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Technical advantages

  • As the bow is drawn, the draw weight increases to a peak and then "lets off". The let-off is usually between 65% and 80% of the peak weight, and one manufacturer (Concept Archery) produces a compound bow with 99% let-off. The "let off" is a term that describes what happens as the cam rolls all the way over. If you look at the photo to the right you can see that the axle attaching the limb to cam is mounted at the edge of the cam as opposed to the center. As the string is drawn the cam turns and imparts force to compress the limb. Once the cam turns all the way around the least amount of force needs to be applied to the string to keep the limbs bent. This is known as "let off". This enables the archer to hold the bow fully drawn and take more time to aim.
  • This let-off enables the archer to accurately shoot a bow with a much higher peak draw weight than they could manage with a longbow or recurve.
  • The bow is resilient to temperature and humidity changes giving the bow superior accuracy, velocity, and distance in comparison to bows made of natural materials.
  • The pulley system usually will include some rubber-covered blocks that act as draw-stops. These provide a solid "wall" that the archer can draw against. These draw stops can be adjusted to suit the archer's optimum draw-length. This helps the archer achieve a consistent anchor point and a consistent amount of force imparted to the arrow on every shot, further increasing accuracy.
  • The design of the pulleys (cams) directly controls the acceleration of the arrow. What is termed a "soft cam" will accelerate the arrow more gently than a "harder" cam. Novice archers will typically shoot a soft cam whereas a more advanced archer may choose to use a harder cam to gain speed. Bows can be had with a variety of cams, in a full spectrum from soft to hard.
  • Some pulley systems use a single cam at the bottom of the bow and a balanced wheel at the top of the bow instead of two identical cams. This design eliminates the need for buss cables and instead uses a single string that begins at the cam on the bottom of the bow, travels over the wheel on top, around the bottom cam again, and ends attaching to the top limb. Single cam bows are generally faster than other compounds, reaching speeds close to 100 m/sec. / 315 fps.[1] Single cam bows are less adjustable than twin cam bows, so to change the draw length of a single cam bow, the cam and string must usually be replaced.

Circumstantial advantages

  • Compound archers usually use a mechanical release aid to hold and release the string. This attaches to the bowstring near the point where the arrow attaches, and permits the archer to release the string with a squeeze of a trigger or a slight increase of tension. The use of a release aid gives a more consistent release than the use of fingers on the string.
  • In tournaments, compound archers are usually allowed the use of a magnifying sight. This is not allowed for other bow classes.
  • Stabilizers and dampeners are particularly well-developed for the compound bow. They allow the archer to shoot even more accurately, by reducing the movement of the bow when the string is released.

Circumstantial disadvantages

  • The relatively low holding weight of a compound bow compared to a recurve bow makes the compound more sensitive to certain form faults when the archer is at full draw. In particular, it's easier for the archer to torque the bow around the vertical axis, leading to left-right errors.

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