Whether it’s an ego thing or otherwise, numerous bowhunters think speed will alleviate their problems. It’s been that way for a long time. In 2002 when I first started working at my family’s archery pro shop — a 320-fps bow was considered screaming fast — many guys were hellbent on having the fastest bow possible. To them, it was all about reaching a certain number. If they didn’t, they were unhappy.
Today, little has changed, and many bowhunters still don’t quite understand the complexity behind bow speeds. They see a number listed in a catalog or on a website, and think they’ll achieve it if they buy that bow. However, it rarely happens. Let’s look at a few reasons why.
How IBO/ATA Bow Speeds are Calculated
I can understand why some folks become upset when a bow listed at 350 fps shoots far slower when set up and adjusted to their specs. For that reason, it’s imperative to know how manufacturers obtain IBO/ATA speeds.
Manufacturers essentially maximize the rating when calculating IBO/ATA speed by using metrics that are usually unrealistic for most folks and bowhunting applications. For the ATA standard, the draw length is set to 30 inches. Few bowhunters fit into a 30-inch draw length. Next, the bow’s draw weight is set to 70 pounds. Although many can, most bowhunters cannot or shouldn’t draw 70 pounds. Next, a lightweight arrow of 350 grains (arrow plus field point) is used for testing. That’s the bare minimum arrow weight before you risk damaging the bow, and most bowhunters shouldn’t shoot such a light arrow, especially if hunting big game. Lastly, the bowstring is bare — no peep sight or silencers to slow down the bowstring.
The IBO standard is similar, measured with a 30-inch draw length and an arrow weighing 5 grains per pound of draw weight; otherwise, exactly equivalent to ATA at 30 inches of draw and 70 pounds of draw weight (350-grain arrow).
So, what velocity can you expect to achieve if you purchase a bow listed at 340 fps? Well, let’s suppose you shoot a 29-inch draw length. That alone will usually reduce the speed to 325 to 330 fps. Add two string silencers and peep sight, and you can expect to be down to 315 to 320 fps. Set your bow to 60 pounds instead of 70, and you’ll likely land in the 300 to 310 fps. Of course, shooting a 400-grain arrow will reduce your speed well below 300 fps, likely in the 280- to 290-fps range. Of course, these are all estimates, but are indicative of the reality you don’t see when your eyes see a 340-fps listed speed.
Bridging the Gap Between IBO/ATA and Actual Velocities
Now that you understand how bow and arrow specs create actual velocity, this question might be burning a hole in your mind: Can I achieve 300 fps or greater with non-IBO/ATA specs?
Using the example bow we discussed in the last paragraph, the answer is yes. You could shoot a 360-grain arrow, tweak the poundage up to 62 pounds and eliminate bowstring silencers. The question is, are the additional feet per second you’ll attain by making those substitutions worth it?
I’ll argue they aren’t. Wringing out every available foot per second your bow can muster usually solves nothing, and in some cases, it can be detrimental to your bow’s overall performance. We’ll discuss why next.
Speed Generally Means Sacrifices
Milking out every foot per second might seem logical, especially because “speed kills” has become an accepted phrase in the bowhunting world. However, it’s hardly a wise choice. Why? Because you sacrifice one thing for another.
One example is shooting an ultralight arrow. Yes, your velocity will increase, but a soda-straw arrow creates other dilemmas. First, you’ll experience greater wind drift, especially when shooting at longer distances. Second, an ultralight arrow, particularly when front-of-center isn’t correct, will penetrate poorly on game. I saw this happen years ago when a hunting partner struck a gobbler’s wing butt using a 70-pound bow with a light arrow with poor FOC. The arrow virtually bounced off after breaking the wing. Fortunately, the bird was recovered, but follow up was necessary.
Further, a lightweight arrow loses energy faster as it travels downrange. A heavier arrow creates a lot more forward momentum. Consider this analogy. An economy car requires less stopping distance than a pickup truck, and that’s because the truck’s additional weight creates greater energy or momentum after it gets moving. See what I mean?
In general, if you’re going purely for the highest speed number you can achieve, you’ll usually experience other problems on the back end, because you’ll almost always sacrifice one thing for another. So, ask yourself: Is speed more important than overall kinetic energy? I’ll always argue that it is not. Sure, speed can deliver a fast arrow, but it cannot make an ultralight arrow penetrate deeply, especially when thick hides and robust ribs are on the receiving end.
