Archery is a wonderful sport and in recent years it has grown very popular, especially among younger generations. If you want to get your kids away from TV, computers and cellphones which keep them inside the house, archery can be a great hobby.
A kid who likes playing video games and killing digital enemies will probably be delighted with a bow and arrows, so you could both enjoy shooting targets while hanging out outside. Kids these days tend to spend so little time outside that it’s not healthy anymore.
Well, you’ve made your decision to introduce your kids to archery, but you aren’t sure which bow to buy. There are several things you need to consider.
Kids tend to pick up new hobbies all the time, which is quite normal, so you need to think whether your kid will stay with archery and for how long.
Compound bows are an excellent choice because they require zero to no maintenance at all, they are durable, and they will give you plenty of bang for your buck.
Most compound bows have various options and attachments, but your best bet is to go for models with a suitable draw weight and draw length, preferably adjustable because your kids will grow, and you can’t afford a new bow every year. Some bows are meant to take years and years of constant abuse, and most compound bows can withstand quite a lot, so you shouldn’t worry about that.
So, what’s the perfect beginner compound bow? We’ve lined up three very popular models to carefully dissect and present for your reading pleasure. Hopefully, you’ll be able to decide which one is the best for your kids.
Barnett Outdoors Lil’ Banshee Jr. Compound Youth Archery Set
For those of you who don’t know, Barnett Outdoors is one of the most reputable makers of bows and slingshots. They started in 1962 in a garage in the United Kingdom. Later on, they became so successful that they had multiple manufacturing facilities in Europe, but in 2003 they permanently switched their operations to the US.
Their beginner compound bow which we’re reviewing here is actually one of the best-selling models on the market.
The set comes in a package which can also double as a carrying case, but you shouldn’t rely on that very much, especially if you mean to transport it frequently. It’s much more convenient to get yourself a nice, suitable case that will also protect the bow from moisture and heat.
Included in the package are the compound bow, string, pin sight, finger grip, and 2 arrows. Before purchasing, you should know that the Barnett Lil’ Banshee comes in three finishes – black, pink and real-tree camouflage. If you have a little girl, she’ll probably want the pink one, while the other two are presumably meant for boys. All three feature matching colored arrows as well.
You’ll notice that the bow is manufactured in China, but the American company guarantees for quality and deals with all customer services. You get a limited five-year warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.
This beginner compound bow comes pre-strung and can be used right out of the box, as your kids will probably be impatient to try it out.
The manufacturer claims that the bow is ambidextrous, which means that both left- and right-handed kids can use it. Right-handers will hold the bow with their left hand and pull the string back with the right, and left-handers will do the opposite.
Out of the box, the bow comes as a right-hander, but if your kid is left-handed you will have to switch cam modules. If you have a bow press and know how to do it, you have no worries. But if you don’t it’s best to take the bow to a professional shop and get it done there.
In line with the claims that the bow is ambidextrous is also the arrow rest which is on both right and left side. Keep in mind that it’s somewhat small, so your kids might find it a little tricky at first to keep the arrow there. The riser doesn’t have any pre-drilled holes, so you can’t really upgrade the arrow rest.
Included in the Barnett Lil’ Banshee set is an adjustable pin sight, as well. It needs to be unscrewed from the packaging and mounted onto the bow.
There are two 28″ target arrows included as well, but they aren’t the brightest point of the set; they are only flimsy fiberglass arrows which often tend to lose their tips. Also, the fletchings are actually plastic vanes which easily get ripped off; this affects the flight of the arrow, resulting in fairly imprecise shots.
We suggest buying some cheaper aluminum arrows, because these two probably won’t last long, especially if your kids end up really enjoying archery. Arrows easily get lost or damaged, so we suggest buying several of them, just in case.
Finger rollers come attached to the string and they really are a welcome addition. Because of it, your kids will be able to pull the string back much easier and always place the arrow at the same spot on the string. Also, you won’t have to buy a glove.
Things We Missed
Even though the Barnett Lil’ Banshee is a neat little package, there are a few things we really missed. First of all, it doesn’t include any targets. If you plan on buying one, choose a target which is not too hard, as the tips of these arrows can get damaged rather easily.
We’ve also noticed that this set doesn’t feature an arm guard. Kids who learn how to shoot usually don’t have a perfect form, so it’s very likely they will get slapped on the forearm. This might be a scary experience which turns them away from archery. This little bit of protection is thus a must.
Does It Perform?
Even though you’re looking for a beginner compound bow, you’d still want it to perform well and be a quality product.
The Barnett Lil’ Banshee looks and feels solid and well-made. It doesn’t feel like a toy, which is really amazing, especially at this price range.
It has a length of 33.5″ which is just about right for kids who are 8 to 12 years old, but it can also be used by smaller adults, too. It comes with a reinforced handle, along with a rubberized grip.
The bow isn’t too big or too heavy and it can be carried around for hours. It weighs only 1.8 pounds.
Noise levels when it’s in use are completely tolerable and you shouldn’t bother yourself with getting any string silencers.
Your kids should really enjoy shooting with the Barnett Lil’ Banshee as it delivers a smooth draw and it can hit targets that are 15-20 yards away. Needless to say, the accuracy suffers the further away you get from your target.
This bow has a draw weight of 18 lbs. and, unfortunately, it cannot be adjusted. If your baby girl is too weak to pull the strings back, she might not like it that much… Take this into consideration before purchasing.
The draw length is between 18 and 20 inches, so if your kid is a bit taller than the average kids, they might need a bigger bow. You will easily recognize this if the child can’t reach the corner of their mouth when the string is pulled back.
As far as speed is concerned, Barnett doesn’t provide any data, so they probably mean that it doesn’t matter for such a beginner compound bow.
In spite of Barnett’s rich tradition and reputation, this bow can’t really be used for hunting. Don’t even try, because it’s simply too weak. Bow fishing is also out of the question because attaching will void your warranty.
Now that we’ve rounded it all out, let’s take a look at the list of pros and cons.
- Very affordable way of introducing kids to archery
- Simple to operate and handle
- In spite of the pricing, it just looks and feels like a high quality product
- Comes with a five year warranty and excellent customer support
- Limited only to younger kids
- Provides fun only to the beginners
- Arrows included in the package don’t match the overall quality of the set
- No targets or armguard included in the set
Kids between 8 and 12 years old will simply love the Barnett Lil’ Banshee compound bow. It’s a well-made product that’s extremely competitively priced.
It will keep your kids away from TV and video games and provide them with hours of good old fun. Just make sure you supervise them until they learn responsibility – they’ll be shooting live arrows.
All in all, we highly recommend this beginner compound bow. If you’re interested in purchasing, you can do so here.
Leader Accessories Compound Bow 50-70lbs
If you’re not looking for a compound bow for your kids, then you need to step up the game to a beginner compound bow for an adult that won’t break the bank. Still, if you’re investing in a nice hunting bow which you will use for quite some time before reaching that pro level, there are quite a few options out there.
The Leader Accessories Compound Bow 50-70lbs is one of the best out there and it sure is worth checking out. It’s produced by a Taiwanese company called Man Kung.
Don’t let this put you off, as they have decades of experience and they’ve also made parts and components for major US-based manufacturers. Just consider it as a good reason to keep the prices low.
First of all, the lefties out there are going to be disappointed, as this beginner compound bow only comes in right-handed configuration. It may not be the most natural for left-handers to use, but not impossible.
The second thing we’ve noticed is that its arrow rest is made of cheap plastic, so you will have to replace is with something a bit better. Other than that, the bow looks and feels durable, sturdy, and well-made.
It’s made of modern composite material which can be found on compound bows which cost multiple times more. The riser is made of smoothly machined aluminum. The numerous cut-outs on it make the whole thing look very cool and modern.
There are three finishes to choose from: black, autumn camo, and green camo. All of them look really good, so it’s up to your preference for the sleek and stealthy look or the more traditional military finishes.
The bow comes with a simple 2-pin sight which will do just fine during your learning phase, but once you grow into a serious archer you’ll need a more serious bow sight. Also, make sure you sight it in yourself.
No arrows are included in the package, so this means you will have to purchase them separately. While you’re at it, always choose arrows that fit the purpose, the archer, and the bow.
Perhaps the wisest choice is to listen to what the manufacturer recommends. They say that 30″ aluminum arrows are the best for this compound bow. If you’re not sure which arrows are best for you and your beginner compound bow, visit a sporting goods store.
The most expensive choice isn’t always the best one, as arrows need to work in perfect harmony with your bow.
The Leader Accessories Compound Bow 50-70lbs comes with four movable nocking points on the string. The draw length and draw weight are adjustable, but you’ll need to use an Allen wrench to fiddle with that.
What We Missed
If you’re aiming for a beginner compound bow, there are certain things we feel might make your life a lot easier, and they’re not included in this package.
Since it’s a modern bow, it doesn’t really like extreme temperatures and prolonged exposure to moisture, so you’d better get a carry case.
You may consider getting an arm guard to keep your string from hitting you and a wrist sling which will help you to relax your grip.
Getting into the Specs
Now that we’ve covered all the features, let’s take a quick overview of all the technical data concerning this beginner compound bow.
The first thing you’ll notice performance-wise is that this bow isn’t really one of the quietest ones. If you plan to go bow hunting, you should get string silencers and an adequate stabilizer to keep noise levels down.
Its ATA, or axle to axle, length of 35″ characterizes it as a fairly compact bow, suitable for carrying around and bow hunting. Regarding the weight, the Leader Accessories Bow isn’t a very light one. It weighs 4.4 pounds out of the box, but when you add all the accessories the weight could easily climb to 6 pounds.
If you plan on carrying it around and using it for prolonged periods of time, you’d better grow some stamina and strength.
The dual eccentric cam system features aluminum cams which make the draw length adjustment a very easy process.
The overall quality of the product is top-notch, so you’d expect it to perform accordingly. Once you get a better arrow rest, a peep sight, and a bow sight, expect it to perform exquisitely. It’s got tremendous accuracy and power at the same time.
Its draw weight is between 50 and 70 pounds, just like the name suggests, and right out of the box it’s set at 70. For a beginner, that’s a little bit too much, so make sure you tune it down a bit. If you’re not sure how to do it, take the bow to a professional shop and get it done there.
The draw length ranges from 26 to 30 inches, so it should cover most archers. Keep in mind that the draw length is factory set at 29″. If it needs adjusting, we suggest you leave it to a pro, just like with draw weight adjustments.
New archers need to rely on a solid back wall, which is just what you get on the Leader compound bow.
Unlike the previous bow reviewed here, this one has a rated arrow speed and it’s 310 fps, so you can surely go bow hunting like a pro. As the bow comes with pre-drilled holes, you can attach a reel for bow fishing, as well.
Now, let’s take a brief look at the list of pros and cons.
- Very affordable and yet can be used for bow hunting
- Excellent build quality, durability, and design
- Performance rivals much more expensive bows
- The draw weight might be too heavy for a beginner
- Lower quality add-ons
- Tricky to set up yourself
The Leader Accessories Compound Bow 50-70lbs is an excellent beginner compound bow. If you really want to dig in, it’ll provide you with bow hunting abilities and won’t leave you wanting for a better bow for quite some time.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to invest in some additional equipment and that it’s quite heavy for a beginner compound bow.
In case you’re interested in purchasing this compound bow online, you can do it here.
Genesis Original Compound Bow Kit
Our final contender here is actually our favorite and probably the best of the bunch. It’s the Genesis Original, sold commonly under the brand Mathews. Did you know that it’s made in the US by Brennan Industries?
Another selling point of this beginner compound bow is that it’s the official bow of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). What does this mean? It’s the only bow used in the program and all associated tournaments. There are virtually hundreds of thousands of kids shooting their arrows using one of these bows.
Keep in mind that the bow in camo finish doesn’t meet competition requirements and can only be used recreationally.
So, without further ado, let’s get to know this beast of a compound bow a little better.
All in all, the Genesis Original is well-rounded, well-made, durable, and simple to use. Right out of the box it is fully assembled, strung, and ready to shoot. It can be purchased in both left or right-handed versions, unlike the one we reviewed in the previous section.
