How to Shoot a Compound Bow

recurve bows

How to Shoot a Compound Bow

Compound bows are the most commonly used by archers today. They’re easier to draw, aim and shoot than recurve bows due to their simplified design.

They’re also much cheaper. This is because they use noncircular wheels or cams to alter the force required as you complete a draw cycle. In some models, this lets-off can reach as high as 90%, which reduces the draw weight at full draw.
Draw Length

No matter if you’re just beginning to hunt with a compound bow or an experienced compound shooter, the proper draw length is critical. Not only will it affect your form and shooting style, but also safety. If the draw length of the bow is too long, your front arm will be outstretched and forced to extend fully; placing your inner elbow directly against the bowstring which could result in injury.

Modern compound bows generally feature a mechanical stop at full draw that limits the draw length to 29 inches. If you’re uncertain about your draw length, speak with an archery professional before making any adjustments.

You can measure your draw length using several methods, such as the arm span method or sternum midline measurement. The arm span method is a popular and accurate way to find your draw length; it involves standing upright while spreading your arms out wide in an erect position that places them parallel with the floor.

A sternum midline measurement can also be taken, though it tends to be less precise than the arm span method. Furthermore, measuring with a measuring tape may be difficult so have someone help you stand up and spread your arms out. You could also use a calculator for extra assurance that the number you’re getting is correct.
Weight

Have you ever held a compound bow in your hands? It might feel heavy to you. How you handle the weight of the bow can make or break your experience with it.

Compound bows can be constructed with either solid limbs (one piece on each side) or split limbs. The material used to construct a compound bow plays an integral role in its strength and performance.

The peak draw weight of a compound bow is the highest point at which you can fully draw its string. At this point, most of its energy will be stored. As you pull away from full draw, its peak draw weight will gradually reduce until reaching something known as “the valley.”

This valley is a distance in which you only need to hold part of the compound’s full draw weight, thanks to its mechanical relaxation (let off) system. This allows for longer aiming as only part of its peak draw weight must be pulled over until it’s finished.

Let off is an important topic in compound bow discussion, as it can be a major factor for archers. Some may argue that a wider let off is more forgiving than one with lower angles or that having a longer brace height makes forgiving shooting easier, but these recommendations lack concrete data to back them up.
Length of String

Bow strings are an integral component of any compound bow, and must be precisely measured for optimal performance. Otherwise, you could end up with inaccurate shots or worse yet, your compound bow may derail at a critical moment.

The length of your string is essential as it determines how long an arrow will remain on target when struck. Furthermore, it can affect your bow’s stability and overall accuracy.

String lengths for bows typically can be found on either a label attached to one of the limbs or in the owner’s manual. You may also ask a bow tech for this information or visit the manufacturer website to look it up.

Compound bows consist of a main string and several cables that connect to cams or wheels when drawing and firing an arrow. Since each string and cable has its own length, you must determine which ones go with which limbs.

Archers often use string loops on their compound bows to extend their draw length, but this isn’t always the case; in some cases, it could actually reduce it if you’re at your maximum draw weight.
Bowstring

The bowstring is an essential element in a compound bow. It connects the limbs and riser, as well as transferring energy from the archer’s arm to the arrow. Therefore, it’s essential that this string be properly set up and performing at its optimal performance for efficient use of the bow.

Bowstrings were traditionally made from plant fibers and animal hides; however, today they are produced using advanced synthetic materials. These provide archers with the strength and durability they require to shoot a compound bow accurately, quickly, and safely.

Archers may be uncertain which string material is ideal for their compound bow. There are various types of bow strings available, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.

String materials vary, for instance. Some are more resistant to abrasion and breakage while others feature more strands which make them harder to tune and pull back.

Another potential issue is that certain bowstring materials can creep with repeated shooting. This is particularly problematic on modern high powered compounds where string tension is much greater than on traditional recurve or longbow bows.

Fortunately, no-creep string materials exist that combine HMWP-based material and Vectran. These products guarantee no creep when using normal bow tension and tend to be 100% stable – though some archers may experience some “give” after repeated shooting.
Bow Brace

A compound bow’s brace height, measured from the string to its deepest part when resting, varies between bows and can be adjusted by twisting the bowstring.

Modern compound bows typically feature a brace height of 6 to 7 inches, though some may vary slightly. This length allows the arrow to develop more speed and energy as it remains on the bowstring for extended periods.

Generally, target shooters looking to improve their accuracy will find this to be beneficial. A shorter bow has less forgiveness and may make archers more susceptible to making minor errors during a shoot.

It is wise to periodically check your brace height, so that it remains at an ideal length for you. This can be done using a bow square or by taking your bow into an experienced archery shop for tuning.

Short brace height can lead to the discomfort of “string slap,” where the arrow’s string comes into contact with your wrist or forearm while you hold the bow. Fortunately, most bows now feature string stops that significantly reduce this effect.

Bow engineers are always striving to perfect their designs in order to satisfy customer demands, such as increasing arrow speed and reducing vibration. That is why you may see numerous brace height options on one bow model.
Arrow Rest

Compound bow arrow rests are essential components for improving shooting accuracy. A poor rest can rob you of all your potential, so it’s essential to invest in one that fits your shooting style (fingers or release), hunting purpose and bow model perfectly.

The ideal rests offer multiple settings that let you fine-tune your arrow to fit the bow perfectly. Some are simple, requiring only a hex screw, while others offer microadjustment via rotating dial.

Arrow rests come in two primary varieties: shoot-through and drop-away. Most compound archers prefer shoot-through rests because they’re easy to install and cause fewer clearance issues.

Additionally, they help prevent bounce-back from your launcher after each shot, improving fletching clearance and increasing arrow speed. Unfortunately, they lack the same level of adjustability as drop-away rests do.

If you need an arrow rest that can withstand harsh conditions, consider a drop-away rest. These are more cost-effective than shoot-through rests and provide superior arrow retention for consistent accuracy. Furthermore, they’re easier to mount and adjust than most other arrow rests.

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