HUNTING

Best Compound Bow: What’s It All A-bow-t?

man with compound bow in the woods
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

Since shooting can be done both for target practice, as well as hunting and since it’s one effective way to develop certain instincts and abilities like speed, coordination, and balance, it’s important to choose the best compound bow that won’t hinder your movements.

Picking something that puts your abilities in the limelight, while also increasing your overall efficiency is capital.

So you have to take a few factors into account before acquiring your weapon, which is why we’ve set out to outline the most important characteristics your bow should have, before reviewing some of the highest quality products on the market.

Product NameDraw WeightDraw LengthAxle-to-Axle LengthBrace HeightPrice
Martin Archery Lithium70 lbs.31-38 in.33.35 in.7 in.Check price on Amazon
PSE Prophecy 70-pound Skullworks70 lbs.25-30 in.32 in.6 in.Check price on Amazon
PSE Ready to Shoot70 lbs.19.5-30 in.32.5 in.7.25 in.Check price on Amazon
Cruzer Ready to Hunt5-70 lbs.12-30 in.32 in.6.5 in.Check price on Amazon
SAS Rage55-70 lbs.26-30 in.35 in.7 in.Check price on Amazon
Diamond by Bowtech Infinite Edge5-70 lbs.13-30 in.31 in.7 in.Check price on Amazon
Bear Finesse Ready to Hunt30-40 lbs.23-28 in.28.6 in.7 in.Check price on Amazon

Things To Consider Before Buying

The tricks to choosing the right bow depend on some key issues like:

Ocular Dominance

That refers to which eye sends most info to your brain because your brain likes it better than the other one. It’s the same thing as your dominant hand, and in most cases, people will find that if their writing hand is right, then their dominant eye is the right one too.

That tells you what sort of bow to choose, depending on whether you’re going to shoot with your right or left hand, depending on ocular dominance as well.

Draw Length

This is better done directly at a store, but you can do it by yourself too by following these steps:

  1. Stand up and make a T-shape with your arms, by extending them perpendicularly to your body.
  2. Measure the distance between the tip of your left middle finger to the tip of your right.
  3. The draw length is obtained by dividing the result by 2.5.

measuring draw length

Tip: if you can’t do step 2 by yourself, ask someone to help.

You need to know the draw length so as not to buy a bow that’s the wrong length for you. The reason is that a longer draw weight than appropriate will mess with your form and with the precision of your shots.

You won’t be able to find an anchor point quickly, and pulling the bow is a nuisance as well. Though a bigger draw length is associated with a higher speed, comfort is more important when it comes to accuracy and overall shooting efficiency.

Draw Weight

The bow can be drawn either by hand or by using a specially designed shoulder release. However, you should still know what your draw weight is, which means you should know how much weight your can pull when using the bow.

woman with compound bow

Choosing a bigger draw weight than you can handle means you’ll be doing all sorts of weird movements to gain some leverage, which might let animals know you’re there. Besides, if the weather’s bad or if you’ve been hunting all day, chances are your muscles will be extremely tired and therefore you’ll have even more problems shooting.

The only way to find out what your draw weight is is by trying on different bows. You need to feel how they work in your hands, and even if you have a very small draw weight the good news is that can change.

Firstly, by shooting constantly you’ll build more muscle, and secondly, there are many adjustable bows on the market. So if you’re planning on practicing a lot and changing draw weights fast, you can do that with no hassle.

Axle-to-Axle Distance

The length from one bow cam to the other is called axle-to-axle length, and it’s highly significant in determining what sort of shooting you can do with it. The best compound bow doesn’t have to be one that’s necessarily big, although it’s common knowledge that a big axle-to-axle distance means you can take shots at a longer distance.

Mesuring-Axle-to-axle-distance

Basically, this is only true if your field of vision isn’t obstructed by anything. But if you’re in the woods hunting and seeking cover behind trees, such a bow would only hinder your movements. The dispute between short bows and long ones seems to be won by the short bows, at least for now.

A shorter axle-to-axle length means you can handle your bow better, and thus be more accurate even when you have an open field of vision. However, these are the sort of bows that will make you understand the meaning of hand torque, so it’s probably better to choose a longer bow if you’re planning to shoot at a distance.

