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How to shoot a compound bow

So you are new to archery and want to know how to shoot a compound bow? While they are actually easier than traditional bows, it takes time and it takes practice to get really good.

So let’s start with the basics.

What is a compound bow?

If you’re here, you’re probably a beginner, and before we get to the subject of “How to shoot a compound bow” we need to get to know the compound bow first. The compound bow is a modern bow that uses a leveraging system, cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. It was first developed back in 1966 Holless Wilbur Allen in Billings. As the time went by the compound bow grew extremely popular, especially in the United States.

Thanks to the pulley/cam system the crossbow has a mechanical advantage, making the limbs of the compound bow much stiffer than those at the recurve bow or longbow.

The rigidness of the whole system makes it more efficient in the long run because less energy is dissipated in the limb movement.  Thanks to that, the compound bows are the fastest and most accurate bows made today.

The compound bow is made of limb, sights, stabilizers and quivers called risers. Now, the risers are made to be as rigid as possible. The riser is made of aluminium, magnesium alloy, or carbon fiber.

The limbs are made out of composite materials. The limbs are where the energy is stored. The draw weight goes from to 10 and 100 lbs, weight that makes the arrow speed up to 150 – 370 feet per second.

On to the next one. Cams/wheels, they are placed at the end of each limb. Sizes are different and they vary from bow to bows.

The strings of the compound bow are mostly made of high-modulus polyethene and have an extremely high tensile strength and minimal stretch.

The soft-drawing compound bow is a slow build up to peak weight and a gradual let-off with a long “valley” at the end.

The hard drawing compound bow is with an extremely fast build up to peak draw weight, a long plateau where weight is maintained, and a quick let-off with a short valley.

Now that we broke down the most important parts of the compound let’s get on to our main topic, how to shoot a compound bow.

Advantages and disadvantages

Every bow has its own advantages and disadvantages and the compound bows are no exception to that. I will mention the technical advantages and disadvantages and the circumstantial advantages and disadvantages. As they will affect you while you learn how to shoot a compound bow.


Technical advantages

  • The first big technical advantage of the compound bow is the cam system and its function. Which is to maximize the energy storage throughout the draw cycle and provide let-off at the end of the cycle.
  • Design of the cams also plays a big role in the control of the arrow acceleration. There is a difference between the soft cam and the hard cam. The soft cam will accelerate the arrow more smoothly and gently than the hard cam. Those who are new to archery, beginners, usually use the soft cam while the more experienced archers go with the hard cam.
  • The pulley system design eliminates the need for buss cables and instead of that, uses a single string.
  • Another advantage is when the compound bow is drawn the limbs are pulled in due to the buss cables. You will notice in the longbow or recurve bow when you draw them, the limbs go along the bow string. This is a huge difference and plays a big role, this allows the compound bows to have limbs that are horizontal. And that reduces the recoil and vibration produced from the compound bow when shooting.
  • The pulley system usually includes and contains rubber-covered blocks that act as draw-stops. Those rubber-covered blocks provide a wall that archers can shoot against. The really good part about these rubber-covered blocks is that they can be adjusted to the archers draw-weight.

Technical disadvantages

  • The first big technical disadvantage is that the compound bow has too many moving parts and the fact that requires additional maintenance.
  • Warranties for compound bows do not cover “dry loosing”.
  • You’d have to replace the string or make adjustments to let-off and the draw weight often requires a bow press.

Circumstantial advantages

  • Archers who prefer compound bows often use mechanical releases. The advantage here is the mechanical release. The mechanical release gives a better release when compared to the finger release.
  • The dampers and stabilizers fit extremely well with the compound bow. That gives the archer the advantage of holding steadier at full draw and reduce the movement of the bow when the arrow is released.

Circumstantial disadvantages

  • When comparing the compound bow and the recurve bow you will notice the weight difference. The compound bow is more lightweight and has a negative side. The bow is more sensitive to certain shooting form faults when the archer is at full draw.

Compound bow accessories

These compound bow accessories don’t come in a package and most likely you will have to buy them, but if you’re a beginner and learning how to shoot a compound bow, they will be of a huge use for you.

Arrow rest

The first compound bow accessory would be the arrow rest. This accessory is where the arrow rest. And there are many preferences when it comes to arrow rests, depending on how will you use the compound bow, hunting or target practice. Hunters or recreational archers may prefer different kind of arrow rests. For an example, hunters usually prefer the “full capture” design because it surrounds the arrow so it can’t fall off when the hunter is doing the manoeuvres. They come in various shapes, sizes and designs.



The sight may be the most valuable accessory to your compound bow. They can be adjustable and fixed, both having their advantages and disadvantages. The thing with the fixed sights is they can be quickly used in action, while the adjustable sights require more accuracy.


The use of the peep is to act as a rear sight helping you to correctly align with the bow sight. They can be extremely helpful. The peep can be made out of plastic or metal, installed in the bow string.


A small loop of twine connected to the string’s serving. You knock the arrow between its attachments and clip onto the loop along with your unleash to draw it.


In the compound bow, there is a mechanical release that wraps your wrists and afterwards transfers the weight to your arm, increasing the poundage you’re able to pull. These can come in two varieties, the first one is one sided hook and two sided hook. What they have in common is that they are both operated by your middle or index finger. Using one of these hooks you can achieve a cleaner release with your fingers and that way you can boost your accuracy. When it comes to preferences they both have their advantages and disadvantages.


