Compound Bow: Everything You Need to Know

Compound Bow Guide

Compound bow design has improved over the years and increased the performance of the different practices. Some hunters even prefer compound bows instead of recurve bow models. And it arouses a lot of interest in the modernized generation.

Because of their complex structure, you might have a hard time finding the compound bow that reaches your needs. In this article, I’m going to cover a complete discussion about the compound bow, including the advantages and disadvantages of hunting with this type of bow.

I also indicate some key features that you will find in any design of the compound bow available on the market today. And provide a few technical features that should be considered when choosing your next bow.

Hope this complete guide will help you to prepare accordingly for your upcoming bowhunting expedition or target shooting competition.

What is a compound bow?

First and foremost, it is important to figure out what a compound bow is. You should know that a bow is a weapon that is made of wood or flexible materials and its main function is to throw arrows. Usually, the curved end is connected by a flexible and powerful rope to propel the projectile.

Unlike a traditional bow, it has particular functions according to the principle of leverage exerted on the two pulleys that are located at the ends of the branches of the bow.

A good compound bow uses an array of strings, and metal pulleys to control the limbs. Thanks to this mechanism, the hunter requires less effort to cock his bow compared to recurve bow.

Compound bows also deliver arrows faster than the recurve bow. By having a flatter temple, the precision of the shot is increased thanks to better stability. It also implies that the arrows hit their target with much more force. This means that the power of the bow allows you to shoot at longer distances.


Advantages of using a compound bow

There are many advantages to using a compound bow if you compare it with a crossbow or recurve bow. Its advanced design and constant evolution allow exceeding the capacities of other models.

The efficiency

A compound bow remarkably increases the effectiveness of the shooting. It has a cam system that makes it easier to tighten the rope while increasing the release force thanks to the pulleys.

The pulleys help the archer to cock easily with minimal effort and tension to perform a powerful shot. This impact also increases efficiency and projection distance. So with little effort, you can pull the rope as much as you want, without disturbing the result of tension.

The balanced

Compound bows are also equipped with an arrow rest which is great for balancing your arrow. They are also equipped with a release system to facilitate your shooting and offer a better shot on the target.

The stability

Whenever a bow is cocked, the ends are pulled together by themselves using the string. In a longbow or traditional bow, the limbs are stretched according to the stiffness of the string. This variation implies that compound bows have branches closer to the horizontal tangle.

The parallel arrangement of the limbs reduces the potential for recoil with each arrow thrown, as the deployed force moves up and down the bow while canceling out creating better stability.

The flexibility

Compound bows can be fitted with different types of cams to suit any situation, and they are available in a wide range of designs, from soft to hard. The cam structure directly regulates the movement of the boom. What is called a “soft cam” will drive the boom slower than a hard cam.

Beginners will generally opt for a soft cam, but more seasoned archers will tend more on a harder cam to achieve optimum launch speed.

Compound bow kits can be used by both experienced and beginner archers. They take little time to master and they usually have sights to improve your shot and give you the most accuracy possible.

The precision

Precision is another advantage of the compound bow which increases the power of the shot, thanks to the cam systems. Compound bows from famous brands sometimes come with a release that provides firmer grips and requires less effort to pull the string. Stability and precision are therefore guaranteed.

Also, the bow sight allows for more precise shots.


Compound bows are slightly heavier than other types of hunting bows, especially recurve bows. Most moving parts require additional maintenance and can be sources of larger points of failure. In the case of dry firing, the bow is more susceptible to damage because it allows more energy to be released. It requires the use of a mechanical release system. You can’t just use your fingers to tighten the rope.

Again, unlike recurve bows, changing or adjusting strings generally requires an arch press, a unique tool used to shrink limbs, loosen strings and release tension. For this reason, it is sometimes necessary to bring in a professional to repair compound bows when they are faulty.

Different types of compound bows

We can distinguish several types of compound bows but this distinction is only made by the shape of the model. You have to tell the difference between a pulley and a cam. The first is round, and the second is oval.

However, the main classification criteria are still the cam system. On this basis, three different types have been identified. These are the single cam, double cam, and hybrid cam.

