Buying My First Compound Bow… Gulp!

first compound bowI really enjoyed buying my first compound bow, if you wish to feel the same like it was yesterday. The anticipation, the fear, the anxiety, the excitement and the utter exhilaration that I felt.

Finally, at last, thank God… I was getting my very own compound bow.


Some say it’s the ultimate bow, powerful and fast, preferred by many for hunting, competition and target shooting.

First developed in1966 by Holless Allen of Nth Kansas City Missouri the popularity of the compound bow exploded and today its popularity has grown so much that, in the United State, it’s chosen by more archers that any other bow.

A compound bow FAQ page if you like.

Users of the compound bow enjoy an advantage over other archers due to its unique pulley and cam system. This results in the limbs of the bow being significantly more stiffer than what you’ll find on recurve and longbows.

This results in the compound bow being way more energy-efficient than the others and retains much more energy in limb movement. This increased rigidity along with cutting edge construction increases accuracy because the bow is much less sensitive to variation in temperature and humidity.

Primarily, I have written this article to provide new compound bow owners with some interesting information and insight into this magnificent machine so they’ll be able to extract more enjoyment from it.

The article may not appear to have a ‘natural flow’ such as a white paper or even a book, purely as a result of me touching on many different and random aspects of this bow.

You will find the topics and information I have provided to be very interesting and helpful to those fortunate enough to own a compound bow.

And you, the reader, will benefit greatly from this somewhat unorthodox style of writing.

Compound Bows With 32 Draw Length

Compound bow 32 draw lengthBelieve it or not more than 210 people search for this phrase on the web each and every month – ‘compound bows with 32 inch draw length’ 

It’s a question they’re asking so I’ll endeavour to answer it here. The same response would apply to all compound bows with long draw lengths.

But first… What actually is draw length? 

Compound bows are not the same as traditional longbows or recurve bows.

As previously mentioned, traditional bows such as the recurve bow and the longbow are able to be drawn back basically as far as you like whereas a compound bow can only be drawn back to a factory preset length. 

The distance the bow can be drawn back becomes the draw length.

Here’s the thing…

The bow’s draw length needs to match up with the physical size of the archer that is, the archers draw length.

The Armspan Method

You can use the old reliable ‘armspan method’ to calculate your draw length and you do this by stretching your arms straight out each side of your body while standing. Have someone measure the distance between four finger tips and divide the distance by 2.5, the result will be your approximate personal draw length. That is, a good place to start when finding your draw length.

Compound Bows With 32 Draw Length

Generally speaking, a bow with a 32 inch draw length is fast, that is, the arrow it fires would be fly faster than the same arrow shot from the same bow, but with a 30 inch draw length.

A bow with a 32 inch draw length would be more suitable for a taller person or to be more precise, a person who has a greater distance between finger tips, refer armspan method above.

Are Old Compound Bows Worth Anything?

In my experience in this matter, your average old compound bow is not really worth all that much simply because there’s no collectors out there that are interested in them plus very few archers have the desire to actually them.

That said, if you came across one in ‘as new’ condition and it was from a highly credible source the outcome may be quite different.

There are numerous things in life such as exotic cars, fine wines, etc, and many other things, that increase in value over time, bows however don’t seem to hold any value let alone increase in value!

It’s odd, bows don’t seem to change ownership from the initial purchaser. The bows that do appear have generally been stored away in a shed or similar for donkey’s years.

If you do happen to trip over one of these, how do you find out it they’re actually worth anything because not all older bows are trash.

Traditional bows come to mind, some were created by very well known bowyers and manufacturers that may or may not be around now.

Many of these types of bows were of high quality and considered a luxury in their time. Adored by owners and made from sort-after materials and embellishments, they where looked after and maintained to a very high standard.

Some Good Tips ~

  • If a vintage bow presents in excellent condition, it probably started out that way and still is. A good quality bow will last more than a lifetime.
  • If it appears shabby and common, it more than likely was.
  • Be very mindful of how the bow was stored. The older bows may be damaged beyond repair and may actually be unsafe ti use.
  • If the bow is in good working order then it’s as good as any other bow if you’re simply seeking a bow to shoot an arrow from, if you know what I mean!

Shooting Compound Bow With Fingers

fingers shootingIt goes without saying that you need to have a general understanding of bow shooting, and in particular compound bow shooting, to be able to accomplish this feat.

If by chance you have not used a compound bow in the past then you may struggle with the concept of shooting a compound bow with and without a release.

That said, there’s not a huge difference between the two options.

A key point to be mindful of when ‘finger shooting’ is that you need to learn how to release the string in a consistent manner every time otherwise your shooting will be inconsistent.

Achieving this is not a simple as it may seem and it can take a very long time to master.

The other key point to consider is that your anchor point will not be the same as when using a release. 

