Building The Perfect Compound Target Bow

Competing in target shooting requires the proper bow setup

In my last article, I talked about building your perfect hunting bow; and in this issue, I’m going to talk about building your perfect compound target bow. In a target bow, we want to consider what axel-to-axel length we want, first. Target bows are generally a lot longer axel-to-axel because a longer bow is a more accurate bow. They are more stable and the string angle is not as sharp in a target bow, the string is closer to the eye, another good thing in achieving more accuracy. Hunting bows are usually shorter axel-to-axel.



Do your research and product testing and look for that perfect length. Speed in target bows is not a factor; as I have said before, we do not care how long it takes for an arrow to get to the target, we want it to group the best.


Because you’re not stalking game animals in the bush with your target bow, feel free to choose a bow colour that best reflects your personality. Not all manufactures offer the same colours or the colour you want, so seek the one that does.

Hoyt, PSE, Mathews, Elite, Bowtech and Prime all offer excellent target bow options. Watch the World Championships of Archery and see which models are used at these tournaments, and this may help you in your decision. I’m sorry to offend anyone, but Bear, Diamond, Mission, Quest or Obsession are not a brand you would see in this category. If you are thinking of ordering a bow these days, give it three to four months to be built, as all factories right now are way behind due to COVID.


Target bows usually have a longer brace height, seven or more inches, in fact. Target bows also have less let off than a hunting bow, some go as low as 65 per cent even. This is to teach you to hold firm against the wall better. The highest poundage allowed in competition is 60 pounds, and lot of target archers choose a 50 pounder, for instance, because in target archery we shoot long days and usually a lot of arrows per session.

Now that you have your desired bow in mind, next is to select a rest. A lot of target archers use the lizard tongue-style over fallaways because they always keep things the same and there’s less chance of something failing you on the line because fallaways have a lot of moving parts. Although, Hamskea has designed a hybrid lizard tongue fallaway, which seems to be the best of both worlds and has garnered a lot of popularity these days. It is the choice of this bow owner in the picture. Lots of great companies to look at are Specialty Archery, Trophy Taker, Bodoodle, Limbsaver, Ripcord, AAE, Spot Hogg, Sure Loc, Shred and Ultra Rest, to name a few. Remember, a rest is only as good as the guy that sets it up.

Next is a sight and, wow, there are a lot to choose from here. Most target archers use a single pin, scope-style sight with a lens in it. These lenses come in all kinds of magnification from two to 10, for the most part. When buying a lens, think about the fact that you are magnifying the target but you are also magnifying your shaking. An example is any six to 10 magnification can drive you crazy, making you think you’re shaking like mad, when it’s the excessive magnification and not you. I would recommend something in the three to four power range to start with because these lenses are not cheap.

Also with sights, six to 10 inches is a good arm length. Remember, the longer the arm, the more accurate the sight is. This is because the closer the sight is, the better; however, the longer it is, the less range you get.

Do you want a pin or a circle only to aim with or some people do a pin and a circle around the pin. I personally get target panic with pins, so I like just a circle, which sticks to my lens in the centre, and I make the circle match the circle on the target rings.

Here is a list or manufactures known for quality compound target sights and lens housings. Sure Loc, Trophy Ridge, Tru Glo, Apex, IQ, HHA, Spot Hogg, Excel, Shibuya, Sword and Viper, to name a few of the top ones.

Target bows do not have quivers mounted on the bows to hold the arrows, instead we all use hip quivers for that function.

Next and, once again, one of the most important additions, is proper stabilization. It’s also the part that makes a bow shoot accurate and also makes the bow look cool. In the front is a long rod, usually 28 to 30 or up to 33 inches. 30-inch bars are the most common, but the object is to make the bow drop about 20 degrees forward at idle because as you draw the bow, that is what brings it to straight. You can buy a quick detach with a 10 degree drop or run it level. Quick detachments allow the shooter to unscrew the stabilizers in just a couple screws, rather than sit there unscrewing each stabilizer the full one inch of threads. A person with experience can help with that decision or a good bow shop. Most 28-inch bars have a 12-inch side bar, most 30-inch front bars have a 15-inch side bar, and on from there. The amount of weight now on each side bar depends on the bow and the amount of weight on the right side of your right-handed bow. Let’s face it – the sights and rest all mount on the one side of the bow, that’s why without a proper side bar, the bow falls to the heavy side with all the accessories mounted on. That’s the purpose of the side bars, to balance the bow by adjusting the side angle to weigh the bow equal on both sides so the bow sits straight in your hand and your bubble sits level without you twisting your wrist to offset that imbalance the accessories create. It’s like a scale, as one drops more weights on the scale until the scale balances. We, for example, have a machine that holds the bow as if it were a person, then we add weights until the bow balances and the bubble sits perfectly straight. From there, one can finetune it a bit to match the shooter’s personal preference. Once you have had your bow balanced, that is the way you’ll wish every bow felt. The bow sits so flat and comfortable in your hand, with no resistance to one side or the other.

Next is to go out there and find a good thumb style or back tension release and enjoy archery the way it was meant to be, by putting those arrows tighter than you ever have before. Most of us have numerous guns for different game, and a second bow setup for target archery is the same – it’s the proper tool for the proper job.