Compared to recurve and longbows, compound bows are way much expensive…..which begs the question: Why are compound bows so expensive?
Well, compound bows are this expensive because of the costs that go into producing the sophisticated technology that yields the mechanical advantage and better shooting efficiency we love them for.
That’s the short answer.
And now to the longer answer….
Now, there is a whole lot more that goes into the design, manufacturing, and even marketing of compound bows.
And each of the involved processes comes at a cost.
Considering that the manufacturers are there to make a profit, they finally transfer each of these costs to you and add a significant margin.
Let me explain…
1. Compound bows have more parts than other types of bows
These days, compound bows have many nicer components than were actually available back in the day and of course, than other types of bows.
I am referring to the more expensive but durable limbs, cool finishes, ball bearings (over bushings), and so forth.
Don’t also forget that manufacturers are still pursuing an extra dollar so they go ahead to introduce the ‘premium’ models.
Unknown to some shooters, the few additional parts in these ‘elite’ bows are mostly cosmetic and rarely influence their final result.
Bottom line is that you pay more- which is what the company wants anyway.
And don’t get me wrong..
I’m not suggesting that all the extravagant brands behave this way. Nope. There could be a few exceptional ones here and there.
But overall, some really don’t add much to the bow but bells and whistles and obviously, the price.
Also factored in by manufacturers is the procurement cost for these parts.
For instance, in cases where the supply chain isn’t well established, let’s say they’re bringing in custom materials from overseas; the input cost might be higher.
2. Compound bow use more expensive materials in some parts
In addition, you will notice that some companies use expensive materials like carbon in parts such as the limbs.
In their reasoning, this makes their bows easily acceptable to their ever demanding buyers since carbon is lighter/stiffer.
Still there, risers have to be as stiff as possible. This calls for pricey materials like carbon fiber too.
Don’t forget that clients expect these weapons to take thousands of power shots without suffering damage or wearing which means more expenditure on costlier materials all around.
Oh, and these materials have to be basically aero grade not to mention that the manufacturer must keep it strong and light!
The manufacturer must make every part look pretty, actually perfectly pretty.
All these things cost, don’t they?
3. Compound bows are incredibly expensive to engineer and bring to the market
Engineering, development, and marketing of these bows is, as well, significantly expensive.
First, most companies are keen on improving their bow- and hope to discover the next big ‘thing’- so humongous amounts of money are swallowed up their R & D teams.
Sometimes this means competing for the best engineering talent by paying them higher wages.
This doesn’t make your bow any cheaper.
Away from that, the machinery and tooling necessary to produce bows that meet all your archery demands don’t come cheap either.
Add there are the maintenance costs for these plants and the regular costs of running the factories- some items like insurance are very expensive.
It doesn’t end there.
Because of massive demand, these manufacturers sometimes expensively outsource labor, materials, and manufacturing to dozens of suppliers and factories resulting in a higher cost/unit.
If you carefully look at all these issues, the final price is going to be scary.
How do these companies promote their products?
Have you ever observed the trend?
Well, to win you over, they hire some marketing pros to shoot riveting videos and creative ads at insane figures.
They then pay more fees to various advertisers including exclusive archery websites and magazines to have the ads and videos showcased to you.
Clearly, somebody has to bear this cost…
And that happens to be you!
4. More money is spent on software licensing and patents
Then, to add to the previously mentioned high development costs, you also have to consider the matter of software and patenting.
Now, these bows are absolutely high-tech and as it stands, their prototypes are built using special software whose licenses are insanely priced.
Furthermore, countless compound bows features have been patented by enterprising fellas meaning you can’t use these patented technologies in your design until you pay the owners.
For this reason, lots of bucks also change hands paying patent royalties before some bow makers can have their models displayed in archery stores.
In some instances, bow company A (who owns patent X) will overcharge bow company B – who seek to use their patented gadget out of jealousy…after all, B is bringing competition!
B will also be invoiced by owners of some of the popular camouflage finishes such as Realtree and Mossy Oak – I had stated that the bow needs to be cute.
B eventually tries to recover each and every penny from your pockets.
5. The question of warranty
I once forgot my bear archery cruzer G2 compound bow on top of the car and sped off. The bow inevitably hit the highway tarmac at 80 mph breaking the left cam and limb.
I called the company and they dispatched a replacement cam and limb to my neighborhood shop who fixed the parts swiftly.
