|Bear Cruzer G2||SEE IT||
With 5 pounds on a 12-inch draw and a cam system that offers significant adjustment, a young shooter can start with this bow and stick with it all the way into adulthood.
|Diamond Infinite Edge Pro||SEE IT||
An update on the company’s best-selling hunting bow ever, the Infinite Edge Pro offers great adjustability which makes it an ideal beginner bow, especially young, growing shooters.
|Bowtech Amplify||SEE IT||
At 335 fps IBO, this bow is actually as fast or faster than several flagship models while still offering decent draw-length adjustability and excellent draw weight adjustability.
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If you’re new to bowhunting and you wander into an archery shop, you’ll probably suffer from a severe case of sticker shock. The top-end models from most compound bow brands will start at around $1,000 and go up from there. And that’s for a bare bow, with no accessories.
Relax. Breathe. And keep looking. What you want is the best beginner compound bows, and the same companies invariably offer entry-level and intermediate models that are perfectly capable of flinging accurate arrows and killing all the big game you care to hunt, for a fraction of the price. Even better, some of these bows come fully equipped and ready to shoot, eliminating the headache and expense of choosing and buying accessories.
- Best Overall: Bear Cruzer G2
- Best for Adult Beginners: PSE Stinger Max
- Most Stable: Bowtech Amplify
- Most Versatile: Mission Switch
- Best Built: Elite Ember
- Most Affordable: Diamond Infinite Edge Pro
- Best Lightweight: Diamond Infinite 305
- Best Intermediate: Diamond Edge 320
- Best for Kids: Quest Centec NXT
The Best Beginner Compound Bows: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Bear Cruzer G2
Bear Cruzer G2 Bear Archery
Why It Made The Cut: The Bear Cruzer G2 compound bow package is a versatile option that bow hunters of all ages and skill levels enjoy.
- Weight: 3-4 lbs
- Draw Length: 12-30″
- Draw Weight: 5-70 lbs
- Speed: 315 fps
- Grip design eliminates hand torque
- Grow-with-your-bow design
- Package includes everything you need
- Great value for the price
- Limb bolts function best at 65 lbs or less
It’s impossible to build a hunting bow that will satisfy every shooter, but Bear comes close to it with the Cruzer G2. Virtually every kid I’ve coached could pull 5 pounds on a 12-inch draw, and those are the bottom-end specs on this bow. The Cruzer G2’s cam system offers draw-length adjustments from 12 to 30 inches and a draw-weight range from 5 to 70 pounds, and that means a young shooter can start with this bow and stick with it all the way into adulthood. Or a beginner adult can start low and crank it up as he or she builds strength.
At at top-end 315 fps IBO speed, the Cruzer G2 offers plenty of performance for effective big-game hunting, and it comes with six quality Trophy Ridge accessories (sight, rest, stabilizer and sling, peep sight, quiver, and D-loop). In short, there’s plenty of serious stuff included in this beginner compound bow, and it will take a new shooter from his first group of arrows straight through multiple hunting seasons.
Best for Adult Beginners: PSE Stinger Max
PSE Stinger Max PSE
Why It Made The Cut: The PSE Stinger Max is designed with older beginners in mind, with more forgiveness and higher performance to adapt to the shooter’s evolving skills.
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Draw Length: 21 1/2-30″
- Draw Weight: 28-70 lbs
- Speed: 312-304 fps
- Adaptable as skills improve
- Works well for hunting or target practice
- Great value for the price
- Two models available
- Unsure about durability
With bottom-end specs of 22 pounds of draw weight and 21½ inches of draw length, the Stinger Max is aimed at a slightly older shooter compared with the Cruzer G2 above. It’s also a little longer, heavier, and has a more generous brace height, all of which should make the Stinger Max a little more forgiving—that is, a little easier for beginners to shoot well. The cam on the Stinger Max also offers a “performance” setting that adapts to a shooter with more advanced skills and a desire for better speed.
There are two versions of this beginner compound bow, one with a draw weight adjustment of 22 to 55 pounds and another with 30 to 70 pounds. The draw-length adjustment is 22½ to 30 inches on both models. With a top-end IBO speed of 312 IBO, the Stinger Max also has plenty of performance for hunting. (Trust me, when I started bowhunting, the best hunting bows couldn’t shoot that fast.)
Most Stable: Bowtech Amplify
Bowtech Amplify Bowtech
Why It Made The Cut: The Bowtech Amplify provides a stable top-level performance with apple adjustability that’s perfect for beginners.
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Draw Length: 21-30″
- Draw Weight: 8-70 lbs
- Speed: 335 fps
- Reduced noise and vibration
- Designed more for adult beginners than youth
- Easy to adjust shooting style
- Smooth and stable shot, perfect for learning
- The grip design could be improved
If you’re willing to pay a little more, the Bowtech Amplify offers another level of performance. At 335 fps IBO, this bow is as fast or faster than several of the 2021 flagship models available today. Still, it offers decent draw-length adjustability, from 22 to 30 inches, and excellent draw-weight adjustability, from just 8 pounds up to 70.
