How Fast Do Arrows Fly From a Compound Bow?

How Fast Do Arrows Fly From a Compound Bow?

For any projectile to function effectively, the speed of it is a key consideration. Arrows work under the same concept as any other ammunition. If you want a target practice that delivers efficient results, your arrow speed must be incredibly high.

Your arrow must travel fast enough to successfully pierce the target. With the evolution of technology and practices, the maximum momentum of an arrow has also significantly increased.

The speed of a pointer that has been shot from your compound bow will vary depending on the draw length, type of the compound bow, arrow weight, and weight of the draw.

Most of the compound bows deliver a maximum speed ranging from 300-340 feet/second. Several factors fuel greater speeds in some compound bows as compared to the others.

How To Determine The Speed Of Arrows?

Before understanding the factors that deliver greater speeds to an arrow, it is essential to learn the process of speed calculation. So how do archery fanatics and technicians determine the momentum of an arrow accurately?

The speed of an arrow is generally determined by calculating the distance traveled per second (feet/second). You may often come across compound bows with an advertised speed rate.

The advertised speed rate of a compound bow is generally the speed rate at which the pointer is traveling after being released from the string. It is not the actual speed at which the arrow will hit the target.

The actual speed of your compound bow is calculated only at its point-blank range. Your bow manufacturer will generally advertise a speed of about 340 feet per second. The arrow will have a much slower speed by the time it finally reaches your target.

The speed of your arrow also depends on the condition under which it is tested. If you are shooting in an unfavorable condition, you will notice a much-reduced speed.

Most manufacturers of compound bow comply with the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) standards of arrow testing.

To bring uniformity in the bow speed ratings of various companies, IBO using the following testing mandates –

  • Draw length of 30”
  • The draw weight of 70 lbs
  • Grain arrows of 350

Without these specifications, your bow arrow will fail to deliver the advertised speed of 345 feet per second. If you opt for a compound bow that comes with a draw weight of fewer than 70 lbs, you will not get the advertised fps.

If you deliver a shorter draw length than the IBO standards, you are likely to witness a reduced speed. Arrows that are heavier than the standard 350 grain will also have a slower pace. However, you must also take into account the weather conditions.

Arrows that are known to deliver better speed in a tested and controlled environment. The majority of the bows for the IBO testing were carried out in an indoor environment.

Bowhunters who shoot their arrows in a humid environment or a windy day will experience more interference and resistance.

To get the best of your compound bow speed, you need a clear and windless environment. The lab technicians use a tightly controlled environment, which may not be the same in reality.

Most compound bows often fail to adhere to the exact IBO test specifications. Many people use an arrow that weighs less than 350 grains.

It is rare to meet the specifications at which the manufacturing companies test their speeds. You will always end up with a much slower speed than the one advertised.

Factors That Affect The Arrow Speed Of Your Compound Bow

The conglomeration of various technical and mechanical factors will impact the speed of your compound bow arrow.

Having an in-depth understanding that affects the speed rate of an arrow will help you calculate the speed better.

Draw Weight

IBO Standards test all compound bows at a draw weight of about 70 pounds. However, not all archery fanatics want a 70-pounds draw weight.

Some bowhunters may use a lesser draw weight to hit their target of choice.

If you wish to hit the biggest of games like large elk, moose, and bears, you will need a draw weight of 70 pounds.

However, bowhunters who are aiming for smaller games, including white-tailed deers, will need a much lower draw weight. If you want to indulge in some small target shooting, a draw weight of about 50-60 pounds will be ideal.

One important thing to note here is that a lower draw weight will deliver a reduced speed rate. Seasoned bowhunters and archers have stated that an arrow loses about 10 to 20 feet per second for every reduced draw weight level of ten pounds.

If you go for a compound bow with a draw weight of about 60 lbs, you will get a speed of about 20 fps than the IBO standards. People with a 50 lbs draw weight will get a reduction of 40 fps in their speed rate.

Draw Length

Accurately propelling your compound bow arrow largely depends on the draw length of your arrow. Draw length is the distance that a bowhunter can achieve by pulling the string of an arrow from its resting state to a full draw.

IBO standards mandate every manufacturer to test their speed at a draw length of 30 inches. However, this measurement fails to bring unanimity in the various models of compound bows.

If you aim for a shorter draw length, it is estimated that you get slower speed. One inch reduction in the draw length will deduct 10 feet per second speed rate from the advertised rate.

Weight Of The Arrow

Different compound bow manufacturers now use various materials to manufacture their bows. Such variations in raw materials will deliver different weights in compound bow arrows.

IBO standards use a 350-grain bow arrow weight to deliver the maximum speed. They use incredibly light arrows, which help to deliver greater speed when shot.

Most avid archers and bowhunters need heavier grain arrows to effectively take down their prey. Such compound bows may weigh around 425 grains, which is higher than the IBO test standards.

If you think that grains are not that big units of measurement and will hardly impact your speed rate, you are wrong. They do affect the speed at which your arrow will hit the target.

For every 5 grains of increase in the arrow weight, you will lose a speed rate of about 1.5 feet per second. Such a difference in speed rate, though, may seem small to the naked eye, but it will impact the way your arrow hits the target.

The IBO testing standards don’t hold in reality. Bowhunters may get a total speed loss of more than 25 feet per second. If you wish to achieve the advertised speed, you must opt for a compound bow with an arrow weight that is close to the IBO specifications.

Release Method

The IBO test generally uses automated methods to test the maximum speed of compound bows. The automated testing theory also applies to the release method of your arrow.

The release method will determine the way you let go of the bowstring and how the arrow starts flying towards its target.

To get the maximum speed, lab technicians use a specialized machine to accurately release the bowstring and let go of the arrow.

The elimination of human touch helps to deliver accurate readings relating to the speed of the compound bow arrow. Human hands will always interfere with the speed of an arrow.

No archer or experienced bowhunters can outdo the machine while releasing the arrow from the string. People will always fall short of consistency or efficiency in comparison to a machine.

This causes a difference in the speed between the speeds of IBO standards and real


You can never match the release method of a machine, which will cause you to lose out on some speed rates. Every time you shoot an arrow, you are likely to get around 20-40 fewer fps.

Compound bow manufacturers always boast of a higher speed rate to get an edge over their competitors.

People are always on the lookout for greater speed when it comes to arrows. Companies try to sell more by claiming that their arrows are ahead of the speed barriers.

You must refrain from believing the advertised speed as they don’t exist in reality. You will never be able to match the IBO standards of arrow shooting.

String Accessories

String accessories are different from the ones that are generally tied around your compound bow arrow to make it look more aesthetically pleasing. Such lengths of bowstring add no functionality to your arrow apart from making the flight exciting to watch.

Avid bowhunters may add accessories to their string to better facilitate their release or aim. Even light or small accessories can add considerable weight to your bowstring. Accessories like peep sight or D-loop can make your string heavier, thereby reducing its speed rate.

If you don’t wish to lose a substantial speed rate in your shot, you must refrain from adding such string accessories.

The Bottom Line

If you want a good arrow with great speed, you must opt for something with a 350-grain arrow weight and draw weight of about 70 lbs.

However, such arrows will cost you higher than the ordinary ones. For archers who want the highest shooting speed, you must try to adhere closely to the IBO standards.

Bear Archery Escape Model and Bowtech Prodigy are some of the fastest compound bow arrows on the market. They offer a speed rate of about 340-350 fps.

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