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Does The Variety Of Bows Confuse You? Learn About Them And Their Differences

Does The Variety Of Bows Confuse You? Learn About Them And Their Differences

As a beginner in archery, we all had experienced the conundrum when we needed to buy a bow but did not know which one to get. Some of us are lucky enough to get good guides or friends who know about this stuff. What about the rest? This guide is the answer for them.

There are different types of bows like recurve bow, longbow, and compound bow. Each of these is the best for a particular kind of archery. Let us get into details and explore which one is the best for you.

What Is A Recurve Bow?

recurve bow

Picture courtesy

A recurve bow is very common. You can recognize it just by looking at it as the tip of the Bow is curved. This bow is mainly utilized in target archery and is the only bow that Olympics allow. Recurve bows find use in field archery, 3D archery, and bow hunting. Recurve_bow

Picture courtesy

Now, they can come in one piece but mostly we have takedown recurve bows in use. These bows break down into three parts when they are unstrung, thereby making it easy on the carrier’s part. The middle part is called the riser and can be made of metal or wood or carbon. The other ends are called limbs and are made of wood, carbon, fiberglass and so on. The bow derives the power from the curve at the tips. Take-Down-Recurve-Bow


What Is A Long Bow?


A longbow is a tall bow, almost the height of the archer. This gives the user enough space to make a long draw. The limbs are made narrow so that in the cross section they can be circular or D-shaped.

Modern longbows are made of timber or modern materials. However, the best material according to most people is bamboo because it flexes and returns to the original shape quickly and in a better way.

Longbows were more popular during the medieval times. The kings and the English men considered it the best weapon of all times. An experienced person can take 20 shots in a minute. That is quite a number!



What Is A Compound Bow?

The compound bow is the fastest, most powerful and the most accurate bow you can get in today’s world. It makes use of a levering system that is built up of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. Thus, this pulley system gives the bows the unique let off capability.

A compound bow is quite easy to identify. It is constructed of multiple strings, and there are pulley systems at both the ends of the bow. These compound bows are used in the field as well as 3D archery and bow hunting.


If you are a beginner, and it is your first experience of a compound bow, get one that has relatively low draw weight. Although you don’t have to hold the weight, yet it can damage the muscles and joints and cause injuries. Practice and gradually increase the difficulty level.

Recurve Bow Vs Longbow

The long bow is different from the recurve bow in various aspects. Though both of these are examples of traditional bows and consist just a bow and a string, there is much more to each of them. Read more about longbow vs recurve.recurve vs longbow



For a beginner, a longbow and a recurve bow are similar. These look almost same and are usually built of wood; hence, it gets difficult to differentiate one from the other. However, there are some little differences, and these are what brings the huge contrast in the performance.

A longbow is made of one single piece of wood. It gets the curvy shape only when you string it. As the name says, these are quite long, and as a rule of thumb, longer bows impart more power to the arrow. Some longbows can be as long as the height of the archer. A long bow is also known to be a forgiving bow. It is less pinching on the fingers when the string is pulled and impacts less friction on the fingers when the string is released. Thus, longbows turn out to be better learning bows.

On the contrary, recurves are made of several smaller pieces of curved wood. Animal horns are used at times. Due to this design, when the bowstring is drawn, more pressure and tension is created in the string. This makes a recurve more powerful choice when compared to a longbow. And since these are smaller in size, they can be easily carried anywhere.

However, these are wider than the longbows and thinner in depth. Thus, these are less forgiving. Nonetheless, since they are shorter and supply the same amount of power, they make it a better bow for smaller places where there isn’t much space.


Longbows get too long for some people to handle. On the other hand, since the arrows in the recurve bow rests on the wood of the bow, aiming gets a lot easier. Thus, recurve bows are more accurate than the longbows.

In this regard, some people might argue that longbows are more accurate than recurve bows. However, that simply depends on the skills of the archer. Recurve bows offer a more solid feel and are accurate for most people.


Recurve bows are used in Olympics. In fact, these are the only type of bows that are allowed in Olympics.

Recurve bow vs Compound bow

Recurve and compound bows are similar in the aspect that both of these have strings and arrows, but that’s it. The similarities are limited to that only. There is quite a lot of difference between compound and recurve bow. A compound bow is a newer and more modern bow and comes laced with too many features. Let us explore how recurve bows are different from compound ones.compound-vs.-recurve-bow


Just by looking at them, you can tell the difference between a recurve and a compound bow. The former is also called traditional bow because it is the shape that has been around for centuries. There are just a single bow body and a string. These were originally made of wood, but today carbon and fiberglass are also used to increase the strength and durability. The inward curve in the limbs of the bow helps to produce lots of force and power upon drawing.

