How Compound Bows Work: A Complete Guide

The first noticeable thing about a compound bow is its unique design. The bow features several cables, idler wheels, and perfectly fitted pulleys to make it produce remarkable precision and accuracy when its arrow is shot at a target.

Many people are interested in understanding how compound bows work and learning how this piece of archery equipment allows archers to leverage their power while enhancing their archery skills.

So if you’re also interested in learning how compound bows work, this post is for you. In this guide, you’ll discover the components of a compound bow, particularly how each combines to make the bow work.

Components That Make Compound Bows Work

compound bow components

To understand how compound bows work, it’s important to take a look at the components that make up the bow. All the components of a modern compound bow jointly facilitate its efficiency, making it a popular choice for many people. 

These components include the following:


The compound bow’s limbs store the energy of the bow that’s created when you pull the bow strings. When you release the bowstrings, the energy is transferred to the arrow to propel it in the air to meet its target.

The limbs, made of fiberglass-based composite materials, have two variants: split and solid limbs. Other parts of the bow limbs include the limb bolt, pivot, and pocket.


Bowstrings are the outermost wires of the bow where the arrow rests. They are responsible for launching the arrow downrange. 

It’s a sensitive part of the bow that must be inspected at all times because, if broken, it can cause serious bodily harm to the shooter and other people within proximity.


The cables are fixed in between the bow’s cams. They facilitate the movement of the cams when the archer pulls the bowstring. 

In conjunction with the bowstring, the cables create the let-off effect allowing users to pull the same draw weight as conventional bows, using less effort and force.


Compound bow cams are oval-shaped discs fixed on a compound bow’s upper and lower limbs. They help the bow store more energy than the archer pulling the bow is exerting.

These cams are the basic feature distinguishing a compound bow from other bows like recurve bows, longbows, and bare bows. Every part that facilitates the let-off effect conjoins at the cams.


The mod modulates the speed of drawing the bow. It is attached to the sides of the cams, with each cable running over it. The mod is fixed to the cam, whenever the cam rotates, the mod also rotates in unison.

A Complete Guide on How Compound Bows Work

explaining the compound bow

The inner workings of a compound bow are built around a mechanical system known as the eccentric system. The system offers an archer a mechanical advantage that reduces the strength to hold a fully drawn bow during a draw cycle. 

Rather than exerting so much effort to hold the peak weight like in conventional bows, you use a lot less in compound bows

The bow’s eccentric system leverages the bow’s components, like the string, one or two cams, and one or two cables. In a dual cam system, the cable or harness is attached to the cam on one arm and attached to the axle on the other.

Whenever the bowstring is drawn, the harness wraps around the oval-shaped cam and pulls the limbs together. In a single-cam system, only one harness is used for the cam to pull the limbs together when the string is drawn.

In both cases, whenever the bow grip is handled well, the string is fully drawn, and the cam rolls over, the draw weight is reduced. This implies that archers hold 7 pounds of draw weight of a fully drawn bow with a 70-pound peak draw weight.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide has answered all of your questions about how compound bows work. Compound bows are popular among archery enthusiasts because their design and components offer users remarkable efficiency. 

With a compound bow, it’s easier to draw, target, and make accurate shots due to its eccentric system.

However, understanding how it works, as we’ve discussed in this post, is critical to leveraging its resulting power. 

Picture of Brad Burnie

Brad Burnie

Picture of Brad Burnie

Brad Burnie

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