|COMPOUND BOW SELECTION GUIDE|
|The Big Read for Prospective Bow Buyers (Page 4)|
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
DRAW FORCE CURVES & CAM TECHNOLOGY
ROUND WHEEL: A Round Wheel style bow has a very smooth bell-shaped curve which rises to peak weight for only a moment then gradually descends to full let-off. This cam style will feel very smooth and easy to draw, but will store the least amount of energy and shoot the slowest. Although this type of cam has been around for decades, some shooters still prefer the soft feel of this style cam - particularly instinctive-shooters and finger-shooters. So there are a few traditional round wheels and cam grinds that replicate the round wheel powercurve still on the market, but slow IBO Speeds make them poor sellers. If you're interested in this kind of bow, don't expect much of a selection in the new bow market. Instead, consider buying a 20 year old wheel bow that's still in good condition - there are countless thousands on the used market - and they're cheap!
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 generally do not offer straight and 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 very popular choice on compound bows today.
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. There are several hybrid cam models available which are impressively fast and quiet, rivaling the best of the single cam bows.
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 a binary 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 had no timing or synchronization issues and would achieve perfectly straight and level nock travel at all times.
Binary Cams have become a huge force in the industry. They're fast - really fast - and they're easy to tune. Ironically, the latest version of the Binary Cam, the "Overdrive Binary," moved the "free-floating" functions to an elliptical gear drive assembly inside the cam, and returned to the use of a split-buss cable to totally nullify the cam lean. So the most advanced version of the Binary Cam ironically looks like a complicated twin cam ... but it's not.
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 increasingly easier to maintain.
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.
|FINAL THOUGHTS ON CAMS
CAM WARS: The cam wars are largely over. Ten years ago every manufacturer fought and clawed to promote their choice of cam technology. And while the bow companies duked it out, consumers somehow got lost in the nomenclature. Singles and twins were easy enough, but hybrids and slaved-twins, binaries, cams & a halves (there might even have been a cam & 2/3rds in there somewhere) just muddied the market beyond salvage. Fortunately, most buyers have gotten over their cam prejudices and all the cam technologies have matured. Today we're intelligently utilizing all the various styles throughout the market. Sometimes one cam style makes more sense - sometimes another. See? We can all get along.
CAM AGGRESSION: Today, the biggest obstacle with cams isn't the style of the cam, but rather the profile or grind of the cam (which often has nothing to do with the style or type). Some customers are still under the illusion that cams have magical powers of energy multiplication. We still struggle with the same customer objections year after year. Buyers want to go REALLY REALLY FAST but they also want smooth effortless drawstrokes with tons of valley and let-off. We will certainly offer the Unicorn Cam the moment it becomes available, but for now it's essential to understand - if a compound bow is faster, it's because it requires more total muscle energy to draw back. You have been so advised ...
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