We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
What Makes the Best Compound Bow For Hunting?
When venturing into the world of bowhunting, you need to cut through the marketing noise and make informed decisions. Bow companies need to sell their products, so of course, they generate hype or exaggerate claims. However, when looking to buy a compound bow for hunting, your #1 focus needs to be how the bow fits you and your needs. Shoot as many makes and models as possible, and visit different archery shops or box stores to get a feel for what's right for you; trust me, you need that hands-on fit-on experience. In the end, if you decide to order online, no problem,” You’ve done your research and know what you’re looking for.”
In the world of compound bows, higher speed and shootability are important considerations. The industry throws around the term “shootability,” which refers to how easily a bow is drawn and fired.
In this article, I'll tell you the three most crucial factors I consider when selecting the best compound bows for hunting, and go a little more in-depth on the trifecta of Draw Length and Weight, Brace Height, and Axle-to-Axle Length
Stay tuned until the end, when I'll unveil my top 10 hunting bow picks. Whether you're a seasoned archer or a beginner looking to step into the bowhunting world, this list offers valuable information and options.
Key Considerations for Bow Selection
Let me break down why you'll need to pay attention to these three factors when you're selecting a new bow for your hunting needs.
Draw Length and Weight
Draw length in archery refers to how far a compound bow can be drawn back before stopping. It's a critical factor for accuracy, with the bow's mechanical setting and the archer's physical size needing to match. Full draw, the position from which a compound bow should be shot, is when the bow is drawn back. Trying to overdraw a bow beyond its limb stop is not advised. Determining the “proper” draw length depends on comfort and accuracy, with various methods available for measurement. The Armspan/2.5 method is a reliable measurement technique. Setting bows for excessive draw length, often done for added speed, is discouraged due to the trade-off in comfort and control. The string loop does not affect the official mechanical draw length but may influence the “feel” of the draw length. For beginners, choosing an initial draw length similar to others of the same size is recommended. Fine-tuning your draw length adjustments can be done as one becomes more experienced in the sport.
Draw weight is the force required to draw a compound bow's string back. The maximum draw weight varies during the draw cycle, reaching its peak at the heaviest point. When selecting draw weight, comfort is a must. I have been in the archery game for a long time and recommend choosing a weight that requires about 75% of one's maximum strength to balance comfort and performance, ensuring an enjoyable and successful archery experience.
Finding your brace height is measuring the distance from the deepest point of the bow grip to the bowstring when the bow is at rest. For most modern compound bows, this is around 6 to 7 inches. A short brace height increases arrow velocity but reduces forgiveness, magnifying imperfections. Bows with a longer length brace height generally shoot slower but offer more forgiveness. Brace heights of 6 inches or less are considered short and less forgiving, while those greater than 6 inches are more forgiving. Be aware of string slap, a potential issue with short brace heights; this will affect your arrow flight and cause you to miss that mule deer you've been tracking.
Additionally, understanding your bow's specified brace height is important for tuning. Measuring the brace height is essential when fitting a new bowstring and cables. Any deviation from the fixed brace height indicates the need for adjustments, such as adding or removing twists, to ensure the bow aligns with its specified brace height. Choosing the right brace height depends on individual preference, shooting form, and comfort. If you are getting started in bow hunting or archery in general and are unsure, go to your local archery shop and have them fit you.
Axle-to-axle (ATA) is the distance between the two axles, where the axle holds the cam between the limbs in a compound bow.
In archery, finding the right axle-to-axle length for you is necessary to achieve the accuracy you're looking for. Longer lengths, like those in competition bows, offer better balance and forgiveness. Conversely, shorter bows are ideal for tight spaces, making it easier to move around in a treestand, and the bows will be lighter to pack when walking longer distances.
Innovations in Recent Years: The Game-Changer
In the past decade, archery has seen some advancements. It's remarkable how short bows have become incredibly popular among bow hunters, offering flexibility and power. This shift perfectly caters to the demands of modern-day hunting, and it's the beginning. Recently, we've witnessed the emergence of bows with carbon risers, shorter ATA, longer bows, and shorter brace heights, including the era of the speed bow in the bowhunting world. The days of settling for a “good bow” are long gone; now, we expect nothing more than greatness.
But it's not about keeping up with trends or trying to outdo others; it's about having all the features and capabilities that make every bow hunt enjoyable, exciting and fun, like when building a deer hanger. So, hold onto your hat and bow as we dive into my 10 picks. View the chart for a quick breakdown of the pros and cons or each. Then read in depth about the bows you're most interested in right underneath. These selections aren't ranked in any order – they're simply a collection of thoughts in my mind.
