All About Crossbow Designs
There are currently (circa 2015) three crossbow designs available on the market for purchase: Recurve Limb, Compound Limb and Reverse Limb. Here are some things to consider before selecting one to purchase.
The recurve crossbow is the oldest of the three crossbow designs currently available on the market. In the case of the recurve design, the string is attached directly to the ends of the limb tips. No cams or cables are present so all of the power comes directly from the crossbow's limbs when the trigger is activated.
Recurve crossbows are known for their durability. With fewer moving parts, recurve crossbows generally have fewer mechanical problems on average than other crossbow designs. Routine maintenance is also easily done without the need of a bow press. Strings can be changed in the field with a simple de-stringing aid that is available from the manufacturer.
Compound crossbows are, by far, the most popular design with a large selection of models to choose from. Compound crossbows utilize cams or wheels attached to the limb tips, which provide a mechanical advantage during the cocking and shooting process. The oblong cams, or round wheels, are connected to each other by two cables and a string.
Compound bows have the ability to generate tremendous speed using lower draw weights with the mechanical advantage of the cams. With more moving parts, maintenance becomes much more important on compound-designed crossbows, and a bow press is needed to change the strings and cables.