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How to Determine What Year a Compound Bow Was Made

by Eric Cedric
Most compound bow information is found along the serial number etching or sticker.

Most compound bow information is found along the serial number etching or sticker.

A compound bow uses cams and pulleys to assist with the bow's draw. This is helpful as it makes the draw easier than a traditional recurve bow on the draw, preventing fatigue during hunts or target shooting. If you are shopping for a used compound bow or have other needs for knowing the year the bow was produced in, find this information on the bow's serial number sticker or etching. If you cannot decipher the information use a tested method to pinpoint the year of the bow in question.

Read the serial number stamp. Most stamps are found near the bow's lens, more commonly referred to as the handle or grip. If the lettering is small, or etched onto the handle, use a magnifying glass to read it.

Look for any lines indicating date of production. Some compound bows use an encoded serial number to provide the date. For example, Martin Archery uses a code for the serial number that is similar to an auto vehicle identification number (VIN). If you have a serial number with no date, write down the number or take a picture of the stamp.

Find the maker of the compound bow and email the picture or serial number to the company, asking for a confirmation on the bow's year of production. Lists of compound bow makers are found at websites such as Hunter's Friend.

Check a Bear bow (the name of the maker) for a series of different criteria to determine its age. Bear bows have been in production for decades and use a slightly different method of dating the bows. Among the criteria are medallions stamped onto the grip. Copper coins indicate a bow from 1959. Aluminum coins were used for the years between 1960 through 19661 while pewter was used for 1962. Brass coin medallions are on the bows from 1963 through 1970 and gold medallion coins are on Bear bows from 1971 through 1972.

Find any patent marks on the bows. Patent marks are represented with the year the patent was issued and are useful in determining the age of compound bows. Like all markings, find patent marks on the serial number stamp near the lens.

Items you will need

  • Magnifying glass (optional)
  • Digital camera (optional)
  • Computer with Internet

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Photo Credits

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