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Bow Anatomy 101 | Parts Of A Compound Bow

You might be new to the sport of bowhunting and be looking to learn all you can about it.

Or, maybe you are a seasoned bowhunter wanting to test your knowledge of the parts of a compound bow.

Either, way this one’s for you!

Parts of A Compound Bow | Interactive Diagram

In the interactive diagram below, you can click/touch the numbered parts in the chart below to reveal the names of the parts. You can read more about what each part is and does in the sections below the diagram. See how many you can get right!

CamsLimb DampenerLimbsLimb PivotLimb PocketLimb BoltRiserSight MountsCable GuardRest MountsArrow ShelfStabilizer MountAxleString SplitterCablesStringServingNocking PointGripString StopCable SplitterAxle To Axle LengthBrace Height

Compound Bow Parts | Piece-By-Piece

In the above diagram of the Nexus2 by Prime Archery, you can view the parts of a compound bow. Find out more about what each part does by clicking the words below:

  1. Cams
  2. Limb Dampeners
  3. Limbs
  4. Limb Pivot
  5. Limb Pocket
  6. Limb Bolt
  7. Riser
  8. Sight Mounts
  9. Cable Guard
  10. Rest Mounts
  11. Arrow Shelf
  12. Stabilizer Mount
  13. Axle
  14. String Splitter
  15. Cables
  16. String
  17. Serving
  18. Nocking Point
  19. Grip
  20. String Stop
  21. Cable Splitter
  22. Axle-To-Axle Length
  23. Brace Height

1. Cams

cam of a compound bow

On a compound bow, the cams are the round, or oval-shaped discs that work much like a block-and-tackle pulley system. The cams are connected to the axles of the bow.

The cams act as the “multiplier” of the energy of the person pulling the bow string. This allows the bow to store more energy than the person pulling the bow string is actually exerting.

The bow has a “back wall” where the cams will not turn any more. This is where the archer is at “full draw.” At this point, there is a percentage of “letoff” that allows the archer or hunter to hold the force of the bow at a fraction of the actual pounds of pull being exerted.

For example, a bow that is set to a 70-lb draw weight with a 70% letoff will only take 21 lbs of force to hold at full draw. The energy is stored in the bow’s limbs until the archer releases, which unleashes the multiplied energery, propelling the arrow toward its target.

So, the cams of the bow are what change the bow in essence from a traditional bow to a compound bow.

2. Limb Dampeners

limb dampener

Limb dampeners reduce the noise and vibration throughout the limbs and riser of the bow.

When the hunter or archer releases the arrow the sudden and powerful uncoiling of the string on the cams produces vibration, which causes noise. The limb dampeners help to absorb that vibration, resulting in a quieting of the bow.

This absorption by the limb dampeners is especially helpful in reducing noise when hunting deer or other wild game and also reduces the amount of vibration that is transferred to the archer.

3. Limbs

limbs of compound bow

A compound bow’s limbs are connected to the riser and store the energy that is collected when the string is pulled and the cams turn. When the string is released, the energy from the limbs is transferred to the arrow, which propels it through the air.

Most compound bow limbs are made up of fiberglass or composite material. Some bow limbs are solid, one-piece limbs. Others are “split,” having a gap between both sides of the upper and lower limbs.

4. Limb Pivot

limb pivot

Where the limbs pivot and flex on the riser.

5. Limb Pocket

limb pocket

The limbs of the bow rest in the limb pocket. These can be made of machined aluminum, ABS plastic or other composite materials. The limbs of the bow are secured in the limb pocket by the limb bolts.

6. Limb Bolt

limb bolt of compound bow

The limb bolt is the crucial piece in connecting the limb pockets, which hold the limbs of the bow, to the riser.

Limb bolts are typically allen wrenc adjustable. Tightening the limb bolts increases the draw weight poundage of the bow. Loosening the limb bolts will decrease the draw weight poundage.

It’s very important that any adjustment to the limb bolts be made in the same increments. If the adjustments are uneven, the bow’s cams could get out of time, causing an improper tune.

If you need to adjust your bow’s draw weight, it’s a good idea to back the limb bolts all the way down and then start moving them both up the same amount.

