Having archery as a hobby forces you to seriously consider which bow to buy. As someone who really enjoys their archery, you will be spoilt for choice with different types of bows. If you prefer a modern and above all technical version of a bow, then choose a compound bow. But not every bow is suitable for beginners. We are therefore happy to help you with our compound bow reviews!
Why exactly is it that the bow is called Compound?
The word Compound comes from the English language and means ‘made up or consisting of several parts’. However, this term does not refer to the different materials of which the compound bow is made – that would be the composite bow – but to its construction method. It not only consists of tendon, belly, limbs, bow belly and back, but also has various modern components such as visor and cams, which will be discussed in our compound bow test below.
The bow was developed in 1966 in the USA, from where it quickly began a gigantic takeover of the archery industry. Rightly so, because it has many different advantages over recurve bows or longbows. For example, it accelerates an arrow beyond 180 miles per hour and, if used by a skilled marksman, can even hit the mark at very long distances. But that is not all.
What are the pros and cons of a Compound Bow?
Those who like high tech will love the compound bow. It has relatively little in common with the classical bow and has a futuristic touch to it. To use it, you hardly need any experience which makes it the best beginner compound bow. It is best to have everything explained by a professional, but after that you can basically start by yourself. The draw weight and therefore the difficulty can be increased as much as you like. Before you shoot, however, make sure you acquire the right technique and bodily form! A compound bow can take a lot of effort off its shooter – but not the whole.
Despite this, the little experience required for shooting is not its only advantage over classic bows:
The biggest pro is probably the so-called let- off. This is the sudden release of tensile weight as soon as the tendon has been tightened. Once you have overcome the tensile weight of your bow, holding the string is a piece of cake compared to other bows. The best thing about it is that you can take your time when aiming with the compound, because there is hardly any weight on your muscles when the tendon is fully extended. They don’t slacken as they do when you aim long with the recurve or longbow. You can also check your technique again and again, instead of letting go of the string frantically because your muscles start to hurt..
The transmission of force from the string to the arrow is much smoother than with the classic bow. This protects the material and improves reach and precision. This precision is also achieved by the fact that the release almost completely eliminates the tendon parallax, i.e. the momentum the tendon has achieved after being released. This means that the arrow does not swing as much in flight as with a recurve bow.
Another pro is its compact size. Being 30 to 40 inches, it is much smaller than classic bows.
One con of the compound bow is the fact that it can hardly be adjusted by the shooter. In order to maintain it properly, you either have to have the right know-how or let a professional do it, otherwise you risk injury. Specifically, bows with elliptical cams, which we will talk about later, must be synchronised, otherwise you will not enjoy the full benefits of the bow. The main con is that it must be optimally adjusted to the respective shooter. Although this can also be an advantage – the bow is practically personalised – 3D shooting requires completely different procedures for this type of bow than indoor shooting. Compound bows must be perfectly adjusted to such things. This can be complex and expensive, especially if you want to buy a compound bow as a beginner and become advanced within a few months and even turn professional after a while. Every stage requires different settings of the Compound bow.
Best Compound Bow comparison
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Guide for your optimal Compound Bow
The price for a compound bow can vary extremely and depends on the material and equipment used as well as the experience of the shooter – see above. In addition, the compound may need to be readjusted, and it is better to hire a specialist to do this. Have a look around in online archery shops, because there you might find a cheaper beginner compound bow set, in which the matching arrows and other archery accessoriesare already included.
If you want to buy a bow, the first thing you need to do is to find out exactly what kind of bow you want. Absolutely the compound bow? Even then you should educate yourself thoroughly through compound bow reviews like these, because there is a wide range of compound bows available. The first thing you should do is to find out what the best beginner compound bow is comprised of. Here, you will start to learn about cams.
Single Cam, Dual Cam or Hybrid Cam?
The compound bow has so-called cams, which make it unique as a bow type. These carry out various functions. In the past, all compound bows had round cams that only diverted energy. The modern compounds have either only oval or oval and round cams. Oval and round cams, however, have been known as difficult to shoot.
The arrow flies a bit out of round and the shooter has trouble shooting it really straight, because when the string is released, the arrow gets a virtual thrust. Therefore, these bows are rather frustrating for beginners and are not recommended. If you just want to start with archery, you should use a bow with oval cams.
The following Compound Bows are available:
Single Cam Compound Bows: This kind of bow only has an eccentric wheel at its lower end. In the upper parts of the bow there is a diverter pulley. The construction as well as the functional principle are simple compared to the Dual Cam.
