Best Beginner Compound Bow 2021

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You’re looking for the best beginner compound bow? In this article, we’ll show you which bows are not only affordable but have the potential to take you from beginner to pro!

Ok. Let´s get started. You are a beginner, and you don´t know what bow you should buy, let alone how much you should spend for a decent bow? Quite frankly, you could invest a lot in a good bow. That´s why we put together this article – to show you five compound bows that are:

  • perfect for beginners
  • won´t cost you a fortune
  • grow with you as you get stronger and better

Read on to learn about the five most beginner-friendly compound bows, why we recommend them, and what you should look for in a bow that’s going to last you for a long time.

One important note. We tested all bows on this list in real-life. Yes – We went and actually shot them. Feel free to read our hands-on reviews -I´ll link to them from within this article.

Darren Webster

Senior-Editor BowAddicted

You will also learn the difference between right and left-handed archers, your draw length, draw weight, and the importance of brace height. Well, actually, there’s even more we’re going to talk about …

This is going to be a long post. If you are just here for the reviews and/or our buying suggestion, here we go:

At a Glance: My Top Picks for the Best Compound Bow for Beginners

+ BEST OVERALL – Diamond Edge 320. Great range of adjustability that is quite impressive, featuring a variable draw length of 15”-31” and a draw weight range of 7-70 pounds.
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+ RUNNER UP – Bear Archery Cruzer G2. This bow’s construction is par with almost any bow found at the premium price point. Draw length of 12”-30”, and a draw weight range of 5-70 pounds.
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+ GREAT VALUE- BlackOut Epic. The fastest bow on our list – 340 fps. Very well balanced and has a possible let-off of up to 90%.
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+ HIGH END – Bear Divergent EKO. This bow manages to combine lightning-quick performance, compact design, and previously unheard-of adjustability, all into a single package.
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+ LIGHT BOW – PSE Uprising. Draw weight range of 15-70 lbs and a draw length range of 14-30 inches. Weights in at only 3.2 lbs.

Why is Adjustability Important?

Regarding adjustability, I’m primarily talking about the draw length and the draw weight.

As a beginner to archery, you might not have the strength to pull back the bowstring with as much weight (draw weight) as somebody that has been practicing archery for a while. It is almost like going to the gym – the more you practice – the stronger you’ll eventually get.

A bow with multiple draw weight settings will let you start low and gradually increase draw weights as you build your back and upper body strength.

The draw length of the bow determines how far it can be drawn. Contrary to recurve bows, which you can draw back any distance (well, until it breaks), compound bows are engineered in such a way that they only allow you to pull back a certain distance (draw length).

This is why it’s so important to buy a bow, that’s adjustable to your personal draw length.

A quick way to figure out your individual draw length is the armspan method. It works by measuring your armspan and dividing that by 2.5- I’ll explain later what that’s all about. Click here to read about the armspan method now.

And the last thing to mention before we get into our reviews. Are there better bows out there? Sure! But the ones we tested for you offer the best bang for your buck – They are The Ideal Beginner Bows!

Best Overall: Diamond Archery Edge 320 Bow Package

DiamondEdge320C-min

Diamond Edge 320 – Our Winner

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Diamond Archery has been around since 1996 and was originally a privately-owned company. In the late 2000s, they were acquired by Bowtech and are now part of their company.

When I handled the Edge 320, I was impressed by its fit and finish and how well it was balanced.

The bow felt fairly balanced, and after the bow´s draw length and draw weight was adjusted to my needs; I started sending arrows downrange.

What I first noticed was how smooth the draw cycle was. The rise to peak draw weight was even throughout the cycle, and the bow transitioned over into the valley as the cams actuated gradually.

An additional find I really liked was the solid back wall (click to jump) and the 85% let-off. I could basically hold the bow at full draw without it being uncomfortable – almost effortless. 

read.. Hands-On Review Diamond Edge 320

This is especially helpful for beginners, as it makes it easier to maintain proper form and making use of your bow sight without getting too tired too early.