Speed by Application
In the past, I’ve shot numerous speed bows and numerous more forgiving bows. Regardless, I don’t veer from my 400 grain or heavier arrows (arrow plus broadhead) because I know they’ll penetrate well. I could hit 300 fps if I wanted to, but numbers are unimportant to me. I want a bow that delivers a deep-penetrating arrow/broadhead combo. Period.
Now, I can’t entirely ignore the merits of faster velocity. A quick arrow produces a flatter trajectory. For the archer shooting a multiple fixed-pin sight, gaps between pins will tighten with a speed bow. In turn, this takes some guesswork out of yardage estimation if an animal should take a few steps after you’ve ranged it.
As far as application, energy is less critical for certain game species. Take pronghorn, for example. They are thin-skinned critters and their bones aren’t nearly as heavy and thick as those of deer or elk. For that reason, a lightning-fast bow with lighter arrows could certainly perform okay on pronghorn, but I’ll still opt for my deer rig when chasing even thin-skinned prairie goats. Should my arrow encounter a shoulder blade, it will drive deep enough to collapse the lungs. That creates peace of mind.
Speed bows matched with lightweight arrows are an okay match for thin-skinned animals such as pronghorn, but in the author’s opinion they aren’t the best choice for whitetails and larger game.
If someone asks my opinion on speed bows, I don’t steer them away from them. I caution that the brace heights are obviously shorter, and I explain the potential problems that can present. However, I think today’s compounds are so shootable that even a speed bow with a short brace height will usually perform well for most solid shooters.
On the other hand, it’s when someone tries to milk out feet per second by making ill-advised substitutions that I think they’ll experience problems. I believe you’re better off finding middle ground. For me, that’s a bow with a relatively fast IBO/ATA rating and paired with a 420-grain arrow/broadhead and outfitted with bowstring silencers. I get a quiet, somewhat-fast bow that can drive an arrow deep. I couldn’t ask for anything more.As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
10 of the Fastest Compound Bows We Have Ever Tested
It seemed a simple task. Look back over the past decade of Outdoor Life’s annual bow tests and compile a list of the 10 fastest bows we’ve ever put through our testing regiment. Turns out, it wasn’t so simple after all. It was, however, an interesting look at the evolution of compound bows.
For starters, you’ll see that we have tested exactly one bow that has topped 350 feet per second. A note here about the numbers: We do not rely upon the manufacturer’s advertised speeds. It’s not that we think marketing teams would ever fudge numbers, it’s more that we’re just a skeptical bunch by nature (and trade). Thus, the speed readings reported here were averaged from multiple chronograph measures at the testing sites. The measured bows were set to IBO specs (30-inch draw length and 70-pound draw weight) and were shot using fletchless 350-grain arrows.
Another point worth mentioning: Manufacturers can enter one model per year in the test. Often, companies make models designed for maximum speed. Those models are seldom submitted for testing, likely because we grade on things like noise, vibration and draw cycle. And, as a prominent bow engineer once told me, they could easily build a bow to shoot 400 fps. But no one would want to shoot it.
I don’t want to give away too much before we jump into the list, but I will say this: The 2019 class of bows was the fastest group as a whole, but did not include that 350 fps performer. The 2020 test is being conducted as this is written, and rumor has it the class is plenty fast. But let’s take a dive into the 10 fastest models we’ve tested thus far.
10. Mathews Halon 32-5 (2017): 338.5 FPS
I’ve shot Mathews bows for a lot of years and the Halon series was a big-time change of pace for the creators of the SoloCam. For starters, it wasn’t a solo-cam system. And it had (gasp!) split limbs, something Mathews founder Matt McPherson once vowed to never use on a Mathews model.
Well, give credit to McPherson for being willing to admit when he’s wrong. The Halon line kicked off a series of exceptional Mathews models that always were in contention for the Editor’s Choice honor.
9. PSE Evolve (2019): 339.7 FPS
PSE pumps out a bunch of new models each year and the Evolve series has proven to be immensely popular. It’s done well in our tests, and the 2019 Evolve was one of the fastest we’ve tested. Other PSE models were advertised as being even faster.
8. Hoyt Helix (2019): 340.8 FPS
Hoyt is almost always in the running as the year’s top flagship model, but, interestingly enough, the Helix is the only Hoyt model to make our list of the 10 fastest tested. The Helix is plenty fast and also has the attributes that make Hoyt so popular: it’s smooth, stable and built like a tank.
