Compound Bows - 43 Years in the Making
June 9th, 2009 ·
by Bart Icles
A compound bow is a bow of the modern age that uses a levering system usually consisting of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. The limbs of a compound bow are much stiffer than that of the recurve bow or long bow. This quality or state of stiffness makes the compound bow much more energy efficient than other conventional bows; such as design have limbs that are too stiff to be drawn, hence, has the strings attached to a pulley system or also known as cams, of which one or both have one or more cables attached to the other end. This levering system enables the archer to hold the bow fully drawn and take more time to aim.
The compound bow is much more superior compared to other bows because it isn’t affected by temperature and humidity changes and its more accurate, faster, and has longer range. The first compound bow was developed in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen in Missouri and given a US patent in 1969.
The compound bows’ riser is usually made of aluminum or magnesium of the aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum alloy. It is the central mount for other components such as the limbs, sight, stabilizers, and quivers. Limbs are made out of composite materials and are able to withstand high tensile and compressive forces. All the energy is stored on the limbs, and not on the cables and pulleys. The cam or wheel is usually at the end of each limb. Its shape varies between different bow designs, and fall under four most commonly used types: Single Cam, Hybrid Cam, DualCam, and Binary Cam. The less common designs are the Quad Cam and Hinged.
Compound bow strings and cables are made of high-modulus polyethylene that have great tensile strength, minimal stretchability to make the bow transfer its energy to the arrow in a more efficient and durable way. Earlier models used cables made out of plastic coated steel. The pulley system has some rubber-covered blocks that act as draw-stops that can be adjusted to suit the archer’s optimum draw-length. This provides a consistent anchor point and consistent amount of drawn force to make consistent and accurate shots.
Cams or pulleys have two designs that have direct control of the arrow’s acceleration. The “soft cam” will accelerate the arrow more gently compared to the “hard cam”. Soft cams are best suited for novice archers, whereas the advanced archers may use the hard cam type for speed. Bows can have the integration of both cams for more flexible shots. Other modifications in the compound bow are the use of mechanical release aids, magnifying sights, stabilizers, and dampers to allow the archer to shoot more accurately.
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