Understanding Compound Bows

Gone are the days when you thought of bows and arrows as wood and string alone. The modern Robin Hood nowadays prefers a sleeker, more powerful type of bow in compound designs.

The history of cross bows has led to the coming of sleeker compound bows that are now used in the sport of professional archery. Whereas before, hitting a 2-inch inner circle seemed like a miracle, compound bows are now made to hit the center multiple times per minute out of distances like 60 yards or even farther.

Traditional versus Compound

Technology and sport now play hand in hand. The traditional bow of yesteryears made use of the longbow and recurve. That means that the farther it’s pulled, the greater its recoil is, or the more energy is placed in the release of the arrow when you shoot the target. This is the accuracy that you usually seen in movies. The arrow is drawn all the way to the ear, which requires a type of force to carry the weight of, say, a 70-lb. draw.

So what makes the compound bow different? Compound bows make use of a levering system usually made up of a series of cables and pulleys that can bend the limbs of the bow. The athlete or hobbyist doesn’t have to carry all the weight anymore. The draw weight is distributed in such a way that it creates a “let off” at the end of the draw. This makes the compound bow more energy-efficient. Different compound bows will have different percentages of let off. The most common is a 70% let off, which means that for a 70-lb. draw weight, the athlete will only be carrying 21 lbs.

How is this advantageous to the athlete? The off weight means that athletes can draw the arrows longer, which gives him time to concentrate on his target whether its a two-inch circle or a moving animal. This means the athlete can also use less force and can hold the compound bow steadier compared to a traditional bow.

In professional archery or even with hunter hobbyists, speed is very important. A millisecond can stand between you being able to hit the target, or not. Different compound bows have different IBO speeds or fps. This is the standard measurement of speed of how soon the bow can shoot the arrow.

How does it work?

The pulley/cam system of the compound bow works as such: when you draw the strings back, the pulleys will rotate. Compound bows have two cam tracks: the inner cam and the outer cam. The outer cam track is where the bowstrings run through.

It is then up to the athlete to change or manipulate these two cam tracks to create a more efficient draw and IBO speed to suit his needs.

Most athletes aim to have a faster arrow because a faster arrow usually means that the arrow has less arc when it travels, making it more accurate. It can hit the target better, though not necessarily more forcefully.

In a game of speed and accuracy, having the right equipment is needed as technology plays an important role in how the athlete performs. Other than constant practice, choose your equipment well. It usually makes the difference between hitting the target, or not.

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