General Hunting Tips

Why Use a Compound Bow For Hunting

A hunter in a tree stand with a compound bow.

Through an intricately designed system of pulleys and cables that store a release of energy, the compound bow provides archers with a powerful hunting and recreational tool. It's a force to be reckoned with, offering a level of power and ease of use that's hard to argue against when compared to the traditional recurve. 

It's no surprise that compound bows have gained popularity recently. Their user-friendly design allows archers to concentrate on their aim and technique. At the same time, their superior speed and accuracy make them ideal for hunting various game, from elk to turkey

Here's everything you need to know about compound bows and why they're the preferred choice for greater accuracy and raw shooting power. We'll also talk about how to stay safe when hunting with your bow.

Drawing of a compound bow with labels for the parts.

Compound vs. Crossbow: What's the Difference?

While a crossbow is essentially a bow turned on its side and mounted on stock, similar to a rifle, the two options have some distinct differences. 

Crossbows are fired by a trigger mechanism that holds a bowstring in place, releasing a special arrow known as a bolt. As the bowstring locks in place, crossbows are generally easier to handle. 

In contrast, a compound bow uses a pulley system that bends the bow limbs to build up the energy required to release the arrow. It fires a regular arrow with the help of cams that hold the bowstring in the draw position for an extended period.

Regarding technique, compound bows are shot vertically, whereas crossbows are always fired horizontally and can be adapted with a range of accessories. 

Due to the assisted drawing of a crossbow, they can deliver a faster and more powerful arrow than a compound. 

Illustration a hunter kneeling while drawing a compound bow.

Why Use It for Hunting?

Many hunters will opt for compound over recurve when it comes to hunting. It's easier, safer, and a more accurate option.

Here are some of the leading reasons why hunters prefer to shoot compound. 

Precision and Accuracy

Thanks to its advanced technology and design, incorporating the cams and pulley system, you, as an archer, will benefit from a mechanical advantage, providing more consistent and accurate hunts.

The consistency in this design and pulling force means you can enjoy preciseness with minimal deviation from targets, empowering you to take that ethical shot with confidence. 

Greater Power and Speed

Design features, including cams on either end of the bow, allow archers to hold the bowstring at the maximum draw for extended periods. This kinetic energy transfer means compound bows can fire arrows faster than traditional recurve and longbow styles.

Illustration of a female hunter crouched behind a rock with a compound bow.

Size and Maneuverability

One of the leading reasons why compound bows are the ultimate choice for hunting is their compact nature. This is true for transfer and hunting in dense foliage and tight spaces where a longer bow may be more challenging. 


Modern compound bows are highly adjustable, empowering archers to change the draw length (distance between the bow grip of the bow and the string when the bow is at full draw) and draw weight (force required to pull the string back to full draw).

This level of customization allows hunters of all skills and experience levels to set the appropriate limits on their usage, especially new hunters who are building up their bow strength and experience. This adjustability should empower you to tailor your equipment to your specific needs. 

Reduced Holding Weight

Compound bows have a "let-off," which refers to the percentage reduction in the weight an archer holds at full draw. This let-off is due to the design's physics and the cams' curvature.

For example, if you're shooting a bow with a 70-pound draw weight and an 85% let, you will only hold 10.5 lbs at full draw. 

An illustration of a compound bow sight aiming at a deer.


A compound bow's carefully engineered design, mechanical components, and durable materials create a more consistent shooting experience. The pulley system provides the force, so you can perfect your aim without worrying about precision and speed whenever you draw back the bow.

There's minimal deviation, which is crucial for hunters relying on their equipment to perform predictably in various hunting conditions.

Efficiency at a Longer Range

Compound bows shoot at a flatter trajectory due to higher velocities and more significant force, meaning they can travel great distances before falling to the ground.

This additional range and precision are essential when hunting typically skittish animals such as deer or turkey

Versatility and Recreation

Compound bows make great hunting tools and are a fun recreational activity. Archery is a great way to get out, meet new people, and try your luck on the range. 

Ensure you prepare physically if you're using a compound bow and always stay on top of safety best practices

Illustration of a compound bow.

Shoot Safe and Straight with a Compound Bow and Hunter-Ed 

Compound bows are powerful tools capable of holding and storing significant force in the intricate design. However, they can take some getting used to, and new bow hunters will need a lot of exposure and practice before they can start pulling in the amount of power required to hunt more big game out in the field. 

Ensure your safety and the safety of others by enrolling in a Hunter-Ed hunter safety course. This course, often a requirement to obtain a hunting license in most states, provides a foundational introduction to the essential safety rules that all hunters must know and respect, giving you the confidence to enjoy your bow safely.  

Our online courses cover safety essentials for hunting, including how to shoot with a bow and what to keep in mind to hit your target while protecting others in the field.

So, before your next bowhunting adventure, make sure you're prepared for a safe hunt! Find the Hunter-Ed course for your state and start learning with our free online study guide.