2016 Best Compound Bow Reviews For Beginners & Pro Hunters

You should buy the best compound bow for the money that you can afford. After all it is 2016. This modern adaptation of the recurve and long bow, that was created more than 60 years ago, has a selection that has since only grown. 

Top Compound Bows Comparison

ModelRatingDraw Length (in.)Draw Weight (lbs)Max. Speed (ft/sec)
Wizard Archery 70badge-best-seller-mini4.026 - 3055 - 70270
Diamond Infinite Edge Black Opsbadge-best-seller-mini5.013 - 305 - 70310
Barnett Vortex Youth Archery4.521 - 2716 - 45175
Bear Archery Brave 3 Youth4.015 - 2015 - 20125
Crosman Elkhorn Jr.4.017 - 2126125
PSE Sinister Skullworks5.025.5 - 30.550 - 70327
SA Sports Youth Majestic4.02620125
Genesis Originalbadge-best-seller-mini4.5Universal20 - 30125
Bear Archery Warrior III5.021 - 2324 - 29125
Parker Eagle Outfitter4.026 - 3150 - 70310

What makes a top rated bow? Weight, strength, price, and most importantly, reviews from people who use them.

The above chart is based off hours of research across forums and buying platforms. We’ve picked the top ten bows that will be perfect for either the beginner or the master hunter.

Rather than using wood, plastics and cordage, these bad boys employ carbon fiber, aluminum alloy, cables, pulleys and a flexible leverage system for a more accurate and powerful release.

Here are 6 reasons to use a compound bow rather than a traditional bow:

Bowtech Diamond

Definitely not a bow seen in the medieval times!

  1. The mechanics make it easier for the archer to draw an arrow. Less energy is required to pull the cable in to a fully drawn position.
  2. Weather conditions aren’t a concern since the bows are made of materials that aren’t affected by humid or cold weather.
  3. Availability and cost. As these high tech bows have taken over the market, traditional bows are becoming more expensive due to less demand and fewer manufacturers.
  4. They are often made of very light material such as carbon fiber and aluminum alloy.
  5. They are designed for better performance, speed, and accuracy.
  6. They can be broken down and transported easily.

Crossbows often use a similar setup as the compound bow, minus the stock portion of the bow and rather than firing bolts it uses arrows. The arrows are usually made of high composite materials that are streamlined and perfected for different types of applications. You don’t need to worry about composite arrows curving in damp weather, like you would with wooden ones. And again they are lighter and stronger than wood.

In many cases a bow is still used for hunting, but there are many archery enthusiasts who practice shooting for sport. There are archery contests and tournaments every year across the globe that invite and entice all ranks of archers.

On this page you will find out what is the best compound bow on the market for your particular needs and how to go about buying one if you’ve never bought one before. We hope this guide serves you well.

Top Compound Bow Brands

#1 Pick: Bear Archery Attitude RTH

To give you a heads up on the best compound bow brands, here is a list of popular brands which have been in business selling bows for years. They have made names for themselves by offering high quality products based off of science, research, and testing.mathews archery logo

Barnett

While they are primarily a Crossbow based manufacturer, they also produce a few compound bows such as the Hunter Vortex for youth archery. They have a team of engineers who actively develop new crossbows and migrate some of that technology to compound bow products.

Carbon Express Arrows

We added Carbon Express to the list because they offer arrows of all kinds. Many high competition archers rely on Carbon Express arrows because of their performance.PSE Compound Bow and Logo

PSE Archery

A company which was started in the 70’s claim they have the world’s best bows. And they may be right. They offer various types of compound bows, bowfishing bows, and even traditional style bows. PSE is the only company manufacturing their units under the original Allen Archery Patent.

Parker Bows

Another company that is big on crossbows, fully making one of the best in the field, but it is also known for their compound bows.

Mathews

They use single a cam for their bows. They pride themselves on making bow technology that is less complicated yet still reliable and accurate.

Hoyt

A company run by bow fanatics. They are extremely passionate about bows and offer a wide range of hunting products. Over all, many of their bows weigh under 4lbs.

However, just because a brand has a good reputation and has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean that every bow they make will be good for you and your particular needs. Keep reading to find out what we consider to be a good bow for beginners and for hunters.

Best Hunting Bows: What To Look For

#2 Pick: PSE Ready To Shoot Surge Bow

Bowtech’s Assassin bows are often used for hunting. But what makes up the best hunting bow? Putting it simply, the type of animal and the season and/or weather conditions will be the biggest factors.

You should also consider the conditions in the bush. Will you be in a tree stand or hunkered down in thick brush?

