If you are a new bow hunter and you walk into a bow shop or the bow section at a sporting goods store, the variety of bows on the wall can be intimidating. Usually, a shop has bows of all styles, sizes, colors, feature and part sets. So where do you start?
It’s common fact that bows, like handguns, are not ideal as a present without the recipient’s input.
However, some bows naturally lend themselves towards being perfect for beginners.
These are good starting points as you handle and compare other bows in each category.
The 7 Top Beginner Bows of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for beginner compound bows in 2020:
- Best all-around: Get the Diamond Archery Infinite Edge
- Get the SAS Rage (Read 310+ Amazon customer reviews)
- Get the Quest Radical
- Bear Authority Compound Bow
- Best youth: Get the Bear Archery Cruzer Lite
- Best female: Get the Bowtech Carbon Rose
- Best budget: Get the Leader Accessories Compound Bow
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|IBO Speed||310 FPS||290 FPS||302 FPS|
|Brace Height||7 in||6 in||7 in|
|Axle to Axle||31 in||27 1/8 in||30 in|
|Draw Length||13-31 in||12 - 27 in||22.5 - 27 in|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best All-Around Beginner Bows: Diamond Archery Infinite Edge
This category is for anyone that is an adult or has outgrown the youth and female category bows.
Some teenagers are going to be big enough and strong enough to shoot a full-size bow so there is no reason to start them on a youth bow at the upper end of its adjustability.
Some taller females may also have a draw length longer than the “female” bows are capable of adjusting to.
It comes with a lot of adjustability in an ideally sized frame. The price is extremely reasonable which is a huge plus.
As a beginning bow hunter, there is a good chance that your first bow is going to be a gateway to your next one so paying top dollar for the “end-all” bow is probably not the best choice.
Specs & Features
- Adjustable draw weight from 5-70 pounds
- Extremely adjustable draw length ranges from 13”-31”
- Can shoot arrows up to 310 FPS
- Smooth draw is easier for beginners to manage
- 7” Brace Height and 31” axle to axle length is moderate measurements well-suited for beginners
- Lightweight at 3.2 pounds so fatigue from carrying and handling the bow is less likely
- Package includes rest, sight, stabilizer, and quiver — all basic for beginner use
2. SAS Rage
The SAS Rage is an affordable beginner’s bow that offers shooters a long-lasting and durable option. This dual eccentric cam design utilizes a draw length of 25 to 31 inches and an adjustable weight from 55 to 70 pounds. This is perfect for new archers and new hunters.
The bow limbs are made from ABS, which guarantees a long service life. ABS is a great compromise between strength, durability, and weight. The user can adjust the weight in 5-pound increments which allows them to tune the bow to their strength and to maximize power.
The SAS Rage sends arrows downrange at 270 FPS, and that’s plenty fast for hunters. Of course that 270- FPS is only reached when the bow is set to 70-pound draw weight. The Rage uses aluminum cams which do allow for a smooth and clean draw.
The SAS Rage gives shooters a bow they can confidently handle and shoot. Confidence is important, and the ability to easily change the draw weight is a major boost for new shooters.
Many may not be able to start at 70 pounds, but the bow allows them to work their way up to that speed. As they get stronger, they can move slowly up the draw weight as they learn and grow. The SAS Rage is perfect for beginners and comes in at a killer price.
Specs & Features:
- Adjustable weight from 55 to 70 pounds in 5-pound
- Arrows can reach 270 FPS
- Designed to be easy to shoot
3. Quest Radical
The Quest Radical is a vicious bow, but its perfect for beginners. It’ll give you a long service life and get you to the point where you’re a bit better than a beginner.
The bow can take you from beginner to skilled user and serve you at both stages well. The Quest Radical is nice and adjustable in a variety of ways.
The first is the draw weight. The weight can be adjusted from a light 40 pounds to a heavier 70 pounds. This makes it a solid choice for both shooters young and experienced.
40 pounds sounds heavier than it is, and most older children can easily handle it. When the bow is tuned to 70 pounds, you can easily hunt deer and hogs with it.
The Quest Radical also has an adjustable draw length from 26.5 inches to 31 inches. This accommodates a variety of different sized shooters. The bow weighs only 3.9 pounds and is an excellent bow for new archers. Get it and go.
