How Much to Spend on Your First Compound Bow (New or Used?)

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If you’re new to archery and looking for a compound bow the price ranges may seem a bit overwhelming.  What if you spend too little, are you going to get a piece of junk? If you spend a lot and don’t like it, is it a waste of money?  After 25 years in the sport, I’m here to give you some guidance.

Generally speaking you should expect to spend $300-$500 on your first compound bow.  This price point contains a number of reasonably well made bows that are perfectly adequate for a beginner.  Youth versions often cost less than full size bows.

Of course there are some things to note here.  Just because what you buy falls into that price range doesn’t mean it was a good purchase.  So let’s talk about what you should be getting for your money.

If you’d prefer you can also head over here and check out my recommended compound bows.

Why Spending $300-500 gets you a good Beginner Bow

As is often the case with any new sport or hobby, beginners really don’t know what they should be spending to get started.  Spending too much could be a waste, and spending too little could cause frustration.

Spending too little

When considering a new compound bow, you’ll be hard pressed to find any full size bows made by a reputable company that falls much under $300 (unless you can find a good sale).

Bows that fall into this low sub $300 category are normally off brands.  This in and of itself isn’t necessarily a deterrent as there are some off brand bows that are reasonably well built.  The problem is it’s hard for a beginner to decipher a decent one from the junk.

For a reasonably nominal increase in price it’s worth getting a reputable brand named piece of equipment.  You’ll generally get a better made product with a better warranty.

On the surface it may seem like a good idea to spend as little as possible, I mean you’re not even sure if you’re going to like it yet right?  While this is true, if you pick up the cheapest bow you can find, chances are high that it’s not very good and will lead to frustration.

Many people quit hobbies and sports out of frustration thinking maybe it’s just not for them, when in reality they’re using crappy equipment that’s undermining the learning curve.  Archery is no different so give yourself a fighting chance.

Spending too much

Even if you have excess cash at your disposal it may not be wise to purchase a high end bow right out of the gate.

A couple of reasons come to mind.  The first is that a novice archer is unlikely to be any more accurate with a $2000 bow than they are with a $400 one.  Spending more money for accuracy at this point in your journey is unnecessary.

Another reason not to overspend is because as a beginner it’s highly likely the bow you learn on isn’t the one you want to keep for a long time.  You’ll start to develop opinions on features and specifications you prefer.

Starting out with a reasonably priced compound bow allows you to decide what you do and don’t like without the stress of having spent a lot of money.

As an added bonus, the money you saved on buying a reasonably priced bow will allow you to buy other accessories, arrows, targets, and more!

Used Compound Bows

2 compound bows hanging on a wall

So what about used compound bows, what should you spend on those?  And should you even consider buying used for your first bow?

Sure, you can buy used if you like.  But I have a few pointers to help keep you on the right path and avoid lots of frustration.  You don’t want to inherit someone else’s issues.

How much to spend on a used bow

So the price range above for new bows can be reduced if you’re looking at used ones.  But in most cases you’ll still want to avoid underpriced bows and “bargain basement steals”.

I personally would stick to the $150-$300 range for a used compound bow.

The reason I wouldn’t go below $150 is this is normally going to get you either very old outdated equipment or something that’s been neglected.  Both will be a headache especially for a new archer.

Going above $300 doesn’t make sense at this point either as you’d be better served to get a brand new bow that fits that price range. 

3 Tips if buying a used Compound bow

  1. Purchase from a reputable dealer or trusted friend.  It’s tempting to hit craigslist or other used markets for a good deal, but I’d caution against it for your first bow.  You need to buy from someone you can trust.
  2. Find out when the bow was last serviced, especially the string and cables.  If you save money on a used bow that needs a new string and cables, you’ve probably just lost most of your savings.
  3. Check the bow over and ask questions.  Even if you don’t know what you’re looking at yet, some things will be obvious.  Make sure it has no cracks or checking on the limbs or other signs of fatigue.

You can certainly find some good used compound bows for a reasonable price.  The bow I’ve been shooting for the past 4 years is a Parker that I picked up used with brand new strings and cables for $175.

Don’t forget to check out my recommended gear section and especially the Recommended Compound Bows.

Jason Brooks

I've been involved with archery for over 25 years off and on and am always interested in learning as much as I can. I've taken part in local tournaments and even 3D course setup.