Dual Cam Compound Bows: This, also called Twin Cam or Cam Art, has two eccentric wheels, which have the elliptical shape described above. This gives a draft reduction of a full 80%, which of course makes life much easier for the shooter and is the best hunting bow.
Hybrid Cam Compound Bows: The Compound Bow with Hybrid Cam System has two different cams and therefore requires less fine tuning than the Dual Cam Compound Bow.
Binary Cam Compound Bows: This type of bow theoretically accelerates the arrow the most because it offers the best power transmission. It has two cams, which are mounted mirror-inverted at both ends of the throwing arm along with three cable guides.
In the past, so-called four-wheelers were also available. These prototypes of the compound bow had four rollers that worked according to the pulley principle. Today, however, these bows have become a rarity as they have been replaced by the more modern versions.
Optimal Size for Compound Bows
Before you buy a bow, think about what size you want it to be. Not every size is suitable for a broad-shouldered tall man or a petite woman. There are several things to consider. The first one is the length of the axis.
The Axis Length
The compound bow axis length is generally between 30 and 40 inches; for target shooting, bows with an axis length of 36 to 40 inches are available. Compound bows for hunting measure 29 to 36 inches.
This size measures the distance between the axis of the upper and lower limbs. It depends on the height of the shooter, the resulting extension length, and the intended use.
To determine the right size for your bow, you must first measure your span. It’s best to get a second person to help you. Now stand up straight and spread your arms. Take care to keep them at shoulder height and not to overstretch them. Your helper will now take a tape measure and measure the distance between your two middle fingers. This gives him the so-called wingspan. You now have to divide this value twice by 2.54 using the following formula:
(Wing span in cm)/2.54=(value in cm)/2.54= extension length in inches
Now you can choose the right extension length of the bow from the table or ask the manufacturer directly if you are unsure.
Incidentally, the result in inches is rounded up or down according to the normal rule. For example, you get the value 24.2 inches and round down to 24 inches. For 24.7 inches, you choose 25 inches as the extension length.
It is important with the compound bow that many manufacturers offer adjustment possibilities of the extension length by means of the attached cams. What exactly you have to pay attention to, however, you should ask the respective manufacturer, because compound bows are very finely tuned. A beginner should not simply fiddle with one! You need a bow press to increase the extension length anyway – who has one standing around at home?
The compound bow is also suitable for dainty and less powerful shooters, because although a high force is required to tense the string, it does not have to be held. The let- off causes the draw weight to drop abruptly. Nevertheless, the draw weight of the bow should be adjusted to you.
If you are a beginner, you should choose a bow with a relatively low draw weight. As your training progresses, you can increase the draw weight. This is also adjustable within a certain range with the cam. Again: Let the pro do it!
Thanks to the modern materials, a compound bow is light and lies comfortably in the hands. However, this can also be a hindrance when shooting. Additional weight is added by stabilisers that can make the bow more comfortable to use.
The exact weight of your compound bow depends on the material and size. Also the weight of the bow should be adjusted to you. Usually it is between one and two kilos.
Left or right-handed?
As with all types of bows, compound bows are also available for left and right handed players. This question is important for the correct technique, because the left-hander holds the bow differently than the right-hander. So if have more strength in the left hand, you should also choose a suitable left-handed compound bow.
Deflex Compound Bow or Reflex Compound Bow?
Another question that you should clarify, and which depends mainly on the purpose of the bow, is whether it should be deflex or reflex. A compound reflex bow has a middle section that has a strong inclination towards the shooter, while the compound deflex bow has a rather straight middle section.
A reflex bow accelerates the arrow much more than a deflex bow, but this results in less precision. In addition, its stand height is a little lower.
If you want to shoot outdoors, choose the Compound Deflex bow, because it is more precise, even over long distances.
Everything about Accessories for the Compound Bow
To be able to shoot with the compound bow, you should of course have the appropriate equipment and the best compound bow brands. You can buy the bow as well as arrows and other accessories separately or buy a compound bow set. With internet providers there are often price advantages when buying the best compound bow brands in a set.
Around the matching Arrows
In contrast to the recurve bow, there is no vibration transfer of the tendon to the arrow at the moment of release. This means that the requirements for arrows for compound bows are completely different from those for recurve bow arrows.
You should note that the compound works with a high tensile weight and the load on the arrow is therefore very high. Therefore it is better to do without pure aluminium arrows. Wooden arrows are absolutely unsuitable, because they would break under the load. There is a high risk of injury!
The most suitable arrows are made of Carbon and have a strong tip. You should place value on the latter, because the force applied when hitting the target is also enormous. By the way, the bigger the feathering, the more stable the arrow flies. In comparison to the recurve bow this is an important point to note.
