The compound bow has been around since 1966, and it has been helping archers fire a longer, faster and more accurate shot ever since. The compound bow has long since replaced the traditional bow as the bow of choice whether it be for recreation or competition. They provide high efficiency with minimal effort so that the archer no longer has to rely on brute strength alone. They are a huge improvement on the old style of bow and have been perfected to fire the best shot, whether you are out hunting or firing at a static target.
How does a compound bow work?
A compound bow works under the same premise as a traditional bow, whereby the bowstring is pulled which in turn bends the limbs of the bow in order to add potential energy to the arrow. The difference with a compound bow is that a system of cables and pulleys add a mechanical advantage, meaning that it is a lot easier to store energy, which is then transferred into the arrow. Due to this advantage, the archer is able to shoot an arrow with a lot more power and accuracy than a traditional bow.
The difference between the old and new is obvious when you see both of them in action. There are a few things that set a compound bow apart from its predecessor. The first one is the pulleys and cables mentioned. There is a pulley at the top and bottom of the bow, which uses the pulley system to reduce the amount of force you have to exert on the bowstring to get the same velocity that a traditional bow would give. Also added to the compound bow is a bow sight so that you can gauge an accurate shot, and also a stabilizing weight so the bow feels well balanced in your hand.
Not many changes in theory, as you are still putting an arrow onto the string, pulling back and letting it fly, but the technology on a compound bow makes it much easier for the archer to fire an accurate shot
How to shoot a compound bow for beginners?
The whole reason why the compound bows exist is that they are a lot easier to shoot than traditional bows, which makes them great for beginners. Shooting a bow correctly all starts with your stance, your feet should be about shoulder length apart at a right-angle to your target. A right-handed shooter should have their left side facing the target, and a left-handed shooter with their right. Then place your back foot in a strong position to give yourself a stable base and point your toes in a way which feels comfortable to you.
You need the grip of the bow to lie in the center of your palm so that the bow weight is in between your thumb and your fingers. There is a temptation to grip the bow too tightly when firing, but this is to be avoided as it can cause the bow to twist after you have fired your shot. This can not only affect the accuracy of your shot but can also damage your wrist.
The bow should have a nest in which to place your arrow, which should click into place. At this point, you can either use the mechanical release or pull back with your fingers. The mechanical release is preferred as this attaches to the string and can be released without your fingers touching the string and affecting the shot. Once you’ve drawn your bow it is important to stay still and keep your chin parallel to the ground. Your bow should have dots that indicate firing distance, but these can vary for each bow so it is important to check your manual.
Hold your bow at a right angle to the ground, keeping your grip loose.
At this point you should find what is commonly known as your “anchor point” which is a point around your face where you rest the bow, this is personal for each archer and you need to find what’s comfortable for you. Once you have got to this point, it’s time to fire. It’s important to make sure your release is a smooth as possible, ensuring no movements affect the accuracy of the shot. The power of the bow can be surprising, but make sure you keep still and keep you head down. Once you have the basics, you can then work around with what is comfortable to your style.
What is draw weight on a compound bow?
Now, many people may think that this is in regards to the actual weight of the bow, when in fact the draw weight refers to the amount of effort required to pull the bow back so that the arrow can reach maximum velocity. This is generally measured in pounds, in terms of the amount of pounds of pressure you need to pull back the bow.
Whilst everyone would like to pull back the highest draw weight possible, it’s vital to know your limits. You will want to be able to hold the bow at full draw with a steady hand otherwise you won’t achieve an accurate shot. You should be able to hold a bow at full draw for around half a minute before shaking, which should give you the perfect draw weight for yourself.
How do you know if a compound bow is right or left-handed?
Whether you should have a left or right handed bow doesn’t always depend on whether your right or left hand is dominant, it also depends on which eye is dominant. A good way to test this is to put your two hands together and create a small opening in the middle. Through this opening, you should look at something across the room through the hole. Then you should close one eye at a time. You should find that one eye will remain on the object, and the other will be blind to it. The eye that remains on the target is your dominant eye.
