Updated: July 3, 2017
Back before Stephen Amell and The Arrow made it cool, it was.
The set. Inhale on the draw. Blink as you steady. Exhale on the release. The satisfying ‘thwunk’ as the target is pierced.
I’d always had an affinity for archery. As a tall girl with long arms, I found myself relentlessly pushed towards basketball all through school – but my heart was with archery and javelin.
As I pursued shooting for fun and profit, I came to realize that finding a competition quality bow wasn’t as easy as it was for the guys – and that simply wasn’t acceptable.
Women’s Compound Bows vs Men’s
- Women’s Compound Bows vs Men’s
- Components of a Compound Bow
- Best Compound Bows for Women
- Which Bow Will You Choose?
In the past handful of years, the line between His and Hers has been muddied to the point that there’s no real distinction between so many products or services.
From clothing to bathrooms and everything in between – the battle of the sexes has developed into a rather unconventional truce of blurred lines and frayed edges.
But when it comes to Archery – target or hunting – is there really a difference?
In order to answer this we must jump off the cliff into the piranha-filled waters of gender equality and admit the truth – men and women simply aren’t the same.
Oh, for the love of God – don’t send me hate mail !
For the sake of our review of women’s compound bows, the variances we care about can be boiled down to a short list of three differences in the sexes (in no particular order): power, stamina, and size.
Power – or how strong a woman is, when compared to a man – is the first that we could debate. I am stronger than many guys I know, and others fellas are a whole lot stronger than me.
It’s pretty relative, and quite frankly with some time with weights most women can approximate the strength of an average man.
Well, we just blew a hole in that argument.
The second dispute for the differences in bows is stamina – meaning that the average woman has less stamina (that is, the ability to endure physical effort for extended periods of time) than the average male. Anyone who’s been hunting, target shooting, or shooting a course knows that archery can be exhausting.
I say, “foul” because that’s a load of horse manure.
And even if it wasn’t, any woman can increase her stamina to maintain the requirements.
We can talk more about how ladies lack stamina after YOU spend 14 hours in labor…
And that leaves us with size.
Because as we all know – size does matter.
On average, men are taller than women. That converts to longer arms. In archery terms, we’re talking about draw length. And while there’s a lot a woman can do – even they can’t make their own arms longer.
Traditionally, because females have a shorter draw length, they were forced to either shoot a youth bow, or fight with a bow designed for a longer arm – resulting in poor grouping and inconsistent results. Which led to a male dominated activity.
When armed with a custom bow, specifically set to their requirements, there’s virtually no difference in the woods or on the range between men and women. Like rifle or pistol shooting, archery is truly a level field for anyone.
Luckily, manufacturers have listened to the feedback, and over the years quality lines of ladies’ bows have surged to the forefront of archery and sports shops.
When picking out your first compound bow – or upgrading to the next level – keep a few things in mind;
Components of a Compound Bow
The most important aspect when buying a bow is, in my humble opinion, is the draw length. Basically, it’s the distance from grip and string at firing draw. Too short of a draw length results in inability to anchor and shoot consistently.
Too long of a draw and you cannot fully harness the power of the bow. Either way, drawing and releasing will feel uncomfortable and unnatural. Most bows have some adjustment room on this – but not much.
When considering a bow, be sure to allow an inch or two wiggle room on either side of your measurement. Why, you ask? Well, even though your ‘wingspan’ won’t change – your body mechanics most likely will.
So, as you gain strength and stamina, and your shooting posture improves, or your shooting style changes, you might find that your draw length comfort zone changes.
My wingspan is 71″ (yeah, I know – I’m a freak of nature), making my draw about 28-1/2″, so a bow with a max draw of 29″ would be a poor choice. Get it?
Measured from axle to axle, this length of the compound bow is referred to as the axle length. Remember: the axle is the attachment point for the cams or idler – not standing the bow and measuring the overall height.
So, even though the axle length is kinda considered how long a bow is – it’s not entirely accurate, and if a novice were to pull out a tape measure in the archery department they would surely wind up on the security cam spoof reel, and then an episode of “People of Walmart”.
It’s also a hot debate topic when getting into the difference between long-axle and short-axle – especially where hunting is concerned – so I’m going to spare you that.
The axle length is important when it comes to what you plan to sink an arrow into. A longer bow is considered more stable – but not always practical, especially for the shorter ladies.
If you’re planning on climbing up into a tree stand, then a 40+ inch bow is going to be a lot more trouble when climbing and maneuvering than a 30″ bow would.
On the other hand, when shooting 3D or target, the more stable bow would be the obvious choice.
Simply put, this is the amount of force exerted when pulling back to firing draw. Because of the cam system, the exertion starts low and ramps up, then drops as you reach full draw. Remember: weight converts to power!
But at the same time – don’t run out and buy more of a bow than you can handle. It’s industry standard that bows have about a 10 pound weight window, and will advertise the high end; a 55# can be set as low as 45, and as high as 55 pounds – but no more.
