Whether on your own or as a part of a club, there are few activities a child can get involved in as beneficial as archery. It teaches attention, focus, and the development of a skill. As your child grows, whether as a hunter or in competitions, these skills will be a constant benefit.
If this is your goal, we have rounded up some of the best youth compound bows. If this is what they are interested in, start them outright. Most youth bows are very affordable, to begin with. Some are a little less pricey than others but any of these bows will serve them well.
While there have been youth compound bows on the market for decades. But the quality and technology in the best bows today blows those older bows away. For a child interested in hunting, there is truly no better time to get started.
Youth Compound Bow Considerations
While archery, in general, can be complicated and get the right bow sometimes a challenge, youth archery is comparatively simple. Bow companies have designed their bows to be perfect for a child. There are some handy guidelines but most bows will suit most young people.
This is the one feature that really separates youth bows from adult bows. Draw length is simply measurement from the grip to the string at full draw. Short arms make for a short draw length.
Having a draw length that is too long will make the bow all but unshootable. Having a draw length that is too short will make shooting inaccurate and can be dangerous. You have to hit that sweet spot.
While an archery shop can and probably should measure your child for draw length, most bows today are adjustable. They encompass a large span of draw lengths. You want something that is greater than 20 inches on the minimum but you want that minimum no more than 23 inches.
Some bows have a long enough draw at the maximum for a child to grow well into their teens before needing a larger bow. Most hobbies will require larger gear every year or so. Having something that can stick with your child for years is a huge cost savings. It makes investing in a good bow up front all the more important.
If you would like to check your child’s draw length up front and don’t have a pro shop around, there is a way. This video shows one of the simplest methods. This will help you narrow down bows and find out what adjustments you need to make on the bow you get.
Before any of this gets you too stressed out, realize that most bows have adjustable draw lengths that will cover 99% of all shooters. Once you have your bow that is already capable of getting close to your draw length, you can fine tune it to get exactly what you want.
One of the biggest misconceptions about a youth compound bow is power. Kids, generally, are stronger than we give them credit for. Most kids around 15 are perfectly capable of dealing with an adult bow. Some may be able to draw bows exceeding 45 pounds sooner than that.
For children who do legitimately need a compound bow with less draw weight, there are specific bows designed for young people. Some of these bows are a fixed bower and are great for teaching the basics of archery. Some may have a range of power and even be able to reach hunting weights.
Drawing a bow uses very specific muscle groups that are not commonly used. For a child, they will need to develop these muscle groups if they want to shoot more powerful bows. But children will usually develop these muscle groups relatively fast.
This makes the adjustable bow with a range of power options very attractive and they should be. These are probably the best options for most people. They can usually take a child from their first shot to their first hunt over the course of a few years. The right bow will have a power range that is broad enough to accommodate most shooters.
Bows that are specific weights are often on the low power end. These are often more affordable options and allow a parent to decide how dedicated a child is to the sport. You do need to make sure you are getting a decent bow that will be accurate or it could easily get frustrating. The right bow will certainly help a child develop the fundamentals of archery.
If draw length is the distance from the rest to the string when drawn, brace height is the distance from the rest to the string when relaxed fully. This has a few effects that are notable to a beginner bow hunter.
The first difference is in accuracy. A higher brace height will be more accurate than a lower one if all else is equal. This deals with the physics of how a bow and arrow interact. The specifics are not that important as long as you have the basic concept.
On the opposite end, a lower brace height will shoot an arrow faster than a higher brace height. The string is in contact with the arrow longer and pushes it faster. The difference of an inch can have a noticeable impact on arrow speed.
Most bowhunters are speed-obsessed. There is nothing wrong with a bow that shoots better than 315 fps but it is hardly necessary. You are better off in the beginning to get a bow that is more accurate. You will become a better archer overall this way.
The last consideration of brace height is the inevitable forearm slap from the string. This can be quite painful and is more common and more severe with lower brace height bows. It is a tradeoff for speed and whether it is worth it or not is up to you.
No matter your brace height, you should probably get used to wearing a bow bracer to protect your forearm. I haven’t worn one in years but I probably should. They are very helpful and prevent a whole lot of discomfort, especially when practicing.
