I pity the new bowhunter or the experienced bowhunter who tries to bone up on new bow technology by reading popular bow magazines. These publications are not always bad sources of information however often writers take a handful of information and write a bucketful about it. Let me explain. Many respected professional bowhunters and writers often brand fast, short, light weight, high lettoff, low brace height, cam bows as "unforgiving". Conversely they label long, round wheel, high brace height, slow bow as "forgiving". The problem with these labels is that they are not talking about what the bow will be used for. Are the features that make an indoor target bow forgiving the same features that will make a bowhunting rig forgiving? The answer is no. Forgiveness comes in many packages. What is important to a target archer is not necessarily important to a bowhunter. Speed is completely unnecessary to an indoor target archer. Only the amount of energy needed to stick the arrow in the target is necessary. A bowhunter on the other hand can use speed to his advantage by eliminating the need to have to guess yardage perfectly. This is much more important than the ultimate accuracy achieved by an indoor target bow.
For our example we will use two bows that are considered complete opposites as far as forgiveness is concerned. A Hoyt round-wheel target bow and a Mathews one-cam hunting bow. The Target bow has all of the features touted to be the best for forgiveness; 46" axle to axle (long and stable), Round energy wheels (gradual transitions in the draw force curve), Deflex riser (makes for a greater distance from grip to string shortening the power stroke but helps shooter with a poor bow arm to not hit their arm), 65% lettoff (for crisper release from fingers or mechanical release). Our hunting bow has the most critical features according to many; 36" axle to axle (short and unstable), Fastest one-cam (Sharp, radical transitions in the draw force curve), Reflex riser (makes for a smaller distance from grip to string increasing the power stroke for faster speeds and demands proper shooting form to shoot), 80% lettoff (sloppier release from fingers or mechanical release) 3 ¼ lb. (to Light to hold steady). In our example both of these bows were shot at a distance of 20 yd. under the same conditions by myself and accomplished bowhunter and two time indoor national champion. The target bow consistently kept groups of an 1 ½" or less. The hunting bow kept groups of 1 ¾"or less. That means that the effective difference in my hands was ¼" or 15%. Keep in mind that these bows were set up differently. The target bow was equipped with all the finest accessories like a scope and a long stabilizer and the hunting bow was not. Had these bows been set up the same I doubt the difference would have been this much. That means that if at 20 yards your ability with the finest equipment available was 3" then with the fastest most radical equipment your group would be 15% larger or 3 ½". Plug in your group size and you will see the difference is nominal.
Now lets talk about the forgiveness feature of speed. In our example the two bows speed in feet per second were 195 for the target bow and 309 for the hunting bow. The target bow had an arrow drop of 22" from 10 to 30 yards and the hunting bow has a drop of 3 ½" from 10 to 30 yards. That means if a deer bear or elk were to walk within 30 yard of your stand location you could use one sight setting to aim on the heart-lung area of the animal and no matter how far you were off in your yardage guess (up to 30 yd.) you would place the arrow in the kill zone. With the target bow you had better hope you guessed yardage right or you may miss completely or worse yet wound the animal.
As you can see the slightly "less accurate" hunting bow is the more forgiving bow for the purpose. Just like the target bow is the most forgiving for it’s purpose. To use my "radical" hunting bow for target shooting would be as wrong as using my "forgiving" target bow for hunting. This doesn’t mean speed is everything because it’s not but don’t be afraid to take advantage of all the wonderful technology that is found in new hunting bows of all makes. The fact is that if your a good shooter, you’ll be a good shooter with any equipment. If you are a bad shooter with poor form, no equipment made can change that…..sorry.