Here we are, on the last post of the four-part Archery for Writers series. It’s been a pleasure both as an archer and a writer to let the writing world know a little more about the sport, and today we’re going to talk about the compound bow. It is possibly the most complicated type of bow to manufacture, and doesn’t show up much in pop culture, but it is by far the most popular with today’s archers.
(Again, before we get started, if you ever find yourself confused by archery terminology, you can refer back to part one of this series. At the bottom of the page is a quick glossary of words and definitions).
Origins: Though the compound bow is far and away the most commonly-shot bow amongst both hunters and those who only shoot for sport, it a relatively recent invention. In the 1960s a man by the name of Holless Wilbur Allen¹ invented the compound bow after much trial and error by sawing off the ends of a recurve bow and attaching offset pulleys (cams) to the new tips and fixing it up with an extra-long string. He wanted to create a bow that propelled arrows through the air faster, because the bows available at the time shot arrows relatively slowly, giving deer plenty of time to jump out of the way.
When he had finally succeeded in his mission to create a bow that shot arrows faster, therefore inventing what we now know as the compound bow, he filed a patent for it on June 23rd 1966. In 1969 the patent was granted, and only ten years later two-thirds of the bow models on the market were compound². Unfortunately, he died in 1979³.
With today’s post, we tackle the recurve bow, which has been around in some form since the days of ancient Egypt. The recurve bow is therefore considered “traditional” by many of today’s archers, but it is by no means simple in construction when compared to the longbow we discussed last time. Even though both bows were very popular during the middle ages, the recurve bow was mainly used by the Mongols, while the Europeans preferred the longbow because of its simplicity and ease of creation.
(If you find yourself confused at any point because of archer lingo, you can refer back to part one of this series, which has a small glossary of archery terms and definitions at the bottom of the page).
Origins: As stated above, the recurve bow has been around for a very long time. Though it was used in ancient Egypt, it was often imported from other parts of the Middle East instead of being made there in the land of the Pharaohs¹. The Mongols², however, were really the ones that perfected the recurve bow, and were frighteningly accurate with it. (Well, frightening if you’re not a Mongol).
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