Compound Bow Cam & Limb Technologies

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THERE'S MAGIC IN THOSE CAMS!


compound bow cam highlightWHAT DO CAMS ACTUALLY DO?   A cam is a rotating or sliding piece in a mechanical linkage used to transform rotary motion into linear motion or vice versa. Fine! But on a compound bow, how can one cam be capable of achieving 340 fps, while another only shoots 310 fps? Isn't a cam a cam?  Well, before we dive in, let's cover one basic idea. What makes a compound bow a compound  is that it is a collection of simple machines working together to create a mechanical advantage. The cam is really the heart of that mechanical system, accomplishing several tasks simultaneously. But the cam's ability to manipulate draw weight forces is what really separates the compound from a traditional recurve or longbow.  A traditional bow really isn't so different from a simple slingshot. The further you pull back, the harder the bow gets to pull - not  unlike yanking on a rubber band. Take a look at the sample graph below-left - this is how a traditional bow stores energy (oversimplified for illustration, of course). It's very easy to see how the relationship works - as draw length increases, so does draw weight. The relationship of draw length to draw weight is roughly linear. Not so with a compound bow.

STORED ENERGY (UNDER THE CURVE)`  On the two graphs, notice the shaded area under the green line. This area represents STORED ENERGY. That's an important term - remember it. As you draw a bow, you're really just transferring energy from your body into the limbs of the bow. The gray area under the green line represents how much of your muscle energy is being stored by the bow. The more energy you can transfer into the bow, the more energy is available to transfer into the arrow when you shoot. Though both bows hit the same peak weight, the traditional bow doesn't come up to weight until you get it drawn most of the way back. So during the first half of the drawstroke, you're not storing up much energy. Even worse, the traditional bow becomes toughest right when you could most use some relief (when you're trying to aim and fire). All full draw, the traditional bow is at maximum weight. So once you get your traditional bow drawn back, you can't dilly-dally around. You have to shoot quickly - unless you have Herculean strength. The compound bow fixes both of these fundamental problems, thanks to the magic in the those cams. The compound bow not only stores more energy by manipulating the forces, but it "lets-off" (partially relaxes) at the end of the drawstroke, so you're holding less weight at full draw, allowing you more time at to aim and fire. Brilliant! But none of that is possible without the mechanology of the cam. Manipulating a bow's draw weight, and thus the energy storage graph (called a force draw curve) takes some clever Calculus. Fortunately, that is literally the specialty of our industry. You want more for less? Well here it comes. Get ready to be amazed.
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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CURVE`


THE FORCE IS WITH YOU`   By mechanically manipulating the draw weight, the compound bow can literally change that straight line into a heavenly mountain of energy storage - a humpy little volcano of arrow velocity. With a cam, the drawstroke can be directly manipulated such that the bow's draw weight rises to peak weight much sooner in the cycle. But the cam can also "flatten out" the energy storage curve, to maximize energy storage along every inch. This greatly improves the area under the curve, and thus the storage/output capacity of the bow. So compound bows are faster than traditional bows - a LOT faster. Again, the area under the curve is the real secret sauce of the compound bow, and the size and shape of that flattened bell-curve will have everything to do with how the bow feels and performs.

CAM PROFILING` Here's where it gets fun. A compound bow doesn't get its shooting characteristics by accident; a bow doesn't just "come out" one way or another. The shooting characteristics are engineered into the bow from conception. On the drawing board, the shape of that force draw curve can be manipulated any way we like - depending on how we want a bow to feel and perform. The actual geometry of the cam system determines how soft or aggressive the powerstroke will be. This is called the cam's profile. Sometimes we hear people say cam grind, of course, cams are machined, not ground, but you get the idea. Aggressive cams yield a flatter boxy looking force draw curve, smoother cams yield a traditional bell-shaped graph. Look at the sample graphs below, taken from three different cam profiles. Pay special attention to the shaded areas. That represents energy storage. The more shaded area, the faster the bow shoots. But to get that extra energy storage, the cam profile must be more aggressive, with more abrupt transitions. All too often we hear bow companies tout their bows as both fast and smooth - when it's far more accurate to say fast OR smooth. When it comes to cam profiles, you can't have your cake and eat it too. But many consumers have been brainwashed into believing they can.