7. Xpedition Mako X (2019): 343.1
Xpedition is a relative newcomer to the world of premium compounds and it builds bows that are very much representative of today’s bowhunting focus. They’re smooth-drawing, stable and fast without trying too hard to be. In past tests, bows that tried to be the fastest of the pack used aggressive cam systems that were harsh in their draw cycle. If there is any trend worth noting over the course of this list, it’s the relative smoothness of today’s fast bows compared to those of even five years ago.
6. Bear Escape (2016): 342.7 FPS
Bear has made a bunch of bows over the course of its distinguished history. The Escape, in this bowhunter’s opinion, was one of their best compounds. It’s nimble, accurate and represented a big step forward in quality and performance for Bear.
5. Bear Perception (2019): 345.5 FPS
Bear, like PSE, releases multiple new models each year to cover a number of price points. The Perception is a flagship-level model and features a shoot-through riser. Unfortunately, the Perception wasn’t a tester favorite—but it was fast.
4. PSE Dream Season Decree IC (2015): 347.11 FPS
I remember well when PSE unveiled the first Dream Season model. It was the first model I can recall that featured a partnership with a TV series (“The Drury Brothers”). It was fast. It also had a fairly aggressive cam system to deliver all that horsepower. It was also one of the first models to feature ultra-short limbs and an extended riser design.
Read Next: How to Really Test a Compound Bow
3. BowTech RPM 360 (2014): 347.45 FPS
Are you noticing a trend here? As we close in on the fastest bows we’ve tested, we are moving backwards in time. During the middle of this decade, the need for speed was very real and bow manufacturers fought to serve it. The RPM 360 was smoking fast and also suffered a bit from the aggressive cam setup required to produce that speed. Still, it was a top performer in the 2014 test.
2. BowTech Realm SR6 (2019): 349.1 FPS
If you ever want a real-world lesson in bow advancements, look no further than this and the previous entry (No. 3). Both are BowTech models and lightning fast. But the Realm SR6 features a much more pleasant shooting experience thanks to greatly reduced vibration and an improved draw cycle over the RPM 360.
1. PSE Xpedite (2018): 354 FPS
And so we have arrived at the fastest bow tested. It’s a bow I remember well because the test team nearly came to blows over it. The Xpedite was smooth, accurate, and wicked fast. How could it not be the Editor’s Choice? Well, it was narrowly edged out by another outstanding model (the Mathews Triax) and it came down to noise and vibration scores. Even after all these decades of innovation, top speed still comes at a bit of a cost.
It seems in recent decades there has been a race to the top by manufacturers to produce the fastest FPS bows money can buy. However, is it important to have the fastest bow when hunting? The answer is yes and no. Though we love to shoot fast bows and to feel the awe once we release our shots, it may not be one-hundred percent necessary.
That being said, many of us love to reap from the benefits of a fast bow, to which there are many. Flat-flying arrows, direct and through shots, forgiveness on distance shots, these are just a few of the many benefits of having a fast bow.
In this article, we are going to discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of shooting a fast bow as well as highlight some of the greatest fast compound bows released.
The Fastest Compound Bows – Our Picks
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers
How Fast Can a Compound Bow Shoot?
When we want to discuss how fast a compound bow can shoot, we need to consider at least four determining factors. These factors are the main factors to consider outside of gravity, wind conditions, and other external factors. The four controllable factors then are draw length, draw weight, arrow weight, and the type of compound bow.
- Draw Length: The draw length on a compound bow is when the bowstring is fully drawn, the distance between the nocking point and the grip of the bow itself.
- Draw Weight: The force needed to draw back the bowstring to the firing position.
- Arrow Weight: The weight of the arrow measured in grains.
- Type of Compound Bow: The compound bow types are single cam, hybrid cam, twin-cam, and binary cam.
When you calculate all the different factors together, you will get the potential speed of the compound bow. Let us just do one or two examples.
Example one. If you take a low arrow weight, high draw weight, and a long draw length, your IBO speed might be much faster than a shot with a heavy arrow weight, medium draw weight, and a longer draw length. The possibilities are endless when you change certain variables of these four determining factors.
Now that you understand the determining factors and how they can be changed to alter the total speed, we can say that today’s compound bows shoot an average speed of between 300 and 340 FPS.
