Looks like you’ve decided to test your luck in the sport of archery. Whether watching countless hours of Robin Hood movies led you to this craft, or just pure desire, you are at the right place.
This article will provide you with a review of the best beginner compound bow on the market, complete with information about compound bows in general that would be useful to those on the market for such a bow.
Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 Compound Bow Review
There are several key features that make a compound bow more or less suitable for beginner archers.
What’s important to know, if you are a novice who is about to pick up the bow for the first time, is that speed matters. The speed of the arrow is measured in FPS, or feet per second. It represents one of the main reasons why a certain bow is harder to shoot than others.
To achieve higher FPS, you will have to set the draw weight higher, which makes it harder to draw your bow. Yes, the bow will fire fast and powerful shots, but for a beginner, it might be impossible to draw the bow and fire accurately.
The good news is that all compound bows feature adjustable draw weight. As a novice archer, your focus should be on proper technique and fundamentals.
The Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 can fire arrows up to 318 FPS. The draw weight is very adjustable (it can go from 7 to 70 lbs.), which makes it a good choice not only for men but for also women and young archers.
As hinted, you will only get the top speed if you set the draw weight to the highest, in this case 70 lbs. But you don’t have to; you can set it to as low as 7 lbs. and build up from there.
The Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 uses the binary cam system, which makes tuning easier by slaving the cams together. Your timing will also be more consistent as a result. This means that you will be able to spend more time on the field working on your shots and having fun.
If purchased as a package, the bow comes with a quiver, sight, D-loop, peep, stabilizer (which will be pre-mounted), rest, and sling.
Also, the Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 features adjustable draw length (15” to 30”) which you can adjust in a matter of seconds; all that you need is an Allen wrench.
Another factor that makes the bow beginner-friendly is the very light weight (3.6 pounds). Hence, it won’t hurt your arms or tire you out that quickly. It will be much easier for a beginner to aim with a lighter bow than a heavier bow, and you’ll have better control as well, so use it to master the fundamentals and sharpen your skills.
The axle-to-axle length is 31 inches. Again, not too much for beginners. (Don’t worry, all the specs will be explained in more detail later on.)
The Edge SB-1 comes in almost every color (camo, purple, black, etc.) so you can choose whatever fits your personality or style. The silver-and-black Diamond logo is located on the grip.
The grip is another important consideration, as it’s one of the things that determine how comfortable the bow is.
The Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 is a comfortable compound bow because its grip fits almost perfectly in the hand. That will allow you to aim faster and fire more accurate shots.
While looking for a compound bow, durability should also play a vital role. The truth is that this Diamond Archery model is proven in that department. The answer is in the limbs. The Edge SB-1’s solid carbon composite limbs should guarantee that it lasts for a long time.
The only thing that may be considered a downside is the noise that the bow produces. You see, noise plays a huge role in hunting – the stealthier you and your equipment are, the better your chances.
The Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 might be the best beginner compound bow, but it’s not a rifle that shoots at 3,000 FPS. Many people prefer bow hunting over firearms precisely because it’s more challenging.
Just so you know. The compound bow is the most advanced bow for hunting and target practice, so advanced that you’re not allowed to use one in most major archery competitions. Doesn’t it make you want one even more badly?
Now let’s find out everything you need to know before starting your archery journey.
Everything You Need to Know About Compound Bows
This section includes everything you need to know about compound bows and archery in general.
There are a few important factors that determine just how good a certain compound bow is. Let’s break down and explain them.
Compound bows are equipped with axles, at least one at the end of each limb. The axles are the parts that attach the bow to the rotating system (consisting of cams or idler wheels) which gives power to the bow and does the heavy lifting for the user (a major reason why compound bows are not allowed in Olympic archery events).
The axle-to-axle length is now pretty self-explanatory, as it represents the length between the two axles. This length determines what type of shooting the bow is made for. For instance, if you own a shorter bow (from 30 to 32 inches), it is perfect for hunting. If you need a bow for target shooting or just regular practice, you should aim to get your hands on a longer bow.
The axle-to-axle length also impacts the bow’s stability. Just ask any experienced archer and they will know the difference.
With all else equal, longer bows would provide more stability. What that means is that you will be able to get a better hold of the bow while aiming. The draw weight and length and other things would play a part as well, which is why we stressed “with all else equal.”
Although the axle-to-axle length impacts the stability, that doesn’t necessarily mean that shorter bows aren’t accurate. There are many other elements that can affect accuracy.