compound bow cam aggression chart

NO FREE LUNCH`  So where does the modern compound bow get all its power and ferocity? From technology? From force multiplying cams? Nope. Just like every other hand-drawn weapon in human history, the compound bow still gets ALL of its energy only from you. We mention this again because cams which optimize energy storage do so exclusively at your expense. The bow is only the tool. You still have to supply the power. Nevertheless, cams are often marketed like race car engines - revved up with 20% more power and ripping through the competition. The "power" of the cam is practically implied to be internal - but it isn't. It's easy for customers to lose sight of how difficult it will be to pull 70 pounds across a 20+ inch optimized hard-cam powerstroke. If you grew up on old wheel style bows (think Bear Whitetail), a modern hard-cam bow might be a shock to your machismo. If you choose a hot IBO Speed bow (340+), you better eat your Wheaties. They are no joke to pull back. One of the most common customer service calls we get is about reducing a new bow's draw weight. So it's worth saying one more time. Most guys bite off more than they can chew. If you're going for the Super-Annihilator 9000 model with the 350 fps IBO Speed, you better be ready. That speed won't come free, even if the bow's manufacturer tells you it's buttery smooth. You still have to muster the muscle to earn every fps.

question iconNO MYSTERY REMAINS` Years ago we tested hundreds of bows on our force-draw machine and graphed their cam cycles. We were practically obsessed with it for a while. We discovered that some bow manufacturers clearly had their engineering down, with clean and deliberate curves. Nothing was incidental or haphazard. Other makers still had a few humps and ugly spots in their graphs - they hadn't quite gotten the geometry of their cams just right. But today, virtually every cam on the market has a drawstroke that is computer optimized millimeter by millimeter (which is no fun). Some cams are optimized for speed, some for comfort, and some try to find a blend between the two. There's no mystery left in cam geometry. The only mystery is in trying to predict what YOU want to buy. At what point will customers say a bow is "too aggressive" or "too harsh"? Where is that perfect blend where customers will think a bow has enough speed while still feeling that the drawstroke is acceptably comfortable? That's the game every manufacturer plays - trying to figure out the customer. The cams have already been figured out. With that said, you should know that there are very few true "soft" cams left on the market. Ten or fifteen years ago, many manufacturers marketed and sold "EZ-Draw" and "Wheely" cams with nice docile profiles. Today, the market focus is chiefly on IBO Speed, and soft-draw cams just can't generate enough speed to attract spec buyers. So most manufacturers don't bother making them. By any reasonable definition, the softest cams on today's market are still medium/hard cams.

compound bow power truth system highlight THE SPECS YOU WON'T SEE


THIS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ENIGMATIC` As a technical matter of measuring how aggressive a cam really is, we could simply publish the total ft-lbs represented by that shaded area under the curve. It's quite easy to measure (and all the manufacturers already have this data). If customers could tell exactly how many ft-lbs of grunt the bow required to draw back, we could all dispense with the subjective gibberish about draw-cycle smoothness.  And if that data were collected and published at a standardized setting, say at IBO test regs (70# peak draw weight & 30" draw length), then consumers could simply compare the numbers. We would expect bows requiring more total ft-lbs to be tougher to draw; bows which stored fewer ft-lbs would be easier to draw. Easy! It would not only make the world a better place for bow buyers, but it would save us from having to use words like velvety and silky when we're at work.

