Recurve Bow vs Compound Bow | Beginner Guide

recurve bow vs compound bow

Recurve bow vs compound bow; your head might get stuck in it when you choose one for yourself. There are too many things to consider while making your pick. It might be the bow’s model, draw weight and length, rest, and release speed of arrows, sights, and other accessories. Once you compare all these things, you will surely be able to select the right one for yourself.

It’s always a good competition between recurve and compound bow, and choosing the winner is quite difficult. But the good news is that we have made it easier for you now. This article will cover all the areas you need to know and pick the best bow. 

Recurve Bow VS Compound Bow

There is something more primitive about recurve bows, whereas compound bows are powerful and modern. Recurves are known as ancient designed bows, while compound bows are modern ones with the latest technology. Compound bows are easier to aim, draw and shoot. The let-off goes value is as high as 90%, describing that an archer only needs to hold 7 pounds at full draw on a bow with a peak draw weight of 70 pounds.

Regarding recurve bows, the farther you draw the bowstring, the heavier the draw weight becomes. For instance, suppose an archer who draws at 28 inches and uses a 50-pound recurve bow for shooting. In this scenario, the archer needs to hold all of the 50-pound weight of recurve at full draw. All compounds are built so that you can add more accessories to them, like sights, rests, and stabilizers.

But when it comes to recurve bows, they usually allow you to shoot without any attachments, while a few latest takedown recurves are now built for aiming and stabilizing accessories. Archers using recurve bows may use them for all three purposes shooting, 3D and bowhunting. While compound bow users mostly have 3 different bows for all three purposes.

Now, as the stage is set and you have the basic knowledge about both, it’s the right time to pull the trigger and go deeper into it.

Compound Bows

These bows rely on a system of pulleys to generate force. Compound bows are more powerful than recurves as of their ability to store more energy on the tips of their limbs by bending and stretching them whenever they come back to their initial position after every shot. The stored energy is released in one fluid motion when an archer draws back the bowstring using their fingers.

Recurve Bows

They are different from their competitors as they are not made from materials like aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. Recurve bows need pulleys to pull back the string. Native Americans started using these bows in the early stone age for hunting. As its name shows, they are curved back-designed bows. 

Which one is more energy efficient?

The more the bow is energy efficient, the more accurately it hits the target. Let us describe these points for you.

  • The same amount of energy is consumed by both bows, but they both utilize it differently.
  • Recurve bows are made from a single piece type of material, meaning that all the for you applied in pulling back the string is directly transferred to the arrow. 
  • Strings of compound bows are made up of two parts: inner and outer cable, connected by a pulley system, which means that some of the force you apply on the string will move the pulleys while the rest will go toward propelling the arrow.
  • The best advantage of compound bows is that it gives archers a chance to store more energy in their bows without the pressure of pulling them back.

Size of Bows

The size of the bow is another important factor that shows the steadiness of the bow. Short design is comparatively easy to hold and maneuver. It is helpful for beginners who are just learning how to shoot a bow.

  • Regarding size, recurve bows are bigger and heavier than compound bows, so a new archer might need help handling them.
  • The unique and modern technology-built design of compound bows makes it easier to draw the string back, with less strain on your muscle when you are shooting arrows.
  • The grip of the recurve bow is larger, so it can be difficult for young archers or those with smaller hands.
  • Grips in compound bows are undoubtedly not too big nor too small, so holding them is much easier.

Which one is easier to shoot?

As discussed earlier, recurve bows are made from a single piece of wood, and it’s a simple design. No cables nor pulleys here to be worried about, and the design is simple and effective.

Compound bows have several moving parts, like cables and pulleys, that make this bow more difficult to use. On the other hand, these bows are much more expensive than recurve bows. The reason for the higher price is the advanced technology they use.

Recurve bows have been used for decades, and many professional hunters nowadays use this bow.

Which one has Better Range?

Without any doubt, compound bows are more powerful. Moreover, when it comes to accuracy, compound bows are more accurate than recurve bows, as their cables are attached to the ends of the bow, not the center. 

Cables on compound bows work as springs. They store more energy, then release it when you pull back the string. That allows you to shoot arrows at a much faster speed and longer distances.

Which one comes with a sight?

The basic function of sight is to aim at a bow, so it is mandatory to have a good one. Compound bows are loaded with adjustable sights, while recurves are missing it by a huge margin. Sight on a compound bow is adjusted to the eye level of the person using it. First, you must place an arrow in sight and start aiming at the target. 

Pros and Cons of Recurve and Compound Bows

One can’t rule the pros and cons out of the discussion as they are integral to making any decision.

Pros of Compound Bows

  • Compound bows are much faster and easy to use
  • Because of their design, these bows are very accurate
  • No need for tuning and string maintenance

Cons Of Compound Bows

  • Beginners can only operate compound bows if built on the latest technology.

Pros of Recurve Bows

  • They are good for beginners compared to compound bows because they are easy to operate.
  • They don’t require any tool other than your hands.

Cons of Recurve Bows

  • Less accurate as compared to compound bows.


Is a recurve or compound bow: which one is better for beginners?

Beginners should initially start with a recurve bow, as it is easier and simpler to operate than a compound bow. It takes longer to learn to shoot well using a recurve, but once you master it, you can easily switch to a compound bow. If you start your journey with a compound bow, you will need help to switch to a recurve bow.

What is the reason to buy a recurve bow?

The simple design of recurve makes it look easier for a beginner to use. When we talk about archery, a recurve is one of the main shapes a bow can take, with its limbs that curve away from the shooter when unstrung. Moreover, a recurve bow usually stores more energy and delivers that energy more efficiently. 

Do the recurve bows shoot faster?

These are shorter than the traditional longbows, but the shape of recurve bow stores more energy at the tips of its limbs and releases that energy upon release, the reflexed ends here accelerate faster than the rest of the limb. As a result, more energy is transferred to the arrows.

What is the draw weight do Olympic compound archers use?

When we talk about Olympic archery, many competitors use recurve bows that draw an average of around 48.5 pounds for the males and 33 pounds for the women. There might be mechanical sight, but lack of optical enhancements. They might notice stabilizers on the bow.

How far can we shoot from an 80 lbs bow?

Most common practice evaluates that you can expect your 80 lbs of crossbow to shoot 400-grain arrows around 208 fps at 31 yards, while 350-grain arrows will fly at a speed of 220 to 230 fps at 32 yards. 

Why are recurve bows so noisy?

Loose parts of the recurve can cause vibrations that eventually contribute to the loud sounds you get upon the arrow’s release. Before making a shot, the best practice is to counter-check and ensure all the screws are tight. Emphasize checking the screws of the stabilizer and sight.

As in this article, you have read about differences in recurve bow vs compound bow and their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, picking up the right bow for yourself that suits you has become easier. Before making any final decision, keep your limitations and comfort zone in mind. 

In the end, if you still have any queries, write it back to us. We are looking forward to helping you out.

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