Editor choice

Best Compound Bow for Under $500

There have been some incredible innovations in the field of archery in the last 60 years than had happened in the 500 years before it. This is because we now have the best compound bows for under 500 dollars available to us archers and anyone interested in archery as a new hobby. It is an affordable hobby to pick up and enjoy because of this and the best bows for under 500 are here on this page, so the legwork has been done for you, all you have to do is pay slight attention to what makes each one the best. This is so you will know which one is best for you.

They are all different in ways that may be subtle and easy to miss if you don’t know what makes a compound bow what it is. Pay attention and learn how its creation turned archery on its face when it came out in 1969. Once compound bows hit the market, archery was forever changed and made so much easier for you and everyone else to enjoy as a hobby, sport, or means of hunting. The affordability is just a bonus to the amazing changes that the compound bow made to archery as a sport.

Best For...Compound Bow Brands

Best All-around: Editor's Choice

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PSE Brute NXT

Best Value

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Diamond Archery Infinite Edge

Best for Youth and Teens

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Bear Archery Brave

What is a Compound Bow? An Overview

Best Compound Bows Under 500

Compound bows were created by using a series of mechanical actions to assist in a variety of aspects associated with the drawing back of a bowstring. The first men and women to figure this out started by adding a cam system that allowed for adjustability, stability, synchronization, and even for an easier draw weight ratio.

First, by adding a cam and changing its general position in its elliptical shape relative to where it is at in the draw allows us the ability to change the draw. We can adjust it to make it easier to draw at first and slowly build-up for up to say a quarter of the draw and then hold at peak draw weight until the last five percent of the draw where the let-off occurs.

Next, by adding in the opportunity to hold the bow at full draw due to the let-off property of the cams designed shape. In basic terms, this just means that when you pull the bowstring all the way back and are holding the bow before firing the weight you must hold is dramatically reduced. This is especially true compared to a traditional bow where you had to hold 100 percent of the foot-pounds of force you want to transfer into your arrow.

This plus the synchronization of both limbs releasing their tension allows for greatly improved accuracy for archers of all levels. Even children can now draw, hold, aim, and fire a bow with heavy enough torque to shoot a fast-enough arrow to be a humane hunting weapon. This has changed the entire activity of archery on its head. The modern bow designs we now have available to us offer some amazing changes to traditional archery as an activity.

With all this new technology you might assume that archery is now an expensive hobby only for the rich, but you would be very wrong. It is very affordable and comparable to rifle hunting in overall cost, maybe even saving money in the long run for ammunition. Buying thousands of bullets to practice and hone your skills costs a lot of money compared to buying a dozen arrows that will last you through just as many repetitions of shooting.

While the range of accessories available for archers as opposed to gun shooters for target shooting or hunting is a noticeably larger market, many of them are very cheap to manufacture and therefore affordable for an archer to deck out their bows, arrows, releases, and other hardware. This is just another way that compound bows are personalized and adjusted to a shooter’s perfect settings for precision shooting.

Types of Compound Bows

Best Compound Bows Under 500

Single Cam

The single cam compound bows have an idler wheel on the top limb and an elliptical-shaped cam on the bottom. This cam is where the transfer of energy is controlled. The shape of the cam changes the draw and how, when, and where the energy you put into the bow when you pull back the bowstring. The first compound bow was created by adding in this single-cam to the bow and using the mechanical action of it to create the opportunity for let-off at the end of your draw.

The archery engineers of that time period then must have thought if one was a marvellous thing, then two would be stupendous. As long as they could get the math right and the perfect shapes, they could make the next type of bow, the twin-cam.

Twin/Dual Cams

As the name says, this type of compound bow has two cams, one on each limb end of the bow. The two cams are perfectly symmetrical which allows for accuracy and a level nock travel that translates to straighter faster arrow releases. These amazing design changes to the first compound bow’s single-cam design furthered the improvements in the industry, and industry that is now on fire with the amount of knowledge and options that have been gained over the last 60 years. Especially over the last 20 years, where the number of innovations has skyrocketed. Leading to the next type of cams, hybrids.

