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Which Bows Feature a Forgiving Draw Valley?

Narrow valleys are fairly common on today's new bows, but many shooters still enjoy smooth draw cycles.

Which Bows Feature a Forgiving Draw Valley?

Most of today’s compound bows draw aggressively and feature what some may deem unforgiving draw valleys. Bows with narrow valleys are not well-suited for all types of shooters, especially those with “aging” shoulders.

Question: Are there any compound bows made with a little bit of creep in them? With many models, your back is always against the wall, and I would like to relax a little more. Thanks in advance for your help. Bob Theim, via e-mail

Answer: Today’s bows are fast and efficient. The big tradeoff for their performance is oftentimes an aggressive draw cycle and an ultra-narrow draw valley — the exact thing you’re experiencing.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to remedy the issue. To begin with, try relaxing the bow’s limbs using a bow press, and then adjusting the position or “timing” of the cams to a different setting by twisting or untwisting the buss and power cables. This will alter the cams’ draw dynamics slightly, sometimes changing how the valley feels at full draw. You can twist/untwist the strings at different junctures to see if this makes a difference. This adjustment usually results in a very minor change — nothing drastic — but it could lessen the valley’s sharpness just enough to give you the comfort you’re seeking. Be sure to stay within your bow’s recommended cam-timing range. This will allow for appropriate nock travel and easy arrow tuning.

Another step is to experiment with the cams’ draw-stop pegs, if it’s equipped with them. A sliding draw-stop post allows for the greatest adjustability for altering how the valley feels. Please review your owner’s manual to perform this procedure, or visit an authorized pro shop to seek out help. Sometimes making a small adjustment to the draw-stop position can give you a much better-feeling bow. You might lose speed and increase letoff by widening the valley, but it will be worth it.

If you’ve tried adjusting your bow’s cams with little change in how it feels, the next step is to upgrade to an entirely new bow — one that is smoother and more forgiving. Despite a highly competitive bow market that hinges on all-out speed and efficiency, there are still models out there that are plenty fast but equipped with more forgiving draw valleys.

When exploring new bows, be sure to visit a well-stocked pro shop; one that carries a wide range of brands. This is important, because every bow draws and shoots differently, sometimes even bows of the same model. For example, you can take the same bow but then adjust it to two different draw lengths and weights, and it will feel differently at each setting. You simply have to test various models at different cam settings in order to determine what feels right to you. That being said, there are still a few bows to take a hard look at, based on their reputation for being ultra-smooth and easy to hold back. These include the Hoyt RX-5, Mathews V3, Elite Enkore or Remedy, Bowtech Solution SS, and PSE EVO EVL, to name just a few.

No matter what bow you select, be sure it features a solid back wall at your precise draw length. This will ensure consistency as you hold the bow back with firm back tension until the shot takes you by surprise. To shoot this way, it’s imperative that your draw length be set correctly. When you hit full draw, you should still have room to pivot your shoulder blades inward toward your spine. If not, your draw length is too long.

The best way to verify correct draw length is to have someone look at your draw elbow while you’re at full draw, both from the side and rear. It should be in line with the arrow, not to the right or left of it. Adjust the draw length until your elbow is lined up with the arrow or just slightly above it when looking from the rear, and you’ll begin holding your bow with greater confidence. This will also help you shoot more accurately, especially with today’s highly efficient cam designs. I hope this helps.

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