How Do I Choose A Compound Bow?

So, you’re in the market for a new compound bow but feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options out there? Don’t worry, because in this article, we’ve got you covered! Whether you’re a novice archer or a seasoned pro, selecting the perfect compound bow can make all the difference in your shooting experience. From considering your draw length and draw weight to determining the right axle-to-axle length, brace height, and cam system, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make an informed and confident decision. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey together and find the compound bow that perfectly suits you!

How Do I Choose A Compound Bow?

Factors to Consider

When it comes to choosing a compound bow, there are several factors that you need to consider in order to find the perfect bow for you. Each individual is unique, and finding the right bow requires taking into account factors such as the purpose of use, your physical attributes, draw weight, draw length, axle-to-axle length, brace height, let-off percentage, cam system, bow weight, and your budget. By carefully considering each of these factors, you can ensure that you select a compound bow that is tailored to your needs and preferences. So let’s dive into each of these factors and explore how they play a crucial role in choosing the right compound bow for you.

Purpose of Use

First and foremost, you need to determine the purpose for which you intend to use the compound bow. Are you planning to use it for hunting, target shooting, or both? This consideration is important because different bows are designed with specific purposes in mind. Hunting bows are typically shorter and more compact, allowing for improved maneuverability in the field. On the other hand, target bows are often longer and more stable, providing enhanced accuracy. If you plan to do both hunting and target shooting, you might want to consider a versatile bow that can accommodate both activities.

Your Physical Attributes

Your physical attributes play a significant role in determining the right compound bow for you. There are several key aspects of your physicality that you should take into account: your dominant eye, arm span, hand preference, and strength.

Dominant Eye

Determining your dominant eye is crucial because it will determine your shooting style and hand orientation. If you are right-eye dominant, then you will likely shoot right-handed, and vice versa for left-eye dominance. It’s important to align your dominant eye with your aiming eye for optimal accuracy.

Arm Span

Your arm span is another important consideration when selecting a compound bow. Stand with your arms outstretched and measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip. This measurement is useful in determining your draw length, as we will discuss later.

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Hand Preference

Determining your hand preference is straightforward – are you right-handed or left-handed? This will determine the orientation of the bow handle and the side on which the arrow rest is positioned. It’s essential to choose a bow that matches your hand preference to ensure comfortable and efficient shooting.


Consider your physical strength when selecting a draw weight for your compound bow. If you have more strength, you can handle a higher draw weight, which can result in greater arrow speed and momentum. On the other hand, if you have less strength, you should opt for a lower draw weight to ensure that you can comfortably and accurately shoot your bow.

Draw Weight

Understanding draw weight is crucial for selecting the right compound bow. The draw weight refers to the amount of force required to draw the bowstring back to its maximum position. A higher draw weight results in faster arrow speed, but it also requires more strength to handle. Conversely, a lower draw weight may provide a slower arrow speed but enables more effortless handling. It’s important to find a balance between draw weight and your physical capabilities to ensure that you can shoot comfortably without sacrificing performance.

Finding the Right Draw Weight

To determine the right draw weight for you, consider factors such as your physical strength and the purpose of use. If you are primarily using the bow for hunting, a draw weight of 40-50 pounds is usually sufficient. For target shooting, a lighter draw weight of around 30-40 pounds may be more appropriate. It’s important not to select a draw weight that is too heavy for you, as this can lead to poor shooting form and fatigue.

How Do I Choose A Compound Bow?

Draw Length

Understanding draw length is another crucial aspect of selecting a compound bow. Draw length refers to the distance between the bowstring at full draw and the front of the bow handle. Finding the right draw length is essential for achieving consistent and accurate shots.

Understanding Draw Length

To determine your draw length, you can use your arm span measurement that we discussed earlier. Divide your arm span by 2.5, and this will give you an approximate draw length in inches. However, this is just a starting point, and it’s recommended to consult with a knowledgeable archery professional to ensure precise measurement.

Finding the Right Draw Length

Finding the right draw length is essential for proper shooting form and accuracy. If your draw length is too short, you will struggle to reach full draw, affecting your shot execution. Conversely, if your draw length is too long, it can lead to strain and inefficient shooting. Having the correct draw length allows for a comfortable anchor point, better accuracy, and improved consistency in your shots.

Axle-to-Axle Length

The axle-to-axle length refers to the distance between the axles of the compound bow. This measurement plays a crucial role in determining the overall size and maneuverability of the bow.

Importance of Axle-to-Axle Length

The axle-to-axle length affects how easy it is to navigate in tight spaces, especially when hunting. A shorter axle-to-axle length provides greater maneuverability, making it easier to move through dense vegetation or confined hunting blinds. On the other hand, a longer axle-to-axle length offers greater stability and accuracy. It’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences to strike the right balance between maneuverability and stability.

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Choosing the Right Axle-to-Axle Length

Selecting the right axle-to-axle length depends on your intended use. If you primarily use the bow for hunting in wooded or tight areas, a shorter axle-to-axle length, around 30-34 inches, is generally recommended. For target shooting or open field hunting, a longer axle-to-axle length, around 35-40 inches, offers greater stability and accuracy. Consider your specific needs and shooting environment to make the best choice.

