What are Compound Bows Made of?

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

If you have knowledge of contemporary archery, you probably know that archery has changed quite a bit since Robin Hood’s time.

The biggest change in archery in the last thousand years or so is that bows are no longer made from the strongest trees in the forest. Arrows made from aluminum and carbon fiber are the most common materials today.

Still, if you’re a novice in the market for a new bow, you’ll certainly want to know a little bit more about what compound bows are made from. Let’s discuss what you stand to gain as an archer or hunter from purchasing a bow that’s made of one material versus the other.

Read further if you would like to know what compound bows made of.

The Riser

The riser is the central component of a compound bow and the limbs are directly connected to it. Compound bows are usually made of either an aluminum or magnesium alloy or some kind of carbon fiber.

This is, of course, a departure from the traditional days of the longbow or the composite bow in which the weapons were usually made of some combination of, say, wood and/or animal bone.

This historic technological development has to do with durability and performance. Aluminum and carbon fiber bows are much easier to shoot than wooden longbows, and on average they do much more damage.

Shots from compound bows also have greater velocity and greater accuracy, while the bow itself tends to last longer. The choice for performance is clear.

All the Rest

Aside from the material of the shaft, there’s a lot to know about the material composition and the general anatomy of a compound bow.

The limbs are usually made from fiberglass composite and directly connected to the riser.

As you may or may not know, for example, every compound bow features a system of pulleys. These pulleys are called “cams” and they have a tremendous impact on the quality of your shot.

In general, compound bows feature two pulley systems: a binary cam system, and a non-binary cam system. The main difference between these two systems has to do, essentially, with the size and quality of the pulleys.

A binary cam system is going to have two very large pulleys on it, one on the top and the other on the bottom, while a non-binary cam system is going to have one large pulley (cam) on the bottom, and a smaller one on the top.

The central riser is very stiff and will withstand the compression of the limbs when drawn fully. The limbs do not move very far like a traditional bow would. The cam system is what provides the stages of the compound bow draw. The initial draw is difficult. As the cams rotate the draw will “let off” and become easier. The end of the draw is know as “the wall” and the string can not be draw further. This system allows a heavy bow of over 50 lbs to be held at full draw with little energy. This allows for more time to aim, one of the many reasons compound bows are used for hunting

The precise material composition of these parts depends on the model and price range of the bow. The more expensive bows will have higher quality cams and limbs.

Bow String

Modern bow strings are very strong and stretch very little. They are generally made of a polyethylene synthetic fiber.

What are Compound Bows Made of - arrows - bowsandarrowspro


Arrows consist of the shaft, flights, nock and tip. The arrow shafts are either carbon fiber or aluminum. The aluminum shafts are less expensive than carbon fiber shafts. The flights are generally plastic, as well as the nocks.

Aluminum arrows sometimes become warped in the shooting process. They are often tested and straightened. Carbon fiber arrows are generally used for hunting because they can use a heavier hunting tip. They are also shot at a higher velocity bringing more energy to the target.


Hunters and archers are going to have their own opinions on what works best for them. Are you looking to hunt? Carbon fiber arrows equipped with broad heads? A compound bow with a 70-80 lb draw to deliver the maximum energy to the target? Are you looking to target shoot? Aluminum arrows with field tips are a good economic choice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Bows and Arrows Free Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions