Single Cam Compound Bows

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Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to archery equipment.
Bow hunting is one of those pursuits where if something can go wrong, it usually does. That’s why the equipment and gear taken into the field must be simple, functional, and as fail-safe as possible.

A few years ago when Mathews introduced the SoloCam, a single-cam compound bow, I watched with great interest and admittedly some skepticism. Mathews claimed then, as it does now, that their single-cam design enables a compound bow to remain in time or synch, makes the bow easier to set up, and provides a smoother drawing and quieter shooting bow, all without loss of arrow speed or performance.


Guys like myself who are addicted to cam bows and the speed they provide raised our eyebrows in disbelief. There’s one thing you learn quickly when dealing with performance bows; when you gain something it’s usually at the expense of something else.

The short version of the long story is that Mathews proved their point by putting their bow where their mouth was. The SoloCam has become one of the best-selling compound bows of all time. A number of national shooting titles have been achieved with single-cam bows.

Not surprisingly, other manufacturers were quick to jump on the single-cam technology, and today nearly every major bow manufacturer offers a similar design. While these bows vary considerably in the design of cams, risers, and limbs, the basic concept of the single-cam bow originated by Mathews has remained the same.

When Darton offered me a chance to test one of their new single-cam bows with the Controlled Power System, I wasted no time picking out a bow. Darton offers several single-cam models to choose from. Because I have a 31-inch draw length, I elected to try a Cyclone with a whopping 43-1/2 inch axle-to-axle length. Tall shooters like myself usually experience more consistent results from longer bows.

When the bow arrived I paid a visit to my local pro shop. In setting up the bow we ran into a minor problem at the start. The machined riser was milled to accept an overdraw and didn’t readily accept the Bo Doodle rest I normally shoot. After a little soul searching I purchased and installed an overdraw with a launcher-style rest. The next step was to add a Dacron serving that would hold up to a caliper-style release and a couple nock points. After adjusting the rest and nocking points to provide a center shot, the bow was ready for an initial paper test.

The draw weight was set at a touch above 70 pounds and a dozen Easton ACC shafts in the 3-71 spine selected. It only took two minor nocking point adjustments to produce bullet holes in the tuning paper. Satisfied the bow was shooting properly, I took the bow home and finished rigging it with a stabilizer, string silencers and a Pollington Red Dot sighting system.

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One year later the Cyclone has endured thousands of practice shots, a hunting season that included trips for whitetail, black bear, turkey and caribou and is still punching perfect holes in paper. My skeptical attitude concerning single-cam technology is long gone and I now find it hard to imagine shooting traditional two-cam products.

After testing a single-cam bow for a year, I haven’t seen any loss in arrow speed or accuracy, haven’t needed adjustments to the timing, string, or cables and can honestly say the bow is smooth, quiet, and fast; all the things I like in a hunting bow.

Looking at the big picture, single-cam bows may be the biggest advancement in the archery industry since compound bows. Competitive archery shooters are lining up to shoot the single-cam technology and hunters interested in a new bow for 1997 owe it to themselves to at least shoot a single-cam bow before making a purchase decision. Any good pro shop would be happy to oblige.

In addition to the Mathews SoloCam and Darton Cyclone many other excellent single-cam bows are available including models by Mountaineer, Browning, PSE, Bear, Jennings, High Country, Alpine, and Martin.

Sometimes less really is more and one such example is the single-cam bow.

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