Check out the latest Full Throttle video (one of the fasts in the market and perfect for hunting):

Just as a reminder, you should always check to make sure that you fall within your state’s hunting laws for the legal minimum draw weight. It’s there to protect the animal as much as possible so that it doesn’t suffer longer than necessary when being struck with an arrow.

Deer

Alert Deer

Deer have excellent hearing. Moving your arm inside your jacket is more than enough to alert a deer and be detected.

Deer are quick animals that can detect and evade slow arrows. The recommended poundage is above 45lb, but ideally a 55-60lb draw weight will be quick enough to punch through the animal.

Shooting straight at your target is your best bet, rather than a long arch. If you choose a higher lb draw, remember that it may be much more difficult for you to draw the bow in cold weather when you have a lot of extra clothing on.

Bear

Black bears are small bears which should be taken down with a 60lb draw or more. Brown Bears, or Grizzlies, are much larger. They usually have more fat deposits, even after hibernation, and a require razor sharp broadhead to be taken down and a draw weight of 65-70lb.

black bear

Black bears have poor eye sight but an excellent ability to smell.

An important note about hunting bears: Black bears are timid creatures designed to climb trees. Grizzlies have sharp claws designed to rip flesh apart. A black bear will more often than not, run after it’s been hit.

A grizzly will often check out its wound and then scan the area for movement. If it detects you, it may very well come after you. It’s important to stay undetected as best as possible.

You need to puncture its lungs and heart first shot. If you hit it elsewhere, you will have an angry bear looking for its attacker. So it’s better to pass on a shot than to take a chance on a risky one.

Moose

Female Moose

A young Female Moose cautiously drinking from a stream.

Another large game animal which should take a 50lb draw or more. As with most game animals, shooting from 25-30 yards is about the maximum distance to shoot from.  So it’s important to make sure your clothing doesn’t make noise when you draw and your scent doesn’t give you away.

Moose tend to be angry animals by nature. You don’t want to be in the path of an angry moose. Choose your shots wisely.

Turkey

Again state minimums need to be adhered to, which on average is 40+. As long as you are within the limit, you can shoot with whatever you want. Turkeys don’t have a whole lot to them to shoot. Most of the breast is not a kill zone and you will ruin the meat if you should fire through it. While a complete guide on shooting turkeys is beyond the scope of this article, 4-5 inches above the leg seems to be the most popular shot taken.

As with hunting any size of game, your arrows should be razor sharp. Remember, these are going to pierce through the animal’s hide and destroy its internal organs for the kill. If you use anything less than sharp, it may only seriously wound the animal and cause unnecessary suffering. So getting the best hunting compound bow is more than just a luxury choice.

Youth Compound Bow For Beginners

#1 Junior Pick: Diamond Atomic Package Youth Model RH

Barnett Banshee Compound BowTo be honest, a beginner can take on almost any bow with proper guidance. However, there are some things which make it much easier for a novice, especially for children or young adults besides settling on a quality recurve bow. Let’s consider a couple of points before we look at what is the best beginner compound bow recommendation.

Draw length – The draw length is the amount of space between the bow string when it’s in a natural position to when it’s pulled back to fire an arrow at its maximum position.

Many bows can be adjusted and some have mechanical stops to prevent over drawing, which could cause damage to the bow or the archer. The draw length should be adjusted to the archer and not the archer to the bow.

Draw Weight – You will see this often when looking at different types of compound bows. This is the amount of pounds of force required to draw the bow in to a fully drawn position. A 30lb draw weight will be much easier than a 65 or 70 lbs.

The SA Sports Youth Moose takes into account both of those points. It has a low 35 lbs draw weight and draw length of 20” which should be suitable for most junior archers. You could consider this one to be the first step to a real bow.

It may not be legal or ideal to hunt with this bow in some states, but it will give the beginner a chance to practice. Practice is one of the most important things for a beginner. And at 35 lbs, we don’t recommend trying to take down a moose with it.

Some bows cost well over $600, but the SA Sports Youth bow can be had for under $100. This makes it a cheap entry in to the sport without breaking the bank.

Barnett’s Banshee is considered by many as the best youth compound bow to start with and is a solid option for young archers. If SA’s 35 lbs Moose seems like a lot, then the banshee is the next step down. It has a 25 lbs draw weight, which most 10-15 year olds can pull back. It has basically all the same things as the adult bow, just in a smaller size.

If you’re wondering if this bow is designed for left or right-handed people, you’re in luck. It’s designed for both types of shooters.

However, it doesn’t come with a wrist guard, which is something I recommend for any archer. The wrist guard will help prevent the bow string from lashing against the wrist and forearm. It’s common for beginners to hold their bows in such a way that will cause them to become injured in this area.