7. Riser

riser of compound bow

The riser is the vertical portion and foundation of a compound bow. The limbs attach to it and it also serves as the fastening point for accessories such as the sight, arrow rest, grip, stabilizer, quiver, etc.

8. Sight Mounts

sight mounts on compound bow

Sight mounts are holes in the riser that serve as the attaching point for the bow’s sight. The archer will look through the peep on the bow string and at the pin(s) of the sight to aim at the target or game animal.

9. Cable Guard

cable guard on compound bow

The Cable guard runs perpendicular to the bow’s riser. It keeps the bow’s cable out of the way of the arrow’s line of fire. It typically has rollers and/or slides attached to it to aid in keeping the cable on track.

10. Rest Mounts

rest mounts on compound bow

Rest mounts are holes in the riser that serve as the attaching point for the bow’s rest. The rest is what holds the arrow in place while the archer is drawing and releasing the arrow.

There are many different types of rests. Some use prongs that the arrow will rest on, while others hold the arrow up and then fall out of the way when the arrow is released. Others, called containment rests, completely surround the arrow until it is fired and typically have no moving parts.

11. Arrow Shelf

arrow shelf on compound bow

The arrow shelf is the area of the riser where the arrow sits on the rest. While the rest typically holds the arrow off the shelf on compound bows, traditional bows (non-compound) usually have the arrow resting directly on the arrow shelf.

12. Stabilizer Mount

The stabilizer mount is a universal size threaded hole in the riser that is used to attach a stabilizer to.

The stabilizer helps balance and thus “stabilize” the bow when drawing and shooting, and also typically has vibration dampening properties. In essence, it helps the bow resist movement during the draw cycle and when shooting.

The back of the stabilizer also typically serves as the fastening point for the wrist sling.

13. Axle

axle of a compound bow

The Axle is what holds the cams, in the same way a car axle holds its wheels. The cams have a hole in the center. The axle goes through the center of the axle and attach to the limbs.

14. String Splitter

string splitter on compound bow

Bows with parallel limbs (which eliminate cam lean) will have a string splitter. On these types of bows, the main part of the string that the archer attaches the release to “splits” just before the cams.

The splitter is what essential turns the single string into two strings, each going around its respective cam.

15. Cables

cables on compound bow

The cable(s) runs between the bow’s cams. They assist in moving the cams of the bow when the string is pulled back by the archer. It’s important to replace your cable(s) as well as your string as recommended per the bow manufacturer’s instructions or on the advice of your local bow shop.

16. String

string on compound bow

The string of compound bow serves several functions. It is where the archer will connect their release. It is what the archer pulls (or draws) back and releases to launch the arrow.

Many archers will utilize a “D loop,” which attaches to the bow string and serves as a way to quickly attach the release to the string and also improves accuracy.

You should always inspect your string before and after shooting and hunting. A damaged string could end up being a broken string, which could result in serious injury to the shooter or others.

Any cuts or fraying should be addressed immediately and it is recommended that you take to your local bow shop for an assessment.

17. Serving

serving on a compound bow

The “center serving” is coiled thread wrapped around the center portion of your string where you would nock an arrow and attach a D-loop. The center serving protect the center section of the string from wear and tear that results from nocking arrows as well as drawing and shooting the bow.

There is also serving material on parts of your bow string that go around the cams or through rollers that are attached to the cable guards. This helps the bow string stay together, especially in places that are likely to received the most friction.

18. Nocking Point

nocking point on a compound bow

The nocking point is where the arrow, by way of the arrow nock, attaches to the bow string. The D-loop attaches above and below the nocking point.

19. Grip

grip on a compound bow

The grip is the part of the bow that you hold while shooting. Grips are made of various materials such as wood, rubber, plastic, metal, etc.

The grip can also be a source of inaccuracy. For example, if you hold the grip too tightly, or twist the grip while shooting, you can cause your arrow to go off-course from where you were aiming.

20. String Stop

string stop on compound bow

String vibration is a large cause for noise when a bow fires. A string stop helps dampen that vibration and thus reduces unwanted noise. The string stop is a rubber part that is often mounted on a post that is directly opposite of the front stabilizer.

The string stop not only helps dampen vibration, but also aids in better accuracy for the shooter, often resulting in tighter arrow groups at the target.

