Compound Bow Effective Ranges

Compound bows have revolutionized the archery market and provide hunters and target shooter alike with a new way to think about archery. Compound bows bring more power and range to archers and allow them to hit shots that would have never been possible before.

By understanding the ranges on compound bows and how to get the most out of them, we will look at what determines the range of compound bows and how to improve their effective range.

Compound bows: improvements to range

Archery dates back to thousands of years ago when people hunted with little more than a branch and some twine. The recurve bows of modern-day archery are fundamentally the same in principle to these bows in their basic simplicity and ease of use.

Thanks to the introduction of the compound bow in recent archery history, the newer and more advanced compound bows have the ability to shoot arrows farther and still maintain very high amounts of power. What this means for archers is that they can take more chances with their shots and ensure that even at longer ranges their shots will still be accurate.

Modern compound bows can shoot at ranges of up to 100-yards, but when you are shooting at that distance, your accuracy begins to diminish. Most hunters say that the effective range for hunting with a compound bow is around 30-60 yards, depending on the archer’s skill level.

These numbers are incredibly high when you consider the amount of power compound bows can deliver at ranges most recurves struggle to even reach.

Compound Bow Effective Ranges

Factors that affect a bow’s range

A compound bow has the ability to shoot very far given that it is shooting in ideal conditions. Every bow has a unique job and every bow has a different effective range. By looking at a few factors that affect range, you will have a better understanding of what the numbers on a bow’s advertisement mean when it comes to how far it can shoot.

Arrow Speed

The speed at which an arrow leaves the bow is often one of if not the most important factors to consider when determining how far a bow can shoot. The faster the bow shoots an arrow, the more energy that arrow will have and be able to use as energy to carry it farther.

Bows can shoot from rather slow speeds to incredibly fast speeds, so finding a bow that shoots somewhere around 350 fps will give you the range you need to be hitting targets at the effective ranges of 30-60 yards.

Bow Power

Just like the speed your bow shoots at affects the arrow speed, the power that your bow is able to be drawn at can have a direct impact on the speed and distance your arrows can reach.

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Your bow’s power is generally measured in draw weight, which is just the power that it takes for the bow to be drawn back to its full potential and power range. A bow’s draw weight directly correlates to how much power it has, and the power it has correlates to how far it will be able to shoot while maintaining substantial power.

A bow’s draw weight can vary anywhere from 10-70 pounds of draw weight. The highest draw weights can be incredibly difficult to load for new archers, but the reward is an arrow that will fly much further and hit harder than a smaller and weaker bow.

Wind Speed

Unless you are used to only shooting indoors, you are probably aware of how pesky the wind can be when it comes to shooting arrows. When you shoot an arrow outside, the amount of power and speed it has can all be for nothing if the wind is too strong. A shot that was perfectly placed can be hindered by a sudden gust of wind that causes the arrow to drift off target.

When preparing to shoot, make sure you are checking and adjusting your shot for any potential wind. This way, even if your aim is different than normal, the adjustment for wind will have your shot hitting right where you want it. In rare instances, the wind can actually help you by pushing the arrow a little farther and improving your effective range a couple of extra feet.

How to improve your bow’s range

Even if you buy a bow that isn’t shooting as far as you want it to, there are a few steps you can take to get it shooting just a bit farther. Sometimes all it takes is a little tweak to get your bow performing at its prime.

Arrow Changes

If you’ve been shooting with the same arrows your entire archery career, then there is a very good chance that your bow has a lot more to give if you simply change up the arrows you’re using.

If you’re hunting animals, it’s likely that you’re using heavier broadhead arrows for a clean kill. Broadhead arrows are great for hunting animals, but their weight causes them to drop faster and lose a lot of range over time. Investing in a lightweight carbon body or lighter metal broadheads can make subtle weight changes to your arrows and change their flight characteristics drastically.

Bow Tuning

Similar to a sports car getting a new turbocharger, many archers choose to get their bows taken to specialty shops to get more performance out of them. A bow tuning can consist of anything from a string change to a more advanced change of your bow’s draw weight, which will allow it to be pulled back further and have its power increased.

When getting your bow looked at by a professional, they can take a look at it and offer advice as to what they can change to make it better for your needs. Many tunes are inexpensive and will leave your bow feeling new and more powerful.

Questions About Range

Just like any other aspect of hunting, finding the right information about the effective range of your bow can be tough and daunting. Hopefully by getting answers to some of the common range questions asked by all archers, you will have a more complete understanding of what it takes to shoot at the ranges you want to.

What range can you effectively kill a deer?

Deer hunting is the most common form of bow hunting, so knowing how far you should be hunting deer from is a critical piece of information. Many hunters disagree on the one true range that should be used to kill deer, but there is some general unity among the hunting community.

Most archers will say that the most effective range to kill deer is somewhere between 20-40 yards. Depending on your skill level, the longer distances may seem intimidating to shoot from at first. It is always best to get as close as you can without startling the animal because that will make sure that your arrows are hitting at the optimal velocity and are effectively killing the animal.

What range can you effectively kill an elk?

Similar to the effective range for hunting deer, the range at which you can hunt elk effectively is also based on a wide spectrum. The typical range for hunting elk is also around the 20-40-yard range for beginners.

Most experienced hunters have no issues hitting elk at 50 yards or more, but at that range you will want a powerful bow with lots of skill to back it up. Most hunting with big game comes down to how much you practice shooting at a far distance and how comfortable you feel taking shots at longer ranges.

How far can a compound bow shoot?

Depending on the bow, the range of most compound bows can be looked at from different angles. The longest recorded target hit with a compound bow was around 900 feet, but that doesn’t mean anyone should be trying to hunt or hit a target at that distance.

If you have a reasonably powered bow that shoots at around 350-fps, you can expect the range to top out around 100 yards. This represents the maximum range of the average compound, but most archers wouldn’t recommend actually trying to hunt like that. The “effective range” of most bows tends to max out around 60 yards, at which point the arrow begins to lose its effectiveness at killing its target.

How far do professional archers shoot?

Depending on the context, professional archers can shoot at various ranges. An Olympic archer who is shooting at the regulated distance will be aiming for a target that is around 70 meters away, but most can hit the target from much further away.

A professional hunter can consistently hit a deer at around 50-55 yards away, with some going even farther. A professional archer can hit targets at the upper range of their bows limits and sink hours into practicing the most extreme shots.

What’s your range?

No matter if you’re a novice or experienced archer, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to maximizing your range and finding out what works best for you. When you shop for a new bow, the range specs usually cover a wide range, so it takes some practice to get to your own effective range.