The average adult hunter should have a perfectly sufficient compound bow if the IBO FPS speed is somewhere in that range. However, if you have less, not to worry, a high FPS does not automatically ensure you will be a successful hunter. Plenty of hunters have successful hunts each year using a recurve or longbow.
A recurve bow averages 225 FPS while a longbow can be quite a bit lower with an FPS around 175. This is partially due to longbowhaving heavier arrows. The average longbow arrow is around 520-grains. Though we see a lower FPS, a higher grain arrow creates what is especially important for any successful hunt, kinetic energy.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Fast Bow?
As manufacturers compete in an arms race of increased speed capabilities, we have to question whether faster truly is better. Yes, you do want a fast arrow and it does have its advantages, but are there any disadvantages? Of course. But first, we begin with reviewing the advantages.
One of the main advantages of having a fast-flying arrow is that gravity has less of an effect on your arrow over distance. If you know you will be shooting game at great distances based on where your blind or stand is located, then you will need a compound bow that has a higher rated IBO speed. However, if you know that your stand is set up specifically to give you clean close-range shots, then having the highest FPS bow on the market will not be as important.
When you are hunting and a target finally walks into your view, if it is a further distance from you, it is often a little more difficult to judge the total distance. This is especially true if your adrenaline is pumping and you may end up misjudging the distance once you fire. Having a compound bow with a faster IBO speed will forgive that misjudgement of distance more and carry your shot further without having the arrow drop. That is a great advantage to have when hunting on the edge of a field or when you know you will have a longer shot. So, what about the disadvantages? What would be wrong with having more speed than you need?
The main disadvantage of having a compound bow with a higher IBO speed than you need is the fact that higher speed bows can be more unstable. Any flaw in your form, no matter how minute, will translate into an inaccurate shot. And not just by a little; by a lot. Higher-speed bows can also be eager to fire, especially if the draw weight is high. Be sure to have a draw weight you are comfortable with and have a steady draw if you explore some of the higher speed bows on the market.
Does a Higher Draw Weight Always Mean a Faster Bow?
Higher draw weight does not always mean a faster bow. Remember, you need to factor in arrow weight, draw length, and external conditions to calculate your overall FPS. Some hunters prefer a lesser draw weight to improve their accuracy and to make getting a shot off all the easier. Also, the way a bow acts and feels changes as you go up in draw weight. There are plenty of hunters who prefer a 60-pound or even a 50-pound draw weight for whitetail deer hunting. It is important you are using a piece of equipment that is comfortable for you.
Also, it is important to note that the quickest way to achieve a faster arrow is to increase the draw weight of your bow. You can either purchase a new bow or if you only want to add a few pounds, bring your bow into a technician at a Pro shop and they should be able to increase the draw weight of your bow.
The Pro shop will be able to evenly tighten your limb bolts and measure the draw weight for you. Increasing the draw weight on your bow by only a few pounds is a great way to increase your strength and prepare you for if indeed you do want to purchase a new bow with a larger increment of draw weight.
Once the draw weight has increased, even if only a little bit, be sure to go to the archery range and take some target practice. Any changes in draw weight will affect your shot and change the trajectory path. You will need to relearn and become comfortable with your new shot before you are ready to go hunting. You may even need to adjust your sights. It is also a good idea to work out your archery muscles to increase your strength and be ready for larger draw weight. You can do this by repeatedly drawing your bow and slowly returning it to a resting position. This can be dangerous though if you are not ready for the new weight because you never want to dry fire. If this is a major concern, you can also check online or your local Pro shop for a piece of equipment that is specifically designed for archers who want to work out their archer muscles without using their bow.
So, although a higher draw weight does not automatically mean a faster arrow, it for sure helps. It is the fastest way to increase FPS. You may also want to consider a lighter arrow, or if possible, check if your draw length is too short and if you can add a little bit to your draw length incrementally as well, that will increase FPS.
How is Compound Bow Speed Measured (IBO speed)?
To begin, we need to define the parameters of which IBO speed is measured. The parameters are a metric or a standard by which every bow’s firing speed can be compared in a uniform and standardized way. The two main elements that make up this parameter are arrow weight and draw weight. For every five grains of arrow weight, one pound of draw weight has to match for the IBO speed to be correctly measured. This gives us a standard that does notcontain any variables that may occur due to arrow weight.
