A compound bow is a fast, accurate and powerful bow with which you can shoot true on longer distances. Compound bows use ‘cams’ on the ends of the limbs, making it possible to put a lot more energy into the arrow with less effort, which in turn results in lots of arrow speed. Compound bows are originally designed for hunting but are also used a lot for the sport of archery. Contrary to recurve bows, compound bows aren’t used in the Olympics.
One of the most notable differences between compound bows and other types of bows, is the let-off. Let-off makes it easier to keep your bow drawn back, because a big part of the draw weight drops away after you draw the bow past it’s peak. This effect it caused by the shape of the cams. Different cams will have different shapes and therefore feel different when drawing back. If your bow has 75% let-off and it is a 60 lbs bow, you will be holding 15 lbs when aiming.
The draw length of a compound bow does not work in the same way as with other bows. Where with a recurve bow, you can draw the bow back as far as you need to get to anchor, a compound bow has a set draw length. The big advantage of this is that you can never draw it back too far since there is a ‘draw stop’. Often this is a little rubber or metal bit bolted onto the cam, hitting one of the cables or the limb, preventing the cam from turning any further. The fact that you always put the same amount of energy into the arrow ensures even more accuracy. It’s important you pick a bow that fits your draw length, either measure it correctly yourself or go to the store to have it measured.
Different Bow Sizes
Compound bows exist in different shapes or sizes. Which length of bow fits you best comes down to preference for the biggest part. Are you going to shoot target competitions, or maybe 3D shoots? It could even be a combination of both or just recreational use. Most target shooters pick a bow with a longer Axle-to-axle length for stability and forgiveness. A shorter hunting-type bow however, mostly shoots faster and quieter. This makes it easier to manoeuvre through forests easier as well. With 3D archery, long ánd short bows are used.
Check out our selection of compound bows here
Only a bow will get you nowhere. There are a couple accessories you will need to unlock the full potential of your compound. Below we will go through some of the options.
Release en D-Loop
A release is pretty much an essential tool to shoot a compound bow. Using a release aid makes a lot of things easier and more precise. For example, you don’t need to hold and release the string with your fingers, which makes it more comfortable and consistent. A release will attach to the D-loop, mostly using a little hook or a caliper.
There are hand-held releases and releases with a wrist strap. Releases with a wrist strap attach to your wrist using a little belt or velcro straps and is equipped with a trigger, usually operated with your index finger. Hand-held releases are often trigger releases as well, operated with your thumb. There are also back-tension releases in the form of a hinge, or activated by a certain amount of force.
You pretty much always attach your release to a D-loop rather than directly onto the string. This doesn’t only mean that the string lasts longer but it also means the release doesn’t negatively affect the path of the string and with that, the arrow.
Check out our selection of release aids.
Sight and Peepsight
A sight is an aid with which you can shoot more precise and consistent. Which sight fits you best depends on what you are going to shoot with your bow and what is your personal preference. There is a lot of variety in sights. Target archers often use a sight with a magnifying scope and a single pin, whereas hunters will regularly shoot with a multi-pin sight. 3D archers like to switch it up and it mostly comes down to preference.
A peep sight is a second aiming device which is mounted in the string of your bow. It’s mostly just an aluminium or plastic peep-hole that gets attached in between the strands of your string. Because you look through this hole to your sight, you have an extra point to align your shot, resulting in even more accuracy. Check out our target sights
Check out our hunting sights Check out the peep sights
You will obviously need an arrow rest to shoot with your compound bow. You’re not meant to shoot from the shelf as you would maybe do with a traditional bow. There are different kinds of arrow rests. There are three main categories:
Launcher style –This is the most used arrow rest by target archers. The arrow is lying on the rest for the whole cycle of the shot and has a path of low resistance. Some rests have prongs where others use a blade.
Containment style –These arrow rests contain the arrow completely or from different sides. This makes sure the arrow is solidly placed and doesn’t fall off the rest when you draw back or lift your bow. Especially useful in a hunting situation but also used by others. Most well known variant of this style is the whisker biscuit but there are also other options available like a brush rest.
Drop Away style -With these rests, the arrow gets supported when you draw back the bow and when you shoot, the fork drops away to give the arrow a clear shot. Initially the arrow will still receive some guidance when being shot, but before the vanes reach the rest, it drops away so nothing obstructs the arrow in its flight.
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Most compound bows have a stabilizer connection bushing. With a stabilizer you can create more balance and stability. It’s for good reason you often see target archers use long stabilizers with lots of weight. It makes aiming more calm and dampens the shock of the bow to a certain point. Is it mandatory to use stabilization? No, it’s not. It just gives you the possibility to enhance precision and shot feel.
There are lots of shapes and sizes for stabilizers. Which one fits you best depends on your usage and preference. Target shooters often use long stabilizers with lots of weight and in hunting and 3d shooting they are mostly a bit shorter.
Check out our stabilizers
Some notes about compound shooting
Let’s start with the most important note. Like we said earlier, a compound bow exerts a huge amount of force. You will easily reach long distances and you are handling a dangerous device. It’s important to check if your situation is suitable to shoot in, not only for yourself but for others too. Shooting at a club often means you are in a safe situation to use your bow. If you are shooting on your own property, make sure you are not putting yourself or others in danger.
A compound bow is a bit more costly than other bows, and on top of that you have to take into account that you need more accessories to be able to properly shoot one. Because of the higher amount of force, the accessories need to meet a certain standard, too, which makes them a bit more expensive.
Service and reparation A high-tech compound bow has a couple points of attention to look out for. Besides the string, it also has cables. The string and cables form an important part of the bow and should be looked after regularly. Wear and tear can have a serious impact on your shooting and you should replace them timely. Replacing a set of strings and cables is not an easy task and should be done with a set of special tools like a bow press. A bow press is a tool that compresses the limbs of a compound bow so that the tension can be taken off the string. When there’s no tension on there anymore you can replace the string, cables, peep sight or other accessories without having to put yourself in nasty situations. A bow press is quite pricy which is one of the reasons people don’t always have them at home.
With a compound bows we recommend using either carbon or aluminum arrows. There are plenty parts to make them suitable for your bow and they are much stronger than most wooden and fiberglass options. Not every bow takes the same arrow, which is why there are different spines and diameters. The perfect arrow does not exist, so we always look at the draw length, draw weight and bow type to decide on a certain arrow. Does this mean you can not shoot if you don’t have the exact arrow you need? Of course you can! It’s just better for your scores and consistency if you have a matching arrow to your setup and configuration. If you are a beginner you can always look at spine charts to figure out which arrow you should shoot, and get started that way.
When shooting a compound bow, you need a strong and durable target. Not all targets are suitable for use with a heavy compound bow, as the arrow carries much more energy than other bow types. The target should therefore be able to withstand the force of the arrow. Like everything else, there are many different kinds and sizes of targets. foam or straw, portable or static, etc. Every purpose has a different target but with a compound bow we advise to get a strong one.