Compound Bow Glossary

In this compound bow glossary, we’ll go over some of the most popular terms you are likely to come across while researching your purchase or reading up about archery and compound bows in general. We update this glossary regularly, whenever we get an inquiry from a reader in regards to a particular topic or term. Let us know if you’d like to see something covered here.


When you draw your bow to its full draw length, you will reach the “Wall” (see below). When holding the string against the wall, the let’-off is in full effect. If you were to slightly weaken your hold on the string, thereby allowing it to move slightly closer to the riser and away from the “wall,” you will suddenly feel the draw getting heavy again, and this suddenness often result in the archer jerking while he/she attempts to regain control over the bow.

How much you can move the string away from the wall and towards the riser before this sudden change is what we call the Valley.┬áThe wider the Valley of your compound bow, the more forgiving it is of form mistakes, and the less likely are you to experience the problem explained above. Bows with wider valleys are therefore strongly recommended for beginners. 0.5″ is generally considered to be a wide and generous Valley.

The size of the Valley is not a design feature of a compound bow. It is a sort of by-product of how the whole cam system and the bow behave together. Changing the settings and tuning your compound bow can widen or shorten the valley. Make sure to read compound bow reviews to learn about the Valley of specific models.


The wall is a term used to express the point wherein your compound bow is “fully” drawn. When shooting your bow, you will go through a draw cycle, which can be explained as follows:

  • You first draw the string, and your muscles’ energy is stored within the limbs
  • The energy required to draw the bow will ramp up slowly, until it reaches the peak draw weight of your bow
  • Once peak draw weight is reached, the energy required to continue drawing the string will begin diminishing, until a full let-off is achieved (usually 80% of your bow’s draw weight).

A full let-off will be achieved once you pull the string through your entire draw length (whatever it may be set to). Once you reach the point where the full let-off is in effect, drawing the string even a millimeter further would required a tremendous amount of force (400+ lbs.), and even if you were to draw it further, it would not increase the amount of energy stored within the limbs of the bow. That point, after which drawing the string any further becomes next to impossible, is called the Wall.

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