For example, if we have a compound bow with 80-pounds of draw weight, we must have an arrow of 400 grains. 400 grains divided by 80-pounds of draw weight equates to 5-grains to 1-pound of draw weight. Let us do one more as a quick example. Let us take a bow with a draw weight of 70-pounds. What do you think the weight of the arrow should be? If you guessed 350-grains, then you are correct.
This idea of having a standard across all manufacturers was created by the International Bowhunters Association. That is why we call it IBO speed. Named after the organization that created it. Now is it perfect? No. However, it gives us some consistency when before there was none. Manufacturers used to make claims about how fast their bow was and we had nothing to compare it to. Every manufacturer claimed they produced the fastest compound bow on the market etc. With IBO speed measurements we now have some sort of tool to keep manufacturers in check.
Remember when an FPS or IBO FPS speed is given, they measure the velocity of the arrow at almost point-blank range. The manufacturers shoot the arrow through Chronograph, which is similar to a pitcher’s radar gun. The Chronograph machine is almost always set up directly in front of the archer to ensure that the fastest speed possible is recorded. Always keep in mind that IBO speeds do not consider gravity over a range or factor in other outside conditions your arrow will encounter once it is in flight and gaining distance between you and your target. Though the IBO system is not the most perfect system of measuring arrow speed, we can say that it is better than before. It is important to be able to measure arrow speed across manufacturers and be able to hold them to the same standard to give the consumer the best information available.
Fastest Compound Bows – Reviews
The Xpedition MX-15 is a blazing fast bow. The average top-end firing speed of this bow is around 360 FPS. Incredible! If you are whitetail hunting your arrow should be able to reach your target before a fully alert deer gets a chance to duck the arrow, depending on the distance.
The Xpedition MX-15 is extremely forgiving to the shot with a smooth draw. Contains a Cageriser. Incredibly quiet for how much power this bow has. Constructed with a stable strong grip that sets well when you take your draw.
What we liked:
- 358-362 FPS – Incredible speed.
- Extremely quiet.
- Forgiving shot.
What we didn’t:
- Best suited for experienced bow users only.
The PSE Xpedite comes with a sleek design and the top end FPS averages around 355 IBO speed. This compound bow is insanely comfortable to the touch and allows you to swap out the included PSE Comfortgrip for a molded grip overlay.
The bow is available in draw weights of 60, 70, and 80 pounds as well as seven different finishes for your needs. The draw length range is from 24.5 inches to 30 inches. All around, the PSE Xpedite produces an incredibly smooth shot and is comfortable to hold.
What we liked:
- 352-360 FPS
- Sleek design.
- Smooth and quiet.
What we didn’t:
- On the high end for the price point.
Check Ebay for prices »
PSE Bow Madness
The PSE Bow Madness is an excellent mid-level bow that has a top-end speed of just under 340 FPS. This bow has an ultra-smooth draw and contains a three-track binary cam system to produce incredible speed.
Manufactured with a stiff and strong angled riser with a solid base. Comfortable to shoot and affordable. A little vibration on the shot but very quiet. A consistent shooter.
What we liked:
- 340 FPS
What we didn’t:
- Can produce some vibration when shot.
The Blackout Epic is a quality compound bow with a top speed of 340 FPS. There are two models of the Black Out Epic with the adjustable draw weight. The first model is for a range of 45-60 pounds. The second model is the 55-70 pound model. Both available in either right or left-handed.
The SYNC Cam technology allows you to adjust the let-off into four different positions. Manufactured with a compact design and the ShockWaves limb dampening device. The Blackout Epic is extremely comfortable and designed to be compact only measuring 32-inches ATA or axle length. This is an excellent mid-range compound bow.
What we liked:
- 340 FPS
- Compact design.
- Adjustable draw weight.
- Four different let-off settings.
What we didn’t:
- A little heavy for its compact and smaller design.
The Bear Divergent is a quality all-around shooter built for every type of hunter in mind, from newbie to expert. The EKO Cam system is designed to give you the option of four different let-off positions while giving you up to 338 FPS.
Contains a HingeGuard cable guide to reduce friction and to make for a smooth draw and a quieter release. This is a great all-around type bow made for any type of shooter.
What we liked:
- 338 FPS
- Smooth draw.
What we didn’t:
- Some vibration on shot release.
