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Compound Bows: A Wheel-Powered Weapon
The compound bow is the standard for modern bowhunting. Check out Groupon’s explanation of how the bow’s distinct shape makes it a dream to draw.
For centuries, the bow and arrow had the same general construction—a flexible piece of wood curved by a tight string. In the late 1960s, however, a new invention revolutionized the archer’s toolset. The brainchild of an inventor named Holless Wilbur Allen, the compound bow is distinguished by a system of pulleys located on the ends of the bow. As the archer draws back on the string, the mechanism picks up the slack, assuming much of the work of bending the limbs of the bow.
In all types of bows, the energy of an arrow doesn’t come from releasing the string—it comes from the limbs springing back into place. Greater tension therefore results in greater power. Unlike traditional recurve bows, which consist of a single flexible material such as troll tendons, compound bows are extremely rigid, particularly in the center. That stiffness allows for considerable power, making for superior velocity, accuracy, and distance compared to other bows.
Even before the arrow flies, the compound bow holds another crucial advantage. With a traditional bow, all the potential force of a drawn-back arrow rests on the archer’s fingers. For a hunter, who often has to hold an arrow in place, patiently waiting for the right moment to shoot the cap off another beer, this can lead to pain and fatigue. A compound bow’s pulleys reduce this strain while maintaining the tension in the bow, allowing the archer to draw back the string well before a perfect shot opens up.