What Is A Compound Bow? – Power And Beauty Combined - My Archery Corner

What Is A Compound Bow? – Power And Beauty Combined

Compound Bow

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Compound Bow

If you ever had the question “What is a compound bow?” you came to the right place!
While I mentioned the compound bow in my article about bow types, I didn’t really explain in detail what this futuristic bow is really all about:

Where Does It Get Its Power From?

Like all other bows, compound bows, like the PSE Stinger Compound Bow, have different draw weights.
Draw weight is the force you have to use to fully draw the bow.
A bow with 20 LBS is much easier to draw than a bow with 50+ LBS.

The higher the draw weight the faster the arrow will fly and the stronger will its “punch on impact” become.
If you want to hunt big game (e.g. deer), you need a bow with a high enough draw weight.
I usually would say that you will be fine with a draw weight of 40 LBS to hunt deer (use a broadhead for hunting big game), but you always have to make sure what the law in your state says, as this can vary from state to state.

But what if you are just not strong enough to draw and then hold the string back for a while to get a good aim?
This is where the compound bow can help you out:

The first few inches you will have to manually draw the string back with all your strength, but then it suddenly gets easier and easier to draw the bow, until you are in full draw and hardly even feel the weight you are actually holding anymore.

This is what makes the compound bow so special.

But how does it work?

The Smart Levering System Of A Compound Bow

Pulley or Cam

The Cam Of A Compound Bow. Used under creative commons from: Reinhard Kraasch

Take a closer look at the compound bow and you will notice a levering system that looks rather complicated at first.
The string is winding back and forth around a few pulleys. Those “pulleys” are usually called “cams” when we talk about compound bows.

You most likely have seen and used pulleys before to lift heavier things up, which would have been impossible to lift with your body strength.

The compound bow uses the same trick:

After a short time, when you have begun drawing the bow, the pulleys kick in and do most of the work for you.

That’s why you can often see compound bow archers stand quite long in full draw before they let an arrow fly.

Most compound bows have a “let off” of 75%!
There are bows with more or less, though.
So when you use a compound bow and are in full draw, you actually only have to hold 75% from its original draw weight!

Isn’t that fantastic?
I think it is great! It can make your live as an archer so much easier.

More About Compound Bows

Compound bows not only have the pulley system that seperates them from longbows or recurve bows.

Their stabilizers, arrow rests, scopes and sights usually look and function differently as well and are specially designed for compound bows.

Additionally, most compound archers use a mechanical release instead of just using their fingers to draw and release the bowsting.

Mechanical releases get attached to the bowstring and will release the bowstring when the trigger of the release is pulled/pushed.

While they are most common under compound archers, there are recurve bow archers who like using mechanical releases, too.

Learn more about mechanical releases in my article “What Is A Mechanical Release?“!

Shooting With A Compound Bow

Compound Bow Archery Using A Release.

Is A Compound Bow Suitable For Beginners?


But you have to be sure that you will practice archery for a long time, and won’t stop after a week or two.
Compound bows are usually more expensive than their brothers, so it would be a waste of money to buy one without using it for a longer time.

No matter with which bow you start, you need to learn how to handle your bow correctly.
Therefore, head over to my archery training to make yourself familiar with all the steps you need to succeed in archery.

Don’t pick a draw weight that is too high.
If you struggle to draw the bow, choose a bow with a lower draw weight.
You have to be able to draw the bow without bending your body backwards or sideways.

If it looks like this, your bow is too strong for you:

I know, this video is a bit funny but please take my advice seriously and don’t overestimate yourself.
While there are several health benefits of archery, you can hurt yourself quickly when you do something wrong and don’t stay away from the most common archery mistakes.

Longbow, Recurve Bow, Compound Bow Or Crossbow – Which Is Your Favorite?

The question “What is a compound bow?” has been answered and now I would like to hear from you which bow you prefer.

I personally like the longbow and the recurve bow the best.
I have shot with many different compound bows (borrowed and rented), and I really like the feeling of them, but I haven’t bought one so far.
Crossbows are great fun, too, if you want to mix it up a bit.