The Amplify is a sturdier, better-built hunting bow than some models aimed at younger shooters. The binary cam system couples with a split limb design for good stability, an Orbit Dampener reduces noise and vibration, and Powershift technology provides a gear on the cam that allows you to switch from Comfort mode, for an easier draw cycle, to performance, for more speed. The Amplify is aimed less at young shooters and more at beginners who want to work their way up to a near-top-level performance.
Most Versatile: Mission Switch
Mission Switch Mission
Why It Made The Cut: The Mission Switch compound bow is a versatile option that can grow with a beginner youth or be an option for an adult just starting.
- Weight: 3.84 lbs
- Draw Length: 18-30″
- Draw Weight: 16-70 lbs
- Speed: 305 fps
- Affordable price for the value
- Aimed towards young shooters
- Can grow with kids as they age
- Easy draw length adjustments
- Bow is only available for purchase in-store (may be online at other retailers)
- Left-hand bow is only one in stock (right hand may be available at other retailers)
The Switch’s cam system with Fast Fit technology is heavily inspired by the same CrossCentric Cam technology that has vaulted several of Mathews’ flagship bows to Best of the Best honors in the F&S bow test. Yet this version offers easy draw length adjustments—in half-inch increments—from 18 to 30 inches. The Switch also has a draw-weight range of 16 to 70 pounds. Like several other models here, this one is aimed at younger shooters but offers the ability to grow with your kid until they are big enough and strong enough to handle the Switch’s top-end big-boy specs. It’s a little slower than some at 305 fps IBO, but that is more than enough to get the job done, and keep in mind that this option comes at an especially friendly price.
Best Built: Elite Ember
Elite Ember Elite Archery
Why It Made The Cut: The Elite Ember is a sturdy and reliable beginner bow built with young archers in mind.
- Weight: 3.6 lbs
- Draw Length: 15-29″
- Draw Weight: 10-60 lbs
- Speed: 310 fps
- Durable construction
- Adjustable draw module
- Suitable for all ages and sizes
- Great price for the value
- May not be as good of a fit for larger adult beginners
The specs of the Elite Ember are very much like all the other youth compound bows on this list. The draw length is adjustable from 15 to 29 inches, and the draw weight ranges from 10 to 60 pounds, which means it can grow with a young shooter, just like the others. There is something that sets the Ember apart: its build quality.
There’s hardly a piece of plastic on the entire bow; the riser, limb pockets, cams, and modules are all constructed of aluminum. And you get a Winner’s Choice bowstring, and integrated limb stops for a harder back wall, making this one of the best-built beginner bows around. For those who have shot Elite’s flagship bows, you’ll also find something very familiar with the Ember: a pleasant, smooth shooting experience.
Most Affordable: Diamond Infinite Edge Pro
Diamond Infinite Edge Pro Diamond Archery
Why It Made The Cut: The Diamond Infinite Edge Pro is an affordable option for beginner archers of all ages, with a smooth draw cycle and decent adjustability.
- Weight: 3.1 lbs
- Draw Length: 13-31″
- Draw Weight: 5-70 lbs
- Speed: 305 fps
- Affordable price
- Highly adjustable
- Can grow with young archers
- Decently stable for the price
- Sight could use some improvement on design
The original Diamond Infinite Edge became the company’s best-selling hunting bow ever and drove the popularity of high-adjustability beginner bows in general. The Infinite Edge Pro is an updated version. Most notable is the 31-inch maximum draw length, welcomed with (long) open arms by young shooters who keep growing taller and taller. The hunting bow’s redesigned cam offers a smoother draw cycle while still coughing up a decent speed. Draw length adjustments go from 19 to 31 inches, and the bow provides an incredible 63 pounds of draw weight adjustability, from 7 to 70 pounds, no press needed. That makes the Infinite Edge Pro one of the most versatile, best beginner bows on the market and the least expensive to boot.
Best Lightweight: Diamond Infinite 305
Diamond Infinite 305 Diamond Archery
Why It Made The Cut: The Diamond Infinite 305 is an affordable beginner’s bow that is lightweight and easy for even the youngest archers to handle.
- Weight: 3.3 lbs
- Draw Length: 19-31″
- Draw Weight: 7-70 lbs
- Speed: 305 fps
- Affordable price
- Ideal for young archers
- Easy to bow to learn
- Smooth and accurate
- Only really suitable for beginner-intermediate archers
Like the other “infinites” in the Diamond lineup, the 305 is super-adjustable and has near-perfect specs for a youth compound bow, given the that mass weight is lower and should be easier for a younger kid to handle. The generous brace height and overall length results in more forgiveness with just a small drop in speed, another desirable feature in the best beginner compound bow.