Check the price on Cabelas »
The Diamond Deploy compound bow is loaded with technological features to set it apart from other bows in its class. The Bowtech Synchronized Binary Cam system is extremely powerful but accurate as well.
The binary cam system produces a shot that tops out around 330 FPS. An ideal amount for whitetail hunting. Enough power to give you accuracy and distance at the same time but maintain a smooth draw that does not feel jumpy to the user. Built with 80% let-off and comes with many accessories including an Octane Octagon Brush arrow rest and a comfort wrist sling.
What we liked:
- 330 FPS
- Comes with many accessories.
- Advanced Carbon Knight riser.
What we didn’t:
- A little more expensive on the mid-range bow market.
Check the price on Cabelas »
Most compound bows nowadays have an advertised speed of between 300 and 340 FPS. There are a few things you need to understand about these numbers so that you can reasonably manage your expectations.
This Is Point-Blank Speed
A bow advertised as delivering 320 FPS will shoot an arrow with a velocity of 320 feet per second. This is only true for point-blank range though. In other words, this speed will be considerably lower once the arrow actually reaches the target. This might be obvious and it’s definitely not a bad thing, but it’s important to understand.
IBO Speed Tests
To keep speed ratings consistent across the board, compound bow manufacturers employ the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) testing standards.
Since the speed of a bow depends on many different factors (draw length, draw weight, arrow weight are the most important), it made sense to develop a set of common testing conditions. As such, all IBO tests are performed with:
- A 70 lbs. draw weight version of the bow
- A 30″ draw length
- A 350 grain arrow
Given how even the smallest change in the above settings can impact arrow speed, we need to look into this further.
Elements That Impact Arrow Speed
Let’s take a look at some estimates. Once we’re done, I’ll provide you with a practical example on how to use these numbers to your advantage.
Draw Length Impact On Speed
For every 1″ of reduction in draw length, you can expect to lose around 10 FPS of arrow speed. IBO speed tests are conducted using 30″ draw length, however most people have a draw length of around 28″. This is already a 20 FPS reduction compared to the IBO speed rating.
Draw Weight Impact On Speed
For every 10 lbs. of reduction in draw weight, expect to lose around 15-20 FPS. For many beginners using a 70 lbs. draw weight compound (like the ones used during IBO tests) is not possible. A beginner will likely go for a 60 lbs. version. That’s another 15-20 FPS reduction.
Arrow Weight Impact On Speed
For every extra 5 grain of arrow weight, expect the speed of your bow to be reduced by around 1.5 FPS. IBO speed tests are conducted using 350 grain arrows, however most people will be hunting using arrows weighing a minimum of 425 grain. That’s 75 grain over the IBO arrow weight, which reduces FPS by an estimated 22 FPS.
Extra Accessories On String
When hunting in the real world, you will be likely using some accessories. a D-loop and peep hole are standard, which together weigh around 15 grain. This can rob you of another 5-6 FPS.
Release Method Impact On Speed
IBO tests are conducted using an automated shooting machine that releases the string with absolute perfection. A human isn’t capable of such release accuracy as a machine. For this reason, you’ll need to subtract another 2-3 FPS compared to the IBO rating.
Demonstrating The Numbers Above Using a Real Life Example
Ok, so suppose you bought yourself a bow with an IBO speed of 320 FPS. You are a beginner, so you get yourself a 60 lbs. draw weight version of the bow. You also have the average draw length of 28″, and decide to use 425 grain arrows for an optimal speed-to-kinetic energy ratio. You also install some accessories onto your bow string. Here’s what happens:
- You will lose around 17 FPS due to using a 60 lbs. rather than a 70 lbs. bow
- You will lose around 20 FPS due to using a 28″ draw length rather than 30″
- You will lose around 22 FPS due to using a 425 grain arrow rather than the 350 used in IBO testing
- You will lose around 5 FPS due to extra accessories on the string
- You will lose around 3 FPS due to imperfections in human release mechanics
17 + 20 + 22 + 5 + 3 = 67 FPS that have been lost. This means that the actual FPS of your bow will be 320 – 67 = 253 FPS. Of course, things don’t need to be that bad. If you are using a 70 lbs. draw weight, your compound bow would have a 270 FPS. And if your draw length is indeed 30″ (as it is during IBO testing), this number would be closer to 290 FPS. And so on.
What’s The Bottom Line?