Hybrid Cams

The hybrid cam designs feature two unequally sized and/or shaped cams on each end of the bow. The differences in shape and size offer a variety of adjustments to overall shot qualities. Some are faster and some are slower. Some are harder and some are softer. Some have a big valley at let-off and some have a tiny valley. All of this can be changed by altering the two cams and how the shapes interact with each other within the mechanical systems that you are using to store up potential energy and convert it into kinetic energy instantly. But these differing cams put a strain on the systems, especially with the repeated use of a practicing archer. This takes a lot of tuning to keep in peak performance, which led the way for the next improved design, the binary cam.

Binary Cams

Because of the need for cam tuning to keep the timing of each cams release rate symmetrical, the Bowtech archery company came up with the binary cam. This is an advanced construction of bow that makes it nearly impossible for you to put more tension on one limb than the other during your draw by the specific setup of a binary cam. Shortly put, it just is a recent advancement, patented in December 2007, that has opened up a whole fresh world of an increase to every archer’s accuracy by stabilizing the draw and release. They did this by changing the cam design of the bow. The key of binary cams is their absolute and perfect synchronization.

How does a compound bow work? Is it different from a regular bow?

By now you should have a basic idea about how these new compound bows differ from your grandfather’s and all his ancestors’ regular old recurve or longbows function. For starters, they store the energy more efficiently and give you the wonderful gift of let-off. This gives you, the shooter, the opportunity to hold at full draw and take aim or wait for the perfect shot on that deer headed across your shooting lane. This is an amazing and world-altering change to archery and opens it up to shooters of all kinds. It no longer takes Hercules to draw and hold a bow at full draw in order to aim it and take that perfect shot on target.

There is another major difference in the bows. Not only can just about anyone now shoot a lethal bow with the modern compound bow designs, but they weigh less too. This makes them easier to pack, carry, and hold for lengthy periods. The split limb design and opened up riser means it takes less material to make the compound bow of the same strength as a classic recurve bow. Plus, that is not even mentioning the various alloys and lightweight carbon fiber materials they are making risers and limbs out of these days.

Overall, this makes the compound bow lighter to hold and carry, plus easier to draw back and hold at full draw. This opens up the field of possible archers down to young children being able to be proficient archers using special compound bow designs. But which is the best for young people and fresh new archers?

What are the best compound bows for beginners?

You may ask yourself “what bow is best for beginners?” or maybe “what is the best bow for under 500?”. Well, the answer to both of the questions is just ahead. Here we explore the best bows in a few categories, we consider these to be the best bows for under 500 dollars and the best bows for beginner archers. We took the time to evaluate a wide range of bows, and these were the results.

Best Value Bow

Diamond Archery Infinite Edge

One of the least expensive ways to get started in the archery field is to buy a starter package like the one that accompanies this little gem of a bow. It is highly adjustable so it can grow along with you as you improve and get stronger in your bow handling skills.

It can also be used as a family bow because of the adjustability. A family could alter it for each person to enjoy separately. It is smooth enough and powerful enough to be compared with bows that weigh in at twice its price point. Shooting at a whopping max speed of 310 feet per second is just one of the incredible numbers being thrown out in this model’s specs.

They design this bow with a modern binary cam-type that makes it possible to set the bow and not have many worries as to tuning it all the time. You can set the bow to your settings, then change it to your kid’s or teen’s settings, and back to yours without need for any major tuning. It will shoot straight and you can be confident in the bow’s precision performance and spot-on accuracy at all times.

The package deal comes with everything you need to get started in archery as a sport, except the target—but that can be fixed with a couple of cheap bales of hay in a pinch, and you should have a couple of these as a backstop when first starting out, anyway.

PROS:
  • Extremely Adjustable- A draw length of 13-31” and a draw weight of 5-70lbs
  • Package Deal- Comes with everything you need to start shooting bow right from the box.
  • Super-Fast and Powerful- 310 Fps Max Speed means it can be used to hunt just about anything.

