What Is A Compound Bow? (Archery)

compound bow


Compound bows are more powerful, easier to pull back and allow the user to hold the bow at a more relaxed angle. Because of this, this bow tends to be slightly shorter with a faster arrow speed.

A compound bow requires a longer pull than a typical bow, like a recurve bow. The difference in the length of the pull is accomplished by both an increase in the draw weight and using pulleys (elastic cords) to stretch the draw weight further. This makes it easier for beginners to learn how to operate these bows.

Compound Bow Pulleys

The pulleys that are on this type of bow are not the same as normal pulleys found in other areas. These are specifically made for archery to assist with more controlled draws and better arrow speeds. The type of pulley that is used in archery is called a horn pulley. While there are different thicknesses of these pulleys, the most common is 0.006″ thick. The purpose of this pulley and the draw weight is to allow for a longer draw than that of a typical bow while maintaining control of the arrow when it is released from the bowstring.

Compound Bowstrings

Compound bowstrings are designed to have a certain amount of stretch set by “tensioning.” The amount of stretch depends on what size string you are using and what the wind conditions are. For an archer that wants to shoot arrows at a particular distance, the archer must adjust the size of the bowstring to achieve the desired results.

There are two different types of material commonly used in compound bow strings: sinew and nylon. Sinew is much more flexible. Since sinew is not as strong as nylon, sinew must use it with heavier draw weights than nylon. Nylon ropes are used for bows in competition settings where they are expected to withstand a great deal of stress from the powerful arrows and drawn bows shooting them.

The tension of compound bows

Before shooting the bow, there is an adjustment phase where the archer makes sure the string is tight against the bow riser. The archer then aims and draws the bowstring until the arrow is ready to be shot. Once the arrow leaves the bow, the archer wants to stop it from moving in an uncontrolled manner. This is where tensioning comes into play; when tension is exerted on a bowstring, there is no longer a need to pull at the amount of draw weight on the bow. When combined with pulleys, tension will allow the archer to exert less force on the bowstring without losing control or speed.

Draw weight

To determine how much draw weight a bow offers, the peak draw weight is oftentimes used. This is determined by graphically representing how much an archer pulls on a bow with weights placed along the string to measure how far it bends under tension. The peak draw weight is measured in pounds (abbreviated as Lb). A forty-pound peak draw weight means that an archer could pull 40 lbs down on a compound bow, and it would remain at rest without bending any further. This, however, does not mean that the archer should pull this amount of draw weight down on the bow at one time because it would be too difficult and could cause injuries.

The optimal amount of draw weight for archery is generally determined by age and gender. The pull force required for compound bows is dependent on the mass of the arrow being used (the kinetic energy it has as an object). For this reason, children’s bows usually have a draw weight of about 5 lb to 25 lb. Men tend to use bows between 25 lb to 70 lb, while women are between 20 lb to 50 lb. Familiarization is an important part of learning how to use this bow type. While it is important to practice with heavy weights for accuracy, there is a large difference in the experience when a beginner learns to use a bow with heavy draw weights compared to light draw weights.


The main reason why people enjoy this bow type is because of how much power one can generate from such a small piece of equipment. The archer can harness the force of a compound bow in several different ways; the archer can shoot with a long and slow draw, or they could release their draw much more quickly to create a more powerful shot. These factors add up to making compound bows an extremely effective and enjoyable tool for both veterans and beginners.

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Compound Bow – Wikipedia

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