Brace Height

That’s the length you get from the grip to the string when there’s no tension applied to the bow. The legend says that the longer this is, the better because you’ll take more precise shots, seeing as the arrow doesn’t stay too much in shooting position.

On the other hand, a short height makes the archer more predisposed to faults because he has more time to make mistakes. The thing about braces is that the longer this brace height is, the more speed you stand to lose.

mesuring brace height

Besides, for some people thinking more works better than using their instincts which are based on perfect form and a lot of experience.

Speed

Some hunters prefer huge speeds disregarding anything else. But the idea is to choose a speed that you can manage, even if you’re keener on aggressive shooting techniques.

That can only be done by trying different bows, especially during colder weather.

Speedy-arrow

For instance, if you feel a bow has a very high speed when the weather’s warm, it will probably be twice as uncooperative when it’s cold. That’s because your hand will be freezing, and your overall performance can decline.

Weight

Getting a very light bow may seem like a good idea, especially if you’re planning on taking long hunting trips, hunting your prey, stalking and walking long distances.

But if your hunting trips last a few hours, a heavy bow may increase your accuracy because you get the full feel of its weight in your hands, which will help you keep it steadier.

Best Products on Today’s Market

We’ve done a few compound bow reviews to make sure you get the right deal, but also to help you put things into perspective. Understanding the above characteristics is one thing, but seeing them on different products is another. Even if you don’t end up getting one of the products below, you’ll still see how a top notch bow looks like.

Martin Archery Lithium Bowmartin archery bow

Price: Not available

Weight: 4 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Specific features: 33.35 inches axle-to-axle length; 7 inches brace height; 31-38 inches draw length; 335 fps speed; Nitro 3 Cam

Best use: Hunting bigger animals

This 4.8-star Martin Archery Lithium Bow is designed to withstand various sorts of damage, seeing as it’s strongly built. With that in mind, it’s more appropriate for hunting bigger animals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot smaller ones or target practice too.

The reason is its Lithium manufacturing, which accounts for a lower overall weight of just 4 pounds, which means it’s easy to handle and take with you during longer hunting trips.

Another feature worth considering is its camouflage pattern that will help you remain hidden from the scrutinizing gaze of the various game while giving you a cool look.

But the real treat is that its draw length can vary between 31 to 38 inches depending on your personal measurements. That means it can be used by kids, women and men alike.

You’ll be able to pull the bow no matter how tall you are and get accurate shots in a comfortable manner. That’s also done courtesy of the 7 inches brace length that helps with the aiming, as does the Lithium composition that doesn’t hinder shots.

Since you’ll get a maximum speed of 335 fps, you can also say this is one of the best compound bows for the money, with a smooth draw made possible by the Nitro Cam and noiseless shot thanks to the STS suppressors.

You can choose between two models with different draw weights of either 50 or 60 pounds, with a difference in price of about $623.35 – $769.99.

PROS:

  • Lightweight, yet powerful
  • Available in other models with less draw weight
  • Adjustable draw length
  • Stable, smooth draw
  • Quiet, ideal for hunters
  • Decent bang for the buck (no pun intended)

CONS:

  • The lower bolts require occasional tightening

Related: If you’re struggling with the #70, you might prefer the Martin Archery Lithium LTD #60 (draw weight) or even the Martin Archery Lithium Bow Package for a #50 version.

Check the price on Amazon

PSE Prophecy 70-pound Skullworks Bowpse prophecy skullworks bow

Price: Approximately $630

Weight: 4.1 pounds

Dimensions: not specified

Specific features: 25-30 inches adjustable draw length; 340 fps speed; 6 inches brace height; 7075 aluminum; 32 axle-to-axle length; 70 pounds draw weight; left-hand use

Best use: Aggressive shooting

This perfect-score 5-star and $600+ PSE Prophecy 70-pound Skullworks Bow is made of a very good aluminum alloy – the 7075 aircraft grade. This allows it to perform as a very sturdy and strong piece of equipment, one that you’re not afraid of pushing to the limits or, worse yet, breaking after the first few shots.

The alloy also accounts for a decreased total weight of just 4.1 pounds, meaning it can be handled and carried with no issues during long hunting trips.

You’ll be able to perform well and take accurate shots because the string track is larger, but thanks to a maximum speed of 340 fps, you’ll also take very fast shots. Those are the reasons why this is one of the best compound bows for the money when it comes to aggressive shooting tactics.

