieter than the D shaped compound bows, which is essential when hunting.
Quick tip, if your compound bow doesn’t have cams…you don’t have a compound bow ;). It is the cams that make it a compound. These are disks that can be found at the end of the limbs. As mentioned above, it is the cams that help to draw the bow and once you have it the let off, it becomes easier to pull main and hold the bow with the string drawn.
There are 4 types of cam systems and these determine how the cam wheels work together. The different systems are single cam, hybrid cam, binary cams and finally two cams. The most popular type of cam system and one that you will tend to find on beginner compound bows is the single cam.
They are often a lot quieter than other cam systems and are also much easier to look after. Id certainly recommend going for a single cam system.
Imagine trying to shoot an arrow without the bowstring, they won’t get very far that’s for sure. The bowstring is what you pull back to actually shoot the arrows.
The cables are connected to the two cams and move when you pull back the bowstring. They are essential to any compound bow and never actually touch the arrow.
The cable guard might not look much but its very important. Made from fiberglass it is there to keep the cables out of the way of your line of fire.
The Cable slide also works to make sure the cables are not in the way of the arrow, it is a movable slide.
The arrow rest is where the arrow is resting before you take your shot. The most common arrow rest is the containment rest and this is what you will normally find on a beginners compound bow. It completely covers the arrow which helps keep it in place and allows you to target better.
If you are new then i’d recommend getting this type of arrow rest. Others do include Drop away, the shoot-thru and the pressure.
The shelf is like the arrow rest and is found just above the grip, it is where you can rest the arrow. Compound bow uses will normally add an arrow rest, as it does allow for more stability of the arrow whilst aiming at your target.
The peep sight works with the main sight of the compound bow. It is a tube and when you draw the bow you will use it to aim at your target. You use the peep sight to sight onto the pins from the main sight.
If you have ever used a gun then aiming a compound bow will come naturally as it uses the same kind of sight. The actual sight for a compound bow is attached to the riser and the most common type is known as the fixed pin and has 3 pins. These can be set to specific distances, which allows you to aim with a specific pin, depending on the distance you are shooting.
This method is great for beginners as it makes it very easy for you to get accurate shots. It is however worth spending sometime trying to learn your distances, eventually with practice you will be able to tell an object that is 10 yards away or 30 yards.
There are other sight types on the market such as movable pins, pendulum pins and these have just the one pin. I would personally stick with the fixed pin sight.
The stabilizer is a rod that can be purchased separately and is attached to the front of the bow. The idea of it is to help stabilize the bow so you can aim better. Some people love them whereas others don’t really like them or feel any benefit. I personally don’t use them, id recommend getting used to your compound bow and then trying one out. It’s not something you initially need to worry about.
Have you ever seen a archer shooting a compound bow but not actually be touching the string with their fingers? Wondered how the hell they are shooting it? They will be using a mechanical release. You wear this on your hand and then clip it to the bowstring. You pull back and when ready to fire you pull the trigger and this releases the clip and shoots the arrow. Again I personally like the feel of pulling the drawstring back with my fingers, it is however a personal choice.
How To Shoot A Compound Bow
A common question I get via email is people asking how to shoot a compound bow, this section of the guide will teach you just that. Mastering the compound does take time and a whole lot of practice. Follow the below 6 steps and with your compound bow in hand and soon you will not only be able to fire the arrow but hit your target!
Step One: The Mechanical Release
If you are using a mechanical release then you need to attach this first. There are some very good reasons why you would want to use one, such as not releasing the arrow by accident. It can be really handy to keep the bow drawn if you are following a moving target, if you have pulled back with your fingers then they can become sore.
Attach the release to your hand, this will go on your dominant hand or the one that is going to draw the bow. It is often attached via Velcro straps. Connect the loop of the bowstring to the clamp of the release and you are good to go.
Step Two: Nocking The Arrow
Nocking the arrow correctly is important as they could go off target, it is however very simple to do. First of all if you are just using the shelf then the arrow will rest on that, however I would recommend using a arrow rest. As mentioned above the best type would be the containment arrow rest. Slide the arrow through this until it is in place.
On the arrow there are 3 vain’s, make sure the one on its own is facing upwards and connect the nock to the bowstring in the center of the string loop. You will know it has fastened properly as you should hear a click.