2016 Compound Bow Review & Buying Guide

#3 Pick: Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro

With every passing year, the technological advancements that go into this powerful weapon are worth paying attention to, and 2016 is no different. Which is why every year we re-test as many as we can get our hands on for our annual compound bow reviews.

Know The Components

You should know what all of the parts are that make up a compound bow.

compound-bow-components-diagramThis is important whether you are buying one online or at your local hunting shop. Some bows don’t have features that others do, which could make your shooting experience better or worse.

Here is a short list of the components with a diagram for illustration purposes:

  • Cables
  • Cable Rod & Slide
  • String Suppressor
  • Bow String
  • Cams
  • Idler Wheel
  • Riser
  • Limbs Dampeners, Limb Bolts
  • Sight Mount for your Scope
  • Arrow Shelf

Noise is a common problem for bow hunters. The sound of the strings vibrating after a shot can, and will, spook most game animals. There are string silencers available to help combat this. The way the arrow slides from the bow can cause a tremendous amount of noise. Are your cams noisy? Do the joints creak when you are going in to a fully drawn position? There are mechanisms to reduce and eliminate most noises.

Cheap vs. Expensive

Not only should have you a budget in mind, you should also understand the price range of any particular bow. You also need to know exactly what you intend to use the bow for. Are you using it for competition, hunting, or once in a while target practice?

The most expensive or a cheap compound bow isn’t always the best or the worst bow either. Further up on this page, you can see how important draw lengths and weights will affect an archer.

Some bows are simply more expensive because of branding or small features that some archers will never use. In the case with someone new to the sport, they will overlook these small features and the extra cost will simply be wasted, in which case buying a cheaper one would make more sense. (more on this below).

Best Bow For The Money

The best value compound bow is one that suits the archer and his or her needs. After the basics are covered, you should look at each bow’s unique features and decide which one is better suited for your needs. For example, one bow might contain a regular sight where another offers a red dot sight which may help you for dim light applications.

The biggest thing to remember is. The bow should fit the archer and not the other way around. If it doesn’t fit you, don’t force it to, unless you are in a dire survival situation. Otherwise, it will lead to a lot of problems.

Buying Used

I fully recommend buying a used bow if you are buying for the first time. There are so many things that can happen to your bow, that you won’t want happening to an expensive bow.

Used Tom Bow

A used bow with accessories found online.

Dropping it is one of the most common issues for beginners. And not just dropping your bow when you are transporting it, but after a full draw when you release an arrow. A beginner tends to drop their arm down and grind the bow’s pulleys and tips in to the ground. This can be an expensive repair on a brand new bow if some damage was done.

If you already have a lot of experience with a bow, then buying a used may hold an even bigger advantage. First, you will be able to spot problems. Second, many people who are selling their used bow will toss in a lot of extras, just hoping to make the sale. So you may be able to barter a bit and get a fantastic bow, plus hundreds of dollars in accessories & hunting gear tossed in at no extra cost.

Facebook, Craig’s List, Local buy/sell advertisements, and eBay are all good places to find a used bow. Local sporting shops may have pin boards or contact information of people they know who are looking to sell their equipment.

Renting

Archery Range Quail Creek

Archery Range in Quail Creek, AZ.

Many shooting ranges will offer some for rent. This is a great opportunity to experiment and test out bows in a real application. Because not all stores will have a shooting range in the back for you to test out various bows.

It’s important to keep in mind that some of these bows will have been abused. They may have slight problems with accuracy. But they will give you a good indication of how it will feel and perform in the long term.

If possible, you should have the rented bow length adjusted to fit you. Otherwise you could develop bad habits or cause injury to your back or arms.

Local Shops

Buying at a local shop may be more beneficial than just being able to take the bow home right away. Often local sellers will be more keen on giving you a sale or discount on a bow simply because they understand that you will go back to them to buy upgrades and other accessories.

Local shops dedicated to archery sales have people to talk to who have a lot of experience. If you already know what type of bow you want, you may try asking the shop what they recommend for your skill level and intention.

Asking from a local outdoors store their honest compound bow review is not a bad idea. They may offer some extremely helpful advice. Not everyone is out to get you. The down side here is that the have limited options and normally carry the most popular ones, such as Bowtech’s Dimond Infinite Edge or Bear Encounter RTH bow.

At the very least, you can go to a shop to get fitted for a bow size and check out the latest brands before going for buying the best compound bow on the market online, as there are times when ordering online might be more beneficial than paying at your local shop.

Here is a helpful video by the Red Horn Society on choosing your first bow: