How to Choose a Compound Bow: Beginners Guide to Getting Started for Archery or Bow Hunting

How to Choose a Compound Bow: Beginners Guide to Getting Started for Archery or Bow Hunting


Want to get started with archery or bow hunting? Then you are in the right place. We are going to help you cut through all the noise and get you up and going ASAP. Step One: How to Choose a Compound Bow.

Widely used in target archery and game hunting, a compound bow is simply a pulley-and-lever system that remarkably changed thousands of years of tradition. It has cams and cables that give the archer a mechanical advantage without exerting too much physical effort when the bow is at full draw. Indeed, modern archery has never been the same with the invention of the compound bow in 1966 by the inventor Holless Wilbur Allen.

Today, the market is inundated with warehouses brimming full with all sorts of compound bows that would make a beginner’s head spin. Although there is no perfect bow, there is one that would be a right fit for you. It is a matter of doing some research to get that ideal match. It is a fairly simple process once you get over the fear of the terminology and acronyms you have probably encountered while learning from the TV or the internet.


Here is a list of factors you need to consider to help you get that perfect compound bow to start you with your archery career or help you make an upgrade.


Axle to Axle Length

Axle measurement is the total length of the compound bow. It is the distance between the axle of the cam on top of the bow and the opposing axle on the bottom (the cam is the wheel-like devices that power the bow). The bow’s axle to axle length and the bow’s brace height should be your major considerations as these have a significant impact on how easy to shoot it.

A short bow may be easier to maneuver but it can be harder to shoot and would require you to practice more. Shorter bows can be good for hunting in a thick forest, on ground blinds, on tree stands or in similar tight situations. If you were planning to roam flat terrains and open hunting grounds, then a long one would work best for you.

Knowing the axle-to-axle length can provide you with the correct measurement specs to help you find the most fitting bow for you. You can also find the best brand to match the type of shooting you will be doing.


Eye Dominance


Your brain prefers visual input from your dominant eye over the other, which means that this eye’s judgment is more reliable according to your brain. You need to determine which one is your dominant eye, but usually, it is the same side as your writing hand. If you are right-eye dominant, you should shoot with your right hand, left-eye dominant should shoot with the left hand.


Here is the Porta Test for Eye Dominance:

  • Extend your arm out in front of you
  • With both eyes open raise your thumb or align your index finger on a distant object
  • Close the left eye and observe the location of the object
  • Now open the left eye, close the right eye, and observe the location of the object


If the object disappeared or seemed to move to one side when you closed the right eye, chances are your dominant eye is your right. The eye that kept the object stationary in the view window is your dominant eye.


Draw Length

Now that you know which one is your dominant eye, you need to determine your draw length. If you are planning to buy from a physical store, they can help you get your draw measurements, but if you are buying online, you need to know how to get your measurements. Getting the right draw length can mean a great user experience and easy mastery of archery skills.

Stand upright with your two arms fully outstretched to form a T, have someone measure from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger in a straight line. Divide that number by 2.5 to get a rough estimate of your draw length, however, consulting an experienced archer is recommended to get an accurate and precise draw length.


Draw Weight

Draw weight is equally as important as draw length. This is a measure of how many pounds you can draw or pull back with the bow. The right draw weight will determine the accuracy of your shots, so you should take this seriously.

There is no single magic formula for knowing your draw weight other than testing different compound bow weights randomly until you finally settle with the most comfortable one. If you are getting your first bow, you should start with a low pound bow and let your bow-muscles get the hang of it. The more weight you can draw, the farther you will be able to shoot.



Compound bows have an average speed of 300 feet per second (fps). The IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) is the standard used to measure a bow’s speed. A faster shooting bow can make aiming easier within ranges fewer than 40 yards. When your arrow strikes the target, it will do a better job of traveling through obstructions and can give you better penetration. A faster speed bow is suitable for hunting large game.


Other Factors

 Adjustability is a factor that also needs consideration. However, there are lots of brands and models that are highly adjustable to suit an eight-year-old kid, which he can still use as he grows up. It is also advisable to talk to as many compound bow sellers as you can. You can have insights that you would not normally get if you just read or browse websites or brochures. Do not go for the first “great deal” you come across with, as there are many good brands you can choose from, you need to dig a little deeper.



If you are interested and serious in archery, it is highly recommended to get the expert assistance of an archer who has a comprehensive knowledge of anything and everything about archery equipment. One good option is buying from a pro shop; they have qualified shop workers who can assist you with the set up that you want.

When you know what you want and what you need, getting the perfect compound bow is quite a breeze. You will get the one that is best suited for you to get you started on your way to your archery targets.



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