If you want to try a compound bow that is well suitable for beginners and advanced archers, I would like to recommend the PSE Stinger Compound Bow to you. Have a look and give it a try!

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments, which is your favorite bow type and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me below.

I will answer very quickly.



Leave a Comment:

(8) comments


I don’t know nothing about bows but your article makes it easy to understand. Your writing style is easy to follow. The compound bow looks a bit futuristic to me. From you have written here it’s great advantage is that you might have to put a bit of strength when you start pulling but I then becomes easy. However, for a beginner like me, a cheaper bow would be best. Which one would you advise?


    Hello Ana.

    Welcome to My Archery Corner.

    If you prefer more traditional bows, you can go with a recurve bow or longbow. Have a look at the different bow types.

    I recommend the SAS Courage Recurve Bow to beginners.

    Shortly, I will review other bows (longbows, too) here on my website.
    So keep your eyes open for that.

    Have great day!



Hi Moritz,

Your site provides a great education on archery! I am a tennis player and an NFL football fan, but love to play all sports and try new things. I have no experience with archery, but would very much like to try that compound bow, as well as the others.

My son has expressed an interest in archery. He is 14 years old. I read your recommendations for youth archery sets and the Bear Archery Apprentice III Right Hand Bow Set looks like it might be a good one for him. Is this the best option for him just starting out, or would you recommend something else?

Thank you very much,



    Hello Tony.

    If you would like to try a compound bow I would recommend the PSE Stinger Compound Bow to you.

    For you son the Bear Archery Apprentice 3 set would definitely be a good option, but you can have a look at more youth archery sets here.
    The Apprentice 3 set is great, because you can adjust the draw weight while your son is getting stronger over the years.

    Let me know if you need any more help with finding the best bow for yourself and your son.

    As a beginner you should have a look at my archery training, too.




I found you article fascinating even though I know very little about compound bows and have only tried the conventional sort a few times. I never knew there was so much to them or so many different types.

I did notice that there was more interest in archery after movies such as Brave and The Hunger Games came out but I agree with you to take up this sport you would need to be committed as it can be expensive.

I really enjoyed going through your site it is easy to navigate ,the information and guidance is excellent. I do wonder though if you would need good upper body strength to master this sport for it seemed that it is quite a bit of weight to the draw.

It is lovely and graceful sport though I do not think I could do the hunting live game part, I enjoy watching the games to hit targets


    Hello Katie,

    welcome to My Archery Corner.

    I agree that archery can be a rather expensive sport when starting out and you have to buy all your equipment.
    The good news is that if you buy high quality items, that they will last almost forever.
    A bow can be handed down from generation to generation, so the bow you buy now can still be used by your children or even grandchildren (if treated well).

    I always recommend, to try archery first a few times, before buying a bow.
    Many archery ranges let you borrow bows, too. So you can really figure out first if archery is the right sport for you.

    Archery does need upper body strength, but you don’t need to be a body builder to draw a 50 LBS bow.
    The right archery technique is also important.
    An adult with “normal” build should be able to draw a bow between 25-35 LBS. After that the archery training will increase the body strength automatically so that “heavier” bows can be drawn later on.

    People who don’t want to hurt animals but still want to have a hunting experience can join field archery competitions which usually have 3d targets to simulate hunting.
    I personally prefer target archery, too. 🙂



very informative for us returning / new archers, have shot a compound since I completed introductory course years ago, now at the stage of looking for arrows to replace my Easton acc superlite that I use in my club compititions as managed to break 2 getting my site marks in, and cannot justify the replacement costs for the eastons, shooting a PSE Phenom XT at 38 lbs pull 30 inch draw, recommendations welcome. keep the information coming


    Hi Terry,

    I was actually about to recommend Easton Arrows.
    But if you are looking for an alternative, please type “arrows” in the search box and you will come to a few other arrows I reviewed before.
    You should also get an email very soon from my newsletter that talks about all the different arrow types.


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