I’m not telling you what I shoot because we already know I’m above average :).
One of the most important components of the compound bow that most beginners don’t consider is the riser.
The riser is the main vertical component of the bow that you grip, and the limbs (think ‘arms’) come off the top and bottom to hold the cams, which hold the cable and string system.
There are two styles of the riser, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. They are also quite easy to identify.
The deflex riser bows out, away from the archer. This design adds increased stability from draw to release, and improved aim and target tracking. This increased stability – or ‘forgiveness’ – comes at a price, and that price is speed.
The teacher’s pet is the Reflex riser, which curves sharply in towards the archer. And you can probably guess that if the design is opposite from the deflex design, then it stands to reason that the differences would follow suit – and you’d be right.
The reflex gives back what was lost in the deflex design; speed.
How much? Well, that’s debatable according to a boatload of variables – but all others being equal, there’s enough of a difference to start taking over the industry.
And like its cousin, the reflex has a primary disadvantage in the accuracy department. Because of hand placement, during release there’s a greater chance of misses due to torquing. But the arrow will be fast while missing!
Cam at bottom, idler at top.
This configuration is quieter and easier to use than dual cams, and easier to tune.
Cams at each end of the bow. This style allows for greater accuracy and higher velocity but requires more precise tuning for optimal performance. Twin cams are also louder (though still pretty quiet) than single or hybrids cams.
Control and power cams – usually control on top. These bows require less maintenance and, even when compared to the best single cam bows, are surprisingly fast and quiet.
We needed speed. Then a little more speed. And a little more speed. Then we wanted our accuracy back – and a little more speed!
The speed of the bow boils down to the IBO number, which is the averaged formula used to calculate the speed of a fired arrow, for bow specification comparison, created by IBO (International Bowhunting Organization).
Obviously, more speed is better – just ask any race car driver. But like anything else in life, you have to sacrifice for what you want.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of ways to gain a little speed; reflex riser, increased draw weight, greater draw length, and lighter arrows. The specs of a bow, however, are averaged out so there’s always room for improvement.
Best Compound Bows for Women
|Bows||Draw Length||Draw Weight||Axle to Axle (A2A)||IBO Speed||Reviews||Price|
|Diamond Infinite Edge||13-31"||5-70 lbs||31"||310 FPS||4.6||$$$|
|SAS Rage||26-30"||55-70 lbs||35"||270 FPS||4.2||$$|
|Genesis Original||15-30"||10-20 lbs||35.5"||270 FPS||4.8||$$|
|Quest Radical||17.5-30"||15-70 lbs||29.25"||295 FPS||4.4||$$$|
|Bowtech Core||25-30"||40-70 lbs||36"||322 FPS||4.1||$$$|
Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro Bow Package – Best Women’s Compound Bow
- Draw Length: 13-31″
- Riser: Reflex
- IBO Speed: 310 FPS
- Weight: 3.2″ lbs
- Axle to Axle: 31″
- Brace Height: 7″
- Draw Weight: 5-70 lbs
- Let-off: 80%
Overview: Out of the box, this is probably one of the most field-adjustable bows on the market. Perfect for women or young archers ready for a serious bow, the Infinite Edge is available left or right hand and features the Mossy Oak ® Camo pattern.
Like any bow, there’s room for upgrades – but out of the box it’s very nice. It’s definitely on the shorter side for serious hunting, but I believe it could still do the job.
Bullseye (Pros): The draw is comfortable and smooth, without some of the end draw ‘snap’ of some of the more aggressive bows.
Adjustments are straightforward and easy, and the wide range of draw weight will keep this bow in use from novice to intermediate, and definitely drop a buck.
Off target (Cons): The accessories aren’t top of the line – but I think that’s to be expected.
Bottom line: Hands down, it’s a fine all-round performer. A really good bow in hand and in use. The Diamond Infinite Edge would make a fine bow for any woman, beginner or experienced.
SAS Rage Compound Bow
- Draw Length: 26-30″
- Riser: Reflex
- IBO Speed: 270 FPS
- Weight: 4.4 lbs
- Axle to Axle 35″
- Brace Height: 7″
- Draw Weight: 55-70 lbs
- Let-off: 70%
Overview: I hadn’t heard much about this particular manufacturer, so it seemed like a good excuse to review the product. Pulling the SAS Rage out of the box, I noticed two things, simultaneously.
First, it felt like a beginner’s bow. And second – it felt heavy.
The accessories were acceptable, but would require updating. The 70lb weight puts it into the intermediate hunting category, but it didn’t feel like a hunting bow.
Bullseye (Pros): I liked the dual cam system – very smooth pull.
Off target (Cons): It’s a little heavier than most. Okay – it’s a lot heavier than most. For a women’s compound bow, this is a bit heavier than I would recommend, especially if you’re not a female bodybuilder.