Let’s see it in detail…

Single-cam compound bow

Single cam compound bow is equipped with a single cam to tension the ends of the limbs and concentrate energy. The control cam is often installed on the lower branch while the upper one is equipped with freewheel. The ergonomics of the arc are simple, therefore easy to use.

Some single-cam compound bows are upgraded for a smooth shot while others are better equipped and designed for rapid fire. Again, some single-shot bows have some notch point displacement issues while others do not, but they are all fairly accurate.

Double cam compound bow

If we juxtapose this with the single-cam bow, two-cam bows are more powerful and faster but usually have timing issues. Besides these timing issues, double-cam compound bows are easy to use, and they also have greater power and precision as well as better settings than single-cam arcs.

However, it is a question of ergonomics which is compensated for according to the brands and models.

The two cams bow act independently of each other. Therefore, you face the fact that one cam turns slightly before the other because of the friction of the rope. This implies that the strength of the upper and lower limbs is not balanced, which can cause the notch to shift.

To overcome this problem of cam synchronization, manufacturers have designed a binary cam pulley bow. Each of the strings is connected to a different cam. Such an adjustment allows these two elements to rotate at the same time with respect to each other, therefore making it possible to have perfect synchronization.

Binary cam bows are also much more powerful and increase the speed of the arrows fired. As their two cams control each other, any errors are compensated for to give you smooth and precise shots. The special settings of the binary cams allow their self-balancing and reduce the problems of displacement of the notch point.

Hybrid cam pulley bow

Hybrid cams are an advancement over dual cams because they are made to eliminate timing issues. They have two asymmetrical elliptical cams. The control cam is located above the power cam. The set consists of a divided harness, a control cord, and a tightening.

Even though the hybrid cams are in fact independent, they must be adjusted and rectified from time to time in order to ensure optimum efficiency. There are many hybrid cam bows that are incredibly fast and quiet. Although the pull cam is generally aligned, the cams are not relative to each other.

A hybrid cam pulley bow deploys incredible speed and precision, just like dual cam compound bows, except that all cams work synchronously.

How to choose the best compound bow?

How to Choose a Compound Bow

Choosing a good compound bow is not easy, especially in a market where hundreds of models release every year from different brands.

However, there are different ways to look at each of the characteristics to pick a suitable model. I’m now going to discuss with you the essential criteria that should not be overlooked when choosing the best compound bow for your needs and budgets.

Purpose of use

As I previously mentioned, there are several reasons to buy a compound bow. Some people will use it in the context of a sport, others simply as a hobby, and some use this equipment to hunt games.

However, each use requires different functionalities. If you are a hunter for example, then you will need equipment that will allow you to shoot long distances with maximum power.

If you want to use your compound bow for target shooting, you don’t necessarily need an overpowered model. Instead, you will need a bow that will allow you to shoot accurately. For example, maybe a heavier bow is what you need as a higher weight will help you get a more accurate shot.

Overall Length

The length of the bow suitable for you is a little different. Be sure to choose one according to your need. You also must take into account your body type and size.

The length of the stretch often determines the length of the arc, depending on what you want to do with it.

If you are a hunter, definitely want a shorter bow. This will allow you to carry and handle it more easily. For target shooting, a larger bow will make shooting easier. The average length of compound bows is around 30 to 32 inches or the equivalent of 75 to 80 cm.

Bows with a large height may reduce the speed of the arrow, but the ease of use is better. It is best if you can try out multiple heights so you can choose the one that suits you the best.


The bow limbs store the energy that generates when the shooter pulls back the bowstring. These are attached to the riser and the cams (more on that in a bit). It can be in different styles.

Normally compound bow limbs are constructed with composite laminated material which can consist of wood, fiberglass and carbon. Solid glass limbs are also available.

Split limbs are popular for target shooting practice. These are made up of two thin limbs connected at the riser. Split limbs are also more durable and produce less vibration and quieter bows than the solid variety. On the other hand, parallel limbs are found on most hunting compound bows.

Actually, most hunting bows have parallel limbs.

Your extension

This is a very important criterion that should not be overlooked when buying a compound bow. The draw is the distance the rope will travel before it stops when you pull it.