21. Cable Splitter

cable splitter on compound bow

On some bows, the cable splitter is a ring that connects the cable to two separate cables, thus dampening vibration and noise of the cable during shooting.

22. Axle-To-Axle Length

“Axle-to-axle” is not a part of a compound bow, but rather a reference to measurement. Axle-to-axle is the measurement from the center of one cam to the other. The axles go through the center of the cams.

This axle-to-axle measurement is often used to determine how forgiving the bow will be in regards to arrow flight accuracy when taking farther shots.

A bow with a longer axle-to-axle height may be more forgiving that a shorter one, but may also be difficult to maneuver in tight-quarter hunting scenarios.

23. Brace Height

The “brace height” is not a part of the bow, but rather a measurement, in inches, of the distance between the “throat” of the grip to the center of the bow’s string.

A shorter brace height means a longer “power stroke,” which is the distance from the grip to the center of the string when the archer is at full draw. A longer power stroke typically means a faster bow, as it increases the amount of time that the arrow is attached to the string.

Conclusion

Whether you are just a beginner bowhunter or looking to brush up on your bow component knowledge, we hope this has been a helpful tool for you!

two guys bowfishing

The Future Of Bowfishing Is In Your Pocket

-By Treaver Woehr

Today, you can flip on the Outdoor Channel and see all sorts of activities. From bass fishing to buck hunting, the new age of technology has done wonders for the outdoor community via television and online streaming.

girl holding bowfishing gar
Some of the critics of bowfishing think the sport is too barbaric.

More money and notoriety continue to flood these sports which when coupled with new-age platforms, allows content creators like LunkersTV, John B, Lojo Fishing, and many more to reach audiences one would have never thought possible until recently.

Education Via YouTube

In the early 2000s, most people were only going to discover hunting or fishing was if their family member or friend introduced them to it.

Now, you can type “fishing” into the YouTube search bar and learn all about traditional and lesser-known types of fishing from scratch within hours. This opens up an entirely new world of possibilities for kids who aren’t fortunate enough to grow up in the great outdoors.

While these are certainly exciting times in the outdoor industry, one outdoor sport has been slower to gain an online identity… bowfishing.

This is not to say that bowfishing content isn’t accessible, but the people who are primarily posting online content about it are hunters and bass fishermen who try to shake things up for their fans while enjoying the occasional bowfishing outing.

While many of these content creators do a great job, the sport is really missing its own creators dedicated solely to bowfishing, just as there are many YouTubers, bloggers, and podcasters dedicated to bass fishing or deer hunting.

This could be due to stereotypes that often plague the sport, or simply because no one has taken that leap of faith yet into uncharted territory.

young kids shooting at archery target
Kids are starting younger than ever to learn the sport of archery, which positions the sport of bowfishing for future growth.

Why Bowfishing Will Thrive

So, let’s talk about why bowfishing has a bright future and why it should thrive online.

If you’ve heard about or seen videos of bowfishing, but aren’t familiar with the sport, you may be thinking “It’s far too barbaric to last; especially as society’s attitudes shift.”

However, bowfishing is better prepared to survive than it may seem at first glance. 

The younger audience is alive and well

Most of the pictures submitted to us are from kids who are still in high school or are recently graduated.

In addition, archery is one of the fastest growing high-school and college sports in the United States. So, although archery has been around for thousands of years, the younger generation is developing the skills needed to bowfish more than ever before. This bodes well for the future of a sport that relies on archery technique. Bowfishing is a much more daunting sport if you don’t have an archery and/or bowhunting background.

Bowfishing: Answering tough questions

“Okay, so we know people can do it, but it’s just so brutal. I mean, modern media can handle hooking some fish, but we are much more environmentally sensitive now, right?”

We are certainly more environmentally sensitive than in the past. But, that’s exactly why bowfishing can find acceptance.

Many of the fish we shoot are invasive species that pose a threat to the balance of the ecosystem. Even many of the other “non-invasive” targeted fish need some level of population control so that the “game fish” we all love to reel in can thrive.

Much like with deer hunting, bowfishing can serve as a means of maintaining balance in our waterways. Since bowfishing can be a powerful tool for conservation, there are not many restrictions in place currently pertaining to the number of fish one can shoot. This is something we think people could get behind and support, or at least accept out of necessity.