Step Three: Stance & Holding Your Bow
It’s important to get your stance right, as this is essential when firing the bow and hitting your target. Even if you are doing bow hunting, you are still going to want to master the stance. A good archery stance will help ensure you get the right amount of draw and aim the bow effectively.
The distance you stand from your target does depend on your sights, which ill explain in step 5. You want to stand side onto your target with your head facing the direction you want the arrow to go. It’s important to make sure you do not twist as this will cause the arrow to go off course.
Your weaker hand will be used to grip the bow, as your dominant hand is used to draw the bowstring. Lift your bow up to shoulder height and make sure that your arm is completely straight. The hand holding the bow at the grip is simply there to hold the weight but make sure you do not grip the bow to hard, your hand should be relaxed.
Step Four: The Draw – Reaching The Let Off
When you are ready to draw the compound bow, you need to clip the mechanical release onto the string loop. The draw might seem easy as you may think it’s simply pulling the bowstring back and this is true to some degree. Having good draw form will help to make sure you hit your target more often with decent speed, as well as help to preserve energy and stamina.
You will find when you pull the drawstring back, the main muscles being worked are the shoulder and upper back. Pull back in one fluid movement making sure you do not twist as this can cause injury.
Unlike when using a recurve, once you draw the bow a certain amount the let off happens. This is when the pressure/weight is managed by the cams and you are able to hold the bow at full draw, but it only be a fraction of the weight. The nock should find its way to the corner of your mouth, which is known as the anchor point.
Step Five: Aiming At Your Target
One of the best things about compound archery is the fact that the let off, allows you to keep the bow drawn with less weight so you can aim better. This is important as aiming is probably one of the hardest things to master, but with time and practice anyone can do it!
As mentioned above there are two sights on a compound bow, the peep sight and the sight. The peep sight is on the bowstring and helps to focus your eye line through to the sight. The sight is a series of pins that can be set to different distances, 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. These pins will move down depending on the distance, the top pin is normally always 20 yards. The others need to be checked before assuming they are the distances you are attempting to shoot.
You should look through the peep sight and the pin should line up with the target. If the target is 20 yards away then you would line it up with the top pin, if its 50 yards away then you line it up with the lower pin. (as long as we have checked that these correlate with the distances)
Aim by using your dominant eye, keeping your weaker eye closed…take a couple of seconds to make sure you are on target and then it’s time to fire….
Step Six: FIRE!
Take a breath and pull the trigger on your release to let the arrow fly through the sky and hopefully it the target! If you are not using a release then simply move your fingers to release the bowstring.
It’s important that you do not move after you have shot as a slight movement could cause the arrow to go off course slightly. Hold the position until the arrow has hit the intended target.
Now even if you have hit the target or not…you will be hooked onto compound archery! Knowing the different parts that make up a compound will help you make sure you buy the best compound bow for you.
What To Look For When Buying A Compound Bow?
There are so many different compound bows available but not all of them are going to be suitable for you. Below are different things that you will want to consider when finding your perfect bow.
The Purpose Of The Compound Bow
The first thing to think about is what you are actually going to be using the bow for, this will help to narrow down different ones. As an example the compound bow you use for target archery would potentially be very different to one you use for hunting.
By knowing how you plan to use it, you can make sure you buy the best compound bow for your goals.
Your skill level would impact on the bow you get, if you are a beginner then you are not going to want to get a bow that is aimed at more advanced archers. The other way round if you are experienced or have the strength.
If you are looking to go bow hunting with your compound, you need to make sure it’s not too light in weight. This will result in you not being able to humanely hunt your prey. Its also very important to make sure the bow doesn’t make too much noise, as this will make hunting very hard.
Bowfishing has become very popular with compound archers, but you need to make sure it has the power to go through the water but not too much that it prevents you from getting the fish and arrow back!
Your budget will play an important role in your buying decision. One of the great things about compound bows is that there are options for people with a variety of budgets. Unlike recurve bows, it is harder to find a compound for less than $150. This is understandable because of the more features a these bows do have. You can get an okay bow for $200+, although naturally options will be limited. You might also find you will need to upgrade sooner or later.