Mathews LIFT 29.5 & 33
Bear Archery Persist:
Bowtech Core SS
Hoyt Carbon RX-8
6 Hoyt Alpha X 30 & 33
7 Prime Revex (RVX)
8 PSE Mach 30 DS
innovative SWX cam: the more oval SWX cam enhances speed ratings, providing a smoother draw cycle than the previous SW cam.
top-mounted limb axles: reduces limb length, cutting weight, and increasing efficiency for improved performance.
match strings: the new ones replace the old zebra strings, offering better performance and consistency.
shot sense accessory: an optional electronic device that tracks shot details, helping archers improve form and track progress.
bow press caps: sturdy limb end caps for pressing, ensuring compatibility with last chance archery bow press
versatile draw length adjustment: quick and easy 1/4" rotation of mods for precise draw length settings.
smooth draw cycle: performance mods provide a load-up front with a steady build and a slight dump into the back
stability and lack of torque: very stable at full draw with minimal torque, aided by Elite's grip design.
quiet and vibration-free: remarkably quiet and vibration-free, providing a comfortable shooting experience.
torque-free and consistent grip: ensures a stable and consistent hold for improved accuracy.
innovative features: rope in limb pocket, arrow shelf pad, QD mounts, and string stop enhance usability and performance.
after shot feel: improved noise reduction and overall feel compared to the previous model (Execute).
adjustability: side draw length adjustment range (26-30 inches) and adjustable let-off (75-90%)
versatile sling mount: convenient mounting holes in the limb pocket for a sling, providing a practical alternative.
smooth draw with center mass technology: ensures unmatched stability and accuracy in every shot.
deadLock technology: quick and straightforward achievement of perfect arrow flight and repeatable accuracy.
timelock: Allows easy cam position adjustments without a bow press
griplock: Customizable grip angle for fine-tuning hold and increased accuracy.
lightweight Design: Easy to maneuver and carry in the field.
accurate draw length: Bows were on target for draw length once adjusted.
minimal vibration: dead in hand with almost no jump or vibrations.
string protection: Bump on cams keeps the string off the ground, potentially enhancing speed.
adjustability: 1/4" draw length adjustment and easy letoff adjustments.
thinner grip: Thinner grip design for improved comfort.
user-friendly module: three-screw module for easy adjustment and a locking screw for stability.
back wall quality: Offers a really nice back wall for a stable shooting experience.
draw length options: both bows offer draw length options suitable for your draw length of around 28.25-28.5 inches.
powerful draw weight : capable of drawing 70 lbs, providing ample power for hunting.
versatility: suitable for hunting in the southeast and Midwest, catering to various hunting scenarios.
gas strings upgrade : upgrading to gas strings enhances performance and durability.
brand reputation: Hoyt is a reputable brand known for quality bows.
performance: smooth drawing, decent arrow speed, steady at full draw, and whisper-quiet with minimal vibration.
fixed modules: adoption of fixed modules for peak performance at all draw lengths.
cam system: the new core cam system has improved tunability and prevention of cam lean.
options: available in three lengths (32, 34, 36 inches) and various draw weights (40-80 pounds).
center grip technology: Unique grip location for exceptional balance without accessories.
speed: high arrow speeds across grain arrows, slightly over IBO.
grip and balance: nice grip and balanced feel, reducing torque at full draw.
dead in hand: minimal vibration and sound, making it quiet and stable.
features: pic rail, COR mount for accessory attachment, and bottomland camo finish.
versatility:good performance at 40 yards with no noticeable pin float.
accessory cost: while beneficial, shot sense is an additional accessory not included with the lift bow.
learning curve: some archers may need time to adapt to the innovative top-mounted limb axles.
string performance: the effectiveness of the revamped match strings needs to be evaluated over time.
grip preference: personal opinions on the engage grip may vary; some archers prefer different grip styles.
tophat shim tuning: requires a bow press for tuning using Mathews tophat shims, adding complexity for some users.
draw length discrepancy: in the 80% let-off setting, the bow drew 3/8" too long, requiring adjustment—potential for a longer draw in the 90% slot.
speed: while hitting respectable speeds, the bow may not surpass other manufacturers with similar ratings.
draw cycle stiffness: some users may find the draw cycle slightly stiff, especially compared to other Elite models.
potential Torque Issues: some models might be more prone to torquing, impacting accuracy.
grip suitability: the grip design may not suit all shooters, and personal preferences may vary.
draw cycle: stiff upfront, small hump at the back, short valley, and a hard back wall might not suit everyone
grip design: the grip appears to be an afterthought, lacking texture & thickness
subjective feel between Bows: Perceived slight stiffness compared to other models, but could be personal.