At the end of the day, as long as you are comfortable with the bow, you will be able to hit targets with it after enough practice. However, beginners should pick their first bow carefully and always have their goals in mind.
By virtue of their design, the draw weight of all compound bows is adjustable. High-level archery not only requires skill but also a strong body. To be exact, your back muscles will need to be pretty strong as they will be under the most pressure.
If you are really that into this sport, you must have heard of Brady Ellison, the top American Olympic archer. Ellison can draw up to around 53 pounds without affecting his accuracy. Of course, we’re not comparing apples to apples here as Ellison uses a recurve bow in competitions. But the point is the same.
What’s important here is that you carefully choose your bow’s draw weight so that it matches your strength. This goes especially so for hunters.
Let’s say that you’re a hunter. You are on the field right now waiting patiently for your prey, when suddenly you hear a noise in the nearby bush. This could be the moment you have been waiting for. Naturally, you would fully draw your bow and wait for the perfect shot. The wait here usually lasts no more than a couple of minutes, but those minutes will feel like hours.
If your bow’s draw weight so too much for you to handle, then you either need to hit the gym or choose a different bow for hunting purposes. You wouldn’t want to fire a shot when your arms are tired? In other words, the draw weight is the maximum weight that you pull before let-off.
So, how do you know if the draw weight matches your strength? It’s quite simple. While you are browsing for a perfect bow, pull the string and check if you can hold that position for about 30 seconds. If you are able to do that, then the draw weight is probably suitable for you.
Draw weight doesn’t only have an impact on your strength. It also affects your aim and the bow’s accuracy. It is obvious that having a bow that is easy to draw and hold makes your accuracy better and your overall shot steadier. The cool thing about compound bows is that the cams do most of the work for you, so you don’t have to hold the full draw weight.
Do you know your bow’s draw length? You should!
Basically, draw length determines how much your bow can be drawn back. This distance is completely controlled by your bow’s mechanical system. However, your physical size needs to match your bow’s mechanical settings. This is why you need to determine your proper draw length.
The truth is that there is not an exact formula for any given archer. If you are completely comfortable with a selected draw length, then it is quite simple – that’s your number!
Although comfort is the logical consideration, beginner archers may have problems in determining what their proper draw length is.
There is a solution to that as well and it’s called the “arm span method.” The method is actually quite easy. Simply measure your arm span (in inches) and divide that number by 2.5. The result is the draw length in inches that matches your size.
When measuring your arm span, make sure to stand still and measure from the tip of your left or right middle finger to the tip of the other one.
However, it’s only a rule of thumb so you shouldn’t be carried away with numbers. Remember, comfort matters! Also, most compound bows feature adjustable draw length.
The let-off is one of the things that makes the compound bow the most advanced bow in existence.
First, we need to start from the draw weight.
As you already know, the draw weight is the force that you need to exert when drawing the string back. And as mentioned, the design of the compound bow does most of the work for you. And the percentage of that work done for you is called the let-off.
For an example, if a bow is set at a draw weight of 70 pounds and the let-off is specified at 80%, then you actually only have to hold a 14-pound full draw weight when using that bow (80% or 56 pounds of the weight is done for you).
In comparison, recurve bow archers would theoretically need to hold all 70 pounds at full draw. It’s for illustration purposes only because 70-lb. compound bows don’t exist and it would be too heavy for most people anyway. In comparison, there are many compound bows with 70lbs or higher draw weight.
By the way, the Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 is rated at 80% let-off.
The Difference Between Compound and Traditional Bows
Would a modern day Robin Hood choose a compound or a traditional bow? Let’s figure out what we already know.
Traditional bows are now considered old equipment. But does that necessarily mean that they don’t perform as well as compound bows? Short answer – nope!
There are two categories of traditional bows: the longbow and the recurve bow.
Right off the bat, what separates the longbow from the recurve bow is its shape. The longbow has the shape of a half-moon. Its grip is completely straight.
Longbows are harder to shoot as they have thicker depths. That means that your form has to be impeccable in order to shoot a straight-flying arrow.
The recurve bow is a more efficient version of the longbow. The riser replaced the traditional grip and the two limbs are curved back in the other direction at the end (i.e. recurve), which would also require more advanced materials.
The result is a bow that can shoot with more power and therefore faster arrows. In this case, the bow’s draw length is very important. Even more important than in the previous case.
You see, longbows can be drawn back as far as your strength allows you to. Recurve bows have a set draw length.
