Compound bows and spinning reels are both instruments that belong to two very ancient and respected disciplines: archery and fishing. Archery has been practiced for as early as 10’000 BC, by hunters who used bows and arrows made of wood to kill animals from a distance. Similarly, fishing has been around since prehistoric times, when people first decided to use a line attached to a rod in order to catch fish more easily than with bare hands.
Therefore, both of these activities were originally created to satisfy the natural necessity for people to nourish themselves and provide for their communities. By using basic tools to improve their capacity to interact with their environment, humans continually developed the technologies that enable such activities over history as their understanding of the world and things around them increased.
Over the years, archery and fishing have moved away slowly from their original purpose, which was basically to survive, especially in Western, modernized countries where most people don’t need to fish, hunt or gather their own food anymore. They might thus be considered nowadays as leisure activities, but they nonetheless still have kept an important place in our societies. Scientific advancement in our understanding of the underlying physical mechanisms of the tools that we use keep contributing to their sophistication. In this way, technology has not only influenced the use and necessity of such equipment, it has also revolutionized the way we make it.
Let’s look at two examples of these improvements: compound bows and spinning reels. Before going on, be sure to read compound bow reviews to get up to speed on the vernacular that we will be using. Modern compound bows were created in the 1960s by the American engineer Holless Wilbur Allen. They consist in a system of pulleys and cables instead of the traditional strings. Those are used as a lever to pull the limbs that are much more rigid than in regular bows which in turn makes them lose a lot less energy in the movement of the limbs. This improved efficiency is combined to an enhanced accuracy, since this mechanical system is less prone to changes in environment, such as temperature or humidity. Compound bows are not the only type of modern evolution of bows: recurved bows, named as such because of the inward curve of the limbs, are also very popular. Furthermore, modern bows are rarely built with wood anymore, but now use efficient material such as aluminum.
The development of fishing technologies, for its part, has been slow and steady. Fishing reels were invented in China in the 4th century, and were devices attached to the rod and used to control the length of the fishing line. Their introduction was already a major improvement, since it allowed people not only to fish at larger distances, but also to control their casting methods, instead of relying only on a piece of line directly attached to the rod. Spinning reels (also called fixed-spool reels) have been created a little over a century ago by Sir Albert Holden Illingworth, a British politician and businessman. Those added a spool to the line that restrained it and rewound it during its casting, which opened the possibility to cast lighter lures, since the line didn’t catch against the rotating spool due to less friction.
Like for archery, spinning reels are not the only modern innovation that makes fishing more enjoyable: you can find spincast reels and baitcast reels, each with their own specificity. Technology is on its way and tools like fishing rods and bows and arrows will keep being perfected. However, it doesn’t matter how advanced those compound bows or spinning reels you use are, at the end of the day you will still need to go out there and practice those skills if you want to get good at them.