Special case with regard to Tendons
Unlike other types of bows, the chord length of compound bows is not standardised, since the use of different cams is important. This has to be taken into account when ordering a tendon on the Internet. It is best to specify the bow type and which cams your bow has. Get advice if necessary; this is also possible by mail or phone.
For the hall and mediocre tournament shooters the arrow does not have to be expensive. The compound dart can be shot with a heavy point because the compound has enough traction. The compound arrow achieves a FOC value of 20% with ease. The FOC value (Front of Center) indicates the shift of the center of gravity towards the tip. A FOC value of 20 % indicates that the center of gravity is shifted by 20 % from the centre of the arrow to the tip. This value is achieved with a heavier tip and thus improves the flight of the arrow and the hit image.
In order to secure the best possible advantage in the tough compound competition (in tournament classifications it is very tight), the typical compound arrow is made of carbon and has a heavy tip. In order to achieve better stabilisation in flight, the compound archer can also afford a larger feathering than the recurve archer. With regards to arrow tuning the compound does not have to make any compromises due to the high draw weight of the compound.
There is fierce competition for compound shooters. A 9-cut is often normal in competition and this is mastered by the bow with a well-coordinated arrow. A good arrow material can therefore help the compound archer to get one or the other additional ring.
Sight for the Compound Bow
Visors are available for compound bows, which make aiming easier for the shooter. These enable a particularly high precision.
Such sights have scales with which the shooter can set different distances. This is a great help especially when hunting with compound bows and multiplies the fun factor of the sport. Professional sights even have a side adjustment, which makes it possible to adapt to different light conditions.
As with all compound bow accessories: The visors must be much more robust for the compound in order to be able to counteract the forces acting on them. If you use a visor that was actually designed for a recurve bow, you won’t have much fun with it. Better invest in a visor for compound bow sport or compound bow hunting.
In addition to the above-mentioned sights, the compound is supplied with a type of rear sight and front sight, i.e. a sight that is attached to the string. This is also helpful to increase the precision.
A stabiliser is not a must if you only have low demands on your bowing skills. But for someone who wants to leave amateur sport and has higher ambitions, it is almost obligatory. It distributes the weight of the bow in a way that gives the shooter a very steady hand at the moment of release. This enables the shooter to shoot with the highest precision.
The compound bow shooter usually uses the release. This is a kind of small pliers, which is either held in the hand or attached to the wrist. Before tensioning the string, the release is hooked into a kind of flap on the string and released by finger pressure when shooting.
As with other types of bows, arm protection is recommended when shooting with the compound bow, to avoid injuries to the forearm. The arm guard is available in different versions. Either it protects the complete forearm or only a part of it. Beginners should always protect their whole forearm; advanced users may reduce the protection. You shouldn’t do without it completely – the first really nasty bruise or the first graze caused by the tendon hurtling forward you will know why.
Frequently asked Questions and Advice
In our guide we answer all questions that are relevant before buying a Bow.
How do I care for my Compound Bow?
Never store your bow at very different temperatures. At higher temperatures the material tends to warp, which can even make your bow unusable.
During storage, the compound bow, unlike the recurve bow, always remains clamped.
Twice a year you should take your bow to a professional and have the tendon re-tensioned.
Check the tendon of your bow regularly and make sure that all strands are still intact, otherwise your tendon could tear when shooting and injure you.
You should grow the tendon regularly. Although this increases the life span only insignificantly, a waxed-through tendon becomes relatively water-repellent. This allows you to shoot with your bow even in drizzle and even in heavy rain. The wax also lies on minimal unevenness of the tendon and compensates for it. Buy high quality wax for this; there are also very practical wax crayons available.
If you have rubbed wax on your tendon, spread it evenly with a lint-free cloth, but be careful not to burn yourself. The resulting friction makes it happen faster than you would like!
If you want to make any changes to the tendon and you have a bow with oval cams, you have to make sure that they are absolutely synchronous. Otherwise your arrow will fly fluttering and you won’t have much fun shooting it anymore. For a beginner it is therefore recommended to have such changes done by a professional.
Check your bow is intact before each sports unit! Be sure to take this time, because a damaged bow or arrows can lead to serious injury.
It is not possible to give accurate information on this, as this question depends on several factors, such as the arrows used, the equipment and tensile strength of the bow, etc.
In general it can be said that a shooter can shoot much further with the compound than with the recurve or longbow, because the let- off allows a higher force to be transferred to the arrow without the shooter having to use too much muscle.
A skilled shooter hits with the best hunting bow, a compound bow, confidently up to about 90 meters distance and beyond.