draw adjustments impact hump and dump: changing the draw length may affect the hump and dump.
limited valley length: the valley is short but manageable, potentially requiring adjustment.
perceived draw weight: draw length adjustments may impact the feel of the draw.
noise level: noise differences may vary among personal preferences.
out of spec draw weight: initial draw weight issues on some bows (e.g., 77 lbs) requiring adjustment.
stiff draw cycle: the draw cycle was reported to be a bit stiff with a noticeable cam design featuring two distinct "humps."
similarity across models: Limited differences were observed between the Alpha X and other models except for weight.
draw length adjustment industry norm: Mention of the common industry practice of adjusting draw length once the bow is in spec.
subjective cam design: uncertainty about liking the cam design with two distinct "humps."
thinness of grip: ambiguity in the perceived difference in grip thickness.
draw length adjustment: Choosing mods 2 and 3 for the Alpha X 30 may pose challenges in achieving a perfect fit.
timing issues: Replacing strings may lead to timing issues, requiring adjustments to the draw stop on the top cam.
technical knowledge required: Fixing timing issues requires knowledge of bow mechanics and adjustments.
limited information: Lack of detailed information on specific preferences, shooting style, or additional requirements for a tailored recommendation.
cable twisting challenge: Identifying and twisting the correct cable to fix the draw stop issue may require expertise or assistance.
draw length adjustability: requires changing modules instead of adjustable rotating modules, limiting on-the-fly adjustments.
streamlining: lacks streamlined mounting options for accessories like sight and rest.
draw cycle effort: initial effort in the draw cycle, although the bow glides smoothly afterward.
potential module availability issues: fixed modules may challenge finding replacements when needed or during resale.
limited speed: an arrow speed of 260 fps with a 60-pound bow may be considered decent but could be faster.
draw stiffness: the draw feels slightly stiffer than previous PSE bows due to the roller guard.
sound: louder sound with lower grain arrows, quieter with arrows over 450 grains.
riser design: some users find the reflexed riser design of Mach 30 unfavorable compared to other PSE models like Mach 34.
Top Bows for Hunting in 2024
Introducing the Mathews LIFT series 2024 hunting bow, priced at $1,300 or $1,440, with axle-to-axle options of 29.5″ or 33″. Achieve speeds from 343 to 348 fps with Switch Weight-X Cam for adjustable draw weights (55 to 80 lbs). RPD limbs enhance speed, and the top axle system adds stability. The MATCH bow string eliminates string stretch separation and will keep your peep sight from rotating. The Mathews LIFT series offers top-notch performance, customization, and aesthetics in one complete hunting bow package.
Introducing the Elite Ethos, a high-quality hunting bow made from top-notch aluminum. This flagship model for 2024 aims to provide accuracy, speed, and versatile features. With a 340 feet per second velocity, adjustable draw length options, and a manageable weight, it's designed to enhance your hunting experience. The Ethos incorporates cutting-edge technologies like the SP cam and V3 performance mod systems to ensure a smooth shooting encounter.
In addition to the Ethos, Elite has released the Elite Allure, crafted explicitly for us female hunters. This showcases their dedication to inclusivity within the bowhunting community. Whether you're a hunter or a family searching for youth equipment, the Ethos and Allure models from Elite offer state-of-the-art features that make them an exceptional choice for discerning hunters.
If you're searching for a bow that combines simplicity and effectiveness, the Bear Persist is your choice to create the perfect hunting experience in 2024. This bow boasts a speed of 342 feet per second, guaranteeing accurate shots. Its axle to axle length of 31 inches proves versatile for hunting scenarios. Priced at $1,250 $1,300 what sets the Bear Persist apart is its integrated features designed to help you build the hunting setup. It includes a built-in Picatinny rail, an Integrated Mounting System, and in-riser dampeners that enhance the functionality of the bow. The EKO cam system offers a 90% let-off. It can achieve speeds of up to 340 fps while accommodating different draw lengths and weights.
The Bowtech Core SS is your bow for precision and balance in 2024. This bow offers a speed of 337 feet per second, has an axle to axle length of 31.5 inches weighs only 4.5 lbs. It accommodates preferences with a brace height of 6.25 inches and a draw length range from 26 to 31 inches.
Bowtech has incorporated centermass technology to provide stability and accuracy making it an excellent choice for bowhunters who prioritize accurate shot placement. The deadlock cam system and the time lock feature enable cam adjustments without requiring a bow press, simplifying the tuning process significantly. Moreover, GripLock Technology allows you to customize your grip positions for comfort and control that suits your preferences.