I’d call into question the reported speed, on the other hand I wasn’t focused on speed. But I really don’t think the 270 FPS is accurate.
Bottom line: Overall, it was just okay. Nothing spectacular, nothing horrific, a few mixed signals. Just okay.
Genesis Original Kit – Best Compound Bow for Beginners
- Draw Length: 15-30″
- Riser: Deflex
- IBO Speed: 270 FPS
- Weight: 3.5 lbs
- Axle to Axle: 35-1/2″
- Brace Height: 7-5/8″
- Draw Weight: 10-20 lbs
- Let-off: 0 (due to Genesis® System)
Overview: Okay, the Genesis Original Kit was FUN!
Starting with ordering, this bow was available in more colors than a bowl full of Fruity Pebbles, and just as bright. I settled on ‘Pink Lemonade’ – because, why not? – and wasn’t disappointed. I think all compound bows should come in a pink option. Or purple.
The overall look and feel is exactly what I would expect from a product that is the official bow of the NASP® (National Archery in the Schools Program). It’s a no-frills, basic bow for learning.
The wide draw range and light draw weight are ideal for learners of any age – male or female – and adjustments are easy.
The single cam design was smoother than I expected for the price range, and the deflex riser design was icing on the cake.
Bullseye (Pros): Good grip, good balance, quiet release, easy draw – what’s not to like? It’s not for advanced shooters or hunters – but you can easily develop some serious skill with this bad boy.
Off target (Cons): It’s basically a beginners bow – you’re not supposed to hunt elk with it!
Bottom line: As a starter bow, this is a top notch choice and a bargain at twice the price. Even for a fun bow to leave at a relative’s house to appease your need to throw a few arrows, it’s a good choice. Just go buy your own – you can’t have mine.
Quest Radical Right/Left Hand Package – Best Ladies Bow for Advanced Archers
- Draw Length: 17.5-30″
- Riser: Reflex
- IBO Speed: 295 FPS
- Weight: 3.25 lbs
- Axle to Axle: 29-1/4″
- Brace Height: 7.125″
- Draw Weight: 15-70 lbs
- Let-off: Un-calculated
Overview: The Quest Radical is another bow that bridges the gap from young novice to intermediate archer. Accentuated by a wide range for draw length as well as draw weight, the Quest allows the user to progress without the need for changing bows – and the 70 pound draw weight could easily translate into a first deer drop.
The relative lighter weight and shorter A2A measurement lend to the novice.
Bullseye (Pros): It’s a nice looking bow – guaranteed to appeal to the intended target. The weight and speed make it a serious contender for an intermediate bow.
Off target (Cons): Not a fan of the A2A, especially for a beginner.
Bottom line: It’s a decent bow in its own right, but not a woman’s bow, per se; it’s designed for a novice but parallel marketed as a women’s. Like the bow, don’t like the marketing.
- Draw Length: 25-30″
- Riser: Reflex
- IBO Speed: 322 FPS
- Weight: 5.9 lbs
- Axle to Axle: 36″
- Brace Height: 7-1/4″
- Draw Weight: 40-70 lbs
- Let-off: 70%
Overview: When I ordered the Bowtech Core, I knew this puppy is built for speed. And I wasn’t disappointed.
With quality construction that is to be expected from Bowtech, they managed to balance and distribute some of the massive weight – over 5 pounds of it. The limited adjustment in the draw length and the generous axle length herald this as a bow that means business.
Bullseye (Pros): This is a serious bow, for serious enthusiasts. The speed and draw weight make it a force to be reckoned with.
Off target (Cons): This is right hand only – although field convertible to left-hand users. The draw weight is not for beginners, and the overall weight could be problematic.
Bottom line: This bow certainly isn’t “all ages, all genders”, and at over 1-1/2 times the weight of others, it could lead to fatigue while holding a draw. The accessory package is above average – but so is the overall price tag.
Which Bow Will You Choose?
We’ve looked at several “Women’s” bows, and what stands out is that they dual market as ladies’ as well as novice/youth.
In a straight comparison, the Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro edged out the others for all over performance with the first draw, and overall versatility.
But the truth is, it’s not just about a comparison of chick bows; in reality, you need an introductory bow and then a serious bow, no matter if it’s a man, woman, or child.
As an introductory bow for a lady, you can’t go wrong with the Genesis Original – the no-frills single-cam design coupled with the zero let-off make an excellent bow for any interested archer, no matter age, sex, or physical build.
The rainbow of available colors will definitely appeal to the innate fashion sense of the fairer sex, and the adjustability will keep this bow in use, although not for hunting.
And for a serious bow? Quite frankly, any bow that meets the technical specifications for draw length – and feels good when gripped and drawn – will be a good choice. It does not have to be designated and marketed as a woman’s bow.
But from the bows we’ve reviewed – there are certainly gender-specific options available.
Just try not to get distracted by the marketing hype.
Or the flashy colors.