Archery has been around since prehistoric times. The bow and arrow appeared for hunting purposes during the Stone Age as a replacement for the spear. Nowadays, besides hunting, archery is also a popular sport. It was officially introduced as part of the Olympic Games in 1972. The bows used in the Olympic Games are recurve bows, but compound bows are now widely used across Europe and America.
Archers started to adopt compound bows because they are more efficient and accurate than traditional bows, thanks to their pulley and cable system. This means the user has to exert a lot less force to fire a good shot than he would on a conventional bow.
So, if you want to try archery and you are only starting out, a compound bow is probably your best bet. But which one to choose? We’ve gathered three of the best compound bows on the market to help you with your decision.
Bear developed a solid option with the Cruzer Lite. This bow comes with their “Ruth – ready to hunt package” which includes a 3-pin sight, a whisker biscuit, a 4-arrow quiver, and a peep and nock set ready to install. This means you’ll have all the components you need to start firing some shots right away.
The draw length is adjustable within a nice 15-inch range (12-27’’) and the same can be said for the draw weight (5-45 lbs). The axle-to-axle length is 27.5 inches, with a total weight of 3.2 pounds. We feel these dimensions are a tad heavy for aspiring young archers, especially the bow mass of 3.2 pounds which can quickly lead to fatigue.
The Cruzer Lite uses a dual cam technology and has 70% let off, which means at full draw, you will only be holding 30 percent of the actual draw weight. Regarding single cam versus dual cam, it comes down to personal preference. Dual cam bows are usually noisier and require more maintenance than single cam bows, although the new hybrid and binary cam systems have greatly reduced the maintenance required. A noisier bow could mean you run the risk of alerting your prey if you use your bow for hunting.
On the other hand, dual cam bows fire faster arrows than single cam. Also, they have a more solid wall when drawing. Many archers like this property because they feel it gives them a more consistent anchoring position. A downside of dual cam models is that the let-off and release will be a little rougher than with single cams, but this can be countered with the use of a release aid to help you get smoother shots.
The Original Bow by Genesis is the official bow used in the NASP Program (National Archery in the Schools). First of all, the build quality is right up there, including aluminum alloy in the main parts and along with sturdy, high-strength strings.
The customizable draw length (15-30’’) and weight (10-20 lbs) have less range than the Cruzer Lite, but the values are more suitable for young archers (45 pounds seems a bit overkill). It is relatively long, with an axle-to-axle length of 35.5 inches and a bow mass of 3.5 pounds. Again, this feels a bit heavy for younger novice archers.
Genesis opted for a zero let-off, single cam design, which we feel works well for this bow. Having zero let-off means you will be holding the full weight of your shot for the full length of the draw. This works wonders if you’re using your bow for groups of people because you won’t have to individually adjust the draw length for every single person. Also, some archers prefer this system to get a better feel for the shot.
The single cam design means this bow will need little maintenance and will stay in tune for long. In fact, even if it is not 100% tuned, it will not have as great an impact on the arrow trajectory as it would on a dual cam. The Original Bow is a great option for starting out, as you can get good shots out of it with little customization.
Atomic Package, Youth
Diamond took a bolder approach than Genesis with their Atomic Youth Model, and they definitely got it right. It was made to look and feel exactly like an adult bow, only smaller in size.
While Genesis Original Bow is more of a “one-size-fits-all” model, the Atomic will take a bit more customization before you take advantage of its full potential. Once you do, it is a pleasure to use. With an axle-to-axle length of 24 inches and weighing only 1.9 pounds, it is very easy to handle and as light as a feather, so you can easily hold a steady aim without getting tired. Draw length (12-24″) and draw weight (6-29 lbs) customization represent pretty standard values. Build quality is also excellent, with aluminum components and everything feeling solid and sturdy. The arrows fired by this bow can reach 190 feet per second, which is quite good given its dimensions.
The Atomic comes with a let-off measured in 75%, with the advantage that you can set it to zero, which they call the “infinity” setting. It is true that zero let-off models allow you to shoot more instinctively and feel the shot all the way through. However, some argue that you will not learn to anchor and peep properly that way. A bow with let-off and a solid wall like Atomic, lets you have a feeling for that sweet spot where you have to stop and take a steady aim. This is different from using bows like the Original, where your release point will tend to oscillate due to the continuous draw.
We have looked at three excellent bows to start your journey as an archer. But out of the three, Diamond’s Atomic Package Youth Model is the superior choice. This bow boasts unrivaled maneuverability, thanks to an axle-to-axle length of 24’’ and a weight of 1.9 lbs. Its build quality is also right up there, because there are no plastic or flimsy parts.
However, the other contestants did not disappoint. Bear’s Cruzer Lite is a solid option among dual cam bows with its Ruth package and a crushing 45 lbs of maximum draw weight. The Genesis Original Bow is also a great bow, and more forgiving for beginners thanks to the single cam, zero let-off system. It is truly versatile and fitting for archers of all ages.