Some parents may get a little confused about their kid being left or right-handed vs having right or left dominant eye. Some kids shoot with their eyes closed, so that doesn’t matter that much. Still, if they do aim while shooting they need to choose a model in accordance with their dominant eye.
When it comes to choosing a finish for your future beginner compound bow from Genesis, they offer no less than 12 finishes! There’s something for everyone and these include black, orange, green, carbon, camo, blue, white camo, yellow, purple, pink camo, pink, and red.
When taken out of the box, the Genesis is set to its maximum draw weight of 20 lbs. If you purchased one for a young child, this may be a bit too much. As this is the bare bow without any bells and whistles, it’s fairly easy to make any adjustments you want.
The bow comes with an arrow rest, no other accessories included. It does include a set of Easton arrows recommended by the manufacturer. For a beginner, these arrows will be more than enough. But if your kid gets into archery full time, you know you will need more, as these tend to get lost or broken rather easily.
The arrows included in the kit are also the only ones recommended by NASP and the only ones approved for their official tournaments. If you want to upgrade the arrows, make sure you choose carbon or aluminum ones that are no shorter than 30 inches.
When using a compound bow like this one, you should steer clear of wooden or fiberglass arrows.
The arrow rest is the NASP flipper style and is pretty basic. It does what it’s supposed to do, without any fuss. If you still think that it should be upgraded, also be aware of the fact that NASP competitions may not allow that.
The aforementioned draw weight can easily be adjusted by using an included Allen wrench. The Zebra string needs to be waxed on a regular basis so as to not become worn. As soon as you notice any damage to the string, switch it out immediately as drying may result in it snapping.
Even though you get a one-year warranty, be careful not to mistreat your compound bow in any way. Dry firing won’t get you a refund, so avoid that. In case you don’t know what dry firing is, that’s shooting without an arrow in place.
No sight is allowed in official NASP competitions, so the bow doesn’t have one. In case you don’t care about tournaments, there are pre-drilled holes in the riser, so you can attach an aftermarket sight.
The same goes for a peep sight.
Mind you, this compound bow is too weak for bow hunting, so think well before purchasing hunting accessories.
Included in the kit is a simple hip quiver which will be more than enough for a beginner.
Since a beginner will almost always shoot without proper form, that may cause the string to slap him on the forearm occasionally. That’s why an adjustable arm guard is a welcome addition to this set.
What We’ve Missed
A carry case is a must since compound bows don’t really like being exposed to extreme moisture and temperatures. Also carrying it around in tournaments without a case may lead to accidental damage.
Specs and Performance
It terms of noise levels, the Genesis Original is fairly quiet and doesn’t need a silencer. It’s ATA or length is 35.5″ and it weighs 3.5 lbs. If you’re purchasing a bow for a really young archer, it may be a bit too heavy for your kiddo.
The manufacturer claims that the bow fits virtually any beginner and it really does draw very smoothly, with a nice, well-balanced feel to it. Its single-cam system makes it very simple as there’s no need for any fine tuning.
The adjustable draw weight range is 10-20lbs, while the draw length range is 15-30 inches. It shoots rather accurately, and with very little practice you’ll be very pleased with the results.
Just like the Barnett Lil’ Banshee reviewed earlier, the Genesis Original doesn’t sport an FPS rating. Since it’s fairly weak for bow hunting or bow fishing, we recommend you stick to target practice only.
Now let’s take a quick run over the list of pros and cons.
- It’s the official bow of the NASP
- Made in the USA, and it’s very well made, at that
- Extremely affordable and offers a lot for your buck
- Virtually anyone can use it
- It may be a bit too heavy for smaller children
- Doesn’t include a carry case
All things considered, the Genesis Original Compound Bow is simply the best one for someone who’s just starting out. It’s a durable product which comes with a choice of many finishes and it will surely provide you and your kids with hours of endless fun.
If you agree with our choice of beginner compound bow, you can purchase this set here.
Whether you’re buying a compound bow for your kids or yourself, we’ve outlined the three products we believe will provide you with the best arrow shooting experience.
Once you’re decided on your budget, any of the three reviewed products will give you an excellent value for your money.