The bottom line is that you should never expect to achieve the same FPS speed as advertised by the manufacturer. The actual difference can vary significantly depending on the bow setup, but you are guaranteed that there will be at least some difference (even if only due to the human release factor).
How Do The Numbers Above Impact Hunting Feasibility?
Understand that how good a compound bow is for hunting depends not only on FPS (speed), but also on KE (Kinetic Energy). An arrow can fly slower but still deliver more punch upon impact than a much faster arrow. In our “real life” example above, we determined that a beginner will likely only achieve ~255 FPS from a compound bow rated at 320 IBO speed. Would these ~255 FPS be enough to hunt with?
We need to figure out the kinetic energy (KE) of the arrow. So assuming we have a bow rated 320 FPS IBO speed, an if you have a 60 lbs. version of the bow set to 28″ draw length, with some accessories on the string, a 425 grain arrow would deliver approximately 59 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at point-blank range. What can you do with this much energy?
To answer that, let’s take a look at Easton’s Kinetic Energy Hunting Chart:
|Kinetic Energy:||You Can Hunt:|
|< 25 ft-lbs||Small Game (groundhog, rabbit, wild turkey)|
|25-41 ft-lbs||Medium Game (Antelope, Whitetail deer)|
|42-65 ft-lbs||Large Game (black bear, wild boar, elk)|
|> 65 ft-lbs||Largest Game (Grizzly bear, Cape buffalo, Musk Ox, African elephant)|
As you can see, even though the actual FPS in our example is considerably lower than the bow’s advertised IBO speed, the arrow would still deliver enough kinetic energy to take down large game (between 42-65 ft-lbs). This bow would therefore be enough to take down pretty much any game animal in the United States. Of course, these are just numbers; whether you can actually harvest an elk or black bear with this bow would depend on how accurately you shoot.
Also, keep in mind that kinetic energy deteriorates the further the arrow travels. Expect to lose an average of 1.5 ft-lbs for every 10 yards traveled. So if the arrow has 59 ft-lbs KE at point-blank range, expect this value to be closer to 55 ft-lb if shooting a target located 30 yards away. This is still more than enough to take down large game, assuming your shot is well placed.
Bow second per compound feet
As with any projectile, the speed of an arrow is essential to its function. You can’t take part in effective target practice if your arrow isn’t going fast enough to even pierce the target. As bows have evolved, the maximum speed of an arrow has greatly increased.
The speed of an arrow shot from a compound bow varies depending mainly on the type of compound bow, its draw length, draw weight, and the weight of the arrow. Most contemporary compound bows shoot at a speed between 300 and 340 feet per second.
There are many factors that go into making a bow fast. This article will go in depth about some of those factors so you can understand why compounds can shoot arrows faster than any other bow.
Calculating the Speed of Arrows
First, let’s make sure we understand how bow technicians and archery fanatics determine the speed of an arrow.
An arrow’s speed is measured in feet per second. Many compound bows will come with an advertised rate of speed, but that’s not the speed the arrow is travelling at when it hits the target.
The advertised speed of a compound bow is the speed at which the arrow is travelling at directly after it is released from the bow’s string.
In other words, the speed of your bow is its speed at point-blank range. By the time the arrow reaches its target, it will probably be going much slower than the 340 fps your bow was advertised at.
That speed is also tested under certain conditions that may be different from those you’re shooting in.
Most, if not all, compound bow manufacturers adhere to the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) standard of bow testing.
In order to ensure that the speed ratings of bows from different companies are consistent, IBO testing mandates that bows be tested using:
- 70 lbs of draw weight
- 30″ draw length
- 350-grain arrows
This means that the speedy new compound bow you just bought may not actually be shooting its arrows at 345 fps like you thought.
If you opted for the version of the bow that is only 50 lbs of draw weight, you’re certainly not shooting at the advertised fps.
If you have a slightly shorter draw length or arrows heavier than 350 grain, you’re likely to have a slower speed.
Weather conditions must also be taken into consideration.
The majority of bows were probably tested in an indoor environment where the conditions are tightly controlled.
Bowhunters dealing with anything other than a perfectly clear, windless day are going to experience more resistance and interference than the technicians in the lab.
Most compound bows do not comply with the exact specifications of the IBO tests, and many people don’t use 350-grain arrows, so just keep in mind how rare it is to shoot at the speeds that manufacturing companies advertise for their bows.