CONS:
  • Not a brand known for being highest quality, although a decently known brand nonetheless.
  • Some reports of bad or bent cams needing replacing right away.

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Best All-Around Compound Bow

PSE Brute NXT

An amazing top of the line bow for a midline price point. It is perfect for target shooting and hunting alike. With its high performing 320+ fps shooting speed means you can hunt even the largest of elk in North America and anything else you may have the opportunity and desire to hunt for. The bow is smooth with little to absolutely no vibration.

For beginners, it is only 3.5 lbs. Which makes it easy on the arms for extended shooting sessions of 50 shots or more. Also, this is another plus for the hunter who has to pack their bow around along with all their other gear while out in the backwoods chasing that big buck or healthy doe for some winter meat.

This model is a modernization of the classic PSE Brute compound bows of the past that have been so popular and depended upon for years because of their quality builds. They are super strong and can withstand a beating and still come out shooting straight and accurate. It operates well with little to no tuning required, which is a cost-saver in the long run.

Coming in just under our maximum for best bows under 500 dollars, its price point is worth every penny, and it is comparable to bows of twice the cost. This bow will hold up against many other high-end brands like Elite, Hoyt, or Bowtech. Plus, PSE is a well-known and trustworthy brand who is known for upholding its product warranties and taking care of its customers’ needs.

PROS:
  • Extremely fast shooting speed at 320fps or more, meaning it’s usable for hunting even the largest of game.
  • Adjusts to fit different draw lengths and weights easily with the turn of the adjustment bolts using an Alan wrench.
  • Trusted brand PSE makes quality bows and takes care of their customers by honoring warranties to a fault.

CONS:
  • Barely squeaks in under our best bows under 500 dollars pride point.

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Best for Youth and Teens

Bear Archery Brave

A great little bow for younger archers to get those first few hundred or thousand shots from. It is easy on the draw and allows for shorter arms to draw it back to full draw. They specifically designed it for little arms to run and the 8 and older age range for operating this bow just showcases this feature. The Brave by Bear Archery has a 13.5-19.5 draw length range and can work a draw weight of 15-25lbs. Again, these numbers just highlight that this bow was meant to be used as a first bow/starter bow for younger kids and early teens.

Bear is a relatively well-known brand, mostly considered being an average market competitor who rides the middle line for both cost and quality. They create durable and lasting bows that can withstand the abuse it is bound to experience at the hands of a child. With just some supervision and guidance from you, your child can master archery skills that will translate to hunting skills later in their life.

At just 26 inches tall with a 5.5-inch brace height, this little gem of a compound bow will fit perfectly in the smaller arms of a youthful archer and get them as stoked up about archery as you are. Sharing the interest can lead to a long-lasting relationship tie that will keep the two of you communicating beyond the topic of archery.

Give your child the chance to learn the skills required to accurately shoot a compound bow using this wonderful kit. It comes with many accessories including finger rollers, whisker biscuit arrow rest, and a 1 pin sight. Plus, the two arrows it comes with leads you straight into shooting the bow straight from the box with little to no tuning or adjustments required. Now you will probably want to attempt to fit your child’s size and abilities with draw length and weight. But this is easy to do, and it even comes with the Allan wrench tools it needs for adjusting the bow to fit your youth archer.

PROS:
  • Fully adjustable in the lower ranges, made to fit perfectly on your youth archer.
  • Package comes fully equipped with everything your junior archer needs to get shooting right away.
  • Bear Archery is a relatively well-known brand name and can be trusted to build durable quality bows of all sizes.

CONS:
  • Draw length cannot be set or adjusted. It is just a range from 13.5 inches to 19.5 inches. This means let-off is minimal and your child may not be able to hold at full draw for extended periods.
  • Cheap accessories that you will probably want to upgrade rather quickly, especially the arrows.

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Buying Guide: What should I look for when buying a compound bow?

