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When Were Compound Bows Invented?

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Compound bows were invented in the 1960s by an American engineer named Holless Wilbur Allen. In 1966, Allen patented his design for the compound bow, which introduced the pulley system and the use of eccentric cams to increase the force of the bowstring. This new technology allowed for a more accurate and powerful shot, making it a popular choice among archers and hunters alike. Since then, the compound bow has undergone numerous advancements and modifications, making it one of the most widely used bows in modern archery.

Welcome, fellow archery enthusiasts! Have you ever wondered when the compound bow was invented and how it revolutionized the sport? Look no further, because today we’ll be diving into the origins of this remarkable piece of equipment. The compound bow was first introduced by Holless Wilbur Allen, an engineer from the United States, in the 1960s. With his patent in 1966, Allen brought forth a series of technological innovations that catapulted archery into the modern era. The pulley system and the use of eccentric cams introduced in the compound bow made it easier to draw, increased its force, accuracy, and power, making it a staple in the archery and hunting community. Let’s explore the history of this incredible invention and how it has evolved over the years.

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When Were Compound Bows Invented?

History of Archery

Archery has been an important tool for hunting and warfare for thousands of years. It is believed that the first bows were used in Africa over 70,000 years ago, and evidence of archery has been found across many ancient civilizations, including Egypt, China, and Greece. Over time, archery has evolved and new techniques and equipment have been developed to make archery more efficient and effective.

Traditional Bows

The traditional bow, also known as a longbow or a recurve bow, has been the standard bow used for hunting and warfare for centuries. These bows are typically made from wood or other natural materials and are usually not very powerful. Traditional bows require a lot of strength to use effectively, so archers would often train extensively to build up their muscles and improve their accuracy.

Invention and Development of the Compound Bow

In the mid-20th century, a new type of bow was invented that would revolutionize archery forever: the compound bow. The compound bow was invented in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen, an engineer from Missouri. Unlike traditional bows that use a simple pulley system, the compound bow uses a complex system of cables and pulleys that reduces the amount of force needed to pull back the bowstring. This makes the bow much easier to use, even for beginners, and greatly increases the accuracy and power of each shot.

Since its invention in the 1960s, the compound bow has continued to evolve and improve. Today, most compound bows are made from lightweight materials like carbon fiber and feature a wide range of accessories like sights, stabilizers, and quivers to make them even more effective. Many hunters and archery enthusiasts prefer compound bows over traditional bows because of their efficiency and ease of use.

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In summary, archery has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, and the invention of the compound bow in the mid-20th century has greatly improved the sport and made it more accessible to people of all skill levels. Whether you prefer traditional bows or modern compound bows, there is no denying the impact that archery has had on society and culture throughout history.

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When Were Compound Bows Invented?

Archery has been an important tool for hunting and warfare purposes for thousands of years. Traditional bows were used to shoot arrows, which required the shooter to use a lot of physical strength and skill. However, with the advancement of technology, archery equipment has evolved, and compound bows have become a game-changer.

Compound bows are modern bows that have a pulley-cam system, and their design is a result of the work of several inventors. The following is a brief history of when compound bows were invented:

Early Inventions

The first concept of a compound bow was introduced by Holless Wilbur Allen in 1966. He was an engineer who had a passion for archery and wanted to create a bow that could store more energy. In 1969, Allen teamed up with Tom Jennings, another archery enthusiast, to improve the design of the bow.

Their collaboration led to the invention of “the Jennings Compound,” which became the first commercially successful compound bow. The Jennings Compound was introduced in 1971 and soon became a favorite of hunters and archers. The bow was made of aluminum alloy and had a pulley system that provided much better accuracy and speed than traditional bows.

Advantages of Compound Bows

The invention of compound bows transformed the sport of archery. Compound bows have several advantages over traditional bows, including:

Higher Accuracy

Compound bows use a pulley-cam system that provides a consistent draw and reduces user error, resulting in higher accuracy. The pulley system ensures that the bowstring is pulled to the same length each time, which reduces the variability in the shooting process. Additionally, the bow’s design– with a shorter length and stiffer limbs–makes it easier to maintain accuracy even at long ranges.