If your budget can stretch you to mid range then you would probably expect to spend around $350-$450. You will find that you have plenty of choices of compound bows to buy, allowing you to find one that is ideal for you and your requirements.
You could spend around $750 for the top range bows, these do tend to be of high quality and something you will be able to use for years. I would only consider spending this amount of money if you do have a lot of experience. If you are new then i’d’ be tempted to go more mid range, as you will potentially save money in the long run by not needing to upgrade if you got a cheaper bow first. If you are a beginner then I would recommend sticking to the low to mid ranged prices.
Which Hand Are You?
Should you get a left handed or right handed compound bow, this would depend on your eye dominance as well as your own personal preference. It can be confusing but the hand you hold the bow is not actually your strongest hand. If you are right handed then you will be using your right hand to pull the string back, as this is typically where the strength is needed.
Left handed compound bows are not as common as right handed, therefore you might find your options are a little more limited if you do need one. (This is just something to bear in mind)
Let Off %
When using a recurve bow, when you draw the bow you need to hold the string and overtime this can become harder and harder due to the increased weight. The let off on a compound bow is the point when you have pulled it back a certain percentage, the weight on the string decreases so you can hold it drawn.
This is essential when hunting as you might need to keep the bow drawn, helping to target and aim more effectively. Even if you are not into hunting, this can still be very useful when doing target archery or field archery. More often than not the percentage is around 60% – 75%.
Eccentric Systems (Cams)
Eccentric system is a mechanical system that these bows are designed on. It works by uses the string combined with cables and harnesses. The cams come in a different range of styles and it is these that help to control the let off, the draw and even the speed of the arrow when shot.
Originally the compound bow used a two cam system but it had some flaws in the fact that it causes the arrow tail to go high or low. You would not normally find two cam systems anymore and therefore you would want to avoid them.
The 3 cam systems are;
- Single Cam
- Hybrid Bows
- Binary Bows
The single cam uses a cam on the bottle and idler wheel on the top. These are used as the cable can be stretched but still has great accuracy, although they don’t work well on all draw lengths so this could limit you. Hybrid bows are very much like single cam but it does use two cams that are combined.
Binary bows are the most popular system as it uses cams on the top and the bottom of the bow, this means that you get great accuracy and power.
If you are hunting you will no doubt want your arrows to shoot quickly, this is more important when hunting than during target archery (as the target is not moving!) The shorter the brace height, the quicker the arrow will tend to shoot. To measure the brace height is the distance from the string of the bow to the back of the handle.
The draw length is the distance that the string is drawn back. With compound bows you do need to full draw them and this is more important than on a recurve bow. You therefore need to make sure you get it just right. The benefit though with compounds is that you can mechanically adjust them, which is why they tend to have a min and max draw length.
To find your draw length put your arms out and measure the span from one fingertip to the other and then device this by 2.5. Its also worth noting that the lower the draw length, the slower the arrow will be shot.
You also need to look at the draw weight and make sure that it is one that you can manage, usually a child would have around 15lbs, where as the average adult would be 40-55 lbs. If hunting is your goal then you would want to be able to manage a draw weight of 40lbs.
The draw weight can also be adjusted with a compound bow, you just need to make sure you do draw the bow fully.
Styles Of Riser
You want to be able to keep the bow as light as possible, which is even more important when hunting. Most are made from Aluminum as this is light, if you want it even lighter then you might want fiberglass or carbon fibre. This is then used to attach any accessories needed, IE Sights, arrow rests etc
The Archery Guides – Which Are The Best Compound Bows?
Below are more in-depth overviews of the best compound bows, you will be able to find some basic information, pros & cons and then ratings of each one. Hopefully this will help you see which one is best for you and your needs.
1. Bear Archery Cruzer – Great all round compound bow
If you are looking for the best compound bow to grow into or to take hunting, the Bear Archery Cruzer is just what you are looking for. It has been specifically designed to be usable by people of any size and as it can be adjusted it can be used by beginners and adjust to match size/skill level.
The draw weight ranges from 5 lbs to 70bs, so ideal for young archers as well as adult archers. This compound bow is also fairly fast with a IBO speed of 310 FPS. It is also very forgiving so much easier to aim than some compound bows.
This compound bow is lightweight and makes an excellent bow for hunting. The arrow rest and aim is probably one of the best on the market for hunting.
