THE two main styles of bow used in archery are the recurve and the compound bow.
Modern recurve bows are sophisticated devices. These are made in three sections with a cast or machined aluminium handle, fitted with flexible limbs on each end made from laminates of carbon, fibreglass, and wood. Space age, non- stretch materials are used for bowstrings.
Recurve equipment is the classic archery style used at the Olympic games. Few technical devices are permitted to enhance accuracy, assuring that the archer's strength and skill are the main factors in performance.
Compound bows are much more technically sophisticated with bows employing wheels at the tip of the limbs. Acting on a lever principle, these wheels allow an archer to draw and hold a bow with relative ease.
This style also permits hand- held "triggers" to release the bowstring, and peep and magnifying sights for accuracy.
So what is the best equipment? Some archers prefer the graceful yet demanding aspect of recurve archery, and others the intensity and accuracy of compound equipment. Modem archery caters for both, as do other traditional crossbow and longbow styles.
Arrows are made from either aluminium or carbon tube or aluminium tube wrapped in carbon fibre. This provides a mix of strength and lightness, reaching speeds of up to 70m/s.
For the archer's safety, arrow length must be slightly longer than draw length, otherwise the arrow might be pulled right back off the bow.
Equally important is arrow stiffness. Arrow shafts are available in a wide range of strengths to match the draw weight of different bows. Slight mismatches will cause poor arrow flight and reduce accuracy.
Beginner archers should always consult a club coach or archery shop professional before purchasing arrows.