Although much longer, traditional bows are also slimmer and easier to carry around. That alone is a serious advantage as it allows you to move faster and even hunt from tighter spots.
On the other hand, traditional bows are harder to shoot as they require good technique and strength, and not technology-driven like compound bows. So you will need more force to draw them. Without the assist of the cams, traditional bows also don’t shoot nearly as fast or far as compound bows. In order to get a good shot, you will need to be closer to your target.
If you do decide that a traditional bow is the right one for you, you will need to practice more frequently.
Compound bows are modern bows that are capable of more power and accuracy. Just because the compound bow has the technology that can immensely help you, it doesn’t mean that it won’t require practice.
The compound bow doesn’t entirely rely on your strength. Its mechanical systems are designed to make your hunting easier. In the hands of an archer, compound bows offer more power, accuracy, greater distance, and customization.
Compound bows are wider and heavier than traditional bows, which means moving around with them won’t be as easy as you might have thought. You might have to sacrifice the speed of your movement.
Also, compound bows need more maintenance.
Which Is the Right One for You?
If you are aren’t that interested in technology and want to do things the old-fashioned way, then a traditional bow will be a better choice for you.
In general, if you go for compound bows, you will be able to make faster progress. If you’re looking to hunt larger game, you should choose a good compound bow.
On the other hand, if you plan on becoming a competitive archer, you may have to pick up a traditional bow, unless you’re willing to settle for lower-level competitions. As mentioned, compound bows are not allowed in most major archery competitions.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing to stop you from choosing both. Just figure out what you want from the sport and you will realize what bow you should start with.
What are the Parts of the Compound Bow?
The very next thing you should know about compound bows is the anatomy. Let’s take apart the compound bow and check out every part.
The riser is the middle of the bow that contains the grip. Risers are usually made of aluminum, but better compound bows may come with carbon fiber risers. You see, carbon fiber decreases the bow’s weight.
There are other components mounted to the riser. They include the arrow rest, sight, stabilizer, and quiver. All of the mounting holes are universal.
The limbs are attached to the riser to form the top and bottom parts of the compound bow. They are made of flexible fiberglass planks.
They are parts of the bow that absorb and store the energy that’s generated when you pull the bowstring. You will find that the limbs are equipped with cams.
There are different types of limbs.
Solid limbs are made of one piece of fiberglass.
Split limbs consist of two limbs that “meet” each other at the riser. This type of limbs makes the bow more durable. It also makes the bow produce less of a hand shock.
Parallel limbs are found on most compound bows nowadays. The name basically says it all: The top and bottom limbs are parallel to each other. Parallel limbs reduce the bow’s noise and recoil when shooting.
The cams are attached to the end of the limbs and look like round disks. These cams are the innovative technology that separates compound bows from traditional bows.
It is the cams that manipulate the draw weight through their mechanic systems. So, when you pull the string back, after a specific point, the string will catch on the cams and it will become easier to continue pulling.
There are also different types of cams as well.
- Round wheels – the arrow speed is lower but the accuracy is better
- Soft cams
- Single cams – also called “solo” cams
- Hard cams – faster arrow speed but hard to keep in tune
- 5 hybrid cams
Let’s see how the cams work together.
There are four types of cam systems, which include:
- Binary cams
- Twin cams
- Single cam
- Hybrid cams
The most popular bows on the market today actually use the single cam system. This type is easier to maintain. It makes less noise, which is very important for hunters.
The system basically includes a round idler wheel on the upper limb and a power cam on the bottom limb.
The second most used cam system is the twin cams, otherwise known as the dual cam system. It consists of two identical cams (top and bottom).
The arrow is launched by the bowstring. The key is that bowstrings should be made of materials that don’t stretch or lose tension over time. In order to make sure that your bow performs as well as it performed when you first bought it, you should replace the bowstring every 2 to 3 years.
While we are talking about the bowstring, it is a good time to mention every hunter’s best friend, the string silencer.
Although technically you don’t need them as a beginner, it might be a good idea to get used to them from the start; they might become one of the most important accessories later.
This piece of equipment totally relies on physics. When your bow is at full draw, it is tense with potential energy. The limbs are bent due to the pulling force, and naturally, they want to return to their starting position.
When released, the potential energy in the limbs is converted into kinetic energy which sends the arrow flying.
Since energy conversion is never 100% efficient, a portion of the energy doesn’t get transferred to the arrow but ripples through the bow instead. That’s why your compound bow is vibrating and making noise while shooting. The string silencer is used to reduce the vibrations, therefore reducing the noise.
