Crossbow “Bow” Technologies

The bow assembly of a crossbow is what creates the energy needed to propel an arrow.    There are 2 primary types of crossbow bow assembly configurations.  The recurve platform and the compound bow platform.  And in recent years,  compound crossbow technology has  expanded to include a couple variants.  These variants include inverted cam technology and reverse draw technology.  Now each platform may have its advantages, however in this segment of the Crossbow Safety and Education series, we’ll take a look at each bow technology and explain what makes them different from the next.

The first bow we have here is a recurve crossbow from Excalibur.  Recurve bow technology has been around for thousands of years, and for good reason.  It’s very simple and yet very effective.  As you can see, a recurve crossbow has 2 limbs connected to the riser, and one string.  As the string is pulled towards the trigger assembly, the limbs compress and the draw weight of the bow increases.  When the string is pulled all of the way back to the point where the latch engages, the recurve bow reaches its maximum draw weight which will be determined by the make and model of your crossbow.

Next we have a traditional compound crossbow from CAMX crossbows.  We already know that a compound bow has 2 limbs connected to the riser, a cam on each end of the limbs, a string, and 2 cables.  Now with a traditional compound crossbow, the string is located on the back side of the cams.  When the string is pulled back, the cams rotate outward which compress the limbs of the bow while at the same time allowing the string to gain length so that it can reach the trigger latch.  Now it used to be that on most compound bow assemblies, when the string was drawn, the bow would reach its maximum draw weight at some point during the draw cycle, and then actually go down in poundage before the string reached the latch.  This was called left off.  However, on some of the current compound crossbows, the cams have been engineered in a way where they may not actually have any let off and the bow reaches its maximum draw weight at some point during the draw cycle and then remains at that draw weight until the draw cycle is completed.

The Inverted cam crossbow like this one from Parker looks and behaves just like a traditional compound crossbow but with one major difference.  On an inverted cam crossbow, the string is in front of the cams.  When drawn, the cams rotate inward and the string is pulled though the bow assembly instead of coming off  of the outside of the cams.  This allows the bow string to travel a longer distance without extending the overall length of the crossbow.

Here we have a reverse draw crossbow by Scorpyd crossbows.  As you can see reverse draw crossbow technology looks a lot different from the other two types of compound bow technology, however, the mechanics work pretty much in the same way.  With a reverse draw crossbow, you still have 2 limbs connected to a riser, 2 cams connected to the ends of the limbs, a string, and two cables.  The big difference here is the the riser is mounted behind the string and cables, either half way down the barrel, or sometimes even behind the trigger assembly and the limbs point forward towards the front of the bow.  Like the inverted cam crossbow, the string is drawn through the bow assembly and back towards the trigger assembly until the string is latched.

Well that’s it for the crossbow bow technology segment of the Crossbow Safety and Education series.  Now we just scratched the surface when it came to explaining the differences between each bow assembly.  And while we could have went more into depth explaining how each technology works specifically, our goal was to inform you of the 4 types of bow technology that you’ll find on today’s modern crossbows so that you’ll be able to recognize them when you choose to purchase your first crossbow.

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