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Are you interested in bowhunting or target archery? If you are, you should know the parts of a compound bow.

Why a compound bow and not any other type? Well, it’s okay if you want to be traditional and go for a recurve or longbow immediately. However, even if it doesn’t seem natural, it’s easier for newbies to start with a compound bow.

With all the wheels, cables, and moving parts, a compound bow is more complicated but also more forgiving. It allows you to develop your skill and strength gradually while enjoying a decent level of accuracy right from the get-go. Once you gain some experience, you can switch to other types of bows.

So, it’s up to you, but if you’re looking to start your quest with a compound bow, you should know its basic parts. So, when a salesman asks you if you want a bow with or without a stabilizer, silencer, or with a single or dual cam system, you’ll know what he is talking about. You can still ask him for advice, but you need to have some basic understanding to get it right.

A Word or Two of Encouragement

There’s some fascinating attraction about bows and arrows. Every child dreams of Robin Hood or Willem Tell adventures. The oldest confirmed parts of the bow and arrow are 18,000 years old! Archery was an important part of all ancient cultures. In Greek mythology, Apollo was a god of archery among other things. His twin sister, the goddess of hunting, Artemis is commonly depicted with bow and arrows.

Not to mention Odysseus who shot an arrow through the dozen axe heads to beat his wife’s suitors upon his return to Ithaca. I can’t even count Hindu deities with remarkable archery skills. And how about the Roman god Cupid and his arrows?

Even though we have invented way more powerful weapons we are still enthralled with bows and arrows. Do you like movies and TV shows? If you do, you know about the magnificent shooting skills of Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Legolas, or Katniss Everdeen.

There are all kinds of weapon enthusiasts. Some of them prefer traditional weapons, while others are attracted by power and precision. Some people prefer blades, from boot knives to tactical swords, while others lean towards firearms and explosives. However, the popularity of these weapons usually doesn’t extend beyond hunting and shooting communities. But, archery has the power to captivate even anti-hunters and anti-gun people.

It would take another article to explain this phenomenon. But, my point is that archery comes with an almost ethereal aura that sets it apart from other weapons and shooting activities.

While a compound bow doesn’t seem to be a necessary item for your bug out bag, it can be extremely useful in survival situations. It’s powerful, quiet, and deadly. In my book, it’s a perfect hunting weapon.

parts of a compound bow

Parts of a Compound Bow

1. Riser

The riser is the most rigid part of the bow. It is the middle part of the bow. Several other components such as limbs, arrow rest, and sight are mounted to the riser and it contains the grip. It provides stability for other components. Commonly, it is made of aluminum, or carbon fibers, or magnesium alloys.

2. Grip

The grip is where you hold the bow when shooting. It is a part of the riser, and usually, it is removable. We have different palms and hands so there are different designs of grips to fit anybody’s hand.

3. Limbs

Limbs are flexible parts at the top and bottom of the bow. They are commonly made of fiberglass. Limbs are mounted to the riser and there are two common types: solid and split limbs. With the usage of modern materials, both types are strong and reliable. However, split limbs are probably a bit stronger and more durable.

4. Cams

Cams are wheel-like structures at the end of the limbs. This is the part that separates a compound bow from other bows. They allow you to have a more powerful shot than the weight you’re holding back. It means that you don’t need as much force to fully draw the string while your shot will be powerful.

There are two basic types of cams – single and dual cams. Single cams have a single cam on the bottom and an idler wheel on the top of the bow. They are easier to maintain and they require less tuning. As a result, they are usually more precise. Also, single cam systems are quieter. Dual cam systems provide greater speeds so they are suited for more aggressive archers. They also have a more solid back wall, so it’s easier to tell when to stop pulling.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of personal preference and skill level. Still, I would recommend a single cam system for beginners.

5. Sights

The sight is another part that attaches to the riser. It has a set of pins to help you aim. There are many different styles such as fixed pin sights, movable sights, pendulum sights, and more. Fixed pin sights are the most typical choice for beginners.

6. Quiver

Thinking about quivers, you probably envision medieval times and Robin Hood-style back quiver. Today, they are still popular but more archers opt for hip or bow quivers.

Most compound bows come with a permanent or removable quiver. With the quiver mounted directly to your bow you don’t need to carry anything else. However, all styles have some advantages and disadvantages and it comes down to personal preferences.

7. Arrow Rest

This is where you put an arrow before shooting. There are basically 5 types of arrow rests: containment, drop away, shoot through, pressure, and 3D & specialty arrow rests. Typically, beginners use containment arrow rests. As you upgrade your skills and accuracy, you can move on to drop-away or other types of arrow rests.

8. Cable Slide

It is a small, plastic, movable part that keeps cables out of the arrow’s line of fire. It attaches to the cable guard.

9. Cable Guard

The cable guard is a rod, perpendicular to the riser. It allows the cable slide to slide along.

10. Cables

The cables run from cam to cam or from cam to idler wheel. They synchronize the cams, so they turn at the same speed. A bus cable is another name for these cables.

11. Stabilizer

The stabilizer is an optional part. It prevents minor torquing when you shoot. While it adds some extra weight, it should improve accuracy.

12. Sling

The sling is a strap that wraps around your hand to prevent dropping the bow after taking a shot.

13. Silencers

Depending on the model, you can find these all over the bow. They absorb vibrations and reduce noise.

14. D-Loop

This small piece of string is attached just above and below your nocking point. It helps a clean release of the bowstring.

15. Peep Sight

It is a small device with a hole, attached to the bowstring. It gives you the first point of alignment. Aligning the peep sight and the sight provides more accuracy and consistency.

parts of a bow

Final Word on Parts of a Bow

Now you know the most common parts of a compound bow and have some basic knowledge of their functions. However, to truly understand what and how they work, you need some tangible shooting experience.

Archery is a captivating activity, so it won’t take too long before you become a decent shooter. And if things get ugly, you’ll have another skill and a powerful weapon under your belt.

Whether you choose to try bowhunting or target archery, it’s pretty much like the mafia: once you’re in, there’s no way out. Only this time, it’s completely your choice. So, welcome to the “Robin Hood Club”!