A compound bow is a relatively new and exciting evolution in bow tech that has happened over the last 5 decades. Its design allows an archer to shoot more accurately and for longer than a traditional recurve bow. The design relies on two wheels (or cams) either side of the bow, through which pass the string, giving it a mechanical advantage over a traditional bow.
Recurve vs Compound Bow
Both a traditional recurve and a compound bow work like this: Imagine holding a bow in your hand, the two bits of the bow that extend either side and have the string attached are called the “limbs” – these flex as you pull back the string and help store the force that is going to launch your arrow towards the target.
Now, just imagine you go to take a shot with a recurve bow – you position yourself in the right stance, pull the bow back. At first it’s easy to pull back, but the more you pull back that bow, the more work it takes until at full draw you’re using a lot of strength to hold it there ready to shoot! Let’s say you’re not ready to actually shoot yet – pretty soon you’re going to get tired and are either going to have to take a pot shot at whatever you were aiming at, or you’re going to have to cancel the shot and wait until another opportunity presents itself.
Let’s replay that with a compound bow: you stand in the position, raise the bow, and pull back that string! At first the string is hard to pull back, and gets harder the further back it goes, but at a certain point it all suddenly becomes easy again.
This is the point called the “let off” point. It is one of the most important things that makes a compound bow arguably superior to a traditional recurve. When the sting is released the arrow flies forwards with the same force as it would have had with a recurve bow, despite how easy it was for you to hold it back.
What does having a let off point on a compound bow mean to you?
It means you can shoot for longer and with greater accuracy with your bow than with a more traditional recurve bow.
The reason for this characteristic advantage exists in the design of the bow: the unique to compound bow Pulley system offers a mechanical advantage as the limbs of the bow are bent back, resulting in the length of the distance between the cam and the limb getting longer, which makes the bow more efficient at storing that all important energy that will launch your arrow in the direction you want it to go.
Try it yourself: Check out beginner compound bow buying guide now.