When you go to buy a bow of your own, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first aspect to consider is what will you be using the bow for. Are you planning on just being a target shooter occasionally or a hardcore hunter who counts on the extra meat every year to fill your freezer? That is because each of these two archers requires unique features in their bow’s design.

Comfort and design

First, if you just plan to enjoy some gold old fashioned target shooting, then you want a comfortable, smooth shooting compound bow. One of these may have solid single limbs with a smaller riser and be a hybrid binary cam design. This would make it have less recoil, although nearly all recoil has been eliminated from bows, but some still have a bit of jump or reverb when fired. The solid limbs offer some stabilization that improves accuracy through nock travel being straighter, while the small riser allows for more energy transferring straight through to the arrow. No energy gets lost in the transfer from the limbs releasing tension through a large riser absorbing some of it.

Best Compound Bows Under 500

Weight

While if you were to want a great hunting bow you would want to focus on unique aspects, like the overall weight of the bow; if you will carry it on stalking hunts or over hike-ins to your hunting site, then you want a light bow. Plus, you will want a silent bow. This can be offered by a split limb design and an opened up riser too. Also, the synchronized release of energy from the limbs through a binary or hybrid binary cam design would be quieter overall. This might afford you a second shot at that big buck if your first went through and he is still standing there wondering what that strange prick was. This would give you the highest chances of being successful on your next bow hunt.

Let-off

Another consideration for a hunting bow would be the let-off. Even though an 80 percent let-off is typical nowadays, some bows offer upwards of a 95 percent let-off in their draw. This would mean you could draw your bow when you saw an animal come in and hold it at full draw for a long time as you watched them wander closer and closer to you and your shooting lanes. Instead of holding 50 pounds of drawback that you would with a recurve, with an 80 percent let off you would only be holding back about 10 pounds of force. Or, even better, with a 95 percent let off you would only be holding back two-and-a-half pounds of force. This is a very manageable draw to hold for lengthy periods while waiting for that absolute perfect shot, to make sure you take the deer in the most humane and efficient way possible.

Accessories and adjustments

These are just a couple of the options you want to consider, so now a last mention is accessories and adjustments. You need to make sure your bow is adjustable enough to fine-tune to meet your perfect draw length, weight, and everything else. There are many adjustments and if you are a hunter, then you want an easily adjustable bow design so you can adjust in the field and fine-tune as you are using the bow. But, if you are just a target shooter, you can operate more complex tuning and want to fine-tune it to perfect your draw, aim, and fire routine for shooting targets at varying ranges and angles.

Plus, there are accessories to consider. Does the bow you are looking at offer the right attachment points to add on the accessories you want to use? Can you change to a whisker biscuit for silence and straightness in your shot? Or, do you want a bow that you can add a two-piece quiver, to hold a few extra arrows when out hunting? Can you fit the sights you want to use on the riser comfortably and safely without worry of them getting bumped off or being too tightly squeezed in as to add a weird angle to the sight picture? These are just a couple of the accessory choices you have available and you should make sure that you can add and fit the ones you plan on utilizing.

Final thoughts

These are just a few basics to keep in mind when choosing the perfect bow for under 500 dollars, or the best bow for a beginner also below 500 dollars. You should do a little homework and understand your bow before choosing the perfect fit for you, while it can seem overwhelming at first, once you understand what you want to do with a bow it quickly narrows down the options until you are just left with a handful that are all equally great. At that point, it is pretty much style and appearance preference and that is totally up to you which route to take in the looks department.

No matter which one you choose, just getting your foot wet in the archery department is worth every penny. You will enjoy the sport more than you may think, and it can quickly become an addiction. A healthy addiction that gets you outdoors and exercising both your body and mind simultaneously. It will be your favorite hobby in no time, like it has become for tens of thousands of other people in recent years. The sport is quickly expanding, and it is definitely the prime time to get yourself involved. Whether you are looking to be a competitive target shooter, an avid hunter, or someone who just enjoys going through some 18-hole 3d-target archery golf, you will be extremely pleased you decided to join in the fun and games of archery.

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