Prices naturally change all the time but this bow falls within the mid range price bracket BUT the bow is excellent value for money. You could spend less and have to upgrade sooner or later, or you could spend that little bit more and get a compound bow that will last you for years and years!
- Perfect all rounder compound bow
- Suitable for all sizes/shapes
- Ideal for young archers as well as adults
- Great range of draw weights
- Excellent value for money
- Great for bow hunting
- Potentially a little short for target archery
- Little slow for some archers
2. Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro
The Infinite Edge Pro from Diamond Archery is a compound bow that is said to be ideal for all ages, genders and skill levels. The draw weight starts at 5lbs so is suitable for a child/youth, yet goes all the way to 70 lbs. With an impressive let off, it can be help at full draw comfortably.
A lot of people do recommend this bow for hunting but it is also suited to target archery and bowfishing. One of the things I really like is the Infinity setting, this means multiple people can shoot it without spending a while setting it up for individual use. Making it a perfect compound bow for groups such as training courses, schools or use in activity centers.
Another thing that makes the Infinite Edge Pro so good is the price, it’s very reasonable for an entry level compound. This one is actually pretty incredible when you compare it to others in the same price range.
- Very Good Price
- Suitable For All Ages
- Ideal For All Skill Levels
- Great Beginner Compound Bow
- Some of the accessories could be better
3. PSE Brute Force
PSE is one of the most well-known US companies for manufacturing Compound Bows, the Brute Force is recommended by many people. One of the fastest in my list and even though you could get faster, you would be paying a lot more money for them.
The price of the Brute Force is very reasonable, you can get it as either a barebow or as a ready to shoot package. There are two things I specifically like about this bow, the first being the draw. It has a draw weight of 70lbs but is incredibly smooth. When compared to other compounds, it also has a very high let off.
Another reason why the PSE Brute Force is so popular is due to the accuracy. You are also able to adjust the settings, resulting in it being suitable for beginners and more advanced users.
- Good Value For Money
- Smooth Draw
- Adjustable Draw Weight
- Different Packages Available
- Axle to Axle a Little Small For Some
4. RAPTOR Compound Bow – Great Value
The RAPTOR from Predator Archery is perfect for those looking for a low cost compound bow. This bow has helped more people get into compound shooting because of the price point, yet still offering a quality bow. Ideal for beginners that are looking for a bow to help with hunting or target practice.
The draw weight ranges from 30 – 70 lbs, its low weight and can offer some decent shooting speeds. The bow itself is made from high quality materials, although does require some initial setup that some may find hard.
All in all this is a great bow at a very good price for ant beginner looking to get a decent compound bow. Just looking at the reviews on Amazon, shows just how good this bow actually is.
- Great Value for money
- Made from quality materials
- Draw weight from 30-70 lbs
- Good for target archery & hunting
- Requires some initial setup/tuning
5. Bear Archery Species
Bear Archery are well-known for producing some excellent bows and the Species is just that. This compound is mainly a hunter bow and is advertised as RTH (Ready To Hunt), meaning it comes with everything needed to get out and hunt.
It has been specifically built to be friendly to beginners, therefore it’s not complicated to set up like some more expensive alternatives. Whether you are a novice hunter or experienced, this is a great piece of equipment.
In terms of specs, the draw weight can be adjusted from 55-70 lbs, with an impressive 80% let off. Price wise, you can generally find a good deal on Amazon or other online outlets.
- Package Comes With Everything Needed
- Ideal Compound For Those Starting Out
- High Let Off %
- Simple Set Up
- Reasonable Price
- Accessories Will Want Upgrading In The Future
- Cable Slide Not As Good As Rest Of The Kit
6. PSE Ready To Shoot – Perfect For Growing Archers
PSE made incredible compound bows, in fact I would go to say they are one of my favourite manufactures. If you are new to compound bows then you cannot go wrong with the PSE Ready To Shoot. Great for archers that are growing in skill as you can purchase the bow at a range of different draw weights from 29-60lbs.
To help with getting started it comes with a number of decent accessories, which include rest and peep sight. It is a very light weight bow, again ideal for those just getting used to compound archery.
