Compound Bows: Are They Legal? (Find Out Here)

are compound bows legal

Although the use of bow and arrow dates back to centuries ago, the compound bow is a relatively new weapon, as it was first invented by Holless Wilbur Allen in 1966. Soon enough, compound bows evolved to be made of various materials like carbon and aluminum, and today some compound bows can go as fast as 340 feet per second. 

But because they can be too fast, are compound bows legal? Will you get in trouble for carrying and using a compound bow? Do you need a permit or license to own and use one?

Compound bows are legal, and you don’t need a permit or license to own, use, or practice using a compound bow. However, owning is different from hunting using a compound bow. Although you don’t need a permit to use a compound bow, using the bow outside the designated archery setting is governed by a set of regulations and rules.

So, while there’s no restriction on buying a compound bow, there are some restrictions regarding its intended use.

Keep on reading because I’ll answer all these questions in my article. 

Does compound bow require a license? 

Whether you’re in the US, UK, or Canada, you can easily walk into an archery store and leave with your compound bow. You don’t have to sign any papers or present any documents, even though you might have to do some paperwork in other countries.

Does compound bow require a license

But, here’s the trick. Anyone can get a compound bow, even if they don’t know how to shoot the arrow. This means that a powerful weapon like the compound bow can fall into the wrong hands, and there’s nothing worse than a newbie who doesn’t understand the potential of the bow they’re carrying. 

This is why there are some legal restrictions regarding the use of the bow and arrow. In the US, for example, every state is responsible for issuing laws and regulations regarding the use of a compound bow. 

If you’re in the US, you have to obtain a hunter’s license to be able to shoot the bow. And in order to get this license, you have to join a bow hunting class and pass some tests to demonstrate your ability to control and shoot the bow. 

So, although it’s perfectly legal to buy and own a compound bow, you can’t actually use it unless you have a license that proves your ability to control it properly. This license guarantees that the compound bow won’t fall into the wrong hands. 

Do the regulations regarding the use of compound bow change often?

As a matter of fact, they do. These restrictions are always subject to change, as they mainly aim at guaranteeing the safety of hunters and the support of wildlife populations in a specific area. The cost of licenses and permits also changes to raise funds that are used to maintain hunting lands. Here are some factors that affect hunting regulations.

  • The size and type of your bow.
  • The area where you plan to hunt. 
  • The hunting season.
  • The game species you’re planning to target.

Are hunting regulations the same across all American states?

Hunting regulations differ from one state to another. So, what might be perfectly legal in one state might not be allowed in another. 

Bowhunting is more popular in some states, and this is where hunting laws and restrictions might be more specific. For example, there are no restrictions in Alabama on the size or type of your bow, and you can hunt whenever and wherever you like. This is true in other states like Arizona and Georgia. 

In other states like Pennsylvania, where whitetail hunting is extremely popular, using a compound bow is allowed as long as the minimum draw weight is 35 pounds. However, in Connecticut, the compound bow should have a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds. In Hawaii, the draw weight of the compound bow should be 30 pounds. 

Can I use my compound bow in my backyard?

Can I use my compound bow in my backyard

According to federal and state laws, you can use your compound bow in your backyard for practice purposes. But before you set up a practice archery range, you need to check with your local sheriff or police department. Here are some things to take into consideration before practicing archery in your backyard. 

  • Check out all the laws and regulations regarding shooting your bow. Make sure that your archery equipment complies with your state and town laws to avoid getting into legal issues

  • Talk to your neighbors. While you might be allowed to practice shooting using your bow and arrow, your neighbors might not be pleased about it and might be concerned about someone firing arrows next to their house. 
  • Ensure that there’s a 400-yard radius in the direction you’re shooting. This will guarantee that no one will be in the range of a stray arrow. In general, it’s illegal to practice shooting an arrow within a distance of 100 yards from another property that you don’t own. 
  • Carefully plan where you’re setting up your target. You shouldn’t be shooting your arrow towards the road or nearby houses.
  • Keep your pets inside or leashed while you’re practicing. 
  • If you’re practicing with others, make sure that everyone is standing behind the shooting line. 
  • Set up a physical backstop to catch any stray arrows, and this backstop should be larger than the size of the target. An old carpet will work fine because it’s thick enough to catch the arrows in case you shoot them in the wrong direction. The backstop should be placed about 25 yards behind your target. 
  • Make sure that you’re buying targets from a reliable supplier, as they should be sturdy enough to withstand practice and shooting. 
  • If you’re a rookie, start with small portable targets. These targets can be stored indoors and carried outside only when it’s time to practice. You can put these targets on the ground and shoot at a downward angle, so missed arrows won’t travel far. 
  • Set up large target bales to practice distance shooting. These are larger targets and are more difficult to miss, so they’ll help you master your shooting skills. 

Final thoughts

Compound bows are legal to own, and you can buy one without having to worry about paperwork or documents. This means that even someone with zero archery experience can legally purchase and own a compound bow. 

But to use the compound bow, you need to have a hunting license. In addition, you should take archery classes, practice religiously, and eventually pass a test that qualifies you to use your compound bow legally. You can also practice shooting your bow in your backyard if you follow the right legal procedures. 

If you want to know more about the difference between compound bows and crossbows, visit this link


My name is Roland, and I have over a decade of experience in archery, both with bow and crossbow. I want to share the best tips and tricks about archery and help you reach the next level. So, browse through the blog and find relevant information about archery and stick around.

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