The brace height is 6 inches, and the axle-to-axle length is 32 inches which further explain the fast, precise shots this bow makes possible. Since it has an adjustable draw length between 25 to 30 inches, you can pick your required size, keeping in mind that it has a decent draw weight of 70 pounds.

Another key issue to consider is that this bow is manufactured for left-hand use, meaning that your dominant eye must be the left one in order to take full advantage of its power.

PROS:

  • Very sturdily built
  • Fast as Flash and accurate as Green Arrow
  • Smooth draw
  • Adjustable draw weight
  • Nice looking

CONS:

  • There is some vibration and hand shock

Related: If you have the money to splash out, check out the PSE Ready To Shoot Surge Bow Package, and if you want to keep your bow safe in transport, you might want to check out the Superline44: Compound Bow Case and Backpack.

Check the price on Amazon

PSE Ready to Shoot Bowpse ready to shoot surge bow

Price: Approximately $1,000

Weight: 9 pounds

Dimensions: 18 x 4 x 38 inches

Specific features: 12 turns for the limb bolts; 320 fps ATA speed; 312 fps IBO speed; 32.5 axle-to-axle length; 19.5-30 inches draw length; 7.25 brace height; 70 pounds draw weight

Best use: Shooting bigger animals

The best thing about this 3.9-star PSE Ready to Shoot Bow is that it’s a very strong and reliable one. That is due to its manufacturing out of aluminum, which complements the split limbs design perfectly.

Apart from rendering its build particularly strong, these characteristics also make it look very good and actually be one of the most comfortable compound bows on the market.

Although it’s a bit on the heavy side, some shooters may like a bigger weight if they’re not out shooting days on end, especially since the grip is also comfortable and the bow is kept steady easier.

With a 7.25 inches brace weight, you’ll be able to take very precise shots and the total 9 pounds weight is what will keep the bow steady in the meanwhile. Plus, the maximum speed of 320 fps is a nice thing to have if you’re shooting game on the move.

Since the draw weight is 70 pounds, and this bow is strong, you can easily shoot a bigger animal that’s running away. And thanks to its string stabilizer, they won’t even hear you coming. Add that to the big range in draw length between 19.5 and 30 inches, and you get the perfect bow for all heights and constitutions.

PROS:

  • Great entry-level package for hunters switching from rifle to bow
  • Powerful
  • Should suit most types of physique
  • Excellent value for money

CONS:

  • You might want to invest in a stronger string

Related: For a cheaper variant, check out the PSE Prophecy 70-Pound Skullworks Bow, and if you’d like a virtually indestructible case to keep it safe on your hunting trips, there’s the Plano Protector Compact Bow Case; also, if you’d like to stock up on ammo, try these – Huntingdoor Carbon 31-Inch Arrows.

Check the price on Amazon

Cruzer Ready to Hunt Bowbear archery cruzer bow

Price: Approximately $330

Weight: 8 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Specific features: Aluminum made; max-preload quad limbs; improved grip design; 12-30 inches draw length; offset string suppressors; 5-70 pounds draw weight; 6.5 inches brace height; 32 inches axle-to-axle length

Best use: Versatile shooting

This 5 stars and $300+ Cruzer Ready to Hunt Bow is definitely one of the best compound bows for the money, seeing as it’s perfect for different sorts of hunting trips and for shooting different game. That’s surely what accounts for its perfect rating and outstanding customer reviews.

So basically anyone can use it, starting from teenagers with a short draw length who can only pull the equivalent of 5 pounds, and ending up with adult men who have a bigger draw weight of 30 inches and can pull 70 pounds of draw weight. Plus you’ll shoot accurately and fast since the brace height is 6.5 inches and the axle-to-axle length 32 inches.

This vast range in regards to draw weight and draw length means you’ll be able to use this bow for years to come. And since it’s made from high-quality aluminum, with max preload limbs, its design is sturdy, resistant and its lifespan long.

Besides, with the help of its offset string suppressors, you’ll take advantage of a decent noise reduction, which also improves your concentration apart from helping you remain stealth.

PROS:

  • Quite inexpensive, good value package
  • Versatile, fits almost anyone
  • Beginner-friendly, especially for young novices
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Quiet and accurate

CONS:

  • Not hunt-ready

Related: If you don’t have anything to practice on, you might want to invest in a target – Yellow Jacket Supreme 3 Field Point Bag Target; also, if you’d like to keep your fingers safe, you might want to check out the TruFire Patriot Archery Compound Bow Release.

