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All the Cam Types Thoroughly Explained for the Aspiring Archers

The mechanical definition of a cam won’t fully help you understand all its types used in archery. But it will take you past the technical boundaries for sure.

What is a cam?

A cam is found in a machine with at least two moving parts, of which one rotates. It is a projection on the rotating part and transmits a motion that causes the other part/s to move. The motion, however, is generated by an outside force.

The snail/drop cam, for example, resembles the shape of a snail. It rotates in an anti-clockwise manner and its extended portion ups the roller, attached to a follower. The follower, subsequently, moves up.

Archery cam types

Cams found in modern compound bows have a different built altogether. There are four main types of cams found in compound bows. They are:

  • Single/solo cam
  • Binary cam
  • Hybrid cam
  • Twin cam

In terms of raw mechanical functioning, there's hardly any difference between these cam types. They are separated from each other in terms of their features, and advantages and disadvantages.


Which type to select?

That’s a tough question to answer. To decide on any of the four cam types, you need to know how each functions along with the pros and cons of using them. Seasoned archers are aware of the technical subtleties that separate one cam type from the other and that make impact on the bow’s performance.

But since you can’t join their rank, you need us to enlighten you.


Here’s what you need to know about the cam types:


Single/solo cam

The cam is elliptical shaped and found on the bottom of the bow. On the top, you’ll find a round idler wheel. As there’s only one cam, the question of synchronization doesn’t arise, which makes it incredibly easy to maintain it.

The chief disadvantage of a single cam is it creates problems for a perfect nock travel. In case you don't know what nock travel means, check this. An imperfect nock travel is due to the string pressure that applies to the arrow; since caused by an idler wheel and a cam, the pressure is hardly equal.

You might wonder how some famous archers shoot so meticulously using single cams. The answer is they use consistent bows and shoot impeccably to compensate the timing hole, which in turn, improves the tuning.


Binary cam

A binary cam comes with scores of technical advantages. Unlike a single cam, a binary cam lacks the split-harness cable, which works in an archer's favor. Each cam has a control cable, which connects it to the other. The cables are not wired across the bow limb, which means when an archer pulls back the string, each cam pulls the other.

The limb deflection can create imbalances. But since binary cam systems sport a cam-to-cam, free-floating system, they can compensate any imbalance. Using a binary cam, an archer can comfortably put aside synchronization and timing issues, and make the nock travel straight and leveled.

The only problem with a binary cam system is the cam lean effect. Split-harness cables could have prevented the effect by equalizing the limb tips. But since binary cams lack those cables, they become subject to the said effect. However, that’s a minor problem. Binary cams are super-fast and tune easily.


Hybrid cam

A compound bow with hybrid cam sports two elliptical cams, which are asymmetrical to each other. The cam on the top is called the control cam and that on the bottom, a power cam. Alongside the main string, the system has a single split-harness and a control cable.

Like binary cam system, a hybrid system also affords straight and leveled nock travel. Like a single cam system, a hybrid system is fairly easy to maintain. And quite similar to a twin cam bow, it is less troublesome to tune. The name “Hybrid Cam,” therefore, is self-explanatory.


Twin cam

A twin cam system, aka a dual cam system features two elliptical wheels that are symmetrical to each other. Archers prefer this system because they render excellent performance in terms of accuracy, perfection in nock travel and speed.

The only downside to a twin cam bow is it has maintenance issues. Maintenance is really important for a compound bow, and so, you'll want to keep a twin cam in an optimal shooting condition, an archer needs to take care of it and look after its possible maintenance issues. Nevertheless, archery equipment are getting smarter and smarter; the no-creep string fibers, used in modern bows ease the maintenance works.


Your takeaway

Before you select a cam type, ask yourself whether you are entitled to use it. In other words, you level of expertise and how advanced the archery equipment are, should be commensurate. So practice relentlessly to improve your performance first, then it’d be easier for you to decide which cam type is ideal for you.


Katie Smith, a freelance writer, an expert in writing high-quality content related to unique sports lessons for popular online publications. Archery interests him most. He receives professional training on@Archery on Fire - Archery The Woodlands Texas (Tx), Conroe, Houston Area - Practice, Tournaments from

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