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Traditional or Compound Bows

A very large argument that goes around the Archery Circuit is "What is better, traditional or compound bows?" Well now, that depends on who you ask. If you ask a long bow shooter, he will say traditional, and if you ask a compound shooter, he will say compound. So, who is right?

For thousands of years the traditional longbow has been used for hunting, in war, and for competition. It took many hours of practice to master the longbow and even then only a few were skilled marksmen with it. We often hear of the great Robin Hood. His fame did not necessarily come from his great efforts to help the poor, but of his great ability to shoot his bow. Back then, many people used bows for hunting and defending their homes, yet no one could out shoot Robin of the Hood. His most incredible shot was the piercing of one arrow by another.

In the past 75 years, bows have made a tremendous change. Fred Bear was able to create the center shot recurve bow that is so popular today. The change from going to off center to center shot of the arrow greatly improved the accuracy of the bow. Instead of having to shoot around the riser, like you do with a longbow, the arrow was actually able to fly straight off the string. The center shot bow cut down on paradox or wiggling of the arrow in flight, thus making the arrow fly more true. Not long after the recurve bow became popular, the compound bow was invented. The compound bow uses a system of cables and pulleys to put tension on the string, yet decreases the strength needed to hold back the string, once it is at full draw. This process is called let off, and can be achieved up to 99%. In other words, a 100lb draw weight would be reduced to 1lb at let off. This allows the archer to hold on target for much longer without muscle fatigue. Another great change in bows was the introduction of fixed sights. For years, the archer had to learn his equipment, and then be able to judge distances to know how to aim his bow at the intended target. With fixed sights, the archer aligns the peep sight and front pin on the target and releases the arrow. With all of this modern technology created for the compound bow, it has made archery so much easier. You do not have to practice for years as you would with your long bow. You can now set up your bow, shoot it a few hundred times, and be reasonably accurate with it.

The invention of the compound bow has greatly helped the archery world as we know it today. The simplicity of the compound and great accuracy of it allows people to join the archery world. They realize they do not have to be Robin Hood in order to go out hunting. The accessories of the compound bow take much of the human error out of archery and allow people to be a successful archer.

The longbow is still in use today and many compound archers have gone back to the longbow for the bare basics of it. It is bare bow shooting at its finest. You have to learn your equipment and know your limitations with it. There are no sights or cables. It is just a stick and a string. Learning to shoot bare bow is an art and one that is not learned quickly. There are many tournaments held for longbows and many still hunt with them. One of the greatest archers of the 20th century was Howard Hill, who performed as an exhibition shooter. He shot everything from fruit to coins flying through the air. We now have Byron Ferguson as an exhibition shooter. He has been on many TV shows and travels around the world showing off his abilities with a longbow.

The main difference in compound and traditional archery is technology. If you are into gidgets and gadgets and learning how to do it quickly, then compound shooting is for you. If you just like the basics and are willing to put in the time, then traditional archery is where you should start. There is no right or wrong, and both of them have greatly grown the archery world we have today. Good luck and enjoy shooting.

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