Size and Weight
There are two very distinct considerations when looking at the size and weight for a youth bow. A smaller, lighter bow will generally be more favorable for most people. That said, most youth bows are already sized for children who would benefit from that bows other stats.
Most bows that are of a specific power or that have very low draw weights will be much lighter solely based on the amount of materials used in the bow. These bows are often designed for smaller kids so it all works out in the end.
Bows with larger power ranges will probably weight slightly more. The difference is usually not that significant. You will need to be mindful of the overall length with some of these bows. Getting a bow that is too long will make shooting more difficult than it should be.
The other consideration will be in your planned use of the bow. If you have a bow that is powerful enough for hunting, your child may have to carry and hold this bow for longer periods of time. A bow used for hunting will always benefit from a lighter weight.
Bows intended to be used for competitions or target shooting can be a little heavier. They will rarely be carried very far and can be laid down when the child is not shooting. As long as the bow is small and light enough for your child to use, it should work well for these purposes.
Youth Bows and Bow Packages
More and more companies are offering their bows in packages. In fact, most bows will be sold in some form of a kit that will have a variety of shooting gear. Some will contain better accessories than others while many will even have arrows.
Typically speaking, most accessories that come with youth bows are fairly cheap. This is somewhat unfortunate but does keep the price down and accessories can often be added later. This is not universally the case but often is.
The arrows that come with youth bows are often cheaply made. For early on, they will work for practice but better arrows will get better results. Buying decent arrows will always be an issue for the archer, so take any free ones you can get.
There will always be more and better accessories. That will be an expense going forward that you will want to be aware of. The more accessories your child starts with, the more they will likely want. A good basic kit will have most everything a child needs starting out. Where they go after is up to you.
Cheaper kits will always come with cheaper arrows and accessories. This is probably the biggest benefit of getting a better kit. The accessories are likely to be better overall as well as getting a higher quality bow. This will be money well spent if your child gets the archery bug.
Top 5 Youth Compound Bow 2020 - Comparison Table
19 - 45 lbs
13.5 - 19.5"
15 - 25 lbs
10 - 26"
17 - 21 lbs
16 - 24"
8 - 13 lbs
24 - 26"
Our Top 5 youth compound bows recommendations:
1 Barnett Vortex
Barnett has quite the reputation for their crossbows. Some of which have been considered among the best crossbows ever made. They make no adult compound bows but their youth bows match the quality of their crossbows. In the case of the Vortex, this is probably the best youth compound bow on the market.
This bow does come as part of a kit and overall the kit is quite nice. It has everything you need to shoot your bow including rest, sights, and several arrows. Though you could upgrade the sights and rest eventually, the arrows are really good quality.
As for the bow its self, this bow is made just like an adult bow. The material selection is spot on, the cams are quite good, and the overall look and frame are perfect. This is, in most respects, a true compound bow that has been sized down for a youth model.
There are a few differences but none that will matter much. Most of the differences are in the size and weight of the bow and its power. Draw length is 21 – 17 inches and draw weight can go from 19 to 45 pounds. From 10 years old until they grow past 5’9”, this bow should work well for them.
The power of the bow on the low end should be good for most young archery shooters. On the high end, this bow is powerful enough to hunt within most states. It should have no trouble taking down turkey and deer are well within its power range.
If I were in the market for a youth compound bow right now, this is the bow I would take every time. Kids maybe 8 and younger would benefit from a smaller bow. Otherwise, you can count this bow as among the best you can get. Without a doubt, this is one of the best, if not the best, youth bows around.
2 Bear Archery Brave
Bear Archery has long been one of my personal favorite companies. I love most of their bows. In fact, it is likely that the Brave youth bow would have taken the number one spot but it lacks the versatility of the Barnett bow. Still, for the right age child, this is an amazing bow.
Sold as a kit, this is among the best kits on the market as far as accessories go. The fact that it comes with a whisker biscuit arrow rest alone is quite amazing. For those who don’t know, this is among the safest and most accurate rests on the market and usually, sell for about the same price as this bow.
The sights and arrows are serviceable. You will likely want to improve the sights if your child continues with archery. The arrows are good quality but you only get two. You will want to add more before too long just to avoid frustration.
