Brady Ellison is the top archer on the planet right now. At 23, he’s ranked No. 1 on the recurve bow, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact he didn’t pick up a recurve bow until six years ago.
Before that, he fired a compound bow, an entirely different animal. To switch from one to the other, and excel at it, would be like Michael Phelps winning a medal in diving.
“Usually it’s very difficult to go from compound to recurve,” says George Tekmitchov, an engineer at Hoyt Archery, which provides bows to the World Archery Federation and the U.S. Olympic Team.
Wait. Back up. What’s a recurve bow?
The recurve bow is the antithesis of a compound bow, which uses a system of pulleys and multiple strings to accelerate an arrow. A compound bow is more energy efficient, and therefore offers greater accuracy, velocity and distance. The design was patented in 1969, and compound bows are the most common style you’ll find in the United States.