On the other hand, a compound bow is laced with the latest technology. There are systems of pulleys and strings that are attached to the limbs. The latter is made of aluminum or carbon. This makes the body stronger but smaller and hence they can be used in thick terrain as well. This system also allows for more force to build up. It also gives a sudden reduction in the resistance when the bow is drawn back to a certain point.

Also, a compound bow is made up of carbon or aluminum.


If you are up for challenges, recurve bows are for you. These rely greatly on the techniques of the archer. It is his skill that determines the fate of the shot.

On the other hand, compound bows do not tire out the archer easily. They can, therefore, shoot greater distances without getting tired soon. One can also pair up compound bows with scopes for long distances. Also, the power generated is more than in a recurve bow.


Recurve bows are at times used for hunting. They are more suited for small sized preys. Though they can take down large animals too, the archer must be more experienced and accurate when taking the shot. More commonly recurve bows are used in shooting competitions. In fact, Olympics allows for only recurve bows and none other.

Compound bows are usually used to hunt. They are more powerful and accurate and can shoot quite long distances. Hence, they are suited for large preys as well. In fact, no matter how far the prey is, the bow will do its job for sure.

Check out this video for more info

Advantages Of Recurve Bow

Also popular as the best traditional bow, recurve bows have many advantages. These are the best if you are a beginner or even a professional. Given below are some of the reasons as to why the recurve bows are a favorite of all.

Multi-purpose: Recurve bows can be used for hunting as well as target practice. Usually, target practice demands a bow that can penetrate a cardboard at least. However, for hunting, you need some bow that can provide more power and kill the prey in one go. For this, a recurve bow is an ideal choice.

Simple yet strong: Recurve bows are simple in design. There are just a wooden bow and a string. As simple as it looks, it is more complicated than that. The wooden frame is made of smaller wooden pieces, each curved originally. Thus, when you draw the string, more force and power is created which is then transferred to the arrow. It does not break also easily. Hence, it is a strong choice for your needs.

Powerful: Due to unique build and design, the recurve bows tend to be more powerful. On drawing the string, the arrow is propelled with a lot of force. With more pressure and tension in the string, these bows are definitely a lot powerful.

Accurate: Another aspect of recurve bows is their accuracy. Since they are a lot powerful, this, in turn, impacts the accuracy as well. The arrows rest on the wood in these bows. Hence, aiming gets easier and there is less distraction. So the aims are generally more accurate.

Only bow in Olympics: The recurve bows have a feather in their cap. They are the only bows that are allowed in the Olympics. So, this is definitely a step ahead than its counterparts.

Convenient: Recurve bows let you take down the bow for easy transportation. There might be cases when you need to interchange the bow arms. These bows are good at that too. Interchanging arms allow for more versatility.

Easy learning curve: Learning to shoot with a recurve bow is very easy. A person can actually just pick up a bow and start shooting with accuracy.

Affordable: Having checked so many advantages of the recurve bows, the next thing that comes to a person’s mind is its price tag. Well, you are in luck here. Recurve bows come in a huge price range. They can cost as low as 150 dollars and can go up to even 500 dollars. You can get bows priced above that as well, but that will be mostly artisan bow makers and the custom kits. That is another story. Concluding, you can get the best recurve bows under 500 dollars and even less.

So these were the benefits of the best recurve bow. Alternatively, you can check out here how you can use a recurve bow.

Now, one thing that might confuse you is the bow grip. Should you go for right or the left-handed one? Well, that depends on you. Check your comfort. The user hand and its orientation matter a lot in this regard. You can read more about it here.


Thus, it is evident from the above discussion that a recurve bow is definitely a lot better than a longbow. It leaves behind the latter in every aspect, including accuracy, power, ease of use, strength and what not. These are obviously a more durable choice. Read more about recurve bows here.

However, we also saw that a compound bow turned out to be much better than the recurve bow. Due to the modern technology and the new structure and innovative design, compound bows are a better choice. However, the market still has the recurve bows as the winner. It is simple and most people just love it. So next time you need a bow, you know what you will get. For a comparison, feel free to check this video too


  1. Anonymous Storyteller

    You’ll sound stupid if you just say the recurve is more powerful than a longbow, because the historical English Longbow was considered hugely powerful and people get the draw weight up to 150#, defying the belief of some archers. You are very recurve biased, it shows. Others would light you up. As a non-bowman gathering data for very oblique purposes that needs general research, understanding both your bias, and what you consider most of the recurve, has been useful. Thank you.


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