Educate me: compound bows.

Alright, so this is not strictly firearms related, sort of… I took my kid to an archery range, for his mates b’day party. While kids were doing all sorts of competitions and shooting deer silhouettes (didn’t see that happening, but whatever, I am not complaining), I’ve hired a longbow and had a go, even managed to hit the bullseye a few times at 15m which was fun.

…sooooo, you know where this is going. I feel like I need a bow, like a little compound bow or something. They looked very cool. Anyone knows anything about compound bows? What to look for, what to avoid, etc.

Also, should there be another forum category dedicated to archery?

Its a trap, don’t do it!
Arrows cost almost as much as rifles and you lose or break them every shot. I took up bow hunting for a week then gave up and went back to my guns.

1 Like

Get a hoyt! Or a matthews i used to shoot competitively :smiley:

Archery is great fun. I hadn’t shot a bow for years until yesterday. A friend brought his ‘beginners’ target bows out and we let some fly.

I’ve owned both recurves and compound but totally not up to speed with the latest for advice, JS. I’d agree with DMC, though. If you plan to hunt, ecpect to go through arrows…

I’ve shot more living things with arrows then i have a rifle, used to have a hoyt ignite compound bow and smashed rabbits with ease, you can break an arrow here and there but they’ve come along away, a fully set up arrow tip, insert, shaft, fletching and a knock is roughly $20 more if your putting broad heads on sold my bow for my .22 kinda regret that now, the freedom of being able to hunt in alot of places a rifle can’t is something i really miss

Actually, i will retract or re-phrase my last bit.
Shooting sensibly, your arrows should last quite well. I used to wreck arrows or loose them when practicing with dodgy back drops or poorly set up targets.

I’d love a nice new compound but as Tassy has no “bow hunting”, it is hard to justify the expense when there are so many shooting related things i still want.

Mind you, i have thought about setting up a bit of a target range and a field course for fun and for guests.

Long grass or loose dirt is the devil hey Gwion :joy:

Yep. Sure is, Aus! Lost quite a few in the grass and even some burried into the side of a hillock.

I do have one tip for you, JS: 45lb draw weight is likely to be enough. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when you are learning.

Ok, that’s exactly what I wanted to know, details like that.

With a compound and recurves that are riser+limb design, you can tune the limbs up and down in weight. You want something light to start to work on technique. Even 45lb is quite heavy to start. I’d be looking at 30-35 to make long practice sessions less taxing. I coukd be wrong but a set of 45lb limbs can be wound out to mid 30s. As you get used to it, crank up the draw weight. 45lb is heaps, even for mediun light game hunting.

I had a 70lb recurve that, while it had heaps of punch, was a bitch to draw but back then i was mega fit so it was no issue. I’d probably struggle these days. It is still floating around in the shed with no string and damaged limbs.

Then you have to decide if you are going to fit it out with all the techy stabilizers and sights and such or if you are just going to go bare bow instinctive.

Hi JS, you still looking for info on this or lost interest?

Even if JS has lost interest any info you could share with us all would be greatly appreciated. I think most shooters dabble with archery at some stage.
Also welcome to the site mate, why not pop over to the Say hello and introduce yourself :)
thread and tell us a bit about yourself. :+1:

Righto. First decision is trad (recurve or long bow, both of which have multiple options) or compound. Compound is easier to gain proficiency relatively quickly. Trad is a LONG journey but very rewarding.

There are a number of dedicated forums for bow hunting including the Australian bowhunting forum which is a great resource.

There are heaps of clubs around and most offer beginner courses and ongoing coaching. It’s well worth going even if just a few times to get yourself started on the right foot.

The following is related to compound bows…

Stay away from cheap gear as you will only regret it. There is a high turnover of gear and absolute bargains on well set up quality gear can be had if you buy a second hand bow that is a couple of years old. The turn over is driven by a combination of people losing interest and manufacturers bringing out new models every year: some people just like to have the latest. The general consensus is that really big advances only occur every few years, so a bow that is 5 years old is far from out dated technology. My main hunting bow is a 2012 model… My target bow is 2014.

