Who wins the bow and arrow battle?
For years – probably since the 1970s – compound bows have not just been the default choice for bow hunters, they’ve been the only choice. There are numerous good reasons for this shift, not the least of which is the fact that compound bows are more powerful and easier to shoot than their traditional single-string brethren. However, traditional bows have recently begun to make a comeback in the sport of archery, with major bow manufacturers – from Hoyt to Bear Archery – designing traditional bows meant to appeal to a growing niche marketplace.
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But why would archers wish to go back to what is, by all accounts, an inferior shooting technology? Isn’t that something like modern music listeners yearning for the grainy days of cassette tapes? In some ways, yes. A traditional single-string bow is markedly more difficult to shoot and aim than a compound bow. Where a compound bow and its cam system will “hold” some of the draw weight of a shot, making it easier for an archer to keep the string and arrow held at maximum draw length for a longer period of time, a traditional bow requires its archer to shoulder the full weight of the draw. In other words, traditional bows require a strong archer who can exert enough force on the string to hold the tension in the bow. A hunter who cannot hold the string – or cannot even draw it back to full draw length – should stick with compounds.
Not that there is anything wrong with sticking to your compound bow. In fact, from virtually every angle, compounds are objectively better bows and better hunting tools than traditional ones. Traditional single-string bows are much more difficult to draw and aim than compounds, but it’s an added difficulty without a real trade-off reward. Compound bows are not only easier to draw and aim, but are also more powerful and therefore shoot at faster arrow speeds.
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Of course, the obvious question is this: if compound bows are the better hunting weaponry, then why are more and more modern hunters opting for single-stringed traditional bows? There could be a few reasons. The first is a simple desire to return to a more traditional shooting method. Traditional bows have a classic, rustic feel. They conjure up images of all the famous archers of storybook lore, from Robin Hood to Legolas, and give hunters a feel of going back in time. They also present an extra challenge, which can be great for hunters looking to spice up their time in the woods or to simply hone their skills to a higher degree of expertise.
Finally, traditional bows may appeal to those who don’t want to have to worry about all of the modern technological additions that mark compound bows. Indeed, shopping for a compound can be complicated due to all of the extra features and tricky vocabulary, and some people might just prefer to sidestep that in favor a simpler apparatus. Regardless of the reason, traditional bows are building themselves a specialized market within the archery community, and if you’re looking for a different kind of experience, you may consider ditching your compound and going single-stringed next season.