If you choose a bow that is too long, you may lose some of the power. On the contrary, if your draw is too short, you will not be well-positioned to use your bow properly. It can even affect your level of precision.

There are several ways to calculate your draw, but you can easily determine it by extending your arms parallel to the ground and measuring the distance between the tips of your fingers.

Then refer to this table:

SpanExtension (in inches)
145 to 150 cm22 to 23
151 to 158 cm23 to 24
159 to 165 cm24 to 25
166 to 173 cm25 to 26
174 to 182 cm26 to 27
182 to 188 cm27 to 28
189 to 196 cm28 to 29
196 cm and moremore 30


The weight of the bow can affect the way you shoot. The lighter the bow, the easier it will be to carry with you. A heavier compound bow may be easier to use if you are target shooting. This criterion is questionable and is more of a very personal position, so make sure to find something that works for you.

But be aware that the higher the weight, the more difficult it will be to shoot for some. But the shot will be all the more powerful.


Calculated in FPS, the speed of a compound bow is another important metric that can sometimes convince you to look for an accurate model. Speed ​​is an indicator of the strength of your bow.

Of course, it is also influenced by the weight of the arrow. The higher the speed, the stronger the bow.

You may not need a high-speed compound bow if you are only aiming at targets.


While it’s true that speed is important in archery, the point is that sometimes this variable isn’t just all that matters. To avoid these mistakes, everyone loves powerful bows that can shoot an arrow at high speed with amazing FPS coverage but remember that there is no point in having high speed if you miss your target. Precision is therefore also important.


This is another element to consider when purchasing your compound bow. Make sure you can stand up easily and hold the bow firmly in order to deliver consistent and powerful shots.

A compound bow that offers a good grip will allow you to shoot accurate shots repeatedly. This requires you to be able to hold yourself correctly and adopt the correct posture and hold the bow in a relaxed and balanced manner.

Bow sight

It is essential to consider the presence and quality of the sight (included in the package or not) before choosing a compound bow. Because it allows you to determine the height at which you need to hold your bow to fire accurate shots depending on the distance that you need.

Sights vary in their functionality and specification, ranging from floating single pins to 7-pin configurations, each performs in different ways with different accuracy.

Type of cams

You already know that compound bows are essentially available in 3 different types (see earlier in the article). As a reminder, the three main types of bow available are the single cam, double cam and hybrid cam. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Bow Cam.

For example, the single-cam compound bow is simple to use and quiet, but the speed is not very high. The double-cam compound bow is difficult to adjust but offers incredible arrow speed. And the hybrid cam bow provides ease of maintenance and adjustment.

Dominant eye

Even if you have the best bow release in the world, you still need to figure out how to shoot with your dominant eye. This can be the right eye or the left eye. Once you understand this, it is important that you consider a compound bow that matches your dominant eye.

The adjustment

This is another thing to consider if you are looking for the best compound bow for the first time. If you are an adult archer, you probably don’t need a lot of adjustment for your bow. But if you are still young and a growing hunter, you can choose one with flexible fit options both in length and size. ‘In weight.


The price

This is always something archers take into account when looking to purchase a compound bow. Bows can be made from different materials and can have various qualities. Those of better quality and better design will logically be more expensive.

However, there are still compound bows with good value for money that may be suitable for you. Make sure you don’t break the bank on buying a good bow. You can always save for the compound bow of your dreams and get a cheaper one to practice while you wait.


Now you have considerable knowledge about the compound bow. Keep in mind, each model offers its own settings: arrow speed, grain, band, and the weight of the bow or let-off. To avoid bad ergonomics, you have to look at whether the model is right-handed or left-handed. Also, don’t forget to check the power of the bow. Power is calculated in pounds which determines the penetration capacity of the arrow.

Thanks for reading!

Have any questions? Ask in the comment section below and I will answer it.

Liam Dean is a Professional Blogger and Outdoor Enthusiast. He completed Masters in Sports Sciences and spend all of his free time doing sports and other outdoor activities. During vacations, he goes hunting, fishing and mountaineering.

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