The Best Beginner Compound Bows of 2018: The Definitive Guide (with In-Depth Reviews)

man shooting compound bow

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 and feature 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 Top Beginner Bows of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews

These are our top recommendations for beginner compound bows in 2018:

  1. Best all-around beginner bow: Get Diamond Archery Infinite Edge
  2. Best youth beginner bow:  Get Bear Archery Cruzer Lite ( read 10+ Amazon reviews )
  3. Best female beginner bow: Get Bowtech Carbon Rose

*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:

ProductDiamond Archery Infinite Edge
Diamond Archery Infinite Edge

Bear Archery Cruzer Lite
Bear Archery Cruzer Lite

Bowtech Carbon Rose
Bowtech Carbon Rose

IBO Speed310 FPS290 FPS302 FPS
Brace Height7 in6 in7 in
Axle to Axle31 in27 1/8 in30 in
Draw Length13-31 in12 - 27 in22.5 - 27 in
Let Off80%70%80%
CostCheck Price

Check Price


Best General Beginner Bow – Diamond Archery Infinite Edge

This category is for anyone that has outgrown the previous two categories. 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.

Diamond Archery Infinite Edge

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



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.

Bear Archery Cruzer Lite

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.


Want To Learn More About Youth Bows?

If you want to learn more about choosing beginner bow for a young hunter, please take a look at our article dedicated to best youth compound bows, which includes specific buying advice and 3 more reviews.


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.

Bowtech Carbon Rose

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)

See the manufacturer page for more information.



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.


Start Simple

Hoyt compound bows

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

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.


Draw Weight

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.


Simple Accessories

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

bow hunter hands on compound bow

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.



price tag

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.


Final Thoughts

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.

Erik Jutila
Erik is a native of the Pacific Northwest and loves spending time in the woods and on the water. At a young age, his dad introduced him to hunting and fishing. Since he caught his first trout as a toddler, he has grown into a full-fledged angler who pursues salmon and steelhead in rivers and streams. His summertime passion is chasing albacore tuna 50 miles off the Oregon and Washington coast. He also enjoys hunting for deer, elk, and waterfowl. He has spent the last seven years working in the outdoor/sporting goods industry.


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