There are several factors to consider when purchasing a compound bow. One
important factor is whether or not you have the ability to handle this type of bow.
Different from the traditional long bow, there are several components that form
the makeup of the compound bow.
When looking at a compound bow you will notice two wheels at either end of the
draw string. These are the cams - which are used to help balance the force
generated by the drawstring being pulled back as well as controlling the speed at
which you can draw. Cams can make the bow easier to pull or much harder.
Target Shooting - A "soft cam" is used to enable an easy and steady draw
allowing you to concentrate on your accuracy. This enables multiple shots
without worrying about your arm tiring. With this setup you sacrifice power and
Hunting - Hunters need powerful, piercing shots that are generated from speed
and force. An aggressive cam will provide you with excellent power.
The above mentioned cam types are known as two-wheel types. There is one
more type of cam called the single cam, which uses one wheel instead of two -
as the name implies. There are a few advantages over this bow type:
A single cam system is more likely to maintain its integrity over time. Things like heat and
continuous stretching will affect the cams naturally. These same factors can cause uneven wear
on dual cam systems, which will in turn cause an unbalanced draw cause poor arrow flight.
With a simgle cam, there is no problem remaining in tune with another cam, so you can expect
more accuracy over a longer period of time. It is however more difficult to start when tuning.
Single cams are quieter, which is a huge benefit for hunters.
A drawback for the single cam is that the notch for nocking the arrow does not maintain a
consistent travel level through the shot possibly causing your arrow to move vertically.
Hybrid cams are relatively new, but they do offer several benefits. They are quiet, fast and
smooth. They also eliminate vibration and timing issues associated with the dual cam systems.
Limbs are two flexible arms which extend from the center portion of the bow up to the cams
which are located at the ends of these limbs. With compound bows, the limbs are designed to
be very stiff, making them generate more power than a traditional bow. Typically they are
constructed of lightweight carbon fiber composite and they can be designed two ways: standard
or split. A split limb consists of two pieces and the standard limb is a single piece. For lighter
and quieter bows, split limbs are the preferred choice.
The speed and strength of an arrow trajectory depends on several factors, most of them dealing
with dimensions: Your arm length, bow length, weight and abilities. Typically when referring to
compound bows you will hear the following terms:
Bow Length - A bow's length is measured in inches from top to bottom cam. Choosing the
proper length is critical for optimum maneuverability and stability.
Draw Weight - The amount of strength it takes you to draw the string back. This is measured
in pounds. The users weight and strength play a big role as well as the cam type which is on the
Draw Length - Measured from hand to hand in a flexed, drawn back and ready to shoot
position. The length of the draw determines how fast the arrow will be shot. Like a rubber band,
the more you pull it, the farther and faster it flies. It must be matched with the proper draw
weight to get optimum results.
The bow can be short and light (32 inches) or long and heavy (48 inches). The longer the bow,
the more accurate it will be, which is ideal for target shooters. Hunters however, will find that
shorter bows will allow for greater mobility maneuvering through branches and the like but will
sacrifice stability and accuracy. Most users will have to compromise about which factors are
most important for their specific needs. Beginners should start between 38 and 44 inches.
Draw length is really a matter of how long your arm is, you will have to measure this yourself.
You want to be able to draw the string comfortably at a full extension (back to the corner of your
mouth) for at least 15 seconds. As for the draw weight, 50 to 70 pounds is adequate for an
adult. Juniors have special bows built to compensate the draw weight to suit their muscle
capacity. The trick to finding the right weight has to do with how comfortable you feel when
drawing the string.
Risers are part of the bow that you grip and come in two varieties: flex or reflex. A reflex riser is
slower but more giving when you shoot. Typically they are constructed of aluminum or
magnesium. Machine aluminum can be anodized which helps the paint last longer than that on
a cast handle. Magnesium is heavier than the machined aluminum risers and typically are