Specs and Features:
- Adjustable draw weight from 40 to 70 pounds
- Adjustable draw length from 26.5 to 31 inches
- 340 Feet Per Second arrow speed
- Rotation Adjusting Draw length
4. Bear Authority Compound Bow
The Bear Authority Compound Bow is a lightweight little bow that won’t induce fatigue as you shoot round after round downrange. It weighs 4 pounds but still features a straight aluminum riser.
It’s a capable hunting bow and gives users an adjustable draw weight of 50-70 pounds.
The Bear Authority Compound Bow features an excellent customizable grip that allows you to change it for glove wearing, small hands, big hands, and more.
The Bear Authority is a short little bow which makes it excellent for humping through the woods and climbing a tree stand with.
The Bear Authority Compound Bow is affordable and a perfect new bow for new archers.
Specs and Features:
- Adjustable Weight 50 to 70 pounds
- 315 Feet per second arrow speed
- Customizable grip
- Short 6 ¾” brace height
- Adjustable draw length from 24.5 to 31.5 inches
5. Best Youth Beginner Bow: Bear Archery Cruzer Lite
Buying a bow for a young hunter is a little bit like buying shoes for a teenage boy — both the shoes and the bow are going to be outgrown quickly.
With that in mind, a good beginner bow for a youth shooter is going to have lots of adjustability in draw weight and length, and should be reasonably priced.
The Cruzer Lite by Bear Archery is my choice for best beginner youth bow because your youth hunter should get extended use out of it compared to less-adjustable bows.
With over 40 pounds of adjustment in draw weight and 15 inches in draw length, the Cruzer Lite can grow with the shooter. It is sold as a package (as most youth bows are) and it has an assortment of other features that make it an excellent choice.
Specs & Features
- 45-pound max draw weight means it could be used legally to hunt big game in most states.
- 5-pound minimum draw weight makes it shoot-able for shooters of almost any strength
- Draw length adjusts from 12 to 27 inches
- Available in purple, yellow and Realtree camouflage to appeal to a variety of preferences
- Weighs just 3.2 pounds
- 6” Brace Height and 27 1/8” Axle to Axle make it ideally sized for youth shooters
- Capable of shooting arrows at up to 290 FPS
- Comes with basic, quality accessories including a 3-Pin sight, Whisker Biscuit rest, and 4-arrow quiver, all made by Trophy Ridge.
6. Best Female Beginner Bow: Bowtech Carbon Rose
As the number of women participating in archery as hunters and target shooters has increased, so does the number of bows designed especially for females.
Not long ago, many female shooters were forced to buy a youth bow or bows marketed to women, which was most likely a standard bow in pink or purple camo.
Today, many manufacturers are designing bows from start to finish that caters female shooters.
It is everything that has not been available in a bow for women in the past. While it is the “sister” bow of the Bowtech Carbon Overdrive, it has been built for the female shooter.
Bowtech sized it down to fit almost any female shooter and its design makes it smooth to draw and shoot. Because it is a serious bow, you pay a more serious price. Its features make it great for female shooters, from beginner to expert.
Specs & Features
- Draw weight from 30-60 pounds makes it ideal for any woman who has outgrown youth bows like the Cruzer Lite
- Draw Length of 22.5”-27” fits most females
- Capable of arrow speeds of up to 302 FPS
- 7” brace height and 30” axle to axle length are catered to women and right dimensions for beginners
- Slim, comfortable grip for smaller hands
- Can be purchased as a package or a bare bow
- Available in Mossy Oak camo or carbon (both with purple accents)
7. Best Budget Beginner Compound Bow: Leader Accessories Compound Bow
It’s easy to lose quality when you’re trying to save money.
Leader Accessories’ compound bow is a leader in the value/quality department, though.
This beginner’s compound bow is a surprisingly capable bow that has a draw weight of 30 pounds on the low end and 55 pounds on the high end. This is low enough for beginner adult archers and goes high enough for deer and even black bear hunting.
The maximum speed of 296 feet per second is respectable, as is the 70 percent let-off.
Part of what makes this bow so good, though, is that the kit includes a fair amount of accessories you’d have to otherwise buy yourself. They aren’t the highest quality, but they are good enough for most people.