EFFICIENCY OF ENERGY-IN TO ENERGY-OUT`  Better yet, we could then compare the bow's published output (IBO Speed) to the input, and using a simple mathematical KE calculation we could determine each bow's total efficiency. This would tell us a lot about how much noise and vibration the bow would likely generate. In an ideal world, a bow should convert 100% of its stored energy into the arrow, for a perfect efficiency rating of 100%. If all the energy were successfully transferred into the arrow, there would be no energy left to create noise, vibration, etc. That's an ideal world. In the real world, bows manage much lower efficiencies. You can think of it like this. If a bow requires 90 total ft-lbs to draw, but only manages to successfully transfer 75 ft-lbs into the arrow, then 15 ft-lbs is being wasted somewhere. Of course, energy doesn't just disappear. That lost 15 ft-lbs would represent friction, heat, vibration, noise and other unwanted forces. So the higher the efficiency rating, the quieter and more shock-free a bow would likely be. If this data were to be part of every bow's published specifications, it would give consumers a good way to gauge the overall engineering quality and general performance expectations of any particular bow. So why don't we do this? Because all bows are idealized products, remember? Every bow is ferocious and blazing fast while being incredibly smooth and forgiving, remember? Manufacturers don't necessarily want to provide consumers with a good way to gauge the overall engineering quality and performance of their bows. It's better if we just tell you it's great, and you go along with it.

CAM TYPES


THE FINAL FOUR`   Modern compound bows generally come with one of four different types - or styles - of cam systems (Single, Hybrid, Binary, or Twin). While they all accomplish a similar mechanical goal, they each have a unique set of attributes and respective advantages and disadvantages. While the technical subtleties and respective merits of the various cam systems could be debated in perpetuity, in the real world there is an obvious performance parity among them all - especially now that string fiber technology has improved. This isn't to say all cam systems perform exactly the same. They certainly don't. But to claim one cam style really offers a dominant field-advantage over another would be a stretch.

compound bow cam types highlightSINGLE CAMS` Often described as a Solocam or One Cam, the Single Cam system features a round idler wheel on the top of the bow and an elliptical shaped power-cam on the bottom. The single cam is generally quieter and easier to maintain than traditional twin cam systems, since there is no need for cam synchronization. However, single cam systems have struggled to achieve level nock travel (though the technical debate continues and every single cam manufacturer SWEARS their nock travel is perfect). Nonetheless, single cam bows still have a tendency to tune knock high, but that's certainly nothing newsworthy. It's par for the course. Of course, all single cams aren't created equal. There are good ones and bad ones. Some are very fast and aggressive, others are quite smooth and silky. Some offer easy adjustability and convenient let-off choices, others don't. But most single cams do offer reasonable accuracy and a good solid stop at full draw. Overall, the smoothness and reliability of the single cam is well respected. The single cam is still a widely accepted cam choice.

compound bow cam types highlightHYBRID CAMS` The Hybrid Cam system features two asymmetrically elliptical cams: a control cam on the top, and a power cam on the bottom. The system is rigged with a single split-harness, a control cable, and a main string. Though originally invented and marketed by Darton Archery as the C/P/S Cam System, Hoyt's introduction of the Cam & 1/2 (a variation of the original C/P/S System) in 2003 brought hybrid systems into the limelight. Hybrid Cams claim to offer the benefits of straight and level nock travel, like a properly-tuned twin-cam bow, but without the timing and synchronization issues. Indeed, hybrid cams require less maintenance than traditional twin cams, but it's probably a technical stretch to say that hybrid cams are maintenance free. They too need to be oriented (timed) properly for best overall efficiency and performance. But once they're dialed-in, hybrids are impressively fast and quiet, often besting the hottest single cam bows. Over the last few years, more and more manufacturers have adopted hybrid cams. We expect the trend will continue.

compound bow cam types highlightBINARY CAMS` Introduced by Bowtech Archery as a new concept for 2005, the Binary Cam is a modified 3-groove twin-cam system that slaves the top and bottom cams to each other, rather than to the bow's limbs. Unlike single and hybrid systems, there was no split-harness on the original binary cam system - just two "cam-to-cam" control cables. So the cams didn't pull on the opposing limbs - they pulled only on the opposing cams. This created a "free-floating" system which allowed the cams to automatically equalize any imbalances in the limb deflections or string and control cable lengths. So technically, this self-correcting cam system could have no timing or synchronization issues and would always achieve perfectly straight and level nock travel. Binary cams quickly became a huge force in the industry. They're fast - really fast - and they're easy to work with. Regrettably, patent snarls have muddied the waters on this cam type. Several manufacturers are now using cams which are clearly binary style designs, but the cams are described and licensed as hybrid cams. Strange industry!