The bow its self is decent quality with good materials. There are a number of budget adult bows made out of the same materials that are known to be very durable. The narrow range of draw lengths and weights are a downside for this bow.
Draw length is reasonable going up to about 20 inches. This will cover most kids up to about 5” or so. Draw weight adjusts from 15 to 25 pounds. Most kids will want a more powerful bow than this around 10 or 11 years old. For a kid around 7, this is an amazing bow that should work quite well.
It is painful as a long time Bear Archery fan to rank this bow as number 2 on this list but that’s the truth of the matter. This is a great little bow but it will never be powerful enough for hunting and most kids will outgrow it quickly.
3 Crosman Elkhorn Jr.
Like those companies above, Crosman has made bows and crossbows alike for years. While their bows have always been considered more of a budget option, this actually plays into the youth bow market quite well. The quality is high enough for a child’s bow but is made in a way to save on cost.
Like the bows above, this is a kit and a decent kit at that. It comes with everything you need to shoot the day you get it. You get arrows, sights, rest, quiver, and bow bracer. None of these are outstanding quality but they are good enough to get you started.
The main drawback of this bow is the overall lack of power. It can be adjusted from 17 to 21 pounds which is great for learning but with the longer draw length of 26 inches, you are looking at someone around 11 or 12 years old. At that point, they are going to want more power.
You can’t hunt with this bow but for those interested in learning the basics or target shooting, this is an incredibly accurate bow. It is fairly lightweight overall and the quality is reasonable. It may not be the best but at this price, it is about perfect if you are looking for a trial bow to see if a child is actually interested.
4 Bear Archery Scout
If you are looking for a bow for a kid in age range of 5 to 7, you will need a smaller bow without a doubt. Though the bows above may be better in many ways, they just aren’t suitable for a kid that age. You need less draw weight and a smaller, lighter bow.
Bear has provided this kit with that in mind. You get arrows, bow, and everything else you could need for a kid that age. None of the stuff is really that high quality but is easily sufficient for a 7-year-old. The arrows are actually decent, made of Safetylgass to prevent breaking from inevitable misses.
The bow is a compound bow but in many ways functions somewhat like a recurve bow. This makes drawing and shooting much easier and ends up being quite an accurate bow. It does top out at 13 pounds of draw which is insanely lightweight. Draw length goes from 16 inches to 24 inches. This would be great for anyone under about 4’8”.
Quality wise, the bow is pretty good and for the price, this is a great way to get a young person involved in archery. The bow is fun to shoot and designed to be easy and safe for a child. Bear did a good job with this bow even if it isn’t the most amazing quality product.
5 SA Sports Majestic
Neither archery nor bow hunting are solely the realm of men anymore so it is only fitting that we include a girl specific bow in this list. While any of the bows above are suitable for a girl, many women love their pink hunting gear. If your little girl is the same, this pink model should be a delight.
The kit has everything you need to get out and shooting and most of the equipment is quite good. SA Sports makes some great bows and this little compound is very close in quality to their larger models. Draw weight is a fixed 20 pounds and draw length is adjustable from 24 to 26 inches.
You could count on this bow being about the right size for a girl in the 8 to 13 range. You could go older but you are going to get to a point where a more powerful bow may be suitable. The draw length has you covered all the way up to about 5’5” or so. Maybe even a little taller.
This is a good quality bow that is great for practice and accurate enough for competition shooting. It will never be a hunting bow with the weight at only 20 pounds. You will need to upgrade before then. But at the price, this is a great way to gauge interest before you invest that kind of money.
In a time when too many kids spend far too much time indoors, it is highly important to get them outside and developing a real skill. Archery is a perfect skill to choose starting out. It will give them the discipline to learn but they will progress fast enough to keep them interested.
If your child does get the archery bug, they will likely continue shooting a bow for life. I got started when I was about 6 and never quit. I have shot bows all of my life for both hunting and competition. It hasn’t won me any awards but it has been fulfilling.
If you have the option to do something for your child now that will benefit them as much as archery has benefitted me and many other hunters I know, you should go for it. As long as you teach them some responsibility, and keep an eye on them, this is an amazing sport to get started in.