Thankfully our dominant eye is usually on the same side as your dominant hand, but this isn’t always the case. A right-handed archer shooting with their right eye will be looking down sights on the left side of the bow. If you’re using your left eye to shoot, and therefore your left hand to pull back the bow, then the sights will be on the right side of the bow. If your dominant eye is on the opposite side to your dominant hand, then it’s important to find what feels most comfortable to you.
How far can you shoot a compound bow?
1,000 yards, or at least, that’s technically what you can do. People don’t buy compound bows however to shoot them into the air and see how far an arrow can travel. The answer depends on your skill level and strength.
The best hunter’s in the world can strike from around 100 yards away, but even that is seen as a huge distance and is generally the maximum distance used in Olympic archery. Compound bows are rarely used to their maximum shooting distance, as there is no point to it. Bows are used for either hunting or target shooting and both of these are done at much shorter distances than the bow is capable of.
In hunting, for example, the perfect distance is generally seen around 30 yards away from the target, as this provides enough distance to be able to stay undercover, but close enough that you can deliver an accurate and effective shot. In target practice, the same applies as the further away from a target, the less accurate you will be. In competitive target shooting, the shortest distance is around 20 yards away. How far the bow can shoot isn’t generally a concern for most beginners.
How do you know how long your arrows should be?
Before you fire a shot in anger, it’s important to find out what the correct arrow length is for you, which varies for each archer. To find this out, you need to determine what your natural draw length is. The best way to do this is to hold a tape measure in your bow hand then draw it back as if you were drawing a bow to the corner of your mouth.
Once you have this measurement, it is advised that you add two inches to the measurement as firing with an arrow that is too short can be extremely dangerous, and can lead to serious injury. If you have any doubts about what arrow length you should be shooting with, then any arrow store should be able to oblige and measure this for you.
What to look for when buying a used compound bow?
When it comes to choosing the right bow for you, there are three main things to consider. Draw weight, draw length and axel/bow length are the main points that should determine the bow that is right for you.
As it suggests, the draw length is the distance that you can draw the bow, measured to the grip. A lot of the time, the draw length can be adjusted, but only to a point, when choosing a bow it is important to find what’s right for you. At full draw, shooters have a base to work with and a common reference point. Having a long draw length and having to shorten your draw takes away from that, and having a short draw length won’t allow you the velocity required. As mentioned, draw weight is dependent on your size and strength and it’s important to know your limits.
The total length of your bow is important too. Naturally shorter bows are more nimble and easier to carry, but are less stable, so harder to accurately shoot. Longer bows are the opposite, they are harder to carry but are more forgiving and will give you a more accurate shot. A skilled hunter would be best with a short bow, while a novice target shooter should opt for a longer bow. It’s all about what is right for you, considering the use of the bow and your level of experience.
With used bows, it is important to inspect them before you make the decision to purchase. The first part to inspect would be the strings and cables that are fundamental to your compound bow. These should be completely intact and any fraying or damage could mean expensive repairs soon after you purchase the bow. Run your fingers down the strings, then this should tell you if there is any damage or not.
The first place that a bow generally gets damaged is on the bottom, as this is generally where is gets dropped, or the most pressure is applied if they have been leant on. After you’ve checked the bottom, check the limbs of the bow to ensure that they aren’t cracked or chipped, a small issue now could turn into a big problem later. Don’t be afraid to refuse to purchase if something doesn’t look right.
Once you’ve checked if the bow is in good physical shape, you then need to check it is all mechanically in order by giving the bow a few test pulls and taking it to maximum draw. Make sure the draw suits you and that the motion is free and smooth. If it isn’t smooth then that could mean that it is need of some mechanical repairs. Once you have checked everything is okay, then you can go ahead and purchase your bow, as long as you have a fair price.
If you’re new to archery, then it’s best to not try and overcomplicate your purchase. Find a bow that matches your height and strength, and is comfortable in your hands. The temptation to obtain a high-powered bow can be great, but it’s important to know your own strength and limitations, if you can’t use the full power of a bow, it’ll only hurt your accuracy. It’s important to take your time and find the right bow for you. Taking that time will mean that when the time comes to use it, you will have one that perfectly matches your strength and experience.