Specifications:

  • DRAW LENGTH – 15″-31″
  • DRAW WEIGHT – 7-70 LBS
  • SPEED – 320 fps arrow speed
  • BRACE HEIGHT – 7 1/4″
  • AXLE TO AXLE – 32″
  • WEIGHT – 3.6 LBS
  • EFFECTIVE LET-OFF – 85%

I´ll get into the details of what draw weight, brace height, let-off, and so on are a little later on in this article. Click here to get to the relevant section of this post right away. 

Time to Send some Arrows down the Range

A man shooting a compound bow

Diamond Edge 320

I released arrow after arrow and, to my astonishment, there wasn’t any real hand shock. That was a pleasant surprise, especially for a bow of this price.

PROS & CONS

Pro:

  • Versatile Draw Weight and Length Ranges
  • Fast 320 fps
  • solid back wall
  • smooth draw cycle

Cons:

  • the sight is minimal in feature

Accessories

The accessories are sufficient for any beginner – Yes, as you get better and progress in your journey, you would probably start by replacing the sight and the quiver.

Other than that, the R.A.K. (ready aim kill) pack is fully outfitted with sight, arrow rest, stabilizer, and quiver. You do need to buy a release and arrows though.

When you factor in the Edge 320´s blistering quick 320 fps I.B.O. speed, its weight of only 3.6 lbs, and its adjustability, you are looking at a steal of a deal. The bow is also available for left-hand archers.

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Short Recap

Diamonds Edge 320 is a highly versatile bow with an awesome arrow speed, a smooth draw cycle, and all the accessories a beginner wants. As with most packages, arrows and release are not included.

Runner-Up: Bear Archery Cruzer G2

BearArcheryCruzerG2 Compound Bow

Bear Archery Cruzer G 2 – The Runner-Up

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Bear Archery is another trustworthy brand known for its innovative and quality-focused approach. The G2 has received much initial praise due to its adaptability and versatility.

read.. Hands-On Review Bear Cruzer G2

As a beginner, you will most likely start with more moderate draw weight. As you gain experience and strength you want to increase draw weights to the next level. Well, this is exactly what the G2 will allow you to do.

Specifications:

  • Brace Height: 6.5”
  • Let-Off: 70%
  • Axel-to-Axel: 30”
  • Draw Length: 12”-30”
  • Draw Weight: 5-70 lbs.
  • Speed: 315 FPS
  • Weight: 3 lbs.

Its draw length and draw weight adjustability offer such a wide range – The G2 is truly a bow for every archer!

The all-aluminum riser and its split limbs are some of the toughest in the industry.

I also liked that no bow press or specialty equipment is needed to make any necessary adjustments to change the draw weight or draw length of the Cruzer G2. A simple set of Allen wrenches is all you need!

Time to Send some Arrows down the Range

The first thing I noticed was how lightweight the bow really is (3 lbs). The draw cycle and how smooth the cams actuated made it almost impossible to tell when I had broken into the valley:

simplified illustration of valley and back wall

The back wall felt not firm nor spongy. I do prefer a firm back wall so this left me feeling conflicted. But I have to say that this is purely my personal preference.

The G2 offers a let-off of 70% which is less than what other modern compound bows offer.

PROS & CONS

Pro:

  • Quiet
  • Smooth Draw Cycle
  • Very Light-Weight
  • Easy to adjust

Cons:

  • 70% Let-Off Factor
  • Lack of a rock-solid back wall

Accessories

In many bow packages, the featured accessories are mainly beginner grade at best. Not so with the Cruzer G2. The G2 comes complete with a full range of Trophy Ridge accessories.

This package includes a four-pin sight, Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, 5-arrow quiver, stabilizer, peep sight, and a D-loop.

As with most packages, arrows and release aid are not included.

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Short Recap

Bears Cruzer G2 is the bow on our list that offers the most flexibility to draw length and draw weight. The accessories are top-notch, and if you don´t mind, a somewhat lower let-off of 70%, this bow is perfect for you.

Great Value: BlackOut Epic

Blackout Epic Bow

Blackout Epic – Great Value

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Bowtech Archery actually manufactures the BlackOut Epic for Cabelas / BassPro. Therefore, this medium-priced bow has features you would rather expect from a more expensive bow.

read.. Hands-On Review BlackOut Epic

The bow’s advertised weight is 4.1 pounds, which is heavier than most other bows on our list. But I was pleased to find it wasn’t hefty or awkward holding it in my hand.

