The modern compound bows are the most powerful and fastest bows. They have taken the majority of the market and there are tons of manufacturers selling them. Many archers are diverted to compound bows from the traditional bows because of their accuracy, speed and easy to shoot.
Using a compound bow may seem simple and you may plan to go in the field with it for hunting but wait, how can you just grab a compound and start hunting without even knowing about its parts. As compound bows use a system of cables and pulleys, it is most importance to understand how it works. To do so, you must first learn about the parts of a compound bow and its anatomy in detail. Only then you can work efficiently with it.
A compound is a deadly weapon, so to keep yourself safe during hunting, you must know well about its parts to save you from any accidents in the field. In this article, I have explained the compounds anatomy in detail to make it easier for you.
Why choosing a Compound bow?
Well, many traditional bow enthusiasts must be thinking why I said compound bow instead of a recurve bow or longbow. This is because the traditional bows need a significant amount of strength and skill for shooting accurately and it needs a lot of practice too.
Whereas, while using compound bows, you can easily attain greater speed and accuracy with practicing fewer hours. Though you still need to practice but not as much as using a recurve or longbow.
For a beginner, a compound bow is ideal as its learning curve is not as steep as the traditional bows.
A compound bow is a gateway for many archers which lead them to enjoyable and successful shooting.
To know more about your bow, here is the detailed anatomy of a compound bow.
Compound bows have many moving parts as compared to the longbows or traditional bows, so it may be intimidating for a beginner. You must have a basic and sufficient understanding of all these moving parts so when you visit a store to buy a compound bow, you get to know what the salesperson explains about the features of a compound bow.
A compound bow has 2 limbs, one is at its top and the other one is at the bottom of the compound bow. They are made of fiberglass normally but some are made of wood, carbon and even solid glass. Limbs are flexible and provide power to your shot by storing the kinetic energy in the beginning and releasing it while delivering the shot.
They sometimes have limb dampers on them for absorbing the shock. Most compound bows offer either single or split limbs. The split ones are more durable and quieter and result in less vibration but if inexactly matched results in riser torque.
Limbs are connected to the cam system and riser of the bow.
The modern hunting bows are featuring the parallel limb design. Each limb in this design bends in the opposite direction helping to reduce vibration, recoil, and noise, during and after the shot.
The limb sits and is attached to the riser through the limb pocket.
The machined ones are more accurate for longer distances. Limb bolt is used to raise or lower the draw weight by holding the limb in its place. For increasing the draw weight, you need to turn the limb bolt clockwise and for decreasing it, anticlockwise.
Cams are wheel looking round or oval metal discs which are connected to the limbs through a pin and the strings and cables terminate here. They are basically responsible for transferring the limbs energy to the string and arrow. The cams differentiate a compound bow from other bows. When you draw the bow, the function of a cam is to manipulate the draw weight of the bow when you pull back the string. It means it gets easier to pull back the bow after a certain point.
This feature is known as “let-off”, meaning providing you a more powerful shot in real than the actual weight you will hold back, once you have fully drawn the string.
Bows either have a solo cam or dual cam. Solo cams use a large cam on the top of an idler wheel and the bottom limb. In single cam when you draw the bow its single power cable compresses the limbs to store energy. Solo cam bows are believed to be much easier while tuning and shooting as compared to dual cam systems, that’s why they are more popular in the market. A dual cam system is known as the binary cam system comprises of identical eccentric cams one on each end of the bow.
In the modern compound bow with dual cams, the cams are connected to each other directly through two cables. When the cams are connected to each other they become more consistent and reliable. There may be little differences among the designs of different manufacturers but the basics are the same.
Some other types of cams are hard cams, soft cams, round wheel, and hybrid cams. Each has its own pros and cons. So do your research well and pick wisely whatever model you prefer, as it’s again a matter of personal preference.
This is supposed to be the main body of the bow. It’s basically the middle part and backbone of the bow. It contains the grip and provides stability against flexing to other components of the bow.
They are mostly made of aluminum being either forged or machined which save you a lot of money but the modern compound bows are even using the carbon ones for increasing durability and flexibility and decreasing the overall weight of the bow. It has many distinct design and color choices.
The riser has a universal size and placement of mounting holes on it enabling you to use any accessory on your bow.
