So, Recurve Bows: what are they? In answer to that question, the recurve bow is one of the most popular bows on the market due to its versatility and style. Many would say that the recurve bow is also one of the easiest to operate. It appeals to virtually all archers regardless of where they are on their archery journey from beginner to expert.
If you’re thinking about investing in a recurve bow you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some specific terminology first.
Arrow Rest – Literally the place where the arrow rests when the bow is loaded.
Bowhunting – The practice of hunting with a bow and arrow.
Bow Sight – A viewing tool either mounted on or built-in to the bow to help you take aim.
Draw Length – The distance between the nock point on the string and the grip point on the riser.
Draw Weight – Also known as “poundage” is the amount of force needed to pull the string back.
Field Archery – A form of archery in which multiple targets are set along an outdoor course.
Limbs – The top and bottom parts of the bow. In a recurve bow, these curve away from the user.
Nock Point – A knot (or fitting) on the sting to keep the arrow in place.
Riser – The rigid centre of the bow to which the limbs are attached.
Straight Bow – A traditional bow style. When strung and viewed from the side it forms a letter D. The longbow we associate with Robin Hood is a straight bow.
String (or bowstring) – The string that connects the limbs of the bow and launches the arrow. In modern archery strings are usually synthetic.
Takedown – A recurve bow that is made of three parts (riser and two limbs) and can be “taken down” for easy transport and parts replacement.
Target Archery – A form of archery that involves shooting static targets either indoors or in an open field.
The primary defining characteristic of recurve bows is its shape. Its limbs curve away from the archer. When unstrung it forms a number three as opposed to the D shape of a straight or long bow.
This is a modern improvement on the original straight (long) bow design. It brought with it some significant advantages. Recurve bows are able to store more energy as they are drawn. This energy is then transferred to the arrow more efficiently. Making them easier to operate than straight bows. But also more powerful and accurate.
While it is still possible to purchase a recurve bow made as a single piece of either wood or a synthetic material. It is more common these days to purchase a “takedown” style collapsible bow.
Takedown recurve bows are constructed from carbon fibres. These are able to withstand the high levels of stress placed on the materials when drawn.
And being collapsible means that you can also replace the limbs of a recurve bow. This provides the added advantage of being able to adjust your draw weight.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the recurve bow is its light weight construction and collapsibility. This allows for much easier transportation than their bulkier predecessor, the longbow.
Recurve bows are suitable for all types of archery and are in fact the only type of bow allowed in the Olympic Games. Their transportability makes them an ideal choice for bowhunting, field, and 3D archery which require the archer to move around a lot. All in all, the recurve bow is a great all-rounder. It’s great for the archer on the go. But just as suited to target archery where its ease of use wins over both the longbow and the compound bow.
There are three things to consider when choosing a recurve bow; draw weight, draw length, and intended use. While the recurve bow is suitable for all types of archery some recurves are better suited to one type of archery over another.
If target archery is your intention, then power is not essential so a lower draw weight would be fine.
However, if your intention is hunting then you need to be looking at the heavier draw weights. It’s unlikely that a beginner to archery would be capable of the weightier draw needed for larger game.
But if this is the plan then you could start with a lower weight of 25-30lbs for small game. Then work your way up to 40lbs plus as your skill improves.
The draw length of your bow is calculated by dividing your arm span by 2.5. This in turn will determine the bow length. However, you need to weigh it all up with its intended use.
While more length means more accuracy, it also means more challenging to move around with. Remember, recurve bows work best when the correct draw length is used.
Whether you’re new to archery or a seasoned professional. Recurve bows will have a place in your arsenal. These bows are versatile, often lightweight, and easy to operate.