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No matter if you're looking for the best compound bow for beginners, or if you just want to brush up on some knowledge, every archer needs to know the key parts of a compound bow!
Nowadays, bows have become so complex that it's nice to have a quick chart pointing on each part of a bow... and that's exactly what I've done!
Take a look at the charts below, as well as the list of each component and why it's important. Also, there's a quick, handy guide that lays out some really key compound bow measurements to know as well.
The list below is going to summarize the most important parts of a compound bow to know!
A riser is the main piece and/or body of a compound bow that holds all additional accessories, including the limbs.
While most compound bow risers are made out of aluminum, you will find some other materials used in lower cost, less reliable bows.
An axle is the part of a compound bow that holds the cams in place between the limbs.
Cams are the oval shaped wheels located at the end of the limbs that are held in place by the bow's axles.
These components take rotary motion and transform it into linear motion or vice versa - allowing archers to hold a higher level of weight more comfortably. This is otherwise known as let-off percentage.
In the past, hunters usually shot single cam bows, but today many manufacturers are moving to two or dual (eccentric) cam systems to improve accuracy and velocity.
A bow's limbs are connected to the riser and hold the axle/cam system at the very end.
This is the part of the bow that provides its power as the limbs are designed to flex once the bow is drawn. Energy is stored in the bow's limbs and then transferred to the arrow upon release.
Lastly, most limbs a made out of fiberglass and other composite materials.
Additionally, compound bows are made with single limb or split limb designs, with the latter being the most popular today.
Limb bolts are what connects the limbs to the riser within the limb pockets.
You can adjust the bolts using a standard allen key. By tightening the bolts you increase the weight of the bow, and by loosening the bolts you decrease the weight of the bow.
It's very important to keep in mind that the limbs should be adjusted equally to prevent malfunctions and/or inconsistent shots.
The list doesn't just end here. There are several other parts of a compound bow that make it so efficient!
A bow sight is usually a circular or square housing that holds fiberoptic pins that help archers aim at certain distances.
While there are many different types of sights, many archers prefer to use a 3 to 5 pin static sight.
A quiver is an accessory that properly and safely stores and holds an archer's arrows while hunting and shooting.
Back in the day, many quiver were two-piece style designs that permanently attached to the side of the bow. Nowadays, many manufacturers are designing lightweight, single-piece quivers that can be detached from the bow.
A cable guard is a horizontal pole that exits from the back of the bow's riser that holds the cable in a slightly offset angle to prevent any disruption to the arrow.
The cable is connected to the guard by a cable slide, which allows the cable to move back and forth upon an archer's draw and release with minimal friction occurring.
The arrow rest is a compound bow accessory that holds the arrow in place within the arrow shelf while at rest and at full draw.
There are several different types of arrow rests including "drop-aways", containment, launcher, etc.
The grip is located right below the arrow shelf and is the location where an archer holds the bow.
Many modern bows are equipped with a relatively simple wooden or tactical style grips that's designed to improve the ergonomics of the hunter.
Keep in mind, many archers to change out or customize their grip based on individual preferences.
A bow stabilizer is a weighted rod that's mounted on the front side of the riser below the archer's grip area. However, you might notice some archer's utilizing what's known as a rear back bar (v-bar) stabilizer that's mounted on the rear side of the riser and has a slight drop.
Stabilizers are meant to give archers added stability and balance, while also minimizing vibration.
A bows sling attaches to the front portion of the riser, usually by screwing in your stabilizer through the opening slot, and wraps around your hand.
This is used so hunters don't need need to tightly grip the handle. An individual can relax their hand during the shot and rely on the sling for some peace of mind.
The bow's cables (or buss cables) are the cables that connect the cams on your compound bow. They are utilized to transfer energy from the cams to the limbs, while also keeping the cams in sync.
Additionally, the cables are the main thing that control's the bow's weight.
As cables transfer energy from the cams to the limbs, the bow string transfers energy from the limbs to the arrow.
Many don't know this, but a bowstring has a serving section and a loop section.
The serving section is the part of the string that attaches to both ends, while the loop section is where you attach the arrow.
Additionally, bowstrings have to be replaced at twice the rate as cables.
A peep sight is small hole (or hollow circle) placed within the bowstring.
It's used by archers to narrow their field of vision, and to give a consistent marker, to better focus on the sight.
A loop (or D Loop) is a piece of cord that attaches to the bowstring to provide archers with a better connection point for bow release aids.
Just in case you're interested, I added a few key measurements to remember when shopping for a compound bow...
The axle-to-axle length, or ATA, is the distance between each axle of a bow. Said differently, it's the length between the ends of the limbs where the axles/cams rotate.
Most bows have an axle-to-axle length of 30" to 33". And of course, there are pros and cons to each. A longer ATA means a little more stability and better accuracy, and that's why you see so many competition shooters favor this.
However, many hunters prefer a shorter ATA due to the maneuverability and compactness of these bows.
Brace height is the horizontal measurement from the deepest point of an archer's grip to the bow string (while the bow is at rest).
You'll find that most bows have a brace height of 7" to 8" with minimal variance outside of this.
Bows with a shorter brace height usually offer more velocity and speed since the bowstring is traveling a further distance. Now, while you'll gain velocity, you may give up accuracy as that lengthier travel opens up the opportunity for errors to occur.
An archer's draw length is the measurement from the Berger Hole (a hole located in the riser above the arrow shelf) to the corner point of the string by the archer's mouth at full draw.
There are several different ways to measure draw length, but the easiest is to imitate pulling a bow back and measuring the distance between the grip and the corner of one's mouth.
Additionally, if you're looking for a crossbow, we have a great blog summarizing the Best TenPoint Crossbows!