To compensate try this…

Place the top of your index finger in the corner of your mouth then position the sight housing in the center of the peep sight. This will provide you with two anchor points so you can shoot from the same position.

Highest Draw Weight Compound Bow

Highest draw weight compound bow that was mass produced had a draw weight of 100lbs and was manufactured by PSE. Generally the mass produced compound bows have a maximum draw weight of 80lbs. You could possibly get yourself a heavier draw weight bow if you hunt around and find a manufacturer who produces bespoke compound bows.

Just about every large manufacturer offers compound bows with a 70lbs draw weight but it will be quite difficult to find one that will supply bows any heavier than that off the rack.

There’s really not a market for compound bows with heavier than normal draw weight so the manufacturers are simply not interested in manufacturing any and the unit cost of making small quantities would result in prohibitive pricing.

Looking back in time we’ve discovered that in China around 1729 there was an archery championship of sorts won by a bowmen who was using a bow (not sure of the type of bow he used) with calculated 240lbs draw weight!!

Longest Shot With a Compound Bow

The performance of any bow, including the compound bow, is very much dependant on a number of factors including ~

  • The bow’s draw weight
  • The draw length of the bow
  • The fletching on the bow
  • The type and condition of the bow’s cams
  • The current level of tune of the bow
  • The weather including humidity and breeze

long shot compound bowThat said, your average compound bow will shoot an arrow up to 300 yards or more whereas a 50 pound recurve bow that’s been set-up well and in fine tune will only manage about 200 yards.

Compared to…

In 2017 Chris Schnur broke all current records when he shoots an arrow 356 yards on target. 

In 2020 John Dudley shooting a Custom PSE compound bow smoked a 500 yard target.

Shooting a Compound Bow Without a Release

Up to a couple of decades ago shooting a compound bow without a release was standard practice. 

Nowadays it’s different and the reason is as plain as the nose on your face. It’s so much easier to use a release aid, and your fingers will be loving you for it.

Let’s face it, fingers shooting is dying however if you choose to carry on the old style here’s how.

Use The Right Gear

It’s important that you have the correct gear for fingers shooting. The correct gear consists of a long axle length bow and a good rest which will ‘dull’ the from the side.

On its own, axle length will not indicate if that bow you’re using will, actually work or not as the cams and wheel sizes along with the height of the brace will have an impact open the bowstring at full draw.

A more gentle angle will result in your fingers feeling more at home which will in turn almost guarantee a better shot particularly if you’re shooting broad heads.

Other than the bow length, other crucial variables are a smoother draw cycle which will relax your fingers, a cosy draw valley that’s not overly narrow and a delicate let-off.

Gripping the String Correctly

A consistently accurate fingers shooter will grasp the bowstring in the exact same fashion each and every time.

One important component to watch for is the alignment of the back of your hand—The adjustment of your hand needs remain parallel with the bowstring. 

Next, the bowstring needs to be gripped somewhere the first bend of your fingers, seeing that your fingers will remain in line with the outside of your hand. 

In addition, endeavor to retain your fingers in a limp mode both flexible and relaxed. 

By doing this, you’ll be making sure your hand won’t twist your bowstring when your bow is fully drawn. This will help you to achieve increasing your chances of a velvety release on a consistent basis.

What Side of The Bow Does the Arrow Rest On?

Basically, it depends if you’re left or right handed, left handers would shoot with the arrow resting on the left and for right handers, the arrow rests on the right.

With the Mongolian grip you draw the bow with your thumb and in normal circumstances an archery thumb ring would be worn. Wearing this device provides a valuable benefit for the archer in that you’re able to hold a number of arrows in your drawing hand, nock and shoot very quickly, at speeds in excess of 1 arrow per second.

With this particular form of shooting you’re able to shoot instinctively without any assistance from a visor or a peep.

What is an Archery Thumb Ring?

A thumb ring is a device that was created to protect your thumb during archery. It can be fashioned from many different types of material including ~

  • Leather
  • Antler
  • Plastic
  • Stone
  • Horn
  • Ivory
  • Wood
  • Bone
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Ceramics

archery thumb ringThe thumb ring is designed to slip over your thumb and rest on the second thumb joint. It needs to be a snug fit without feeling too tight.

Aside from the nocking benefits you’ll enjoy, it will assist those archers who wear a thumb ring by reducing skin damage. 

Once in place, you’ll be able to nock your arrow by utilizing the pinch grip or the scoop grip, whichever you feel comfortable with.

I have seen some beautifully designed thumb rings and they actually make very good gifts for an archer.

Outside the world of archery they can have varying connotations, particularly in the social scene.

How Long Does a Compound Bow String Last?

