How to Properly Select a Compound Bow – Make Sure You Are Looking in the Right Direction

So you are looking to get yourself a new compound bow? Luckily for me, you have already waged most of the battle of the compound versus recurve battle that is typically where most people start. Now that you have chosen to go this route, there are a few things that you need to decide. The first thing that you need to figure out is how you will be using your new bow. Will it be for archery purposes only, will it be strictly for bow hunting, or do you want something that is good enough to satisfy the needs of both? Next, you will need to figure out what draw weight and draw length you will need to be successful. What is let-off and how much of it do you really need? Are there any other specifications that you should be looking for during your search? Continue reading if you are interested in finding out where you should be looking.

First things, First

The first thing that you will need to figure out when you are determining which compound bow to buy, is its intended use. If you have done any searching thus far, then you probably already know that there are so many options to chose from in this market. I will let you in on a little secret; they all cater to a certain type of shooter. There are companies out there that make hunting specific bows that offer the shooter enough power to snag a black bear. There are also companies that make the most balanced archery bows on the market for target shooters. So you must ask yourself, “how do I imagine myself shooting this bow?”

If you imagine yourself shooting out of a hunting blind, then weight is not going to be the biggest issue, but you might want something that is going to have a smaller axel-to-axel. If you want something that can be used in a tree stand you will need something that is lightweight and balanced to help you zero-in on that shot. Looking to shoot at targets? Make sure that you get a compound bow that is balanced, has smooth cams, and can accept the use of an archery bow sight.

Draw Weight and Draw Length

The next thing that you want to figure out in your search for your next compound bow are the specified draw weight and the draw length that aligns with your frame. I cannot express to you how important this step is to your success. If you choose a bow that is too light then you are not going to allow the arrow to reach its full potential. If you choose something that is too heavy, then you will need a water break every 5-10 shots–if you can even take that many. Getting a draw length that is too short will not help your accuracy one bit, and a draw length that is too long won’t allow you to take the shot in the first place.

There are a few tests that one could do if they were trying to figure out their draw length and draw weight. If you want to figure these out a quick search will turn up the newest methods, but I believe that adjustable bows are the future. A compound bow that has an adjustable weight from 40-65 will get you all the power that you need for archery, as well as bow hunting. Also, if we are taking the average height [and its correlation to wingspan] of the average person, then getting a compound bow with a draw length that is adjustable from 27-29” should suffice. Remember that these are all based on averages so if you want to know exact figures for draw length then you can use the following formulas:

1.) Your arm span measured from tip-to-tip ÷ 2.5–this will get you in the ball park

2.) Length of the distance at full draw from the nocking point, to the pivot point for the bow on the grip of the riser + 1-3/4”– this will give you exact draw length, as well as arrow size!

The reason that 40-65 pounds is the optimal draw weight is because it gives you the needed kinetic energy to obtain a lethal (and ethical) shot when you are bow hunting. It also allows the bow to have enough speed to travel long distances for archery competition. To ensure you have the best draw length for yourself, the “sit test” should be done. During this test, you pull the bow string back to the full draw position while you are seated. If you can do this comfortably 5 times, then you are capable of using the bow standing. If you struggle, then you would be better off going down a weight class. Getting a bow that is adjustable will help relieve many of these headaches.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for something to get you in the vicinity of what you should be looking for; there you have it! If you are looking to hone in your skills a little bit further, then there are a few more specs that you should be taking into consideration.

You should make sure that you are comfortable with the brace height. The shorter that your brace height is, the more speed that you will get. Keep in mind that the shorter the brace height is, the harder the bow will be to control. If you are in a make or break situation against a mature buck, you are going to want a compound bow that will be easier for you to control.

Figure out how important a let-off is during your decision to buy. Let-off is the amount of weight that is “let off” of the bow when you have it at full draw. This means that is you have a 65 pound bow with a 65 percent let-off then you will only have to hold 22.75 pounds at full draw. If you are taking a lot of shots, such as at a competition, then you will want this number to be as high as you can get it, but 65 is an average in the industry. If you are looking to go out bow hunting, then this number does not particularly matter as much.

You guys may have noticed that I did not mention speed as a primary factor when choosing a compound bow. The reason that I did this was because that is usually where you find most of the price difference. If the bow is faster, then there is a good chance that it is going to cost you a bit more. I love a speedy bow, but when you are relatively new to archery and bow hunting, speed isn’t what matters most. If you are hunting, then what matters most is kinetic energy to get your arrow to pass through the animal’s body. If you are shooting in the sport of archery, then what will have the greatest benefit will be a bow that is precisely fit to your body, that is balanced. If the readers need a number, then I will say that 235 feet per second would be a good speed that will satisfy either of your shooting needs.