It does have a max draw weight of 60lb’s so perhaps not the best as many do prefer 70. It’s important to remember if you are looking for a compound bow to grow into and learn with, this one is more than enough for you.
Price wise, it’s not bad. Not the cheapest but again it’s better quality. At the same time it’s not the most expensive and probably falls in the mid range price bracket. The PSE Ready To Shoot will however lats you some time and is therefore a good investment.
- Includes accessories
- Good Value for money
- Great bow to grow with
- Only goes up to draw weight of 60
7. SAS Rage 70 lbs 30” Compound Bow – Cheap Hunting Compound Bow
Just getting into bow hunting or using a compound bow? The SAS Rage might be what you are looking for. This package will normally give you everything you need if getting starter and is ideal for both adults and teens.
In terms of draw weight it offs from between 55-70 lbs and actually helps give a pretty accurate shot. It gives an okay speed of 270, which you would expect with this kind of price range. The draw back of getting a cheaper bow is that the strings can tend to fall a part quicker and require more maintenance.
- Draw weight & length adjustable
- Cheap compound bow
- Good for those getting into hunting
- Starter compound bow for adults and young teens
- Strings cheaper so fall apart quicker
- Requires a lot of maintenance
8. SAS Scorpii
If you are looking for a well made entry level compound then the SAS Scorpii is a great choice. One of the great aspects to this bow is the size, some prefer bigger ones but due to it small size it can also be used by teens and women.
Again due to the size of this bow, it is really easy to hold whilst looking for your target. The accuracy on this bow is also excellent! There are a couple of drawbacks such as the let off being the lowest in the list and the speed not being very high.
The price however is low when you compare it with others and do be honest the overall performance is excellent. If you are experienced then you might want to look at another of the best compound bows on this list, if you are new then this would be a good purchase.
- Very Affordable
- Compact Bow
- Excellent Accuracy
- Overall Good Performance
- Low Speed
- Requires Replacement Add-ons in the future
9. Genesis Original Kit – Great Beginner Compound Bow
If you are looking for a all round beginner compound bow the Genesis Original is what you are looking for. Interestingly Genesis does mean beginning so the name does fit the bow. It is said to be fairly universal and is therefore ideal for children and smaller adults that are wanting a taste of the compound bow. It is actually the bow used by the National Archery in Schools program, which helps to reassure people that it is a great bow to start with. The draw weight is between 5-20 lbs but will have the same power as a 35lb bow.
It requires very little maintenance and tuning, and uses a single cam so tends to provide a very accurate shot. If you are looking to get into bow hunting, this would NOT be the best bow for you. It would not have the power to be able to kill your target humanely, it is more for target archery.
The bow itself is however very quiet and I personally think it looks pretty decent. Value wise it’s actually fairly low cost and good value for money
- Ideal Starter Compound Bow
- Low price – great value
- Perfect for smaller framed archer
- Easy to shoot
- Quiet Bow
- Not suitable for larger framed people
Common Compound Bow Questions
Below are some common questions that I receive about compounds. If you do have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
1 – What bow do you prefer?
I love all bows if I am honest but personally I prefer recurve bows. It does depend what I am doing though. If im just having a bit of fun or doing target archery then i’ll use a recurve. Although if I am out hunting then i’ll use a compound bow.
2 – What are the limbs made from?
The limbs are made from either fiberglass or carbon fiber, it does all depend on the manufacture. They are designed to be as lightweight as possible.
3 – What happens if I draw the bow without a arrow nocked?
You can draw the bow without causing it any damage, however you should never release the string with no arrow nocked. This is caused dry firing and can cause damage and often not covered by your manufacturer’s warranty
4 – Can I use a compound straight away or should I use a recurve bow first?
You should use whatever bow you want. A beginner compound bow is often more expensive than a beginner recurve bow but if you prefer to use a compound then go for it. The concept is exactly the same so there is no reason to use one before the other.
Adam has been enjoying the sport of archery since 2010, intially getting the bug for it whilst on holiday and trying it out in an activity center. Since his very first eperiance of holding a bow and arrow, he fell in love with it and can now be found at the range or in the great outdoors as often as possible.
His main go to bow type is a recurve but he loves shooting from compounds as well. Adam created The Archery Guide as a way to help others get into this great activity and to share his knowledge/experiences.