compound bow cam types highlightTWIN CAMS` A Twin Cam system is sometimes described as a Two Cam or a Dual Cam. The twin cam system features two perfectly symmetrical round wheels or elliptical cams on each end of the bow. When properly synchronized, twin cam systems offer excellent nock travel, accuracy, and overall speed. However, twin cams can require more maintenance and service to stay in top shooting condition. But thanks to today's crop of advanced no-creep string fibers, they are becoming little more troublesome than any other style of cam. Many hardcore competition shooters are quite loyal to the twin cam concept. And it's probably worth noting that the twin cam bow is dramatically more popular outside of the US and Canada, where there is less advertising to hype the single and hybrid systems. Aside from maintenance issues, the only true disadvantage to twin cams is the tendency for increased noise (compared to typical single and hybrid cams). Nonetheless, the twin cam is still the cam system of choice for many serious shooters. Twin cams are also a very popular choice for youth bows - since their geometry lends to large sweeping adjustment ranges.

compound bow cam choice commentary highlightFORGOTTEN CAM WARS` Ten years ago every manufacturer fought and clawed to promote their flavor of cam technology. It was great fun. Every magazine and forum was littered with wild debates and "independent" test results about cam technology. We were all wrapped up in it - the whole industry was. Any discussion about a new compound bow started with a debate about cam technology. The bow companies mercilessly duked it out - season after season - and the marketing was fantastic! Everyone loved it. And just when we all got used to enjoying the spectacle, the war seemed to fizzle out. We weren't sure if consumers somehow got lost in the smoke and nomenclature or if they just stopped caring. But today, the cam wars have been all but forgotten. Manufacturers, dealers and consumers have largely laid down their cam prejudices all together. Most of our customers don't even mention cam technology anymore. The truth seems to be that all of the cam technologies have finally matured, so there's really nothing left to fight about. Today we take a more pragmatic approach and intelligently utilize all the cam styles, depending on the application. Sometimes one cam style makes more sense - sometimes another works best. It makes perfect sense, but frankly, it's not nearly as fun.

LET-OFF & PEACE IN THE VALLEY

compound bow let-off holding weight chart highlight
WHAT IS LET-OFF?   In addition to controlling the aggression (and energy storage potential) of the drawstroke, cams also control the bow's let-off. Let-off is the mechanical relaxation of string tension at full draw. That means when you come to full draw, the amount of effort required to hold the bow back is reduced (compared to the peak draw weight). The amount of let-off a bow achieves is properly expressed as a percent of the peak weight. So if a bow has a 60 pound peak draw weight and 50% let-off, it would require only 30 pounds of pressure to hold at full draw. Easy enough!

ANOTHER OLD DEBATE` Bowhunting purists used to push-back on the issue of let-off. At one time, it was thought, a "high let-off" bow offered too much advantage to the bowhunter. Many states had laws regulating how much let-off a compound bow could achieve to be a legal hunting weapon. This touched off a long and tiring debate about what percentage of relaxation was acceptable. We bickered. We lobbied. We even argued about the measurement methodology (actual vs. effective) and we made customers endure lectures about hysteresis and the exclusionary rules of the Pope & Young Club. The discussion and technical chase went on for decades, but it all somehow fizzled-out once the cam wars ended. One by one, states dissolved their let-off rules. Clubs and organizations stopped caring about it, and the entire issue of let-off ceased to be a controversy. To this day, we still have drawers full of old 65% cam modules - relics of the cam wars and the let-off debate.