Specifications:

  • Brace Height: 6”
  • Let-Off: 75%, 80%. 85%, 90%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 32”
  • Draw Length: 26”-30”
  • Draw Weight: 45-60/55-70 LBS
  • Speed: 340 FPS
  • Weight: 4.1 LBS

The Epics draw length ranges from 26″ – 30″ and is a good fit for most adult archers. Make sure to measure your draw length before purchasing!

One thing to mention, especially if you’re a beginner. The Epics brace height is 6″, which is short. Longer brace heights (around 7″) tend to be more forgiving. So I expect a steeper learning curve for novice archers.

The shorter brace height makes the bow more challenging for new archers, but I believe its positive features, such as its reasonable price, performance, and quality accessories, outweigh the challenges by far. 

Darren Webster

Senior-Editor BowAddicted

Two versions of this model are available

  • Draw weight 45 – 60 lbs.
  • Draw weight 55 – 70 lbs.

This again is something you must think about before buying this bow. The 45 – 60 lbs., in my opinion, is aimed more at female archers or kids.

Let-Off is available in four different settings. 75%, 80%, 85% and 90%.

Time to Send some Arrows down the Range

man shooting a compound bow indoors

Blackout Epic – Fast, quite, and smooth draw cycle

The draw cycle is smooth, and there were no hard spots or hesitations when pulling to full draw. I had the epic set at 90% let-off, and it was the easiest bow to hold at full draw I had tested so far.

Each release was crisp, and despite the bow’s lightning-quick speed of 340 fps, the sound was quiet. Nothing much was heard upon releasing, except for when the arrow hit the target.

PROS & CONS

Pro:

  • Let-Off 75% – 90%
  • 340 FPS IBO speed
  • Quality accessories

Cons:

  • Draw Length 26″ -30″
  • Minimum Draw Weight 45 pounds
  • Brace Height 6″

Accessories

Besides arrows and bow release, all the necessary accessories are included

  • Volt 5-Pin Sight
  • 5-arrow quiver
  • Whisker Biscuit arrow rest
  • 6″ stabilizer
  • TruPeep
  • D loop

The sight features hi-vis fiber optic pins and a convenient aiming level. It has 5 pins for covering significant distances. The arrow rest is a containment-style rest and holds the arrow securely in place.

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Short Recap

BlackOut Epic isn’t as adjustable as some other bows on our list, and the shorter brace height might present a greater learning curve for beginners. This bow is still one I recommend for beginners.

Here’s why: It’s affordable, the quality is excellent, it got a lot of speed (up to 340 fps), and it’s loaded with high-quality accessories.

High End: Bear Divergent EKO

Bear Archery Divergent EKO compound bow
Bear Divergent EKO
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The Bear Archery Divergent EKO is a powerful bow with up to 338 fps arrow speed and an adjustable let-off beginning with 75% up to 90% offered in 5% increments.

To adjust the bow’s various let-off values, rotate the hybrid cams’ modules and cable stops.

Darren Webster

Senior-Editor BowAddicted

read.. Hands-On Review Bear Divergent EKO

This bow combines speed with adjustability and a compact design into a single package. If you are an adult beginner, this bow truly is for you as it offers everything a seasoned archer or hunter would be looking for – at an interesting price point.

Specifications:

  • Brace Height: 6.5”
  • Let-Off: 75%, 80%. 85%, 90%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 30”
  • Draw Length: 26”-30”
  • Draw Weight: 45-60/55-70 LBS
  • Speed: 338 FPS
  • Weight: 4.1 LBS

Maybe you have noticed, that the Blackout Epic and the Divergent EKO have almost identical specs? Well, almost: brace height for Bears model is 6.5″ and for the Epic it´s 6″

No big deal you might think, but if you are a beginner, longer brace heights are easier to handle / are more forgiving.

This bow is available in two versions:

  • Draw weight 45 – 60 lbs.
  • Draw weight 55 – 70 lbs.