Brace Height

The brace height of a compound bow refers to the distance between the deepest part of the grip and the bowstring when the bow is at rest. This measurement affects both performance and forgiveness.

Importance of Brace Height

Brace height is an essential factor because it directly affects the speed and forgiveness of the bow. A shorter brace height, around 5-6 inches, results in higher arrow speeds but provides less forgiveness. On the other hand, a longer brace height, around 7-8 inches, sacrifices some speed but offers more forgiveness, making it easier to achieve accurate shots.

Selecting the Right Brace Height

Selecting the right brace height depends on your personal preferences and shooting style. If you prioritize arrow speed and are confident in your shooting form, a shorter brace height may be suitable for you. However, if you prefer a more forgiving bow and prioritize accuracy, a longer brace height may be a better choice. Try shooting different brace heights to see which one feels most comfortable and allows you to achieve the desired level of accuracy.

Let-Off Percentage

The let-off percentage refers to the reduction in holding weight that occurs once the compound bow is fully drawn. It is a key factor to consider as it affects the ease of holding the bow at full draw and can have an impact on shooting comfort and accuracy.

Understanding Let-Off

The let-off percentage determines how much of the draw weight you need to hold at full draw. For example, if a bow has a 70% let-off, that means once you reach full draw, you only need to hold 30% of the draw weight. Let-off provides a significant advantage by allowing you to hold the bow steadier and longer, improving accuracy and reducing fatigue.

Determining Your Preferred Let-Off

Determining the preferred let-off percentage depends on your shooting style and preferences. Higher let-off percentages, such as 80-90%, are common and provide greater ease of holding at full draw but may sacrifice some arrow speed. On the other hand, lower let-off percentages, such as 60-70%, require more strength to hold at full draw but may result in increased arrow speed. Consider your physical capabilities and shooting goals to find the let-off percentage that suits you best.

Cam System

The cam system of a compound bow determines how energy is transferred from the string to the arrows and affects the feel of the bow during the draw cycle. There are several types of cam systems, each offering unique advantages and characteristics.

Single Cam

Single cam systems, also known as solo cams, utilize a single cam on one limb and an idler wheel on the other. They are known for their simplicity, ease of tuning, and reduced maintenance requirements. Single cams tend to provide a smoother draw cycle, less noise, and minimal vibration.

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Hybrid Cam

Hybrid cam systems incorporate elements of both single cams and dual cams, combining the benefits of both. They typically offer improved speed, accuracy, and reduced cam lean compared to single cams. Hybrid cams provide a balance between performance and ease of tuning, making them popular among many archers.

Binary Cam

Binary cam systems consist of two cams that work in synchronization, connected by a control cable. They offer excellent efficiency, accuracy, and often higher arrow speeds. The synchronized movement of the cams helps eliminate cam lean and timing issues, resulting in consistent and reliable performance.

Dual Cam

Dual cams, also known as twin cams, feature identical cams on each limb. They are known for their speed and efficiency, providing excellent arrow speeds. Dual cams can deliver exceptional accuracy, but they may require more precise tuning and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

Consider your shooting style, preferences, and intended use when selecting a cam system. Each type offers different advantages, so it’s important to try out various bows with different cam systems to find the one that feels the most comfortable and suits your needs.

Bow Weight

The weight of the compound bow itself is an important factor to consider, especially if you plan to carry it over long distances or for extended periods. The weight of the bow can influence your shooting comfort and affect your ability to maintain steady aim.

When determining the ideal bow weight, consider your physical strength and stamina. If you have less upper body strength or plan to perform a lot of spot-and-stalk hunting, you may prefer a lighter bow for ease of maneuverability. However, if you have more strength and prefer a more stable feel, a slightly heavier bow may be suitable.

It’s important to strike a balance between weight and comfort, ensuring that you choose a bow that you can confidently handle while maintaining stability and accuracy.


Your budget is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a compound bow. Compound bows vary in price, ranging from budget-friendly options to high-end models with advanced features. It’s important to identify your budget range and consider the value for money that each bow offers.

Identifying Your Budget Range

Determining your budget is essential before beginning your search for a compound bow. Set a realistic budget based on your financial means and what you are willing to invest in a quality bow. Consider whether you need to allocate funds for additional accessories such as arrows, sights, stabilizers, and releases.

Considering Value for Money

While it may be tempting to opt for the cheapest option available, consider the long-term value and performance that a higher-quality bow can provide. A durable and well-built compound bow with quality materials and craftsmanship can offer better accuracy, improved shooting experience, and increased longevity.

Before making a final decision, try out different bows in your budget range and compare their features, performance, and user reviews. This will help you find the best blend of affordability and quality that meets your specific needs.

In conclusion, choosing a compound bow requires careful consideration of several factors. By evaluating the purpose of use, your physical attributes, draw weight, draw length, axle-to-axle length, brace height, let-off percentage, cam system, bow weight, and budget, you can find a compound bow that fits you like a glove. Remember to consult with knowledgeable professionals, test different bows, and prioritize your personal preferences and shooting goals. With the right compound bow in your hands, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your archery journey, whether it’s for hunting, target shooting, or both. Happy shooting!

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