With an increasing number of hunters looking for an additional
challenge, and some extended time in the woods, there are a growing
amount of people picking up a bow for the first time. While most
of us are familiar with some of the basics involving the stick and
string, there are quite a few things that beginners should know from
the beginning. Here is a brief overview of some archery basics
that everyone should know.
No longer are bows just a piece of wood with a string tied between
two ends. Today's high-tech compound bows feature many different
components that all act together to create superior speed and
accuracy. Here are a few of the major components.
The riser is the main "handle" of the bow, so to speak. The
majority of today's bows feature risers made out of machined aluminum
in order to maintain strength while reducing the overall weight of the
bow. There are still some bows on the market with cast aluminum
risers, but they are becoming fewer and fewer as the years go by.
Risers come in many different shapes and sizes with today's trend
leaning towards longer, leaner risers with multiple cutouts in order to
reduce weight and add visual appeal.
While many compound bows in the past featured limbs made of laminated
wood, today's bows feature composite limbs made of carbon and
graphite. These limbs are stronger and more resistant to cracking
and warping than traditional wood laminate limbs. Several
manufacturers still produce bows with split limb technology, utilizing
two skinny limbs on each end of the riser instead of one fatter
limb. While this technology helps to alleviate the problem of
limbs cracking at the "V" where the axle attaches, they are not without
their share of problems. Most notably uneven wear of the limbs,
causing them to have a "bent" look and adversely effecting performance.
There are many choices when it comes to cams these days, but they can
pretty much be narrowed down to 3 major categories: Single Cams,
Dual Cams, and Hybrid Cams. Single cam bows utilize a single
power cam combined with an idler wheel to provide smooth drawing and
level nock travel. Dual cams feature two separate cams working
independently of one another to provide superior arrow speed.
Hybrid cams feature two cams that are "slaved" together to eliminate
some of the timing imperfections found in traditional dual cam bows.
Gone are the days of metal cables and teardrop connectors.
Today's bows feature pre-stretched strings made of high strength fibers
that resist abrasion, creeping, and stretching. These superior
bowstrings help alleviate accuracy and tuning issues caused by changes
in string length due to stretching over the life of your bow.
Now that we've covered the 4 major components of today's modern
compound bows, let's talk about some of the terminology used to
describe their benefits and features.
Axle to Axle Length (ATA)
- This refers to the distance betwen
the axles around which the cams rotate. Today's bows feature ATA
lengths of anywhere from 31" to 39", which the majority being in the
- The amount of weight that is dropped from the bow's
peak draw weight to the point at which it is fully drawn. The
majority of today's bows feature let-off in the 70%-80% range.
- This is the distance between the string and the
back of the riser when the bow is at rest. As general
rule of thumb, the shorter the brace height the less forgiving the bow
AMO and IBO Speeds
- These are the industry standards of
measurement when it comes to determining at how many feet per second a
bow is capable of firing and arrow. AMO ratings use a 30 inch
drawin length, an arrow weighing 560 grains that is shot out of a 60 lb
bow. IBO ratings use a 30 inch draw length, and an arrow weighing
350 grains that is being shot from a 70 lb bow. Therefore IBO
speeds are always greater than AMO speeds.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how today's compound bows
are put together, let's take a look at how all of these components work
together to form an effecient hunting weapon. Click here for more about compound bows.
If you want to skip the science of the compund bow and go straight to arrow shaft selection, Click here!