Hunting Compound Bows – All you need to know in one place

Some hunters like to stay up close to their prey, stalking from the shadows, employing various baits, traps, and lures. Others like to keep their distance, shooting from a vantage point. We’re here to discuss the modern ranged weapons used by traditional archers.

Compound Bow – What it is, and how’s it different from a standard bow?

Even a layman could spot several differences between a standard longbow and the compound bow – the design and construction are the most apparent ones, however.

We could easily categorize the differences in several smaller groups:

Cosmetic differences – apparel & design

First of all, a standard bow is quite plain. It features a string and a curved, wooden construction (often referred to as the “limbs of the bow”). Now, longbows are just longer variations of traditional bows, and they often equipped with a special grip, but that’s pretty much everything.

Compound bows, on the other hand, are a totally different story. They come outfitted with a manifold of special features, 

serving a different purpose:

  1. Cams – Cams are a part of a special system of cables and pulleys. There’s a cam attached on each end of composite bows. Cams are sometimes referred to as “Idler Wheels”, and they connect the metal lines, cables, and the bow string. Cams are vital to the construction of the compound bow, as they relieve the pressure of notching from the archer;
  2. Limbs – Both bow limbs are precisely curved in a fashion that resembles that of a standard recurve bow. The angle of limbs is much sharper when compared to standard bows;
  3. Sights – Most Compound bows have the “peep sight”, and a special slot for precision scope;
  4. Arrow Quiver Slot – While traditional archers carry their arrow quivers on their back, composite bow allows the user to store arrows on the bow itself;
  5. Bow String – the bow string of a composite bow is much thicker (and more durable) than that of a standard longbow. This is a necessity, as the cables put more pressure during sheaths;
  6. Grip – the grip makes the bow feel more comfortable to the touch, but it also increases your overall accuracy and ensures a tighter “grip” of your bow;
  7. Stabilizer/Stabilizers – This feature is the long rod that’s attached to the riser’s back, and it reduces recoil, and stabilizes the lower limbs by increasing weight;

Since the matter of bow modification is entirely a hunter’s choice, a composite bow may have even more parts than the ones we mentioned (or less). Seasoned hunters, however, seriously modify their bows, and these weapons are usually pretty complex. The best hunting composite bow, however, isn’t the one that features various components – it’s the one that you can use without too much effort.

Differences concerning the performance

A standard bow features a simple operating mechanism. Simply point and shoot – the same applies for the use of a composite bow, but there are still certain differences. For instance, a composite bow is often heavier (mainly due to more parts, stabilizers, etc.). This leads us to the conclusion that a standard bow offers more mobility to the hunter.

However, a composite bow generates a more powerful shot. The manifold of lines and cables are there so that your shot hits the target hard. Furthermore, these cables serve another function – they relieve some of the pressure during notching, so you won’t have to waste unnecessary energy.

As for the modifications, some of the best hunting compound bow models also offer superior accuracy because of high-tech scopes. The bottom line is – a standard longbow is as good as the archer while the compound bow can be used by amateurs for similar results. Of course, a certain dose of skill is a prerequisite.

Moneywise differences

This category is comprised of two smaller sub-categories where we distinguish the composite bow makers and people who buy their composite bows. If you’re a craftsman that intends to branch out into the composite bow making industry, you’re in for a real treat. Composite bows are not only extremely difficult to make, they’re also incredibly expensive when it comes to materials.

  • Composite Bow Making

A mediocre craftsman can make a standard bow in an hour or so, but even the most skilled composite bow makers require several hours (and even days) to craft a single composite bow. The process is long and hard, and you’ll have to purchase expensive animal glues, various wooden materials, strings, and such. It’s safe to say that this is still cheaper than buying a pre-made composite bow.

  • Composite Bow buyers

The difference in price between a standard longbow and a composite bow is measured in hundreds of dollars. When compared to recurve bows, laminated bows, and such, the difference is still apparent, but not as serious as the former.

Different Styles & Types of Hunting Compound Bows

There is a manifold of different hunting compound bow styles, but we’ll just mention the largest and the most important groups. It’s hard to say which type offers the best hunting compound bow models, mainly because each style offers a unique set of pros and cons.

The differences in style are quite apparent, and they mainly revolve around the number and position of cams on the hunting compound bow.

Single Cam Hunting Compound Bow

This is the most basic type of bow from the compound bow family. It features a single cam (hence the name) installed at the very top of the bow. This cam is also referred to as the idler wheel. It’s not uncommon that some manufacturers outfit their single cam hunting compound bows with another power-cam (located at the bottom). This bow is perfect for hunting, as it’s practically noiseless, and it’s very simple to use. The downfall, however, is that it’s much harder to string when compared to other types of compound bows.

Bottom Line – This is the best hunting compound bow type for beginners. Most models are quite affordable, and it’s a must for stealth hunts.