If you want to go all-in, there’s a full accessory kit (ASIN: B077DMK8TR) that adds even more to the package, such as a dozen arrows, a dozen paper targets, a bow bag, two types of arrow rests, limb dampeners, and even an arrow puller!
Leader Accessories even covers this bow with a 1-year warranty.
Specs & Features
- Adjustable draw weight from 30 to 55 pounds
- Adjustable draw length from 19 inches to 29 inches
- Adjusts with an Allen wrench
- Arrow speeds can reach 296 feet per second
- Lets off 70 percent of the weight at full draw
- Weighs only 3.3 pounds
- Package includes a bow, release, nock loop, peep sight, flight rail lube, drop-away arrow rest, fiber-optic pin sight, and two 30-inch aluminum arrows
- 1-year warranty
Points to Consider When Choosing
Pick a Good Bow Shop
As a beginning bow hunter, you might be tempted to price-shop bows, which can often lead you to buy from a store based on price. This may work out for you, but often it does not.
If you have multiple places to purchase bows near you, visit a couple of shops and see where the staff is the most helpful and knowledgeable. Online reviews are also useful for finding a quality bow shop.
The right bow shop will be a huge help in selecting and setting up a bow for you initially. They will also be helpful as you learn more about shooting and when your bow will need further accessorizing and adjusting.
At the wrong bow shop, you may have a hard time getting any help at all.
It is tempting to go straight to the newest bow loaded with all of the accessories. However, there are certain features on a bow that make them ideal for advanced shooters, but not as ideal for a new shooter. Here are a couple of specifics to consider:
Brace height is the distance between the grip of the bow and the bow string when in the undrawn position.
If the bow has a longer brace height, the arrow spends less time in contact with the string. This makes it more forgiving for new shooters. A shorter brace height results in a faster arrow speed so it may be a better choice for a bow down the line.
Axle to Axle Dimension
Generally, bows seem to be getting smaller and smaller, particularly when the axle to axle dimension is concerned.
Short bows are lighter and more compact, making them easier to carry around in the woods or up to tree stands. However, they are also a little less stable when shooting than their longer counterparts.
For your first bow, look for something in the middle of the spectrum which should afford you some increased stability without being overly large.
Buying a bow that tests the upper limits of your strength is likely to yield poor results. Just because you can draw a bow set at 70 pounds does not make it a good choice. Start with a bow adjusted to a weight that you can draw comfortably.
Starting with a bow that requires too much force to draw is likely to create bad habits that may be inaccurate or unsafe.
There are lots of options when it comes to rests, sights, stabilizers and a gamut of other products you can hang off your bow.
If you intend to upgrade to a drop-away rest in the future, I suggest starting with a basic, stationary one like a Whisker Biscuit. Similarly, I suggest going with a simple, multiple pin sight.
Handle and Shoot Lots of Bows
After finding your preferred bow shop and narrowing down your selection with the above criteria, it is time to pick your bow.
Ask for the bows that fit into your category and hold them to know how they feel on the hand. This is one area where having a good shop comes into play.
The right store, with an attached range, should let you demo a variety of bows to know which one works best for you. If the bow meets the other criteria points and feels great to handle and shoot, it is the right one for you.
Depending on your budget, the price may or may not have to be a factor in your decision. However, cheap bows are not as easy to shoot and may likely cause a discouraging experience.
Bows made by reputable manufacturers, on the other hand, are less likely to have this issue but the price is slightly higher.
Buying a moderately priced bow as your first is going to give you an idea of what you like or do not like, so buying your second bow is a little less painful.
I favor beginner bows that have lots of adjustability because they fit a variety of shooters. Unless you are very tall, one of these three bows should fit you and adjust to your draw length.
They also adjust up or down to accommodate almost any level of strength. All of them are also capable of draw weights legal for hunting and propelling arrows at lethal speeds.
I also favored bows that are sold as packages with the basic accessories included. This simplifies the purchasing process, and again, you can decide your preferences for accessories as you become more experienced.
I believe if you follow the steps for selecting the first bow, you are going to have a good bow-buying experience. The suggested bows should provide an excellent starting point when you ask to handle or shoot an assortment of bows at your local shop.
Make sure to also take a look at our guide to best compound bow which will go more in-depth about a lot of topics discussed here and it will have even more bow recommendations for you.
For more advice on getting started with archery check out our guide on how to shoot a bow.