Compound Archery: The Parts of the Compound Bow

By

Can You Name Every Part?

The compound bow setup is a complex system of working parts that comprise the core of modern-day bowhunting. (Ryan Orndorff illustration)

Archery wasn’t very popular (relatively speaking) not too long ago. But today, archery is taking the country, and the world, by storm. Anti-hunters and non-hunters are even taking up the storied heritage of archery. And it’s helping add numbers to our ranks each and every day.

But regardless of your background with the outdoors, if you want to learn the working parts of the compound bow, follow along as we show them to you and explain the different components that make a bow what it is.

Top and Bottom Cams

These are what make a compound, a compound. Different bows have different cam systems. Some bows have a single cam. Other bows have a cam and a half (Hoyt). Then some have no traditional cam system at all (Matthews). Also, study the cam systems as well. Determine what model you prefer. Regardless, do your research and understand the pros and cons of each setup to determine what bow will be right for you.

Top and Bottom Limbs

The limbs, made of fiberglass, can come in different variations. Most bows will offer either a solid or split limb. Personally, I like the split limb better. They traditionally lead to better durability, less vibration and quieter bows.

Don't Miss: Realtree's Broadhead Selector

Limb Pocket

This is where the limbs sit and attach to the riser. Some of these are machined, while other are not. Those that are tend to be more accurate, especially at longer distances.

Limb Bolt

This holds the limb in place. But more importantly for your use, it is what raises and lowers the draw weight on most compound bows. For most models, turn it clockwise to increase draw weight and counter clockwise to decrease it.

Riser

This is basically the middle part of the compound bow. This is the backbone of the bow. Most of these will be made with either carbon or aluminum. Carbon is more durable and flexible and can lead to a slightly more accurate bow. However, aluminum bows are practically as good and will save you a lot of money.

Brace Height

This is a very important aspect of the bow. The side of this (generally 6 to 7 inches on most bows), affect forgiveness and arrow speed. There are pros and cons to different brace heights. It all depends on personal preference as to which you choose.

Bow String

This is the string that launches the arrow downrange. It’s also where the arrow will nock onto and where your D loop will be located as well. It’s very important to protect the bow string — for any type of bow. Shooting with a damaged bow can result in serious bodily harm, or at the very least, a ruined hunt.

Buss Cable

These cables run to and from the cam(s) and help move them as the bow is drawn. These are just integral to the workings of the bow as the bowstring. Keep them protected.

Cable Slide

The cable slide is a mechanism designed to prevent the buss cables from making contact with the arrow during the shot. This small, plastic piece is easily damaged on many bows, so check it regularly.

Cable Rod

This is the rod that the cable slide moves back and forth on. The cable rod attaches to the riser and will generally run parallel to the limbs (on bows with parallel limbs).

Don't Miss: Realtree's Kinetic Energy and Momentum Calculator for Your Bow 

Serving

This is additional “string” that is wrapped around the bow string for added protection. It is generally found in areas where abrasions are common and where strings simply need extra support holding together.

D Loop

This short piece of string material will attach just above and below your nocking point. This is the connector between your release and the bow string. Having this small add-on will result in better accuracy over clipping your release to the bow string itself.

Peep Sight

This is the small, hollow opening you look through while at full draw. To install, carefully and correctly part the bow string (have an archery pro do this if you don’t know how) and seat it inside of it. Peer through the peep sight while putting the appropriate pin on the target you are aiming at.

Silencers

These are found not only on the string but all over the bow. Regardless of the location or type, all silencers are vibration dampeners. These help reduce noise and felt vibration from the shot.

Grip

This is the part of the bow you hold with your offhand. However, I generally remove the factory grip and wrap some tape around the bow instead. Factory grips are generally large, which leads to a lot of surface area contacting your hand. The more contact there is with your hand the higher the likelihood of torqueing the bow.

Sight

You aim with this set of pins. There are many different styles out there. Single pins that are adjustable on the fly. Multiple pins. Vertical pin sets. Horizontal pin sets. Pick your poison.

Rest

This is the mechanism the arrow rests on while knocked. These also come in different forms. For beginners, it’s hard to beat a Whisker Biscuit. For more experienced shooters, I personally prefer the drop-away style. This is generally the most accurate option.

Stabilizer

This add-on helps keep the bow balanced in your hands. Have your bow with you when you go to purchase this piece of gear. Screw different models onto your bow and get the one that helps balance your bow the best.

Release

This is the aid that straps to your wrist. Several styles (and variations of those styles) are available on the market. The most common are traditional index-finger, thumb-trigger and back-tension releases. Or, you can go really traditional and shoot with just your fingers. Your call. Try them all and use what you shoot best with.

Quiver

This is the accessory that your arrows go in. It not only protects the arrows from the elements but also protects you and your bow from the sharp broadheads (or field points) found on the tips of your arrows.

Arrow

This is the projectile that does the damage. It’s the business end of the bow, so to speak. These come in different lengths, depending on your draw length. Safely cut them to size if need be. They also come in different weights, too. Check with your bow manufacturer to see what type of arrow your specific bow setup calls for.

Broadhead

There are many different options on the market. However, the two types available to hunters are mechanical and fixed-blade broadheads. Fixed-blade heads have no moving parts, have smaller cutting diameters and are generally harder to tune. That said, they are more reliable due to no fear of mechanical failure. On the flip side, mechanical heads have larger cutting surfaces, are easier to tune, but run the risk of mechanical mishaps.

Don't Miss: How to Make Your Bow More Accurate

Are you a bowhunter wanting to learn how to accomplish your goals? Check out our stories, videos and hard-hitting how-to's on deer hunting.

Follow us on Facebook.

Get the latest bowhunting news, tips and tactics in your inbox!