Bowtech's Eva Gen 3 is a collaboration with Eva Shockey and has gained popularity among archers. With a speed of 326 feet per second a length of 28 inches from axle to axle and weighing 3.9 lbs it's a choice for women. This bow addresses the challenges faced by female archers by offering customizable draw lengths ranging from 24 to 29 inches and weight options of 40, 50, and 60 lbs. Priced at $1,300 it caters to women while also providing versatility for hunting enthusiasts. The Eva Gen 3 is a step, towards promoting diversity in bowhunting as it combines quality craftsmanship with customization options that appeal to a range of users – including younger hunters. So be prepared to make the most out of your youth deer permit with the Eva Gen 3!
The Hoyt Carbon RX 8 is a line of carbon bows explicitly designed for hunting. It performs well in the field, boasting features such as a speed of 342 fps, a length of 30 inches from axle to axle, and a weight of only 4 lbs. One notable feature is the HBX Xact Cam system, introduced in 2024, which allows for adjustments to draw length in increments as small as 1/4 inch, ensuring customized shooting accuracy. Additionally, the WireWRX strings and V2 string silencers reduce vibration by 25%, resulting in a much quieter shooting experience. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced archer, this bow adjusts to accommodate draw lengths ranging from 25 to 30 inches. With its excellent performance capabilities, it's no wonder that the Carbon RX 8 is considered one of Hoyt Archery's best products, offering flexibility and accuracy.
Look at Hoyt's 2024 Alpha X 30 & 33, which showcases a sleek aluminum riser design and the innovative HBX Xact Cam. These bows offer a choice of axle, to axle lengths, either 30 or 33 inches along with an integrated drop cord slot. With speeds ranging from 334 to 344 fps, these bows provide both efficiency and versatility. You can enjoy a draw length range of 25 to 31 inches. Select from draw weight options varying between 40 to 80 lbs. The price range for these bows falls between $1,350 and $1,450. Whether you're an archer or a bow hunter just starting, the Alpha X series has something everyone needs, making it an exceptional selection.
The Prime RVX series for 2024 offers options for individuals who enjoy bow hunting. Thanks to the new core cam, these bows prioritize stability and feature a smooth draw cycle. This bow has an axle-to-axle length ranging from 30 to 35 inches, providing steadiness for precise shooting while bow hunting.
These bows can achieve speeds ranging from 340 to 345 feet per second, giving you quick and accurate target connectivity. They also weigh 4.6 to 4.9 pounds, ensuring they won't wear you out. Additionally, their adjustable draw length spans from 24.5 to 30.5 inches, allowing you to select the fit for your needs. Furthermore, you can choose a draw weight, between 40 and 80 pounds, based on your preferences. All these impressive features are provided by the Prime RVX line at a price range of $1,300 to $1,500.
PSE Mach 30 DS: Last on the list, first in performance
Coming in at the 10th spot on my list for hunting bows in 2024 is the PSE Mach 30 DS. This bow offers an experience with its EC2 Cam System, delivering respectable arrow speed and a smooth draw cycle. One of its standout features is the let-off, which can be set between 80 and 90 percent to suit individual shooter preferences. With its carbon-infused technology, the Mach 30 DS showcases the best archery and solidifies its position as a top competitor among the finest hunting bows in 2024.
“Bow Hunt In A Box” The Bear Archery Legit Package
If you're a bowhunter, on a budget, or just starting, my top recommendation for a comprehensive bow package for 2024 would be the Bear Archery Legit. It's a one-stop solution for a bow hunting experience conveniently available online and at archery shops. The Legit package guarantees you'll have all the essentials, making it the ultimate choice for a versatile hunting bow.
The Bear Archery Legit is an affordable and powerful bow suitable for all ages, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious or novice archers. Its customizable draw length and peak draw weight provide a personalized experience without breaking the bank. Despite its budget-friendly nature, the Legit doesn't compromise on performance, ensuring a kick-butt bow for archers at any level. With a complete bow package featuring Trophy Ridge accessories, including a Joker 4-pin sight, 5-Spot quiver, Whisker Biscuit, No-tie peep sight & D loop, the only thing you need to buy separately is your broadheads. Bear Archery will make your bowhunting journey easier without sacrificing quality. They’ve been around for a while and have great customer service and a track record of quality.
Finding the perfect bow is not about keeping up with the Joneses; it's about discovering the one that suits your hunting requirements. Take your time to explore, experiment, and comprehend the features that align with your bowhunting style. Whether you're fascinated by bow technology like the Mathews LIFT series or prefer affordable choices like the Bear Archery Legit, the crucial aspect is purchasing a bow that feels like an extension of yourself. there are many types of bows, but now you have more knowledge to help you make the right choice.