What Is the Difference Between a Hunting & Target Compound Bow?

by Robert Godard
Archery is a target and a hunting sport

Archery is a target and a hunting sport

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Archery is the skill of propelling an arrow forward with the use of a bow. Archery was traditionally a hunting activity, though it is primarily a recreational and competitive sport today. A compound bow uses a system of pulleys to bend the bow backward. There are two types of compound bows, a hunting compound bow and a target compound bow.


A hunting compound bow is designed to shoot arrows that are suitable for piercing animal hide. These arrows tend to be thicker and have tips that are called broadheads, which are very sharp and have points that extend from all sides. A target compound bow is designed to shoot thinner arrows with single points on the tips. Not as much force is required to propel these arrows, and therefore more focus can be placed on stabilization.


A sight helps an archer to aim his shot. It is lined up flush against the bow, and an archer looks through it before he takes his shot. A hunting compound bow typically uses a fixed pin sight. This sight has three pins that cannot move. The archer uses one of the three pins to take aim, depending on how far the target is. When purchasing a sight for a target compound bow, more complex sights are required. These sights have moveable pins. They are therefore adjusted to match the exact distance from the target, not relative distance as with a fixed pin sight.

Draw Weight

A hunting compound bow's draw weight, meaning the amount of weight felt when pulling back, is about 60 to 70 pounds. A target compound bow has a draw weight of about 40 to 50 pounds. This is because a target bow does not necessarily need to exert as much force, just accuracy. A target compound bow with less draw weight means that the bow will shake less when an arrow is released and will be more accurate. A hunter may only use one or a few arrows during the day, and needs more power from his bow to pierce animal hide.


A hunting compound bow tends to be shorter in length than target compound bows, some as short as 32 inches. It is easier to navigate through the woods with a shorter bow. Hunting compound bows may also have more sophisticated features that decrease vibration and stresses to the bow. A longer bow may be more suitable for a target shooter, as it is more comfortable to hold.

About the Author

Robert Godard began writing in 2007 for various creative blogs and academic publications. He has been featured on multiple film blogs and has worked in the film industry. He attended Baltimore College, earning his B.A. in history.

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