What surprised me was that the company still obeyed the life warranty terms despite explaining that the bow accident had been triggered by my recklessness.
Let me now ask you:
Do you believe that the typical lifetime warranty for these bows is really free?
I personally think that the company includes the costs of such repairs when calculating the production cost hence the outrageous prices.
6. Some brands are hyped up and take advantage
To be honest, I don’t get why people buy a name instead of functionality.
Just because somebody praised Mathews, Hoyt, or Bear doesn’t necessarily mean that a lesser known name is worse off.
But this is the sad reality friend and it doesn’t help lower the prices.
You see, since you’re willing to pay an extra $500 for a Mathews bow, why can’t I raise the price of my upcoming brand with $300?
It makes sense since people might interpret my brand’s affordability to imply a wanting performance.
And so the fact that some enthusiasts buy ‘exclusivity’ ends up making certain compound bow brands extremely pricey.
Worse still, the manufacturers know this and won’t let an opportunity to hike prices pass.
7. Market dynamics also make compound bows to be overpriced
The market for compound bow has been booming for a while now. And this has brought about myriad factors that cause the prices to soar.
We look at them below…
- Steady market: manufacturers know they can get away with a bump in prices every year since there are enough numbers waiting to buy.
- The ‘newest craze’: for some reason, we are made to believe that we will be lagging behind without the latest model. And so people are back to the shop after shooting with the ‘old’ bow for even less than 1 year.
And you know what? Companies typically top up the prices with each ‘advanced release’ claiming that it’s ‘faster’, ‘smoother’, ‘tech-savvier’, and ‘revolutionary’…
Does that create more demand? Of course!
- Globally, the compound bow market is on an upward trajectory: The fact that sales for compound bows are expected to continue recording impressive figures spells doom for anyone hoping to buy a compound bow inexpensively. According to this report, sales will reach dizzying heights in the next few years in wider Europe, China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan to name but a few.
- The market can bear it, for now: Truth be told, not everyone is complaining. Even newcomers are first informed that archery is an expensive passion so they take the quoted steep prices in their stride. Why would manufacturers ,therefore sell themselves ‘short’ if buyers aren’t protesting?
Let’s sum up the math
Let’s summarize everything now that you have understood the facts…
Like we have seen, individual compound bow models often cost hundreds of dollars to design, not counting the amounts used in setting up and running manufacturing plants, hiring workers, etc.
- These figures plus the exorbitant marketing costs must be recovered across every unit sold.
- A bigger proportion of the total costs go to covering the R & D for models selling very low volumes.
- If a bow proves a hit, the shared R & D costs will be smaller due to the higher volume which is why some brands like obsession bows remain cheap (so to speak) despite their decent performances.
- Besides the development cost, the need for sustainable profitability and positive cash flows additionally contribute to making the prices prohibitive.
Will the price of compound bows go down any time soon?
Here I have some good news and bad news…
Bad news first….
Well, expecting prices fall is being overoptimistic so long as demand remains at the current levels.
And so it’s fair to predict that manufacturers will continue laughing all the way to the bank until bow sales tail off.
When is this likely to happen?
Looking at the rate at which people are adopting shooting as a hobby/sport, it’s hard to tell if it will actually occur let alone when!
Good news now….
Not all compound bows are scandalously priced.
As a matter of fact, you don’t require a flagship name to get going.
Believe it or not, some of the ‘smaller’ models are as good as their big brothers- it’s only that they don’t get the credit they deserve.
How much do these cost?
Well, today you can purchase a $500 compound bow shooting 320 fps- more than sufficient to kill a deer- easily.
Did I mention that you can buy even the flagship ones used at a fraction of the prices listed in shops?
There are also tons of videos online of people making own compound bows using cheap components such as PVC pipes.
So, why are compound bow so expensive?
Well, as we have seen, the investment companies make to give a compound bow superior operational and performance technology make these bows costlier.
We have also mentioned that compound bows have more parts than recurve and longbows so they are bound to cost more.
Also don’t forget that some high-end compound bows use super expensive materials including carbon fiber to make them lighter and stiffer, further inflating their manufacturing expenditure.
Having said that, you may have little choice but to spend on a compound bow if you’re after a memorable shooting experience.
That’s because the rest of the bows can’t get anywhere near a compound bow in terms of performance and efficiency.