Check the price on Amazon

SAS Rage 70 Lbs Bowsas rage compound bow

Price: Approximately $150

Weight: 4.4 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Specific features: Compressed ABS limbs; 26-30 inches draw length; 55-70 pounds draw weight; 270 fps maximum speed; 35 inches axle-to-axle length

Best use: Small/medium game hunting

This 4.2-star SAS Rage 70 Lbs Bow can be bought in various designs which account for a price range varying between:

  • in the ballpark of $150 for the black and autumn green camo models.
  • around $180–190 for the black with a full set of accessories.
  • approximately $200 for the black with a full set of accessories in carbon, and camo with all the extras.
  • about $300 for the black model with the full pro package.

All of the Sas Rage models are designed very well, in order to increase durability and resistance to damage even if the fiberglass material accounts for a decreased price in comparison to other similar compound bows.

So the limbs are made from fiberglass, they have a parallel design, while the riser and cams are manufactured from aluminum. This is another strong material, that supports an easily adjustable draw length between 26-30 inches.

The draw weight can also be adjusted although not as much as the previous bow we’ve reviewed, but still enough to make the difference between a few weeks’ worth of practice.

The maximum speed is 270 fps, which is another reason why this bow is more appropriate for shooting smaller animals, especially if you’re not at the maximum 70 pounds draw weight.

The only downside can be posed by the SAS range which isn’t as good when it comes to noise reduction as other systems on the market, which is why a small game or target practice are better when it comes to shooting with this bow.

PROS:

  • Fairly cheap
  • Plenty of colors and bundles to choose from
  • Great for small to medium game
  • Upgradeable
  • Adjustable draw weight

CONS:

  • Not for hunting bigger animals
  • The instruction manual could use a touch-up

Related: Most archers will like the TruFire Patriot Archery Compound Bow Release and ANTSIR Outdoors Carbon Removable Arrows, as it round off the package quite nicely. you might also like the Plano Protector Compact Bow Case to keep your bow safe during transport.

Check the price on Amazon

Diamond by Bowtech Infinite Edgediamond by bowtech

Price: Not available

Weight: 3.2 pounds

Dimensions: 34 x 12 x 3 inches

Specific features: 13-30 inches draw length; 5-70 pounds draw weight; 7 inches brace height; 31 inches axle-to-axle length; 310 fps; right-handed pull

Best use: Versatile shooting

At 4.3 stars and around $400, the Diamond by Bowtech Infinite Edge is another amazing bow to be used by shooters of all styles, abilities, and sizes. That’s because you’ll be able to adjust the draw length between 13 to 30 inches, and the draw weight between 5 to 70 pounds.

So you can target practice, use it to teach your kids or go hunting with your mates. Keep in mind that it’s built for right handed use, though, so your dominant eye must be the right one.

Besides, since it only weighs 3.2 pounds, it can be carried with no problem and handled with ease.The 7 inches brace height and the 31 inches axle-to-axle length account for increased accuracy and a rather fast speed of 310 fps.

Being made out of good quality materials is another perk. You want a resistant bow that has a long lifespan and doesn’t hinder your ability to shoot effectively. Since this bow has a hostage XL arrow rest, a tube peep sight and a BCY string loop you can rest assured these features will only add to your efficiency, accuracy and speed.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Quite versatile, fits any type of shooter
  • Upgradeable
  • Great for first-timers
  • Easy to set up, easier to use
  • Nice looking

CONS:

  • The string is not up to scratch

Related: If you’d like to keep your fingers safe when releasing the string, check out the Tru-Fire Hurricane Hybrid Web Release, and if you need a carry bag to complement your Mossy Oak Pink Camo bow, there’s the Princess Camo Youth Bow Case.

Check the price on Amazon

Bear Finesse Ready to Huntbear archery finesse RTH

Price: Approximately $500

Weight: 3 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Specific features: 28.6 inches axle-to-axle length; 23-28 inches draw length; 30-40 pounds draw weight; 7 inches brace height; 285 fps max speed; Trophy Ridge stabilizer

Best use: Ladies and Youth; target shooting

The Bear Finesse Ready to Hunt bow is better intended for the ladies out there who have special requirements when it comes to carrying and handling a bow. However, it can also be used by beginners, teenagers and it’s specially designed for target practice or shooting small game.