80% OR 80% LET-OFF? You won't be surprised to hear how buying trends and manufacturing parity have largely ended the era of the low let-off hunting bow. The moral of the story is, mainstream buyers like high let-off bows. That's where most of the money is spent? So bow manufacturers give buyers what they want - 80% let-off - and the corresponding politics have followed the money. Today, the overwhelming majority of compound hunting bows are high let-off (75% or 80%). Many manufacturers have entirely stopped offering the 65% option (or a low let-off option is only achievable with a short-set draw stop peg). There are a few speed-bows on the market which advertise 70% let-off, but that's about as low as you'll see. If you purchase a new compound bow, it's going to be a high let-off bow. We realize this doesn't make everyone happy. There are still some technical arguments to support lower let-offs, but all things considered, high let-off bows are decidedly more comfortable to shoot and that's what most people want to buy. For most bow manufacturers, it just isn't worth it to engineer low let-off options any more. So your choice here is usually pretty easy ... 80% or 80%?

compound bow cam choice commentary highlightWHAT IS THE VALLEY? Before we move on, this is a good place to mention the concept of "valley".  If you're not familiar with this term, it refers to how abruptly the cam transitions to (and from) full let-off. There's no official way to quantify the concept of "valley".  It's something you really feel rather than measure, but you can think of it as the section of the draw cycle where the bow makes full let-off. Here's an extreme example to illustrate the point. Imagine if you drew back your compound bow, but three inches before you got to full draw the bow prematurely achieved full relaxation and it maintained that full relaxation all the way back to the stop. At full draw, holding back only a few pounds, you would be able to easily see-saw the string forward and backward within that three inch range, without the string trying to jerk you forward. That would be a three inch wide valley. You would have a full three inches of drawstroke where the bow was achieving its full let-off. Get it? Of course, no bow has a three inch valley - unless it's suffering a major malfunction. Most bows will have a valley that feels quite short - usually less than 1/2 inch (if you're lucky). We mention this phenomenon because it causes some shooters grief. The more aggressive a cam profile, the shorter the valley typically feels. A bow with a short valley can be uncomfortable and awkward, because you always feel like the string is trying to jerk you forward. If you've ever visited an archery range, you've surely seen people twitching and jerking at full draw, fighting to keep their bows from sucking them into their whisker biscuits. Once you leave the peace of that let-off valley, the full draw weight of the bow is waiting to grab you. Of course, this isn't a bow defect, the issue is actually caused by a shooting form glitch called creeping (allowing the string to inch slightly forward while aiming) but the issue is exacerbated by aggressive short-valley cams. Be advised that those 340-355 fps bows are all but guaranteed to have aggressive short-valley cams. If you're a creeper, and you're hoping for a wide comfortable valley, we suggest you choose a bow with a more sedate IBO Speed and moderate cam profile.

SOLID AND SPLIT LIMBS`


compound bow limb choice solid and split highlightYES. WE FOUGHT ABOUT THAT TOO`   Ten years ago, we didn't just fight about cam technologies. We fought about limb pocket designs. We fussed over who had the right dampening doo-dads. We even argued about string construction. And while no tussle could match the eye-gouging of the cam wars, the war over limb technologies took a pretty close second. Bow manufacturers dug their heels in to promote their preferred style of limb - solid or split. Each claimed the other was technically inferior and outmoded. Among the many claims, solid limb proponents declared their solid limbs offered better torsional stiffness and were more accurate than split limbs. Split limb proponents argued split limbs were more durable and produced less hand-shock than solid limbs. On the left side of your bowhunting magazine, an advertisement told you how much better split limbs were than solid limbs, while on the right side a competitor's ad said the exact opposite. We constantly fielded limb type questions from customers - even our staff was divided on what to recommend. It was a very confusing time. We weren't sure which side of the war to support, but we did fix a lot of broken limbs. As an authorized warranty service center, we've replaced a lot of cracked, splintered, and delaminated bow limbs over the years. Limbs of all types seemed to come apart, sometimes catastrophically. It was our job to fix them and get those customers back in the woods. We didn't really have time to pick sides in the limb war.

