When you start looking at different bows, you will see and hear a lot of terms that might not sound familiar to you. It is important to understand what the different parts of a compound bow are called and how these components can impact your buying decisions.
Below we will show you the component parts of a compound bow and some required accessories you will need to make your bow complete for hunting. This will help you understand how a bow is put together and the terminology that goes with it.
The Parts of a Compound Bow
Riser and Limbs
The main body is called the riser. This single piece is the backbone of your bow and its reliability, comfort, and weight will determine its long-term strength. The limbs are attached to the riser at the top and bottom of the bow and are the support beams that bend and flex every time you shoot.
The limbs are the attachment points for the cams that provide the power and speed of your shots. In a lot of modern bows, you will find split limb technology being employed versus using a single solid limb. This type of split limb technology has helped bows become more shootable and allowed for dampening to make them quieter.
The cams are the round disks you find at both ends of the bow. They are the tools that provide the power when it is put into operation and they are also the tool that makes using a compound bow easy to hold after the string is drawn. Some types of cams include round wheels, soft cams, hard cams, single (solo) cams, and 1.5 hybrid cams. These then form the type of cam systems that manufacturers use to increase speed and kinetic energy. We will talk more about cam systems below.
The bowstring is the main part used to draw and shoot the arrows. Bowstrings are largely made of B50 Dacron or Dacrogen, with a little stretch to increase shootability. In addition, most bowstrings are made up of approximately 20-24 individual strings, wound to construct a strong stable shooting platform.
Cables, the Cable Slide, and the Cable Guard
The cables are connected to the cams and are what rotate the cams when the bowstring is pulled back (as shown in the image below). The cable slide allows the cables to move freely under control, while attached to the cable guard, which keeps the cables away from the bowstring to allow it to launch arrows freely when shot.
String Vibration Arrestor
The string vibration arrestor is used to minimize the vibration of the string and to stop the string when you shoot. It also helps minimize the sound when firing the bow.
Required Bow Accessories
You can’t shoot a compound bow effectively without some required bowhunting accessories. There are several other accessory items that you will need if you want to have the optimal performance of your bow when hunting. These items must be factored in when setting your budget as they can add significant costs to your archery hunting setup.
These accessories include:
The Arrow Rest is a critical part of your bow setup and tuning. In our example image above and below you can see that we’ve used a “Whisker Biscuit” arrow rest as our example. This is a contained rest that holds your arrow in place and helps maintain its trajectory through the shot.
There are multiple types of arrow rests that provide for minimal arrow friction and a faster release of the arrow on the market. They can range in price from $15 to $300 or more depending on their individual features. The one thing you need to remember is that while there are expensive options, many hunters kill game animals every year with the standard whisker biscuit arrow release.
- Recommended Closed Arrow Rest – Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit
- Recommended Drop Away Frictionless Rest – QAD Ultra-Rest HDX
The Bow Sight is another critical component to your hunting success. This accessory, coupled with a peep sight mounted on the bowstring, will allow you to quickly align your bow sight to the arrow rest for a highly accurate shot when your bow is tuned properly. You can’t hunt effectively without a good bow sight. That being said, bow sights range in price from $10 to $1300. In fact, some new models actually come with laser rangefinders included in the sight.
- Recommended Bow Sight – Trophy Ridge Hotwire Bow Sight (One of the most popular bow sights on the market)
- Recommended Budget Bow Sight – Trophy Ridge Mist Sight
- Recommended Single Pin Bow Sight – Apex Covert Pro Single Dot Reticle Sight
The Peep Sight is mounted and intertwined into the bowstring. Much like open sights on a rifle, the peep sight is the rear sight that helps create the sight alignment from your shooting eye, through the peep sight, through your bow sight, to the target.
The peep is mounted based on your draw length and can be raised or lowered on the bowstring to allow for the best anchor point when aiming and the best sight alignment that will optimize your bow’s speed and your bow sight’s individual setup and capabilities. Peep sights come in various types and sizes, from simple, small, medium, and large; to tubular and optical.
The Nock Loop is a very important component and is a critical element of your shooting process. The Nock loop is where the nock on your arrow connects to the bowstring. This connection is contained by the Nock loop’s connection to the bowstring.
In addition, the Nock Loop is also where your mechanical release or finger release will connect to allow you to draw the bowstring back to shoot. The alignment of the Nock loop with the Arrow Rest is an essential element to an accurate shot. This is also an element of the bow-tuning process.
The stabilizer is used to do two things. First, it does exactly what it says. It is meant to stabilize your bow while shooting to provide you with a balanced shooting platform. Second, the stabilizer absorbs the vibration of the bow when you are shooting, thus minimizing it and making for a more stable shot overall.
A stabilizer isn’t critical to your bow, but it is highly recommended to aid your stability and balance of the bow when shooting. Stabilizers can range in price from $10 to $200, but I do not recommend spending a lot of money in this area until you have really gotten a feel for shooting your bow.
A bow-mounted Arrow Quiver is not a necessity, but it is highly recommended. You will need to be able to carry your arrows with you safely as you hunt. In addition, you will most likely want to have an Arrow Quiver that is removable and can be taken off and put back on your bow quickly.
A lot of bowhunters like to take off their quiver when they get to their hunting spot to enhance their maneuverability and to get the extra weight of their arrows off the bow for easier shooting. Bow hunters will hang the quiver on the tree where it is easily accessed while hunting.
The wrist loop, also commonly called the wrist strap, is an essential accessory for your bow setup. One of the most basic fundamentals of bow shooting is to maintain a loose grip on the bow grip. When a shooter’s hand has the wrist loop around it while gripping the bow for a shot, the wrist loop keeps the shooter from dropping the bow. This is a safety measure you should always have in place; especially when shooting from different angles in an elevated position or a tree stand.
Ready to Hunt!
Now that you know all the parts of a compound bow and other required bowhunting accessories, you can start your search for your first bow. I have a blog post that will help you learn the features and specifications that you need to understand and the 5 things you need to know before you choose a new bow. Check out the How to Buy a Compound Bow post here now.
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