Archery is incredibly popular. A compound bow is one of the oldest and most popular compound bows used throughout history. The noticeable increase in bows in popular movies like Avengers, Hunger Games, and TV shows like Arrow and Revolution has helped to grow interest in the weapon. Additionally, the compound bow has always been considered as an important weapon in history and literature such as the story of William Tell.
But, there are other, more important reasons the compound bow is prominent. First, they are compact and extremely powerful, which makes them ideal for hobbies including target shooting and hunting. However, there are many different types of bows on the market.
Today's bows have changed a great deal from the bows used in history. In fact, the bows available today have even changed from a couple years ago. There are even significant differences in bows in the same category. For this buying guide, we are concentrating on compound bows.
In this guide, we will recommend the five best compound bows on the market and we will go over many popular accessories as well. By checking out this guide, you can learn what to look for when buying a guide, a list of pros and cons of each bow on the list, and thorough unbiased reviews of each product. By studying all these details, you will be able to pick the right compound bow to put on your hunting backpack, based on your budget, age, and in some cases gender.
Where to Buy a Compound Bow?
Before you begin reading this compound bow buying guide, it’s important to talk about where you should buy your weapon. Many bow hunters will make you believe that you can only buy this type of bow at a professional archery shop.
This may have been true many years ago, but changes in technology have made it possible to have a fully set-up compound bow delivered to your front door without ever leaving the house. Still not convinced? Consider that today almost all bows, compound, recurve, and cross, are ordered online and delivered to customers at their home.
It is true that some brands or compound bow types may be offered only online or in a pro shop, but it’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t much difference between bow brands. The biggest differences with this type of equipment is marketing. In this guide, we will be reviewing bows from brands you may have never heard of; however, each of these brands has been tried and tested by shooters just like you with favorable reviews.
Features of a Great Compound Bow
When we break down the best compound bows in this buying guide, we will be basing our opinions on the six features that are most important to bow hunters.
- Speed abilities
- Draw weight
- Draw length
- Let off
- Brace height
We will quickly go over what makes a bow one of the best here, to reduce the need to repeat this information in each of the five product reviews later in the guide. First, let’s start with speed.
1) Compound Bow Speed
When considering what compound bow will be great for your hunting season, you need to consider speed. All bows have a Feet Per Second (FPS) rating. The International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) standardizes the approach that manufacturers use to measure speeds.
Currently, the standard for measuring speed is 70lbs., 30” draw length, and a 350-grain arrow. It’s important to know if your compound bow is using different standards then this, the speed results will be different.
It’s best to choose a compound bow with the highest speed possible. The faster the speed of your arrow when shooting, the harder it will be for your prey to escape before the hunting arrow hits it. Additionally, the speed of the arrow also effects how hard the arrow will hit the target, which can result in whether your kill gets away or ends up in your freezer.
2) Draw Weight
After you’ve narrowed down the compound bows that meet your needs in regards to speed, it’s time to think about draw weight. Draw weight is the amount of weight you feel when you retract your bowstring. For many reasons, it’s important to choose a bow that has a maximum draw weight. It’s important to point out that if you plan to hunt deer, you’ll need a bow with at least 45lb. draw weight. But most hunters, choose a draw weight of at least 50 to 70lbs.
While hunters should always choose a draw weight of at least 45lbs., it’s important you don’t choose a bow with a draw weight that is too much for you. If the bow you want has a draw weight that you can’t handle, it can lead to poor shooting techniques.
3) Draw Length
Draw length is the distance between positions of the compound bow’s bowstring at rest and full draw. Draw length correlates with a person’s stature. The best way to determine your draw length is to measure your full arm span and divide that number by 2.5. All of the bows we will discuss in the buying guide have adjustable draw lengths.
4) Let Off
Now it’s time to talk about let off. The cams of a compound bow are held at full draw by a small percentage of the draw weight. Let off is calculated by taking the percentage of the peak weight you can hold at full draw. For instance, if your compound bow is set at a 70lb. draw weight and you have a 75% let off, you full draw is 17lbs., which means you need at least 17lbs. to keep the bowstring at full draw.
A compound bow with a low let off increases arrow velocity. A higher let off can lead to bad shooting forms, but is rather useful in hunting scenarios where you require the perfect shot to get a buck.
5) Brace Height
The brace height is the distance of the bowstring from the shooter’s grip on the bow. Short brace heights result in better stored energy and better arrow velocity. However, brace heights less than 6.5” or less can create flaws in shooting techniques. It’s best to start off with a brace height at 7”, the standard.
Lastly, when considering the five best compound bows were presenting in this buying guide, it’s important to keep your budget in mind. It’s best to choose a bow that meets as many as the characteristics above, but is still within your budget. When shopping for a bow, it’s important to realize whether accessories you will need to shoot are included in price or must be purchased separately.