Time to Send some Arrows down the Range

man shooting a compound bow

Bear Divergent EKO – silky smooth draw cycle — and Fast!

Once I held the bow in my hands, I noticed how striking this bow is in its visual appeal – it has an impressive look to it! The bow is notable for its compact size.

When I first pulled the Divergent EKO, I noticed that the action was silky smooth. After letting go, the true performance of the Divergent was obvious. The release of the arrow and its impact with the target was simultaneous at 20 yards and was nothing short of impressive.

If any hand shock was noticable it was negligible. Bears shockwaves limb dampening system at its finest!

PROS:

  • Blazing Fast 338 fps
  • no noise emitted when fired
  • Minimal hand shock
  • Let-Off: 75%, 80%. 85%, 90%

CONS:

  • Draw Weight not as adaptable

Accessories

Nothing but the highest quality accessories! Really impressive. This package includes a sight, arrow rest, 5-arrow quiver, stabilizer, and peep sight.

Trophy Ridge React H4 sight is a well-known sight that is suitable for any archer of any skill level. As usual, neither the arrows nor the release is included in this package.   

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Short Recap

With a draw weight of 45-60 lb/55-70 lb and a draw length of 26″-30”, this bow will suit most adults, but likely not kids. The compact platform and hybrid cams will ensure excellent shootability.

If you don’t mind spending a little more, The Bear Archery Divergent EKO is the perfect bow for beginners. It gives you tons of room to grow and is a full-grown bow that even experienced hunters would love to call their own. 

A Lightweight Bow: PSE Uprising

PSE Uprising Bow Featured Picture_Small

PSE Uprising – Lightweight and an extreme range of adjustability.

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The company’s history dates back more than 50-years, and it’s produced a lot of industry-standard bows during that time. The following is a detailed report of what I found when putting the PSE Uprising through its paces.

read.. Hands-On Review PSE Uprising

Getting a feel for the Uprising’s compact size was a real treat. This bow weighs only 3.2 lbs while measuring 30″ axle-to-axle.

Specifications:

  • Brace Height: 6 ⅝”
  • Let-Off: 70%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 30”
  • Draw Length: 14”-30”
  • Draw Weight: 15-70 lbs
  • Speed: 302 FPS
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs

The Uprising carries a brace height of 6 5/8″. As a general rule, the closer a bow’s brace height is to 7″, the more forgiving it will be to shoot. 

With an IBO speed rating of 302 FPS, the Uprising is not the fastest bow on the market. Nevertheless, this speed is plenty for almost any application. 

Time to Send some Arrows down the Range

Shooting the PSE Uprising Compound Bow

PSE Uprising – Easy to adjust to almost any archer

PROS:

  • Whisper-Quite
  • Minimal Hand Shock
  • Light Weight 3.2 lbs

CONS:

  • Minimalistic Grip
  • Let-Off 70% max.

Accessories

PSE Uprising comes with a number of accessories, eliminating the need for additional purchases. 

These accessories include a 3-pin sight, arrow rest, stabilizer, wrist sling, and peep sight.

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Short Recap

After testing and assessing the PSE Uprising, I must say I was impressed. The bow has a lot to offer for its price point. 

This bow is easy to adjust to almost any archer and shoots amazingly well. You’d be hard-pressed to find a lighter and more compact compound bow on the market today.

Basic Things a Beginner Should Know

Compound Bow Parts

Important compound bow parts

Draw Length

I briefly mentioned draw length before. So, what is it all about? Read on and learn how you can measure your personal draw length. It is an important number that you´ll need to set up your bow properly.

Remember? Your individual draw length must match up with your bow’s draw length! So how do you do it?

I personally use the arm-span method. You basically stretch out your arms and let someone measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip.

Write down your findings and divide them by 2.5. You now have successfully measured your draw length.

We published an article about this topic.

Draw Weight

Basically, this is the force you need to apply to draw the string back. It is measured in pounds. With compound bows and due to their technical set-up this process is not linear – lower at the beginning and the end of the draw cycle – in the middle, you´ll hit the maximum poundage you need to pull.

Choosing a draw weight that represents 75% of your maximum strength will help you improve your shooting form and technique.