There are cables that move the cams or pulley system when pulling back the bowstring. Cable guards are used to keep the cable away from the bow’s center. They are made of fiberglass.
The cable slide works alongside the cable guard to make sure that the cables don’t get in the arrow’s path. They are small plastic pieces attached to the cable guard.
If you’ve ever played first-person shooter games, you already know what sights are. They are used to help you with your aim and there are quite a few sights available.
The most popular, the fixed pin sight, usually has three pins in the sight circle. You will use those pins for distances. In order to fully take advantage of the pins, you will need to know how far away your target is. You can use a rangefinder (purchased separately) to figure out the distance.
The arrow rest is used for holding the arrow before releasing it. With an arrow rest, you can fully focus on your target and not have to worry about where your arrow is.
You can shoot with or without a stabilizer, as it’s totally optional. It’s used to, well, stabilize your weapon when you are shooting. Attached to the front of the bow, It reduces vibrations and noise.
How to Keep Your Compound Bow in Good Shape
Let’s say you’ve just got yourself a new compound bow. It is beautiful! You find it very comfortable and easy to shoot with. You don’t want that to change, right?
Here are a few things that you can do to increase your compound bow’s durability.
Always Have Your Bow Tuned
It is of the essence that archers make sure that their bows are being fired in a straight line. That’s exactly what bow tuning is. With that being said, you should always check if your bow is properly tuned. Here are a couple of things to have in mind:
- Pick the proper arrows
- Adjust the draw length
- Time the cams
- Adjust the sight
Inspect Your Weapon Every Now and Then
Inspecting your weapon’s performance is a good thing to do from time to time. Remember how the compound bow performed at its peak (when you first bought it) and compare the results.
Check if Your Components are Correctly Installed
If your components aren’t installed correctly, your bow won’t be as accurate and you might even risk injuring yourself or others. One of the key points to look at is the riser as that’s where most of your components are located. The components need to be tightly attached to the riser.
Take Good Care of Your Bowstring
A good way to take care of the bowstring is to use wax. Simply apply wax by rubbing it directly along the full length of the bowstring. Once you’ve done that, use your fingers to massage it further into the string. Make sure to cover all spots as strings are made out of multiple strands. The goal here is for the wax to melt inside all the gaps.
The recommendations on how frequently you should apply this method vary. As a rule, waxing the string once a week should be all that it takes to keep your bowstring safe.
Why are Some Compound Bows Faster?
So, what makes one compound bow faster than the other?
The first factor that impacts the compound bow’s FPS is the brace height. This controls how much you need to pull in order to get to full draw. In other words, it controls the draw stroke. If a bow has a short brace height, you can expect a longer draw stroke. But what exactly is the brace height? The brace height is the distance between your bow’s grip throat and bowstring.
The second factor is the draw length. The reason for that is quite simple. If your bow has longer draw length. it will be able to shoot the arrow with more power, and as such, faster.
Aside from these two factors, the cam design and limbs must also be considered if your goal is speed.
The cams don’t store any energy but assist you to store energy on the bow’s limbs, and depending on the bow, they can do it for better or worse. When you release the arrow, the energy stored on the limbs converts to kinetic energy that propels the arrow.
When you’re shopping for a fast bow, look at the specs supplied by the manufacturer.
Alternative Starter Bows for Beginners
Since you now know what to look for in a compound bow, let’s check out a couple of alternative best compound bows for beginners.
Bear Archery Authority
The first honorable mention is the Bear Archery Authority compound bow. It is inexpensive and an excellent choice for any beginner archer. This compound bow can fire arrows up to 315 FPS. It is available in three max draw weights: up to 50, 60, or 70 lbs. The draw length can go from 24.5’’ to 31.5’’.
The second alternative best beginner compound bow is as affordable as they come. The compressed ABS limbs make it a high durable inexpensive compound bow. The draw weight can be adjusted from 55 to 70 pounds at 70% let-off. The draw length can go from 25 to 31 inches.
When it comes to speed, this compound bow can shoot arrows up to 270 FPS.
Now that everything is said and done, it is easy to see why the Diamond Archery Edge SB-1 is one of the best compound bows for beginners. The bow is very adjustable, capable of letting arrows fly at a high FPS (for a serious entry-level bow), and incredibly easy to use.
Of course, as mentioned before, the bow is suitable for advanced archers as well, so you can grow with it as you get better and more experienced.