Top 5 Best Compound Bows
The Cruzer Compound Bow from Bear Archery is sold as a ready to hunt bow package. It has been tested, designed, and manufactured to meet the needs of bowhunters. The adjustable design of this bow means it can grow with little ones or dads can use it too. The draw length ranges from 12” to 30” and features adjustable draw weights that start at 5lbs. and top out at 70lbs. The bow comes outfitted with shooting accessories you’ll need to get shooting right away.
- Right handed bow
- Quad (4) Limbs
- Weighs 3.6 lbs.
- 6.5” brace height
- 32” from axle to axle
- Advanced hand and grip design
- 12" to 30" Draw Length in " Increments
- Offset String Suppressors
- Sold as a kit with needed accessories
- Easy to customize
- May not be sophisticated enough for an experienced archer
Conclusion: All things considered, the bow package is great for beginners. It offers more experienced bow hunters a relatively affordable package, but may not be sophisticated enough to provide them with the shooting experience they desire.
Leader Accessories Compound Bow 30-55lbs with Max Speed of 296fps is quality archery hunting equipment. With this bow, archers will enjoy 30-55lbs of draw weight and a draw length of 19” to 29”. The maximum arrow speed from this bow is 296FPS with a 70% let off. The compound bow weighs just 3.3lbs, and is very easy to carry on long hunts.
- Draw Weight: 30 - 55 lbs.
- Draw Length: 19" - 29"
- Max Speed: 296 FPS
- Let Off: 70%
- Right handed bow
- Weight: 3.3 lbs.
- Aluminum Riser
- Axle to Axle: 28"
- Accessories included are a fiber optic sight, bow release aid, drop away arrow rest, peep sight, D-String, 2 30” aluminum arrows
- Great for beginners
- Arrows aren’t ideal for hunting.
- Included accessories may be too simple for experienced archers
Conclusion: The Leaders Compound Bow package includes everything a hunter needs when they're starting out. It’s a great bow for beginner bow hunters and newbie archers.
The Cruzer AP from Bear Archery in blue has a draw weight of 15-70lb. and has an adjustable draw length of 12” to 30”. Bow hunters and archers enjoy this bow because it has advanced grip design, which eliminates torque and improves accuracy. The high-precision limb pockets offers a locked-in fit. Max-preload quad limbs are offered for even better power. Accessories included with this blue archery bow include a 4 pin sight, a stabilizer, sling, quiver, peep sight, and nock loop.
- Versatile MV cam system
- 15lb to 70lb draw weight
- 12” to 30” adjustable draw length
- Advanced grip design
- Right handed bow
- Enhanced accuracy
- Limb pockets for high-precision
- Locked-in fit
- Quad (4) limbs for proven power
- Comes with included accessories from Trophy Ridge including a sight, stabilizer, pin and quiver
- Completely set-up
- Ideal bow set-up for beginner hunters or archers
- Budget, starter bow
- Accessories may not be suitable for a skilled archer
Conclusion: The blue Cruzer from Bear is ideal for young hunters, older hunters struggling with shoulder strength, and anyone else that wants to try target shooting or bow hunting, but doesn’t want to invest a ton of money in new equipment.
The Archery Lithium Bow from Martin is a great bow for avid hunters and target shooters. The compound bow features a 33.25” axle to axle and has a 7” brace height. The Nitro 3 Cam on the bow is adjustable and the draw length is 38” to 31”. Carbon arrows are shot at 335’ per second.
- 33.25” Axle to Axle
- 7” Brace Height
- Mossy Oak Camo Pattern
- Nitro 3 Cam
- Right handed bow
- 38” to 31” Draw Length Adjustment
- Mossy Oak pattern makes it great for target shooting or hunting
- Feet per second allows you to make good penetration with prey or targets
- Nobs allowing the bow to be adjusted don’t stay in place all the time
The Bowtech Carbon Knight RH Mossy Oak Infinity Camo R.A.K. is the bow legends choose when hitting the woods. The Carbon Knight is one of the lightest bows on the market and features a Binary Cam design. The unique cam design allows you to draw comfortably without losing any speed. With this lightweight bow, you can expect to be able to maneuver quickly and easily, which will help you get off shots when you need it.
- Adjustable bow weight 60lbs to 70lbs
- Sold with pin sight, quiver, d-loop and stabilizer
- 29” draw
- 80% let off
- Mossy Oak Infinity camo pattern
- Comes with accessories
- 29” draw
- 80-percent let off
- 2013 model
- Comes with a rest, but not likely sophisticated enough for avid bow hunters
Now you have it. Five quality compound bows that will allow you to be a better target shooter or bow hunter. Each of the bows featured in this buying guide has their own pros and cons. Some are great for avid hunters and others are best for those just getting interested in bowhunting with a compound bow or target shooting.
For young shooters just starting out, we recommend the compound bow from Leaders. It comes with everything except for gloves. A young shooter will want to wear a glove to keep their hands from getting cold and to protect their hands.
If you are an avid shooter and you’re looking for a spare bow or even your second or third bow, we recommend the Bowtech Carbon Knight with a 70lb. draw weight. The camo patterned bow will be a great asset to your collection.