Types of Bows – Comprehensive Guide for Archery Enthusiasts

Types of Bows

In archery, we use bows and arrows to shoot our target. The accuracy of shooting an arrow depends on the bow’s quality. There are not only one but different types of bows used for different types of archery. If you use a bow for hunting for shooting purposes, then you may end up missing your target completely or by some margin. 

Enjoy your game and enhance your experience. It is always recommended to use the right bows. To better understand the purpose of different bow types, we will share all the different types of bows and where to use them. Without any further delay, let’s start exploring them together. 

5 Different Types of Bows 

If you understand the purpose of a specific bow, we bet you will always stay within your target in the future. Most beginners make this mistake as they go for fancy bows or pick those they saw in their favorite or local archer’s hand. There are many bows of different types available in the market. Following are the bow types we are going to discuss in this article. 

  • Recurve Bow
  • LongBow
  • Compound Bow
  • CrossBow
  • Traditional Bow

Let’s discuss them in detail one by one.

Recurve Bow

The recurve bow is the most famous and versatile bow used in modern archery. It gets its name from how its limbs curve away from the shooter at the tips. These are the more powerful and accurate bows used for shooting and hunting. 

Most professional archers use it in Olympic archery competitions, where they want more power and accuracy in shots. The weight of this bow is on the lighter side, and it is easy to carry and use. It comprises of the following things:

Riser: The central part of the bow from where an archer holds the bow is known as a riser. The riser is typically made from wood, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Additionally, it provides the room to hold limbs, arrow rest, and sight. 

Limbs are the most flexible part of the bow, which stores the energy required to shoot an arrow. The limbs are attached to the riser and curve away from the archer at the tips. Limbs, too, are made from maple wood, fiberglass, etc.

String: It is part of the bow that pushes the arrow or helps it fly with more speed. It is attached to the bow’s limbs, and the archer pulls it back to shoot an arrow. Strings are made from various materials like Dacron, Vectra, and FastFlight. 

Arrow Rest: The area where an arrow rests before you shoot it is known as arrow rest. Usually, it is located on the riser, and you can adjust it to accommodate different arrow lengths and weights.

Bow Sight: It is an additional accessory that is not mandatory. You can buy it to aim at your target. Typically it is mounted on the riser and provides a clear view of the target to aim at it more accurately and easily. 

Draw Weight: Recurve bows have different draw weight ranges from lightweight to heavyweight ( from beginners to professionals). 


It is a type of bow that was used in hunting for longer. Previously, English people used it as a weapon during the war. The bow is tall enough, made from a single piece of yew tree wood, and is known for its long shape and power draw. The long design of longbows allows archers to shoot arrows with more accuracy and precision over long distances. 

In the beginning, England used it in their infantry, taking it to many battles, especially in the battle of crecy. It is best for hunting. Hunters can easily shoot arrows with great accuracy and speed using longbows. They can use it in games like deer hunting, wild boar, and others. 

This bow is a symbol of English heritage, which they call their national identity. Many English archers still use the longbow for hunting. Before the 17th century, these bows were very much in demand, but after the usage of firearms increased, the popularity of longbows gradually decreased. 

Compound Bow

When we talk about compound bows, we are indirectly talking about modern bows, which use a system of pulleys and cables. Unlike traditional bows, where we use a single curved limb for energy storage, here it reduces the force required to be applied by the archer to hold the bow at full draw. The pulley system makes it easier for the archer to hold the bow steady for longer and shoot arrows more precisely. 

These types of bows are mostly made with lightweight materials like aluminum and fiber, making them more durable and portable than traditional bows. The modern technology of compound bows reduces the force required to hold the bow at full draw. You can easily attach a sight or other accessories to help improve its accuracy. They have been used as an alternative to recurve bows, so they are mostly used in shooting and hunting. 

Hunters prefer this bow type over traditional bows because of its lighter weight, portability, and accuracy. When it comes down to target shooting, compound bows are used in multiple disciplines, like indoor target archery, 3D archery, and field archery. These disciplines require accuracy to shoot targets at different distances and sizes. 


Crossbow is a type of bow that uses a horizontal limb assembly mounted on a top, similar to a rifle. Unlike traditional bows, which rely on the archer’s strength to draw a bowstring, a crossbow uses a unique mechanism to store energy(a bow). Archer will push the crossbow by pulling the string back, which activates the bow, and then releases the string, which throws the arrow toward the target. 

China initially developed the crossbow, which was adopted by forces throughout Asia and Europe. During early times, crossbows were the most popular weapon of war due to their range, accuracy, and easy-to-operate features. Recently, these bows have been used primarily in hunting and recreation. Many hunters praise it because it is quieter than firearms and kills the target more quickly and humanely.

Moreover, it is widely used in archery, mostly in internationally organized crossbow tournaments. You can participate in the event as a team or as an individual. Finally, it has two design variants. One is for casual use, known as a basic model, while the other is for high-performance, used in competitive archery and hunting. You can easily add multiple accessories like scopes, quivers, and lights to help improve accuracy. 

Traditional Bows

These bows have been used in hunting and warfare for hundreds of years. They are known for their simple design, consisting of a flexible limb to store energy when you draw your bow. You only need to pull back the bowstring to shoot the arrow toward your target. Traditional bows usually come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from shots to longbows. Shorts bows are much easier to transport, whereas longbows are used for hunting large targets. 

Other traditional bows, like long and recurve bows, have curved shapes that allow more accuracy and speed. Because of their flexibility, strength, and durability, these bows are made from high-quality woods, such as yew and ash. Nowadays, all modern bows use high-quality synthetic materials like fiberglass to keep them lightweight and provide more strength and durability. 

They have played an important role in human history as they were used for recreation, hunting, and warfare for thousands of years. In the modern era, traditional bows are mostly used for recreation, competitive archery, and target shooting. Traditional bows are quite challenging to use as they require a proper skill set and practice to use them effectively. 

So, many professional archers currently use these five different types of bows. A pro tip here is that if you want to start your journey, then choose bows according to your requirement. If you want to go for target shooting, choose the one for target shooting. That’s why analyse your needs first and then choose the types of bows that suits you the most.

Leave a Comment