Low-Poundage Compound Bow Set-Ups

If you’re an archer who has a low-poundage draw-weight or a short draw-length, this week’s episode of the MAC Outdoors podcast is for you.

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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 55 pounds on my hunting bow. 

For 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 is that 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.  After much trial and error, the end result is a rocket-launched arrow from my compound bow.

The 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, draw-weight and overall performance of the bow. 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 you build your muscle strength. Since I had already been shooting, I chose the best performing bow that felt good in my hand, had a smooth pull, and was quiet when I shot it. It had little vibration and was light enough that I would be capable of carrying it all day, for multiple days in the field.

The perfect set up for a low draw weight compound bow shooter doesn’t stop at the bow. We have to look at other features. let’s start with the arrow rest

Arrow Rests

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.

Arrow Shafts

Arrows themselves are an area that should be unique to shorter draw lengths. You’ll need to visit with manufacturer charts or with your bow-technician to find an arrow shaft that matches your draw length and draw weight.

The arrows I use are designed with a smaller diameter, offering less friction and wind resistance. A problem I found when I used larger diameter arrows was “wind drift.” The wind would catch my slow-moving arrow making it inaccurate, even in a breeze. A narrow diameter arrow slips through the air. It also has a softer shaft, making it lighter, and the flex of the shaft helps it slingshot to the target.

My arrows are also designed with a forward weight, which helps them hit the target with greater energy than those with a more centered mass.

Arrow Vanes

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 that shorter length and width vanes, applied in a helical pattern, offer little wind resistance and cause the arrow to spin quickly and in a more straight flight line.


Increased speed means increased penetration, but you want your arrow to hit hard and do a lot of cutting, which brings me to broadhead set up for 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 energy can away from the speed of the arrow. A cut on contact, fixed broadhead will immediately penetrate its target. Conversely, there is a theory that the blades of a broadhead can impede the flight of the arrow. After field testing, I settled on the fixed.

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, and even a tumbling, flight pattern. Opt for a lighter, grain broad head to keep the arrow path in as sleek, straight, hard hitting line as possible.

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 or 900-pound bull elk and have a pass-through of your arrow, provided you don’t strike bone along the way.

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Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
PO Box 31
Ignacio, CO 81137-0031 

Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, keynote speaker, and a range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to outdoors, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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