All You Need To Know About Compound Bows

Last Updated on June 14, 2020

All You Need To Know About Compound Bows: Everything is advancing technologically in the world. Bows started off as longbows, evolved into recurve bows and currently, have been transformed into efficient shooting machines, known as compound bows. Compound bows utilize a system of cables and pulleys, popularly referred to as cams, to bend the limbs of the bow, giving you a mechanical advantage over the old bow designs.

This system makes it easy to use because you require much less effort to keep the bow fully drawn. This, in turn, means that you can achieve more accuracy and a much better aim because most of the energy is used to focus on the target.

In order to understand the workings of the compound bow and how to select the best one to suit your archery or hunting needs, it is important to look at the following:

Compound Bows

Important Technical Terms You Should Know

Bow weight

This is the overall weight of the compound bow. Lighter bows are easy to carry and might be ideal for hunting in the woods. However, they vibrate a lot after shooting, producing some noise and this might scare off the game that you target. Heavy bows absorb most of the vibrations but are quite tiresome to carry. Each has its own trade-off and therefore, hunters should find a good balance between the two extreme ends. For archers, however, any can do because noise and maneuverability are not big issues in the sport.

Axle length

This is the total length of the bow from the top Cam to the bottom Cam. Short bows are less bulky, making them easy to maneuver with when hunting in the woods but are harder to shoot. Longbows are bulkier but are easier to shoot with.

Draw length

This is the distance between the spot you have gripped onto the bow with one hand and the farthest end of the bowstring at full draw. This length can be calculated on paper or determined practically by trying out different compound bows to determine which feels comfortable when drawing. It is important to get this right because it directly affects the speed and accuracy of the arrow when shooting.

Draw weight

This is the effort required to pull the bowstring to full draw. The system of cams that make the compound bow unique gives them a unique property called the let-off. Let-off basically means that at some point during the draw, the draw weight becomes less, leaving the archer with more energy to focus on the target. Let-off is the single greatest advantage of compound bows over the older generation of bows.

It is given as a percentage of the full draw weight. For instance, a compound bow with a draw weight of 100 lbs. and a 75% let-off means that, at the beginning of the draw, you will pull the full 100 pounds. However, as you get to the let-off point, the draw gets easier because you pull 25% of the draw weight (75% has been let-off), which means you pull 25 lbs. This makes it much easier to hold the arrow in position and use most of the energy on improving your accuracy.

Brace height

This is the distance from the spot you grip onto the bow and the bowstring at rest. A shorter brace height means the bow has faster action – because drawing creates more tension on the limbs – but this increases the draw weight and might hurt your wrist as the string springs back after shooting. A longer brace height means the string is easier to draw but the bow will have slower action. To read more about the compound bows click here.

Types of compound bows

Compound bows are classified according to the system of pulleys they have. These are:

Single cam

These bows have an oval power cam at the bottom and a circular idler wheel at the top. They are very easy to use and are perfect for hunting because they are very quiet. However, they are very hard to tune.

Hybrid cam

This bow is characterized by 2 elliptical cams; a power cam on the bottom end and a control cam on the upper end. This makes it easy to tune and maintain but might have some nock distance as you draw the bowstring.

Twin/ dual cam

These types of bows can either have elliptical or circular power cams located on each end of the bow. They enable you to shoot arrows accurately – because they have an even nock travel – and at a very high velocity. However, they are expensive to maintain and require regular tuning.

Binary cam

These are very similar to dual cam compound bows but their cams are slaved to each other instead of being slaved to the limbs.

Compound bows

The Best Compound Bow

With all these variations in compound bows, it can be quite difficult to settle on the best bow to suit your needs. This might be even harder for beginners because the types and terminologies can be very confusing. For those getting into the sport of archery or trying out bow hunting, a Genesis bow is quite good for training and is also one of the best compound bows for the money.

Genesis bows do not have a specific draw length or let off point meaning that they can be used all sizes of archers. They also have a low draw weight, making them very easy to pull, without the risk of causing fatigue or muscle injury. They are also very affordable and will help you learn the basics of using the compound bow effectively.


Compound bows are tailored for extreme performance. Their speed and accuracy cannot be compared to the older long or recurve bows. However, this also makes them very complex shooting devices. Because of this, it might be very difficult to select one as a beginner but with continued use, you can easily determine which type, size and settings suit your hunting/ sporting needs for easier and better shooting experiences.


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