Most of the bows accessories like arrow rest, sight, quiver, and stabilizer are mounted to the riser.
The cam turns on the axle. The area between top and bottom axle or to explain it in a better way we would say the distance from the center of above cam pin to the center of below cams pin is called axle to axle length and is normally mentioned in the specifications of the bow as ATA length/measurement.
The axle is basically the cams hinge or load bearing point. For the efficient operation of a bow, ATA length must be within 3/16 of an inch.
This important aspect of the bow means the distance from the middle of the grip to the bowstring. It indicates forgiveness and speed. The average brace height is almost 6.5 inches or 7 inches for archers.
Bows with measurement more than 6.5 inches are considered to have longer brace heights. They are more forgiving and easier to shoot. Bows with measurement of brace height less than 6.5 inches are considered to have shorter brace heights and they will make the arrow fly faster but are more sensitive to flaw and less forgiving.
The part of a bow which you pull back in order to shoot is called the string. When you release the bowstring, it propels the arrow forward. Your arrow nocks on the bowstring and your D-loop is located here. In a single cam system both the ends of the bowstring are traveling around the top idler wheel and terminate at the bottom cam whereas, in dual cam, the bowstring terminates at both the cams.
They are usually made of high-tech materials like Dyneema these days, which are strong and durable. They don’t lose tension and stretch out over time but it is recommended to change the bowstring after every 2-3 years for safety purposes and in order to achieve the best performance. You must regularly wax your bow string to protect it against wear and tear.
They move the cams when you pull the bowstring back and they run from cam to cam. They basically work with the cams when the shot is executed.
A cable guard is used to keep all the cables away from the arrows path and the arm of the archer. It pulls all the cables to the side for providing a clear path for the arrow. It runs perpendicular from riser to bowstring. They are usually made from carbon fiber rod or machined aluminum.
This is a plastic piece attached to the cable guard on a compound bow and is responsible for holding the cables away from the arrow’s path while firing. This mechanism is designed especially for this purpose and it may get damaged easily so you regularly need to check it.
The projectile which is launched through a bow is called an arrow. It’s normally made from carbon, aluminum or a combination of both. The modern archers prefer carbon ones rather than the historical wooden because of its light weight, durability, and accuracy.
They come in different lengths and you need to select one depending on your own draw length.
This is where you rest your arrow, while you prepare to release it. On a compound bow, it is screwed into the riser through the Berger hole. It provides support for the arrow when you nock it before and during the shot.
When you load the bow, the front end of the arrow sits here. They come in different styles. The most common ones are the drop aways which are either spring loaded or mechanical. Other types are shoot-thru and the pressure.
In the drop away style arrow rest when you draw the bow, the arrow is lifted up by the rest and when you release the arrow, the rest drops down helping the shooter with a consistent shot. In the whisker biscuit style, it holds the arrow with whiskers. This is recommended for beginners.
The place where the arrow rest is mounted is called the arrow shelf. It is directly above the grip on the bow’s riser. The arrow shelf is used more in traditional archery where the arrow is shot directly from the arrow shelf instead of the arrow rest used in modern compound bows.
It is the standard tapped hole above the arrow shelf where the arrow rest is screwed outside the riser. When you set up the bow, you get your arrow centered at the center of the Berger hole.
These are set of pins which aid you while aiming your bow and are attached to the riser. It is used to make your shots more accurate. Some sights have single pins while others have multiple. Some have horizontal pins while others have vertical as they come in different styles.
A common type of sight is the fixed pin which has 3-5 pins fixed in the sight circle previously set for a specific distance. Even entry-level archers can get accurate shots with these fixed pin sights.
The common types of single pin sights are movable and pendulum pin sights.
These sights are useful when you don’t know the exact distance of your target as they are easily adjustable.
The small and hollow donut-shaped opening which is inserted between the strands of the bowstring in order to give the eye of the archer a point of alignment while at full draw.
It helps the archer to line up his sight. So while aiming a bow, you need to align 2 things. Your sight & the pins of the main sight to the target through the peep sight.
These are the cutting heads which are attached at the end of the arrow. You can find many options of broadheads in the market today but the main two options are the mechanical and fixed blade broadheads.