The use of the stabilizer is to bring more balance of the bow in your hands, increase the stability and pave the path for a cleaner follow trough, bringing down the vibrations as you shoot. If you’re hunter you should probably go with the more compact stabilizer due to the fact that you will be moving constantly. If you’re a recreational archer, or use your bow for target practice mainly, in that case, you should go with the longer stabilizer for maximum stability.


A support at the side of the bow which holds your arrows. There is a difference between quivers who are used by target archers and hunters. Target archers mainly use the hip quivers while the hunter archers use the bow mounted quivers, mainly for guard and protection.

The compound bow accessories which are mentioned above are the most important you should know about, however, there are many more accessories that are helpful.

Okay, so at this point you should have already bought your compound bow. Hopefully, you choose the right one that fits you perfectly, that is really important.

And we finally we’re here, how to shoot a compound bow?

Preparing and starting to shoot

First and foremost, you should get to know your compound bow before your begin learning how to shoot a compound bow. Once you’ve prepared your arrows you are ready to go.

The best way to start is with a close distance, 2 to 3 yards approximately and the target should be large enough so you won’t miss it. You will increase the distance as you progress, but take it slow, one step at a time.

Shooting styles and stance

The first step of breaking down the technique of “How to shoot a compound bow”. This is a big topic of discussion because many archers prefer many different variations and styles with their stance and shooting styles. However, there are some basic fundamentals you should keep an eye on. Fundamentals that will help you improve your shooting and accuracy, growing overall as an archer.


The first and most important thing in the stance is the angle. Everything starts from the angle so make sure you’re positioned correctly, at the right angle to your target. Some people bend their knees others do not, so make sure to try both ways and find out which one suits you better.

Second, feet placement

What you need to know about the feet placement is that they should be shoulder width apart, the back foot should be slightly forward.

Balance and comfortability

After your feet placement, balance and comfortability play a big role in your stance. You should feel balanced and comfortable as you’re preparing to shoot. If you’re not feeling balanced and comfortable, take another look at your stance, find the mistakes and correct them. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it right the first time, or you happen to face an issue. You will improve as the time goes by.

The correct stance, notice the angle and the feet placement

The correct stance, notice the angle and the feet placement

Solid grip

Having a solid grip on your compound is extremely important. Besides learning how to shoot a compound bow. Safety should always come in first place and without having a solid grip you’re potentially risking an injury. Many people do the mistake of having a fully open hand while performing the shot.

The best solution is the middle ground, don’t have it fully open, but don’t have your hand strongly gripping the bow, because then you’re going to have a problem with the accuracy due to the high tension from the tight grip.

Second, having a solid grip can improve your accuracy and your shooting overall.

Second, having a solid grip can improve your accuracy and your shooting overall.

The arrow

Another thing that falls in the “Safety first” subject, after all our archery is a sport and making sure we’re safe is extremely important.

About the arrow, the first thing you need to make sure is to insert the arrow into the rest and afterwards push the arrow back until you hear and feel the clicking noise coming from the nocking point. Make sure that your arrow is pointed to the target.

How to shoot a compound bow

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the finger behind the trigger during the draw cycle. That way you’ll prevent the release to open unintentionally during the draw cycle.

Notice the index finger, It’s placed behind the trigger

Notice the index finger, It’s placed behind the trigger

Many people shoot with our without release, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. But for beginners, the best way to go is with a release.


After you followed all the steps above the next thing that you need to learn and keep going forward in your quest of learning how to shoot a compound bow, is the draw. Keep your bow arm straight and raise the bow until your arm is parallel to the ground. Draw the bow straight back in a smooth motion while pushing your bow arm forward, in the direction of your target.

Notice the bow is parallel to the ground

Notice the bow is parallel to the ground

When drawing the bow you want to make sure that you use the large muscles of your upper back. That way you minimize the stress and tension you put on your arm and biceps.


Anchor point

What is anchor point? Touchpoints or better known as anchor point is the fixed position where your shooting hand comes to rest against your jaw or check. The touch points are extremely helpful for beginners, the more touch points you have the better, that will bring your consistency and accuracy to a whole new level.

Notice the 1. And 2. Anchor points

Notice the 1. And 2. Anchor points


Your stance is correct, you feel the balance and comfort. The grip is solid. The arrow is inserted, the index finger is behind the trigger. The draw is correct, the anchor points are well placed. The only thing that you’re left with and the final step of learning how to shoot a compound bow is the release.

Make sure the sight of the target is in line before you release. As soon as you lined your sight on the target, slowly and smoothly squeeze the trigger.

Now, another thing that most people avoid is the follow-through, so make sure that after you release, keep your eye on the target.

Wrapping it up

And there you have it, how to shoot a compound bow.

Those were the basic fundamentals that you need to follow to improve your shooting and accuracy. Everything starts from fundamentals, and you if you don’t have broken down the fundamentals, you’ll face issues later on.

Just like in every other sport, archery requires a lot of hard work and practice. Don’t quit after failing your tenth shot, keep going, don’t quite. Practice makes it perfect, you will realize this after you’ve mastered the technique. Nothing beats the special feeling of a clean shot on your target!

Bonus: A great video on how to shoot compound a bow for beginners you should definitely check out.

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