TRAITORS AND HYPOCRITES`  A few years later, the limb failures started to decline. Sometimes we would go weeks at a time without fixing a freshly exploded bow. We started to feel like the Maytag Man. It seemed that limb materials, technologies, techniques and fibers were simply getting better. And as the limbs got better, the limb war somehow quieted. As a matter of limb durability anyway, the point was becoming moot - one wasn't appreciably better than the other. To be fair, we're not suggesting limb failures no longer exist. Now and then a manufacturer still manages to cause a stink with their limb experiments, but the systemic issues have resolved. And today, there just isn't a good argument to declare one style of compound bow limb superior to the other. That reality was soon solidified when many of those same lecturing manufacturers crossed their own lines in the sand, and changed some, or all, of their bows to split from solid, or to solid from split. Most manufacturers now use a mix of solid and split limb styles and make the choice based on logical application, and little to nothing is said about limb style choice in today's publications. Until someone tries a triple limb - or perhaps a Limb & 1/2 - we'll just have to let this old battle go. Strangely, customers seem to have largely abandoned their limb prejudices too. We get very few questions about split vs. solid limbs today.

LIMB TRENDS


compound bow willow tree limbs style highlight WILLOW TREE LIMBS`   Short of wandering onto hallowed ground, we can make one observation about limb trends. All of today's really fast 340/350 fps speed bows seem to be utilizing a similar limb concept - what we loosely call the Willow Tree limb. These limbs are highly preloaded split limbs which seem to move up and down like pulling on a flexible willow tree branch; they're "arched" not bent. The entire limb assembly seems to flex in a smooth flowing curve - rather than like a diving board. Whether it's the superior design or not, the willow tree split limb seems to be the currently favored trend. Use of this limb configuration seems to be expanding across the market too. Fewer and fewer bows now feature the basic belly-cut GordonGlass solid limb. Does this mean split limbs are better? Not really. A few years from now the whole trend is likely to reverse or morph into something else. But for now, the willow tree split limb is reported to have the efficiency edge - though we've never heard anyone exactly explain why. If we called around, we could surely find an industry engineer to give us a tension/compression/laminated-fiber lesson on the subject, but since nobody is really talkin' smack about limbs these days, we'll not stir up any trouble.

LIMB BIASING`  Split limbs may also be getting more action these days because of the popularity of yolkless cam systems (no split-buss cable/y-cable). When a bow's cables are pulled to the side by the cable slide or roller guard, this causes some torque at the cams resulting in cam lean - particularly on the top cam. This normally isn't a problem if the bow has a split-yolk. One side of the yolk can simply be twisted up to shorten it a little and equalize the imbalance. But since many bows now feature (binary-style) cams without split yolks, cam lean is more problematic. Of course, small amounts of cam lean are technically inconsequential. However, the appearance of that leaning cam drives customers bananas. Customers assume its a defect - and blame every miss and burp the bow makes on the cam lean. So manufacturers came up with a smart solution - limb biasing - which is pretty easy to do if the bow features split limbs. The concept of limb biasing is pretty simple: just make one limb a little stronger. Easy! To get those cams to stand upright and to offset the cable tension torque, manufacturers simply install a slightly stiffer limb on the outside of the bow (opposite the cable slide). So, many split limb bows actually have left and right side limbs with slightly different deflections (strengths). We're not sure how wise that is with regards to accuracy. Logic would seem to suggest that two limbs working in unison would be more effective than two deliberately imbalanced limbs, but perhaps the biased limb simply corrects an inherent flaw in compound bow design. The biased limb might actually keep things in better balance throughout the entire cycle. So maybe it really is better. But whether it is or isn't, as long as the technique keeps customers from trying to analyze their bows with a carpenter's square, it's surely a welcome solution.