Hybrid Cam Hunting Compound Bow

Hybrid Cam compound bow type is the most convenient bow style. It features a control cam located on the top of the bow, and a power cam at the bottom. It’s pretty simple to tune, and it requires almost no maintenance due to durable parts and quality construction.

The only bad thing about Hybrid Cam Hunting Compound Bows is that your arrows will travel less distance. If you wish to snipe your target from afar, you’d do better with other compound bow types

Bottom Line – Hybrid Cam hunting compound bows are ideal for those hunters that don’t mind getting up close and personal with their prey (in a figurative sense). Reduced nock distance is the only drawback of this bow type, and it provides a lot of advantages and benefits overall.

Twin Cam Hunting Compound Bow

This type of compound bow features two identical cams on each side of the hunting compound bow. These contraptions tighten the metal cables, increasing the travel distance and velocity. The main benefit of this type of bow is that you’ll be able to maintain distance between yourself and your prey at all times while the main flaw is that you’ll have to tinker with your bow a lot.

These bows are often packed with high-end components that require a lot of care, so be prepared for serious regular maintenance.

Bottom Line – Twin Cam bows are very rewarding, but they require a lot of maintenance. The design of these bows is often very complex, and it’s virtually impossible to find a straightforward twin cam compound bow. It’s one of the best hunting compound bow types, though.

Binary Cam Hunting Compound Bow

Binary cam bows type is, basically, a sub-category of Twin Cam compound bow style. It features a similar design, but with a significant difference. There are two camps on the bow – one on top and one on the bottom part. But they’re actually bound together (whereas the cams on Twin Cam compound bows are bound to the limbs of the compound bow).

The advantages of Twin Cam bows are also translated onto Binary Cam bows – you’ll benefit from increased accuracy, arrow travel distance, and speed of your nock, but, there are certain drawbacks too. Needless to say, this is also a complex type of bow, so tuning and maintenance can pose a problem. These bows are also somewhat more expensive when compare to other types.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hunting Compound Bows

Generally speaking, archery and hunting are incredibly hard hobbies. So it’s often wise to get acquainted with all possible advantages and disadvantages of your gear before you embark upon either of the two. Needless to say, hunting is pretty dangerous, even if you’re after smaller game – this is just one more reason why we should discuss this thoroughly.

Choosing your hunting gear is one thing, but knowing what your hunting compound bow can do (and, more importantly, can’t do) is another story:


Compound bows are large and sturdy, and they were invented to make hunting easier (or to make archery easier, however you like it). This invention was the creation of a certain Wilbur Allen from Missouri, who thought that bows of that time needed some upgrades. The main, and most notable advantage of hunting compound bows is to reduce hand fatigue.

Stability and Accuracy

The whole point was to make a bow that would tire the archer less. The pulley mechanism (often referred to as the Cam Mechanism) is the first real difference between a standard bow and a compound bow, and it gives the hunter the upper hand over archers who use regular (or recurve) bows.

Notching an arrow is surprisingly easy with compound bows, and the results are staggering. A great amount of force is generated by smooth pulling of the bow string without tiring your arms down.

As for the accuracy, it’s hard to imagine a standard bow with a High-Tech optical scope. With compound bows, it’s more than imaginable – it’s actually quite a commonplace. If you’re not a fan of these trinkets and gadgets, you can always rely on your eyesight and the “peep sight”.

More balanced than standard bows

The sheer design of hunting compound bows are superior to other types of bows, especially since the invention of stabilizers. These little gadgets operate in a very simple manner – they’re attached to your bow, pulling the weight downward. The result is increased balance and accuracy.

Decent Weight

Compound Bows aren’t exactly heavy. Hunters often carry a lot of heavy things, and a heavy bow is often a big no-no. Needless to say, heavier bows are hard to balance. So the accuracy is decrease.

Accessories and Modifications

Hunting compound bows also come supplied with a manifold of accessories. From simple scopes to weight stabilizers. These valuable modifications help the hunter achieve a greater level of performance. For more information about these accessories, scroll back to Compound Bow Parts.


Hunting compound bows aren’t perfect. There are some fields where they just can’t match the level of performance that a simple traditional bow possesses:


Hunting compound bows are quite large, and an amateur can easily get “lost” due to the manifold of accessories, pulleys, cables, and such. This is one of the greatest downfalls of compound bows.


Whether you’re making or buying compound bows, the price is often quite steep. It’s hard to imagine a budget compound bow.

Maintenance and Repair

These bows can easily break down if you don’t maintain them regularly. Needless to say, the process itself is long and tiresome, but the repairs are even duller.

The Final Verdict

If you’ve read the entire article, you know possess all the basic knowledge of hunting compound bows. We went through the main purposes of compound bows, different styles and types, the parts, the advantages & disadvantages, and more. In conclusion to this article, we wish you happy hunting.


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