The biggest risk with second hand bows is if it has been dry fired which is being drawn and shot without an arrow. The energy from the limbs that should be pushing an arrow has nothing to push and that energy is extremely harsh on the limbs and cams. Some bows are designed to withstand this abuse, but it’s definitely not something that’s good for bows, and often destroys limbs and cams. Buy from someone you trust or get the bow checked over by someone who knows what they are looking at.

There are left hand and right hand models. Most people shoot right handed, but the choice shouldn’t be made based on general handedness, but on eye dominance. Google this. If your left eye dominant, you “should” shoot a left handed bow, but rest assured, there’s plenty of left eye dominant archers that shoot right handed for a variety of reasons.

If you want a compound bow, your draw length is absolutely critical. It that’s not right, your wasting your time and will never ever shoot well. All compound bows have some level of adjustment for draw length but the amount of adjustment varies from 1/4" on super high performance target bows, to several inches on some hunting bows. On some bows changing drawlength requires nothing more than a couple of Allen keys. Other makes need a bow press for small changes, changing the cam modules for moderate changes, and changing changing cams and/or cams and strings plus cables for large changes. As a highly generalised statement, adjustability always comes at a performance cost.

Re poundage, some bows have wide poundage ranges, 10 pound is typical on Hoyt bows. A 50-60# bow with 75% let off is a good place for most people to start, but 40-50# is better for lightly built people. 60+ is too much for most people when starting out, and won’t help with learning good form. Some guys use 70-80# bows but that’s not a good place to start.

Different cam shapes alter the amount of let off (the difference between the full draw weight of the bow and what you hold at full draw) and speed. High let off is easier to hold which can be great when hunting, but can lead to form error. Target archers typically prefer lower let off (high holding weight). Fast bows are generally less forgiving of errors in the archers form and a slow hit is better than a fast miss

If you want to hunt, you will need to learn how to tune your bow. Without tuning a bow, it is extremely unlikely that a broadhead will hit at the same spot as field points. Mechanical rather than fixed broad heads are one way to buy your way out of needing to tune your bow, but your bow won’t be performing at its best so I can’t see the point. Either way, broadheads need to be razor (shaving) sharp. Near enough isn’t good enough.

Hope this gives you a starting point.


@Bent_arrow. Got any tips of where to look for decent 2nd hand gear at good prices? I’d be keen if i could get something at a reasonable price.

Have a look at the Australian bowhunting forum. There is always second hand gear being turned over. If your on Facebook (?) there are a few buy swap sell pages that are worth tracking as well.

Thanks, mate. I’ll keep an eye out. Hopefully I’ll find something i can afford sooner or later.

So. How do you determine draw length and get the right arrows?
What is the process of tuning the bow for broad heads?

As i posted above, i use to shoot bows a lot but it was all very basic and i would just practice with broad heads but that is obviously as pretty bad idea all around.

The most commonly used method to measure draw length, is to stand with your back against a wall with your arms out and palms facing forward with the back of your hands on the wall. Get someone else to measure from the tip of one middle finger to the other in inches and then divide that number by 2.5. That will put you close to your draw length. Most people need a little fine tuning but that method will put you in the ball park. Any decent shop will be able to then put you on a bow that is a little long for you and get you to draw back and hold a good anchor point and refine that measurement and help you set up your bow.

The Easton tuning guide

is a good start for bow tuning, but there is more information around that makes it easier to understand. There are a couple of really good articles in arrowhead magazine (an Australian bowhunting magazine), and plenty on line.

This sticky is well and truly worth a look.

1 Like

A bow that is not tuned for your broadheads wont hit in the same spot as field points, and your group sizes won’t be good. A poorly tuned bow might shoot field points fine but the planing surface at the front of the arrow created by a broadhead will steer the arrow from the front rather than the fletches steering from the back, changing the impact location and causing larger groups. Poor quality or damaged broadheads can create some very erratic arrow flight. Every type of broad head will shoot a bit differently so “mix and match” isn’t a good idea.

Relying on big fletches to steer your arrow rather than tuning the bow really robs aerodynamic performance and increases wind drag and drift. A well tuned bow arrow combination shooting field points shouldn’t need fletches but the fletches will help correct for any errors on your behalf, hence why they are used in target archery. Whatever you do, don’t try shooting an arrow with a broadhead without fletches.