Darren Webster

Senior-Editor BowAddicted

Some beginner bows start with as low as 7lbs draw weight. With regular practice comes more strength, and eventually, you can increase your draw weight.

Over-Bowed

The term “over-bowed” is used when your draw weight is too high for you.

Too much draw weight can cause problems when you shoot, such as jerking the bow forward before aiming and not shooting smoothly. Your form and your accuracy will suffer.

Let-Off

Due to their technical capabilities, modern compound bows will help you reduce the weight you have to hold the bow at, at full draw.

This reduction in weight held at full draw is called “let-off”. It is calculated as a percentage of the overall draw weight. 

For example, a let-off of 80% means, you’ll only hold 14 pounds at full draw on a bow with a set draw weight of 70 lbs. 

That doesn’t mean you’ll only have to draw 14 pounds. You still need the strength to draw the bow, until you reach full draw.

Backwall

The backwall is what you reach when you have drawn your bow completely (remember how we talked about setting draw length).

You will feel a resistance once reaching the point of full draw. Some bows have rock solid backwalls, others have “softer”. It´s hard to explain, but once you have shot different compound bows, you will know what I am talking about.

I personally prefer a solid backwall and I think it will help you to be more consistent with your form. No guessing if you pulled back as far as the last time. Every little change will have an influence on how accurate you can shoot. Consistency in execution is important to achieve replicable results.

Axle-To-Axle Length

Each cam of your compound bow operates on an axle. If you measure the distance between those to you´ll get your ATA (Axle-to-Axle),

picture of a compound bow showing axle to axle length

ATA length is measured from axle to axle

Some bows have a longer ATA, others a shorter. If you plan to hunt from small confined places such as a ground blind, a shorter ATA might be useful as you need less room to operate your bow.

Speed

The speed of your bow is measured in feet per second. The correct abbreviation is fps.  

IBO speed is the speed at which an arrow with 5 grains per pound of draw weight is fired from a given bow. 

A bow labeled with 270 fps is slower than a bow with 320 fps. IBO Speed specs are meant to standardize how bow speeds are measured across the industry so inaccurate claims won’t confuse consumers. You can read more about it in our article here.

Brace Height

What is brace heigth and how is it defined? It is the distance between the deepest part of the grip and the bowstring. If you are a beginner, every extra inch of brace height will make your bow more forgiving. This has to do with how long the arrow is “pushed” and in contact with the bowstring.

For example, 30″ draw length with a 7″ brace height means you’ll draw the bowstring 23″. With the same draw length, but a 6″ brace height, you’ll draw 24″.

  • Shorter brace height = longer draw. The arrow is longer in contact with the string, more room for mistakes, but higher arrow velocity.
  • Greater brace height = arrow leaves bow string faster, less time to mess up, generally slower.

That’s why higher brace heights are generally more forgiving.

Determine Your Dominant Eye

Here´s a video about how to determine your dominant eye.

The importance of determining your dominant eye

You may wonder why it’s important to know which eye is dominant. That’s because if you don’t know your dominant eye, you’ll have problems while aiming at a target. You might always be a bit off – this has a major impact on your accuracy at long ranges. 

Since most archers’ dominant eye is on the same side of their dominant hand, this is also an indicator of whether you are a right-handed or left-handed archer. 

Are you a Left or Right-Handed Archer?

If your dominant hand is your right hand:

You will hold the bow with your left hand and draw with your right hand

If your dominant hand is your left hand:

You will hold the bow in your right hand and draw with your left hand.

Common Mistakes Newbies Make

Not Talking To An Expert

Don’t just purchase any bow just because it looks “cool.” The bare minimum you need to figure out is your draw length, draw weight, dominant eye,…

Go to a bow shop near you, shoot different bows, listen to what the guys there have to say, and make an informed decision.

Buying Based on Price

Don’t buy a bow just because it’s cheap. A cheap-o bow might ruin your archery experience. A moderately-priced bow makes buying your next one less stressful when you figure out what you like and don’t like.

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Hi, I'm Darren, and I've been bow hunting for over thirty years. I'm the senior- editor for this site, and I contribute to it regularly.

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