How Certain Factors Affect Arrow Speed
As mentioned, arrow speed is the result of a conglomeration of mechanical processes occuring at various points on a compound bow.
The best way to be able to calculate or evaluate speed for yourself is to have a clear understanding of these components.
Draw length, or the distance you can pull a string from its resting position to full draw, is an important factor in propelling your arrow.
The IBO test is usually performed with a draw length of exactly 30 inches, but that measurement is not unanimous among compound bow models.
It’s estimated that shortening this length by even one inch can cost you 10 fps in your shots.
IBO-certified compound bows were all tested at a draw weight of 70 pounds.
But not all bowhunters need a 70-pound draw weight to take down their game of choice.
70 pound draw weights are typically only used to take down the biggest game, including bears, moose, and some large elk.
For those shooting white-tailed deer or smaller game, and especially for those just looking to do some target shooting, you may only need 50 or 60 pounds of draw weight.
But lower draw weights mean lower rates of speed.
Seasoned archers have purported that a bow looses 15 to 20 fps for every ten pounds of draw weight deducted from the benchmark 70.
So, if you bought the version of your bow that has a 50-pound draw weight, you could be shooting at 40 fps less than the 70-pound version.
Arrows come in a wide variety of materials nowadays, and every material has a different weight.
The 350-grain arrows that IBO bow testers use are incredibly light, especially for bowhunting.
Most avid bowhunters need an arrow with a heavier grain to take down their target, something with closer to 425 grain.
Though grains are relatively small units of measurement, they do have an impact of the speed of an arrow in flight.
For every added 5 grain of arrow weight, archers can expect to lose around 1.5 fps.
It may not seem like much, but with such a great difference between the IBO testing arrow and the real thing, total losses are likely to be more than 20 fps.
No, this isn’t referring to lengths of string being tied around the arrow to make its flight more fun to watch.
Dedicated bowhunters often make additions to their string in order to help them aim or release.
Even small, light accessories like a D-loop and peep sight are going to add to the weight of your compound bow’s string, and the heavier your string is, the more fps you lose in the shot.
Method of Release
Nearly everything about the IBO test is automated, right down to the release method used to let go of the string and send the arrow flying.
To eliminate human interference, bow technicians use a machine to release the string to get the most accurate readings on the speed of the arrow.
But the problem is that the bows are being shot by people in real life.
People, no matter how experienced, you cannot be as efficient or consistent at releasing the string as a machine can, so there’s likely to be a few fps knocked off the speed every time you shoot merely because you’re a human.
Every bow company wants to be the first to say they’ve broken the speed barrier. They also want to sell more bows.
It’s best to take every advertised IBO speed with a grain of salt and remember that it’s nearly impossible to match their pristine standards of shooting.
Fastest Compound Gear on the Market
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the market’s fastest compound bows and arrows.
Bear Archery’s 2019 Escape model has been rated amongst the fastest bows on the market with an impressive 350 fps.
This bow’s draw length can be adjusted to the IBO level of 30 inches, but it can also go as low as 25.5 inches, so remember that you won’t get that 350 fps if you truncate the draw length.
Coming in a close second is the Bowtech Prodigy, which claims to shoot arrows at 343 fps.
This bow is also adjustable, though Bowtech decided to provide more variety in the draw weight rather than the draw length.
The Prodigy can be adjusted to anywhere between 50 and 80 pounds.
Of course, this means you could lose fps on the speed if you reduce the weight to less than 70 pounds, but you may actually gain speed by bringing the weight up to 80 pounds.
This might be a more doable option than many would think, as the Prodigy has an 80% let-off at the end of the draw, lifting the burden of that 80 pounds significantly.
As for arrows, it can be difficult to find some at 350 grain, but if you’re in the market for some IBO-approved arrows, this six-pack of Game Slayer Carbon Arrows can be found on Amazon for just $39.41.
You can still have a fast shooting experience without complying with each an every IBO standard, and just because the rated fps of a particular bow may not be exactly true in all circumstances, you can still shoot an arrow faster than most cars will ever drive.
If you have the need for speed, there are a lot of compound bows on the market to satisfy your need.
Vika, on the contrary, was an ardent party girl. The girl had two older brothers who studied at different universities. Which opened a beautiful door for her to a whole bunch of student parties. Adult boys, adult drinks.
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