A compound bow offers several advantages over traditional and recurve bows, but the jump in price can be significant. It can be a challenge to identify what differences there are between flagship, high-end compound bows, and low-cost options.

People who are new to archery may look first for the lowest possible cost or might be interested in the highest-end offering in the hope that a superior product will make learning the sport easier.

Today, we will break down the pros and cons of compound bows at various price points and we will throw in a little information about why some bows are more expensive than others.

The Quick Summary
Overall, compound bows can cost anywhere between $275 to $1,000 plus, depending on the brand and quality.
- Low cost bows will range from $275-$400.
- Mid-priced bows will range from $400-$600.
- High-end bows can cost upwards of $1,000.
The perfect price is one that matches your level of expertise, dedication, and desired budget.

Why Compound Bows Cost So Much

A quick glance at the price of a nice entry-level recurve bow against an entry-level compound bow can be a shock to the system. While recurve bows top out at a fairly reasonable price, the best compound bows can quickly exceed $1,000 price tags.

The reasons are there, but they don’t necessarily translate into better products. The real reason that compound bows cost more has to do with two primary aspects.

First, compound bows are more expensive to manufacture. Second, almost every component of a compound bow is patented. That means companies looking to use patented components must pay a fee to the patent holder. This combination of costs is what drives the price tag more than anything else.

Why a More Expensive Bow Might Not Be Better

A fantastic high-end bow shoots great, but these tools also demand a lot from the archer. For archers with the resources to start out at the top of the scale, it is unlikely that you’ll dislike your bow. A quick glance at online auctions shows a good number of upper-end compound bows with light use, a sign that the archer wasn’t able to master the tool.

I like to think about it like trying to learn to drive a car by starting out with a race car. Driving the car isn’t necessarily different than a regular car, but the performance makes it much more difficult to learn. Learning a bow is a lot the same. Lower-performance bows can be easier to learn before deciding to move up to a higher-end compound bow.

The Differences Between High-Cost and Low-Cost Bows

Expensive bows typically feature the most advanced designs, use proprietary technology, and feature intricate craftsmanship. These factors contribute highly to the increased cost. The biggest difference these factors make is in the speed the bow shoots. In today’s archery world, most bows are priced according to how fast they shoot. Faster bows equal higher prices.

Top Bow Brands

Mid-range bows typically use a combination of recent but not cutting-edge technology and lower manufacturing costs. Sometimes, this is because of simpler construction, but manufacturers can also lower costs by using less expensive materials. With that said, a number of the mid-range bows are of excellent quality and offer everything that the novice to the expert could want without a huge price tag.

A low-cost compound bow is anything that sells for around $275 or more. Below this point, archers are risking life and limb, literally. There are a ton of cheaply made Chinese knockoff compound bows that can explode during use. The old adage that ‘if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is’ certainly applies to purchasing a compound bow.

Avoiding Dangerous Bows

Before you buy any bow, spend some time researching it. Most manufacturers provide detailed information about their products online. If it is hard to find any good information about a brand, it’s a sign the manufacturer is one to avoid.

Taking a trip to an archery store is another great way to separate the good from the bad. Archery stores will have the knowledge to steer you toward a quality product and will help work with your budget to identify the proper bow. FYI, if your archery store is trying to push an expensive bow on you as a novice, they probably aren’t reputable.

Buying A Used Compound Bow

I discourage novice archers from purchasing a used compound bow as their first bow, especially online. There are a number of things that can go wrong with a compound bow that is difficult to identify in pictures. In some cases, the defects can cause a dangerous situation. Other problems can eliminate any savings when you have to replace bow parts that are worn out or damaged.

It is simply better to spend a bit more on a new compound bow than it is to try and save a few bucks buying a used bow.

Prices and Features of Compound Bows

Low Cost Bows

Bows that fall in the $275 to $400 range are typically decent quality, but they will lack some desirable features. Most often, these are stripped-down compound bows or bows sod in package deals that include very low-cost accessories. Typically, bows in this price range have a single string stop and a brace height of around 6” to 7”. This gives the bow a speed of around 300 feet-per-second. In the end, these are the top picks for beginner compound bows. 

Mid-Priced Bows

These bows fall within the $400 to $600 range. Typically, these bows feature better cams, dual string stops, and a more attractive riser design. They will shoot in the 310 to 325 FPS range. Usually, these bows will have better arrow nocks, sights, and function very quietly. Archers will find parallel compound arms with eccentric cams in this price range. This is the price point I would recommend a novice archer to compare.

High-End Bows

These bows can range well above $1,000. They represent the best technology and most-current trends in design. Shorter brace heights result in power above 340 FPS. High-end bows frequently have low weight and are as smooth as butter to shoot once an archer has mastered their shooting technique. Bows in this price range are more appropriate for seasoned archers that can use the fine-tuned performance to their advantage.

Compound Bow Cost FAQs

How Much Does A Decent Compound Bow Cost?

Expect to pay between $300 and $600 for a quality bow. Avoid really cheap compound bows because they can be dangerous.

Why Are Compound Bows More Expensive?

Compound bows have numerous precision parts that allow them to function. These parts are more expensive to manufacture than the components of traditional or recurve bows.

Is A More Expensive Bow Better?

Expensive bows typically feature the latest in technology and are high-quality. They also shoot faster than less-expensive options. However, this does not necessarily mean the bow will make you a better archer. Expensive, high-end bows are more difficult to shoot.

Is Buying A Used Compound Bow A Good Idea?

Generally, it is better to avoid buying a used bow until you are familiar with the various parts and how to inspect the bow properly. If you have the ability to have an expert check out a used bow, you might be able to save some money.

My Final Thoughts

The amount you’ll spend on the right bow ultimately boils down to the amount you are willing to spend. I’ve had plenty of fun shooting low-end compound bows, but archers looking for a low-cost way to get into the sport should look into recurve bows. A good recurve bow might cost half what a mid-priced compound bow will and is still cheaper than a low-cost compound.

It is a great idea to visit an archery shop and talk with an expert to help figure out the best bow option. There are minor variables between different bow brands and styles that will suit some archers better. It is also a great way to get started on learning the basics and knowing what to do to start out on the right foot.