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Physics of the Compound Bow



Last week, we began the archery unit in gym class. One thing that was especially interesting was when Mr Carrick brought in his compound bow. The compound bow, unlike the longbow and recurve bows, utilizes a system of cams and cables, which is a basically a Pully system, redistributing the tension in the string of the bow. This allows the archer to hold the bow at full drawn length with less force than the maximum draw force. This is especially useful for hunters, where bows may need to be held at full draw length for long periods of time. Mr Carrick would shoot alongside us, where most of us were using recurve bows. His arrows would be released from the bow at a higher initial velocity and would penetrate the target further than our arrows would, demonstrating the superiority of the compound bow. By applying a compounded force on the arrow, the arrow experiences a greater impulse, causes it to accelerate more rapidly, giving it a greater initial velocity upon its release. A greater velocity indicates a greater kinetic energy. When the arrow hit the target, the target had to do a significant amount of work by applying a normal force to the arrow, causing a deceleration of the arrow. 


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