“Okay, so if bowfishing can grow with the times, and has a built-in future generation of capable participants, why can’t we just leave it be and hope this will be enough to carry the sport?”

man holding carp with bowfishing arrows
Bowfishing helps to control the populations of invasive species.

In the early 2000s, bass fishing was doing well, but there was a pretty clear divide between recreational participants and its professionals.

Instead of being a passion that someone could pursue, it was deemed more of a hobby for country folk after a hard day at work or in school.

But, then YouTube came along, and before you know it, content creators emerged from the woodwork and took the sport by storm. Many individuals from different walks of life took up the sport. (Remember what we said about archery being one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S? Well, bass fishing is right there as well, thanks to these YouTubers and many others in the sport).

In fact, the founder of our company got into bass fishing, not by watching professionals on TV, but by watching ordinary people take on the sport with a camera in their hands or on their heads.

Bowfishing growth just beginning

Sponsors have taken notice of this trend, and more attention is on the sport than ever before. Many of the tournaments can be watched on a live-feed, and before you know it, we are going to have a generation of kids that saw fishing for the first time on a phone screen.

Just like traditional fishing and hunting exposure has grown with the rise of social media, bowfishing will continue to grow as the outdoor community continues to be exposed to the sport.

But, regardless of how fast bowfishing may grow during this generation, we must be careful not to lose that peaceful connection with the outdoors that makes it so special in the 21st century.

treaver woehr of 573 outdoors
Treaver Woehr of 573 Outdoors. You can follow 573 Outdoors on Instagram: @573_bowfishing
bowfishing woman holding carp with bow

Bowfishing Tips: Before You Get Started and What You’ll Need

-By Treaver Woehr

Perhaps you have read another one of my bowfishing articles regarding the future of bowfishing, but in this article, we want to offer up some bowfishing tips that our team member, Alex Brandt, thinks every bowfisher should know for this new-age of the “eOutdoors” (the term is a slight exaggeration, but hopefully it drives home the point).

Bowfishing Tips

Each tip will be followed by a brief discussion of solutions to the issues cited and how we can follow the rules.

A big step in this growth process of bowfishing is gaining acceptance and coordination within the outdoor community before broadcasting to new audiences. To do this, we need to improve our reputation collectively.

man hold carp with bowfishing arrow stuck in it
Some farmers or local zoos may be interested in fish harvested while bowfishing. Never dump them in public areas of boat ramps.

These first two tips (“rules”) are dedicated to improving the reputation of the sport of bowfishing. And, if you’re new to the sport, these first two are especially important. But, even if you’re a seasoned bowfisher, a refresher is certainly always helpful.

Tip 1: Don’t dump fish in public areas or boat ramps.

Dumping fish in these areas gives bowfishers a bad reputation. Additionally, doesn’t help make the public water access points smell particularly inviting.

One alternative solution would be to find local farmers who may want to use the fish for fertilization purposes. Another option is to dump them on a large plot of personal private land where the smell would not bother anyone.

If you want to get really creative, look for a local organization that may be interested in taking on the fish. For example, some local zoos encourage bowfishers to donate excess fish to feed birds and other animals.

You could also eat the fish. But, if the sound of gar fish doesn’t exactly sound inviting to your taste buds, it’s good to know there are still options.

Tip 2: Know the laws in your area regarding species, bag limits and seasons

There are plenty of legal pitfalls when it comes to bowfishing, and you want to make sure all of your ducks in a row so no one is enjoying the sport illegally.

Be sure to call your local game warden, and they will (usually) be more than happy to let you know what the bowfishing laws are in your area before you have the chance to make a mistake.

If your game warden isn’t accessible, or the thought of doing so seems like too much of a hassle, there are tons of online resources you can find on the subject with a quick Google search.

The final tip relates to all bowfishers both old and new. This is one that was relevant years ago, but it is especially critical now. Not only does it involve preserving a positive reputation for bowfishing in the outdoor community, but it involves setting a positive example for the rest of the world as well.

man bowfishing
Those who bowfish should always be sure to be courteous of other boaters and those who may live nearby.

Tip 3: ALWAYS be mindful of your surroundings.

Guess what? With the rise of smart phones, everyone has a camera on them all hours of the day, and the internet loves to amplify bad choices.