I get asked this question so many times…

Simple question, not so simple answer. It depends on so many situations such as ~

  • Do you shoot a lot?
  • Where do you do most of your shooting?
  • Where do you store your bow?

compound bow stringAll of these points contribute significantly to the life of your bowstring. 

Particularly in you live in area that experiences higher humidity than normal or in a very dry climate.

Here you will gain a good amount of insight and knowledge so that when the time comes, you will know it’s time to replace your strings and maybe also your cables.

It comes as no surprise that the two most common questions archers ask are ~

  • When do I need to update my bowstring and cables?
  • How do I find out if it’s time to renew my bowstrings? 

Where and How Often Do You Shoot?

My ‘rule of thumb’ for upgrading strings and cables is~

  • Annually if you’re mostly target shooting
  • Every second year if you’re mostly hunting

The key point of difference here is target shooting is generally done way more often than hunting plus, you will shoot many more arrows when target shooting than when hunting.

Storing and Maintaining Your Bow

As well as the habitat and conditions you’re shooting in and the number of times you’re shooting, the manner in which you service and store your bow will have a marked affect on the lifespan of the bowstrings.

In normal circumstances, your bow’s cables and strings are exposed to significant levels of tension whilst sitting idle and not being used. Eventually, this ongoing strain and stress will have a negative effect on them in terms of stretching and weakening.

Similar to a motor vehicle, mechanical things can wear out by being sedentary, that is, by doing nothing. A motor vehicle needs to be serviced at distance intervals or time intervals, that means if your car sits in the garage and never driven it will still need to be serviced at the time preset by your mechanic.

Compound Bow vs Armor

The compound bow is an incredible bow however many debates are initiated around its actual power.

The same result will not occur with all types of armor as some are simply too to tough and conversely, some arrows will never be able to pierce any type of armor.In a contest involving firearms most folk cannot grasp the idea of a compound bow being able to shoot an arrow that will pierce body armor.

And why would they?

It seems inconceivable that this could actually happen.

However… under certain conditions, an arrow shot from a compound bow is certainly capable of doing  it.

To be able achieve this the arrow needs to meet certain specifications, they are ~

  • The arrow needs to be a broad head made from a heavier weight carbon or steel.
  • The archer needs to be around 300ft from the target so the arrow generates enough speed and energy to pierce the armor.

The same result will not occur with all types of armor as some are simply too to tough and conversely, some arrows will never be able to pierce any type of armor.

How Did The Compound Bow Come About?

Invented in the 1960’s in Billings, Missouri the compound bow evolved from an idea of developing a different kind of bow that would address the problems that the bows of the time were experiencing.

It was a completely new style and did not compare with any bows of the time.

Nevertheless, even though its look is different from other bows, that didn’t prevent it from being useful both in practice and in hunting. 

Quite the contrary in fact!

It went on to be the bow preferred by the majority of archers.

Compound or Recurve for Beginners

If you’re considering archery as a sport it’s probably a good idea to rent the equipment that you’re thinking about buying. Or, you may be able to borrow some from someone you know.

In order to do this you need to think about what type of archery you’re going for.

If you’re checking out the more popular options like target shooting, 2D archery, field archery or hunting then the two most common types of bows, the compound and the recurve, are both totally suitable for any of these activities.

It gets down to a personal choice. 

Some budding archers kick off on a compound bow because they view it as modern technology and they’re seduced by the power and speed at which it can shoot.

Then there are those that choose the recurve for the exact opposite reasons, this bow is steeped in history and recurve bows can be a work of art and beautiful to behold.

It’s a totally different animal the a compound bow!

Recurve Bow Anatomy

recurve bowShould you kick off with a recurve bow, you could always take up the compound bow at some point in the future. 

You can conquer the basic elements of archery and save some money as you will pay less for a recurve.

You’ll want to commence by mastering the correct techniques from the very start.

It’s practice, practice, practice until you get it right!

Another benefit for choosing a recurve is they’re more readily available and you could be lucky and pick up a good secondhand one at the right right.

A recurve bow is generally more acceptable for a larger choice archery activities like ~

  • Target archery
  • Flight archery
  • Field archery
  • 3D archery

To name just a few.

And, the recurve bow is the only bow sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee for competition in the Olympics Games.

The upkeep for this bow is way less complex than for a compound bow simply because it does not rely on cams and pulleys so there’s much less to go wrong.

Compound Bow

The compound bow lovers more than likely choose this bow for a number of reasons ~

  • The draw weight is much less than a recurve
  • An archer with less body strength can use it
  • It’s more accurate and has higher energy

The compound bow is a vastly different bow than the recurve bow and as such, requires a different skillset to master it. They also require a higher level of maintenance, they weigh more and cannot be ‘broken down’ for transporting.


You could summarise by saying the choice is really down to beauty and style Vs brute performance!