Best Intermediate: Diamond Edge 320
Diamond Edge 320 Diamond Archery
Why It Made The Cut: The Diamond Edge 320 is another excellent beginner option for teetering on intermediate archers.
- Weight: 3.6 lbs
- Draw Length: 15-31″
- Draw Weight: 7-70 lbs
- Speed: 320 fps
- Easy to tune design
- Retains accuracy well with changes
- Great value for price
- May need to purchase a new sight as skills advance
Like the Pro, the 320 sports incredible adjustability, but a little more speed. This is an ideal bow for an intermediate shooter with some experience who prefers a high brace height and doesn’t mind a little longer bow. The Octane accessories (used on parent company Bowtech bows) include a Furnace quiver, Stryker 3-pin sight, Octagon brush rest, and Boost stabilizer—all well-made and rugged.
Best for Kids: Quest Centec NXT
Quest Centec NXT Quest
Why It Made The Cut: The Quest Centec NXT is a performance bow designed for youth with full hunting capabilities.
- Weight: 2.8 lbs
- Draw Length: 19-26″
- Draw Weight: 15-45 lbs
- Speed: 270 fps
- Specs are tailored to young shooters
- Great for learning
- Hunting capabilities
- Made with high quality materials
- Kids will age out of this bow as they grow
What sets the Quest NXT apart from some of the other best beginner compound bows on this list is that it is more specifically aimed at younger shooters, with an axle-to-axle length of just 26 inches and a weight of just 2.8 pounds. It is also incredibly well made, with a high-grade forged aluminum riser. The NXT offers easy draw-length adjustments, in half-inch increments, from 19 to 26 inches, and draw-weight adjustments from 15 to 45. The top-end IBO speed, with those specs, is 270 fps. So, this is a hunting bow you may want to replace eventually when your young shooter grows up some, but in the meantime is a great one to learn on.
What Are the Advantages of a Beginner Compound Bow?
Beyond the obvious cost savings, the main advantage of a youth compound bow or a beginner model for a teen or adult, is enhanced adjustability. These models typically offer a wide range of draw weights and draw lengths that can be changed easily changed as the shooter grows physically or wants a little extra speed as his archery muscles strengthen. Also, the “kit” nature of a kids compound bow or beginner model really sets it apart.
Most new bowhunters don’t know how to set a bow up, with all the accessories, by themselves. So it’s a big deal that these models often come all decked out with a rest, sight, quiver, and peep sight designed for that bow. That stuff gets expensive if you buy it all separately. On the other hand, if you buy a package bow, you can take it out of the box and hunt with it for the rest of your life if you want.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Beginner Compound Bow?
So what are you giving up to save all that money? In most cases, performance. That youth compound bow or beginner model will not be as fast as a company’s flagship, and it might be slightly louder or vibrate a touch more. Companies are not going to throw their best cam or highest quality components into a bow that’s half the price of their top model.
So yeah, you’re not going to have a bow as quick and quiet as the guy who spends two grand—not any more than a Chevy driver is going to have as nice a car as the dude who buys a Lexus. But you’ll have a perfectly suitable bow that’s going to give you plenty of enjoyment and totally acceptable performance. In fact, some beginner bows are only slightly slower than flagship models. You may want to trade up after shooting your entry-level bow for a while, but you certainly won’t have to shoot and hunt effectively.
Q: What bow should a beginner use?
Many beginners learn on a recurve bow because of the simpler design, and for many, they seem easier to use. Compound bows can be good because they are very customizable and tend to have more power. Beginners can still have success with compound bows and should try both to see which one they prefer to learn on at that point.
Q: What’s a good beginner bow for hunting?
Any of the bows listed above are good for beginners. Our top pick is the Bear Cruzer G2. All of the bows have pros and cons and will suit different people’s needs at different stages of their learning.
Q: How much should you spend on your first compound bow?
That depends on your budget and how long you plan to use the bow. If you are looking for a beginner bow, there are options for around $500 or less, but you are likely to outgrow these rather quickly. Other options are to borrow suitable bows from friends until you decide which one is right for you or buy used to get a higher-end bow at a lower price.
Q: Is a lighter or heavier bow better?
A lighter bow exaggerates form flaws while shooting, and heavier bows are often steadier. Any accessories added to a light or ultralight bow are more likely to upset the bow’s balance, and it may be more challenging to manage as a beginner.
Q: What is a good draw weight for beginners?
The draw weight is generally correlated to the archer’s weight. So a small child may have a draw weight between 15-35 lbs, but an adult will be around 40-75 lbs depending on their size and gender.
Final Thoughts on the Best Beginner Compound Bows
The best compound bow for beginners is the one that fits your needs and can make learning archery fun. Many beginner bows are designed for young archers and tailored to children, so pay attention to that while you are shopping. Keep your budget and know your needs going into the shopping experience to set yourself up for a decent investment. Beginners may also benefit from learning on a recurve bow before a compound bow, so consider that as an option.