Higher Velocity

The compound bow’s unique design allows for a higher amount of energy to be transferred to the arrow, resulting in higher velocity. The pulley-cam system provides a let-off that reduces the amount of force needed to keep the bowstring drawn, which allows the shooter to hold the string longer, increasing the energy in the shot and resulting in a faster arrow.

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Easier to Use

The compound bow requires less physical strength to use, making it a suitable option for people of all ages and physical abilities. The pulley system makes it easier to hold the bowstring drawn for longer periods, and the overall design and accessories, such as the sight and stabilizers, make it easier for beginners to shoot accurately.

In conclusion, the invention of the compound bow has transformed the world of archery, making it easier and more efficient for people to explore and enjoy the sport. The first compound bows were invented in the 1960s, and since then, they have undergone significant improvements, making them a favorite of archers and hunters around the globe.

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When Were Compound Bows Invented

Compound bows have been around for a few decades but have revolutionized the practice of archery as we know it. It is a type of bow that uses a levering system of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs, which makes it easier to draw the bowstring back and hold it in position without being too taxing on the archer’s arm muscles. But when were compound bows invented, and how did it come about?

To understand the concept of compound bows, we need to look back at traditional bows first. The latter has been used by humans for more than 10,000 years, dating back to when man first discovered the use of hunting tools. They initially made the bows out of wood, which later evolved into ones made of animal parts, bones, and horns. Bows made from these materials were more potent than wood ones, and therefore the hunt was more effective.

However, traditional bows had their limitations. They needed to be drawn back using force, which became tiring for the archer after a while. Additionally, they lacked accuracy, meaning hitting a target from far away was a lot more challenging. To address these limitations, inventors started exploring ways to make better bows.

The Invention of Compound Bows

The compound bow was invented in the 1960s by an engineer from Missouri named Holless Wilbur Allen. The prototype he initially designed had a much different look from what we see today. The bow was a Frankenstein of sorts, with a lever system and cable attached to a standard recurve bow. Allen used a levering mechanism attached to the bow limbs, which allowed him to create a bow that stored more energy to launch an arrow.

Allen was not the only person working on the invention of the compound bow. His invention shared similarities with another compound bow patent filed by Wilbur Ulrich in 1965. The innovation he came up with was a cam-wheel attached at the end of the bow limb, which nearly doubled the amount of stored energy at the full draw. Ulirich’s design involved placing the cables and pulleys on opposite sides of the bow, a feature still found in present-day compound bows.

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Allen and Ulrich can be hailed as “fathers” of the compound bow because they worked on perfecting its design and making it available to the public. Today, compound bows come in a plethora of makes and models, and they have dominated the archery industry as the preferred choice for hunting, competitive archery, and recreational activities.

Uses of Compound Bows


Compound bows are commonly used for hunting due to their higher accuracy and velocity, making them effective for taking down game. The faster arrow speed also reduces the likelihood of the game getting away before it is hit. Additionally, compound bows are quieter than other bows, making it more challenging for the game to hear an archer taking aim. Hunters prefer this kind of bow because it requires minimal movement, ensuring that they remain camouflaged and undetected.

Competitive Archery

Compound bows are also used in competitive archery, as their design allows for higher precision and accuracy in shooting. The use of the pulley system and cam-wheel allows for a more stable aim, even if the archer has shaky hands. The fast arrow speed also allows for more consistency in terms of the arrow’s flight path. Furthermore, compound bows are adjustable, meaning that archers can modify the draw weight, the bow’s length, and the sight to their preference.


Lastly, compound bows are commonly used for recreational activities such as target shooting and bowfishing. Target shooting with compound bows is enjoyable as it requires precise aim and perfect hand-eye coordination. Bowfishing is another popular recreational activity that makes use of compound bows. It entails the use of a reel attached to the bow, allowing archers to shoot at fish swimming in the water, much like regular fishing. These activities are not only entertaining but also offer a challenging and rewarding experience.


The invention of the compound bow has significantly impacted the sport of archery by making it more accurate, comfortable to use, and versatile. Over the years, the bow has undergone significant modifications to enhance its functionality, and there are numerous models to choose from depending on one’s preference, be it hunting, competitive archery, or recreational activities. Nonetheless, we owe it to Allen, Ulrich, and other inventors who came before them for creating a technological innovation that has stood the test of time.

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