The fixed blade heads are harder to tune as they have smaller diameters and have no moving parts but they are more reliable than the mechanical ones. The mechanical heads, on the other hand, have the risk of mechanical mishaps but have larger diameters and are easier to tune. These days broadheads are made of razor sharp stainless steel which has either a mechanical or fixed blade design.
It is also known as a bow sling. It helps the archer against losing his grip and holding the bow in its place during the shooting process. It mounts between the stabilizer and riser of the bow and wraps around the back part of your hand. This is an additional accessory as it doesn’t usually come with a bow.
They are available in many colors, sizes, and materials so you have a choice to select one according to your individual need. It should be loosely installed to avoid the unneeded torque while shooting.
The part of the bow from where you hold it is called its grip. Every bow has a different grip so must try and find out which feels comfortable in your hand. The grips are made of different materials like plastic, metal, wood or rubber. The market also has a variety of custom grips which can be replaced with the manufacturer’s removable grip for suiting the archer’s comfort.
For ergonomically easy grips, the modern bows have a slightly cushioned or tactile materials coating to rest the bow firmly in your hand.
It is attached to the central most point of the string. The nock of your arrow rests on the face of your D. So it’s basically a small piece of string which attaches above and below the nocking point by two knots.
The part of the D which is bending is hooked to the mechanical release aid as it connects the bowstring and release aid. This add-on helps attain a better accuracy along with reducing the wear and tear of your string.
The insert at the back of the arrow which attaches it to the bowstring is nock. The location where an arrow attaches to the bowstring before shooting is the nocking point.
Speed knock is the small weights which we add to the string for reducing the oscillations in a string when the cam pulls it while releasing an arrow. This way the string will instantly return to the cams groove finally increasing the speed rate of the bow as it loses less energy in string oscillation.
These are the plastic vanes or feathers attached to the end of an arrow. They may be oversized for reducing the speed or undersized for increasing it further. They help the arrow with a correct flight.
The unit which holds your extra arrows is called the quiver. It protects your arrows from wear and tear. It also makes carrying the extra bows easier. They are mounted as well as detachable. Some bow risers have attachment points for quivers.
The different accessories which you can purchase and install on your bowstring to reduce the noise along with absorbing the string’s vibration.
You can add string silencers to your bow string for reducing the noise and twang of your bow. They help the hunters to shoot at a close range. The most common type of silencer is the cat whisker which has a bundle of rubber stands around the string near the cams.
String suppressors are a metal or carbon fiber rod having a rubber bumper at its end.it is directly mounted behind the stabilizer of the bow. It assists to stop the string to travel forward after the release, thus reducing noise and vibration. It also saves the archers forearm from the slapping of the bowstring.
String vibration arrester is made of rubber and is attached either to the limbs end or the riser. It sits close to the bowstring to absorb its vibration and sound during the shot.
It is the measurement of the point where the riser and limb meet the string in a perpendicular line. Every bow has two tillers of the same measurements.
This is an optional accessory attached to the riser. This long rod attaches below your grip in the tapped hole on the front of your bow and adds weight to the front of your bow thus stabilizing and balancing the bow along with reducing twists while shooting. It also helps to reduce vibrations on your bow and extends your bows life. They can either be side mounted or front mounted but should be set up properly to increase accuracy.
Just above the D-loop is the kisser point which is placed near your mouths corner at full draw. Many archers even have a kisser button on their string which is a plastic diamond shaped thing that clamps on the string and is easily removable. They benefit the archer with the consistent shooting.
This aid is attached to the shooting hand of the archer helping him in drawing and releasing the bow.
It’s almost like shooting a gun. The mechanical release aid has a small clip which is attached to the string. When pulled back and ready to shoot, the trigger on the mechanical release is pulled, the clip opens and the string releases.
It allows a clean release of the string without affecting the string’s path.
There are many types of releases which include the wrist, trigger, thumb and many more.
Every cam has a draw stop which stops you drawing your bowstring any further than your full draw. It aids in a more steady and consistent aim.
The key to selecting the right type of bow is to first understand its various parts and how they work. I hope I provided you a clear description of the anatomy of a compound bow. I have also explained the other components working with harmony with the compound to make it more efficient, fast and smooth than ever.