Compound bows are used most often for bowhunting and 3-D archery. The compound’s system of cams, wheels and strings might make these bows look complicated, but they’re simple to shoot. Here, Archer Merritt, 15, a four-time Virginia state champion 3-D archer, explains compound-bow basics for rests, nocks and peep sights.
Compound Bow Terms
Arrow (1): Modern competition arrows are most often made of lightweight carbon and tipped with a screw-in metal point.
Buss cable (2): This separate cable from the bowstring attaches to the axle of the cams, or the cam and idle wheel. The bowstring turns the cams, and the buss cable synchronizes the cams, or cam and idler wheel, so they turn at the same speed.
D-loop (3): This small, short loop of string tied on a bowstring is used with a mechanical release aid. The D-loop distributes force on the bowstring while the archer is at full draw. The loop also eases bowstring torque, slows wear on the bowstring, and lessens nock pinch. Simply put, drawing a compound’s bowstring creates a sharp angle in the bowstring, and the D-loop distributes that pressure to reduce the angle.
Draw length: The distance between the bowstring and grip when holding a bow at full draw.
Fletching (4): A general term for anything that helps steer the arrow. Fletchings can be made from plastic or feathers.
Full draw: The point in an archer’s draw when the bowstring has been drawn (pulled back) as far as possible for the bow’s set draw length. What’s your draw length?
Nock (action): To place the nock of an arrow onto a bowstring before drawing the bowstring and launching the arrow.
Nock (equipment) (5): A notch, usually made of colorful plastic, at the end of an arrow that fits the arrow to a bowstring.
Nocking point: Bowstrings are marked with a nocking point so archers know exactly where to nock their arrow each time before drawing their bow. In archery, precision is important, and nocking an arrow at the same point every time increases precision and higher scores.
Peep sight (6): The peep sight, or rear-sight, aids aiming and mounts on the compound’s bowstring. Archers at full draw look through the peep sight – often simply called a “peep” – which is like peering through a short tunnel. A peep performs the same function as a rifle’s rear sight. It helps archers align their sights more precisely on the target.
Release (action): The act of releasing your grip on a bowstring once you’ve reached full draw and sighted in on your target.
Release aid (7): This mechanical device clips onto the D-loop or just below the nocking point on a bowstring. A release aid – usually just called a “release” – provides one contact point on a bowstring instead of three fingers, which improves accuracy for many archers. Release aids are commonly used by compound-bow archers.
Rest (8): An arrow rest holds the arrow in place on the bow handle until the archer releases the bowstring.
Scope (9): The scope on a 3-D competition bow is the part called a “sight” on other compound bows. Scopes have a clear lens or no lens, and many have a bubble level for improved accuracy. Scopes have fiber-optic pins in the center to increase accuracy.
String (10): The compound bow’s string runs between the cams, or the cam and the idler wheel. It holds a nocking point, and often a D-loop, peep sight and string silencers. When an archer nocks an arrow beneath the nocking point and draws the bowstring, the string turns the cams and transfers energy from the archer to launch the arrow toward the target.
Torque: Commonly known as a twisting force, torque on a bow or bowstring can cause archers to miss the shot. Archers try to hold their bow handle and draw their bowstring while causing as little torque as possible.
Compound, recurve or traditional? Find out what bow type is right for you.