We lecture kids on this topic quite a lot, but they are growing up in a social media-centric world and it’s just modern-day life. To be honest, adults need a refresher in this course just as badly as the younger generation does.

All it takes is one video of someone doing something they’re not supposed to for public opinion to shift on an outdoor activity like bowfishing.

This tip has a second relevant component as well. Try to avoid fishing heavily populated areas (especially at night). And, if you must be near houses on a crowded lake, try to be conscious of where you are shining your lights.

The same can be said about music. By all means, play whatever you like until your heart is content, but be sure to turn it down for temporarily when you are near houses at night, or when passing another group of boaters.

These things are simple, common courtesy. And, as human beings, we should really try to bring more of this back into this divided world. Lead by example and don’t follow the norm, especially if it’s not the standard your parents raised you by.

What you need to get started bowfishing

Now that we have covered the “dos and don’ts” of bowfishing in this new age, let’s talk about what you need to get started.

If you’re already an avid bowfisher, you can probably skip this next section. But, if you aren’t already bowfishing on a boat surrounded by LED lights and a pricy bow, you may want to stick around.

two guys bowfishing
You can get started by bowfishing from the banks of lakes and waterways in your area. But, should you decide to invest in a boat, you can start by searching Facebook or Craigslist.

One of the big concerns we hear with bowfishing is that it’s expensive to get into. However, this is not necessarily the case. Below is another three-step process for getting into the sport.

Start Simple

Just like if you were going to start learning traditional fishing and wanted to start out simple… it’s no different with bowfishing.

First, all you really need to get started is a bow with a reel and string, an arrow or two, and some polarized sunglasses. Rather than investing in a boat right off the bat, you can “test the waters” by simply finding a bank to bowfish from.

Next stop: A boat

Secondly, once you and your buddies are comfortable with the sport of bowfishing and know it’s something that you will continue to enjoy, you can start the process of looking for a boat.

Obviously, boats can be expensive. But, you can keep things pretty cheap if you hunt for deals on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

Once you have acquired a boat, all you will need is a trolling motor and some cheap LED lights you can buy off Amazon to put on your new boat (even if it’s used, it’s new to you, right?)

A quick search shows us you can get a two-pack of 40-Watt LED lights for around $40. Buy three of these, and you are all decked out and ready to go!

Share your content

Now that everyone is ready to bowfish, here’s what we hope you will do… Create great bowfishing content and share it with the world!

The great thing about the evolution of technology is that you can get your start creating content with your smartphone.

You don’t have to start off with fancy cameras and GoPros. Just download some editing software onto your phone and start making movies about your life. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this, then you can invest in some nicer equipment.

If you make videos, we guarantee it will be worth the investment.

When we started 573 Outdoors, we sat at a kitchen table and realized that documenting our lives wouldn’t just be for other people. All of our biggest catches, failures, and unforgettable experiences in the outdoors could be for us to cherish forever as well.

It is something we can show our kids someday and say, “look how ridiculous we were.”

>> Check out hunting and fishing t-shirt designs

You can’t put a price tag on documenting memories with your best buddies.

You can still send in your favorite clips to different pages to promote (and we definitely love to see that content pour in), but it is important for you to start stitching together your own videos as well.

Our fans are who have built us up so rapidly, But, we feel like it would be selfish to suggest you should send all of your experiences only to us. We care more about the longevity of the sport of bowfishing than we do our own business.

The path forward

We started 573 Outdoors to celebrate our friendship, become a part of a fantastic community, and to start a revolution in the world of bowfishing. To do that, we can’t be the only ones out here. We want to create a lasting impact on the sport.

While we love amplifying other people’s content in conjunction with our own, we don’t want to be the only ones (or one of an elite few) shouting to the masses forever.

If we can get people on board with this and gain some traction, the money will arrive and be put into the sport, leading to more popularity and more eyes.

Maybe there can even be a Major League Bowfishing tour someday as there is with bassfishing. It all starts with this next group of content creators, and if we leave a good reputation and try to make a difference, we can leave this thing a heck of a lot better off than we found it, and our sport can grow for the better.

Now, who is ready to jump into the sport of bowfishing with us?

treaver woehr of 573 outdoors
Treaver Woehr is co-founder of 573 Outdoors. Follow on Instagram.

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