PARALLEL LIMBS


compound bow parallel limbs style highlightWE'RE OVER IT`   If you don't know what a parallel limb bow is, don't be concerned. The term has practically become unnecessary. Ten or twelve years ago, our industry underwent a total overhaul regarding limb angles/orientation. Compound bows used to be shaped like a "D", with short deflexed risers and long upright limbs. With this orientation, the limbs sprang violently forward when you fired the bow. The whole bow practically jumped out of your hand, sometimes dramatically.  We commonly described the phenomenon as hand-shock, and it wasn't a desirable trait. Customers certainly didn't like it.  So we spent years covering bows with blubbery black rubber and anti-vibration gizmos in an attempt to subdue hand shock.  But nothing seemed to really help - until somebody got the idea to rethink that D-shape.  Risers started getting longer, limbs got shorter, and the familiar batwing shape of today's compound bow started to emerge.  Bow manufacturers had stumbled onto something big. Reorienting the limbs into a more parallel configuration literally changed everything. By orienting the limbs so they flexed up and down in a vertical motion, rather than back and forth in a horizontal motion, the inertial effect on the riser was neutralized. The top limb sprang up when fired- the bottom limb sprang down when fired - and the riser wasn't jerked forward. Awesome! The opposing forces seemed to cancel one another out. Finally we had a solution for hand-shock that treated the cause, rather than the symptom. The parallel limb bow was born and the industry has never looked back. Of course, everyone fought over who "invented" this innovation, and we all ran around measuring limb angles for a while, but within a few seasons, the parallel limb conversion was absolute across the industry. It was a better idea. Everyone adopted it, and now all compound bows are essentially parallel limb bows. So it's almost unnecessary to use the term parallel limb to describe a new bow - in the same way you don't need to say flat-screen to describe a new television.

GOING A LITTLE TOO FAR`  The parallel limb revolution was a great boon for the archery industry. Every non-parallel-limb bow was suddenly obsolete and headed for a garage sale. No self-respecting bowhunter could be seen with an old D-bow. We all needed new parallel-limb bows. So naturally, every bow company scrambled to get a piece of the action. But in every crowd, there's always somebody out there willing to take a good thing too far. The idea of the parallel limb is to get the limbs moving at angles perpendicular to the riser, allowing the upper and lower limb assemblies to cancel each other's inertia. Unfortunately, the quest for sustained sales growth drove a few bow manufacturers to molest the concept. Some tried the more is more method with their limb angles, assuming that if customers liked parallel limbs, they would really like super-duper way beyond parallel ridiculous limb angles - resulting in limbs which were practically pointing straight back at shooter's faces. Ah! There's always that one guy, isn't there?

YOU'LL LIKE IT`  Here's all you really need to know. Your new bow is going to have parallel limbs, and it should feel dead as a stick when you shoot it. You'll like it. It won't jump. It won't kick. It won't have enough hand-shock to even mention, and if it does, the bow is malfunctioning. Call us and we'll get the bow back for diagnostics and service. Parallel limb bows are basically shock and recoil free. They're supposed to be. Bow manufacturers have been tweaking-around on this innovation for fifteen years. If a new bow has any significant hand-shock today, the bow is junk - end of discussion - no sale! We don't even stock a bow with recoil issues. Call it a "settled science" if you like, but recoil is no longer acceptable - at any price point. And it's all thanks to the innovation we know as parallel limbs, but you don't have to say it out loud. All TV's are flat-screens now.

THE NEXT REVOLUTION


FEELING A BIT SALTY`   The truth is, the bow industry is becoming victimized by its own success. In the 90's, the compound bow market was revolutionized by centershot cutaway risers and the new single-cam phenomenon. So everyone needed a new bow (good for business). The next decade we got computer optimized drawstrokes and parallel limbs. So everyone needed a new bow again (good for business). But our market has seen a strange lull the last few seasons (bad for business). There just doesn't seem to be a good reason to replace all of our compound bows again. The technologies and specs really haven't changed enough to warrant sending another generation of compound bows to the garage sale. Many of the new bows on the market today aren't significantly better than bows from five years ago. We submit the technologies and manufacturing processes have simply matured, and that makes us both happy and sad. The sales boon of the parallel limb bow revolution may never come again. The days where customers swamped the pro-shop for the latest cam technologies or limb designs may be over. Until there's a new reason to scrap an entire generation of compound bows, buyers will surely hang onto their existing bows. We don't blame them. The modern compound bow is truly fantastic. If you have one already, enjoy it. If you're a new buyer, you can take some comfort in knowing that your new compound bow isn't likely to be rendered obsolete any time soon. We suggest you buy a bow you really like - and plan to keep it for a while.

Compound Bow Selection & Research Guide  |  Chapter 4
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