That’s because it has a very light weight of just 3 pounds. Besides, the draw weight itself is quite low, ranging between 30-40 pounds, which means you don’t need to have a lot of force to pull this bow.

The axle-to-axle length is 28.6 inches, and the draw length varies between 23 to 28 inches. These lengths are themselves on the small size, and even if you can adjust the draw length, it’s still quite small for a tall man. However, the brace height is 7 inches, and the maximum speed is 285 fps, so you still get some speed and nice accuracy.

The Trophy Ridge stabilizer also contributes to precise shots and good stability. Stance is particularly important when doing target practice, and the shock-free design won’t mess with your balance, but rather help you learn how to keep it.

PROS:

  • Great bang for the buck
  • Ideal for ladies and younglings
  • Very stable and precise
  • Shock-free

CONS:

  • Has a bit of a learning curve

Related: If you’d like to keep your fingers safe (especially important for beginners and those with delicate hands), check out the Tru-Fire Hurricane Hybrid Web Release, and if you’re short of a bag that would go along with your Diamond bow, there’s the Princess Camo Youth Bow Case.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

One thing you can notice when reading the official descriptions for compound bows is that many of them don’t state the dimensions. That’s because features like draw length, axle-to-axle length or brace height are more important than the typical system based on length, height and width measurements.

compound bows

Plus, after perusing these compound bow reviews, you may have already made up your mind. The most important thing when picking a bow is having an informed opinion on which one is best for you, because only then you’re sure to have taken everything into account.

So, if you’ve tried any of these or other bows and found one that absolutely fits your style, tell us more about your experience. And if you’re still looking, let us know more about what influences your decision-making process, as well as what bow steals your heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Harrison
Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.

  • Rick Burke

    Admittedly, I’m still fairly new to archery, so I wanted a bow that was reasonably priced and flexible, essentially one that I could grow into. After a few weeks of research and speaking to fellow archers, I finally settled on the Bear Archery Scout Set. When I originally read the products description, it highlights its suitability for younger archers, so I could only assume this was intended as a teaching bow, rather than a hunting bow, however, it appears I was wrong.

    This bow is not only a fantastic teaching bow, it is also, so well designed, that it could easily be used for hunting, and it was absolutely perfect for me. Both the pull weight and draw length are incredibly versatile and can be adjusted to suit almost anyone and it appears to be incredibly well built.

    Setup was very straightforward, however, for those of you who are relatively new like me, you’ll be pleased to hear, they include a handbook that provides very easy step-by-step instructions for a fast and effortless setup. Overall a fantastic bow, one I would highly recommend to other newbies.

    • Shawn Harrison

      The Bear Archery is a great starting compound bow. It will not give you this “overwhelming” feeling of being a complicated bow. Its features will grow on you and will help you improve your skills in time.

  • Philip Morgan

    I recently purchased the SAS Rage compound bow, however, before I bought it, I won’t deny I had my reservations. The price seemed too good to be true and despite my best efforts I could only find a handful of reviews online. In the end, I took a chance and boy am I glad I did. Considering the price, it should be noted that this is NOT an entry level bow, in fact, it is 70 lbs of pure compound shooting. The bow itself is solid with very well made all aluminum split limbs, a super comfortable grip and an all-around amazing shooter. I would recommend this thing to any fellow archer in a heartbeat.

    • Shawn Harrison

      I had a similar reaction when I had the chance to get a SAS Rage unit. It seems to be priced as an entry level compound bow, but it is far from being an entry level unit. Well-balanced, well-built, and yes it has one with the most comfortable grips around.

  • Sophie Steven

    Another great article by Shawn! Although I already own a Martin Archery Lithium Bow. For some reason, it suits me more because of its weight and I can mark more accurately than the heavy ones which makes me lose my mark because of shoulder strain. I think i am gonna go what Shawn suggested, the Bear Finesse Ready to Hunt Right Handed.. Since it seems more lighter and powerful. Thank you Shawn for suggesting these bows! I hope you keep creating such content!

    • Shawn Harrison

      Thanks for the kind words, Sophie! The Martin Archery Lithium Bow is a great compound bow, but you can always try other variants which are quite lighter than your current lineup.

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