Low-Poundage Compound Bow Set Up
By Mia Anstine
I’m often asked for advice on low-poundage compound bow set up for hunting big game. I have a 24″ draw length and pull 52 pounds on my hunting bow. In my initial bow set-up I took advice from male archer friends. Most of them have significantly longer draw lengths and pull large weights. They offered advice based on their experiences. The problem was I wasn’t achieving the performance I needed to hunt big game with my bow. I was getting little penetration out of my arrows and my shots were inaccurate. I consulted my bow-tech and did some trial and error shooting. I spent a lot of money on items that weren’t quite right for my low-poundage/draw length set up. The end result is a rocket-launched arrow from my compound bow.
I shopped around for bows that suited shorter draw lengths. Many companies offered these as “youth bows” which didn’t have the performance, smoothness and dampening capabilities of a hunting bow designed for larger stature archers. I did a lot of side-by-side comparison focusing primarily on kinetic energy, weight and overall performance. I narrowed my options to three bows and visited several shops for an opportunity to shoot them.
Choosing the bow that feels right is a matter of personal preference. If you’re a new shooter, you may look for something that is adjustable so it can grow with you as your build your muscle strength. Since I had already been shooting, I chose the one that felt best in my hand. It had a smooth pull. It was quiet when I shot it. It had little vibration and was light enough that I would be capable of carrying all day.
I chose a drop away because it provides minimal contact with the arrow. The rest does not detract from arrow velocity. It never touches the vanes and will not interfere with arrow flight or speed.
Arrows themselves are an area that should be unique to shorter draw lengths. The arrows I use are designed with a smaller diameter, offering less friction and wind resistance. A problem I used to see when I used larger diameter arrows was “wind drift”. The wind would catch my slow moving arrow making it inaccurate, even in a breeze. The narrow diameter Easton Carbon Ion slips through the air. It also has a softer shaft, making it lighter and helps slingshot it to the target.
Fletchings, or vanes, are important for proper arrow flight. For a low-poundage compound bow set-up, look for something that offers a good helical spin and the least amount of wind resistance. I’m referring to big game hunting, not birds, so we want fletchings to make the arrow flight as straight and quick as possible. I’ve found 2” Blazer® Vanes, applied in a helical pattern cause the arrow to spin quickly and in a straight line. They offer little wind resistance during flight.
Increased speed means increased penetration, which brings me to broadhead, set up with a low-poundage compound bow.
There is a long running debate over whether fixed or mechanical broadheads are better. It takes kinetic energy at impact to make a mechanical broadhead function properly. That is energy away from the speed of the arrow. A cut on contact, fixed broadhead will immediately penetrate its target.
Fixed broadheads come in many sizes and with a variety of cutting surfaces. Look for is one with the proper weight to balance your arrows. Archers pulling high weights may use a 175-grain broad head. Add that to your lightweight arrow shafts, and you’ll immediately see a rainbow like flight pattern. Opt for a lighter, grain broad head to keep the arrow path in a sleek, straight, hard hitting line.
You should see a theme here. Get the arrow to fly as fast and straight as possible to acquire the best penetration. Your set up may end up slightly different than mine, but I assure you, it will not be the same as your 6’2”, 210-pound husband’s. With a properly fit low-poundage compound bow, you’ll have the capability to shoot a 300-pound bear and have a pass-through of your arrow.
My bow set up (I’m not a representative for or sponsored by any of these companies):
- Mathews Chill SDX – 24? draw length. 52# draw weight.
- Rip Cord Red drop away rest
- Spot-Hogg bow sight
- Easton Ion Carbon 500
- Blazer vanes
- Muzzy 100 grain fixed blade broadheads
Mia Anstine is an outfitter, guide, hunter, mentor, firearms and archery instructor. Among other publications, she is a staff writer for Beretta USA, Women’s Outdoor News and guest at North American Hunter. As a public speaker she teaches and inspires others to get involved in outdoor activities. She takes pride in guiding ladies and children for their first hunts. She’s hunted elk, mule deer, black bear, turkey, game birds, waterfowl, predators, varmints, hogs, carp and has more on her bucket list. To learn more about Mia, visit her website at www.MiaAnstine.com.