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Compound Bows: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about compound bows and their answers

Question: What is a compound bow and how does it differ from the traditional bows like the recurve bow, cross bow, and long bow?

Answer: A compound bow uses a system made up of cables, levers and cams to store energy and allow it to be released instantly when the weapon is fired. Unlike the recurve and longbows, the limbs of the compound bow are more rigid. The use of cams and the principal of leverage make it easier for the archer to draw the string despite the more rigid limbs. They also permit the storage of more energy so that the arrow can attain a longer distance.

Question: What are the advantages of a compound bow over the traditional bows?

Answer: The levering system of the compound bow magnifies the force that is applied to the arrow after the archer has drawn the string but reduces the force that he must maintain on the string. One of the cams reduces the force that the archer has to apply to enable him to take a more accurate shot. Another advantage of the compound bow is that it is hardly affected by temperature or humidity so that it can be used in a wide range of conditions. Another benefit is that the type of cam can be changed if you prefer to shoot the arrow more gently.

Question: What are the disadvantages of compound bows?

Answer: The weight of compound bows is usually less than the weight of traditional bows. Thus, it is more easily affected by errors in form when drawn to full length. Specifically, there is a stronger possibility for the archer to slightly twist from left to right or vice versa.

Question: Do compound bows require a different kind of arrow?

Answer: Wooden arrows are not used for compound bows because they could break or shatter as a result of the stronger forces that are applied. This could be very dangerous for the archer. Thus, the shafts of arrows for compound bows are usually made of carbon or aluminum alloy. Arrows with various lengths and stiffness are made available by manufacturers to allow for the various draw lengths and draw weights.

Question: What are the types of cam systems used?

Answer: There are four basic types of cam arrangements for compound bows. The single cam compound bow has a power cam on the bottom and an idler wheel on the top. The power cam is elliptical in shape while the idler wheel is round. The hybrid cam has a power cam on the bottom limb and a control cam on the top limb. Both cams are elliptical in shape. The twin cam system has two elliptical or round wheels that have to be synchronized. The binary cam system is a modification of the twin cam system where the cams are made to be slaves of each other. All of these cam systems have their pros and cons. Therefore, your choice would depend on how you plan to use your compound bow and your preferences.

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