Recurve Bow Vs Compound Bow – Which Bow is the Right One?

Recurve Bow VS Compound Bow: The differences and special features of the individual types are described and explained below. But wait – what is a recurve or a compound bow? Just read on, and you will learn.

Recurve Bow VS Compound Bow

Table of contents

The Recurve Bow or Olympic Bow

The recurve bow is a technical advancement of the longbow. It is also known as the “Olympic bow” because only this type of bow is represented at the Olympic Games.

Its shape is characterized by the fact that the ends of the limbs are bent forward towards the target. This bend results in a significantly higher firing speed and precision compared to the longbow, even with lower draw weights.

Limbs: Insertion, Materials, and Adjustability

  • A recurve bow consists of a middle part (handle), two limbs that are inserted or screwed into the middle part, the tendon, a visor, and a stabilizer. From wood to aluminum to carbon, all materials are used here on almost all parts (depending on how much you want to spend).
  • The exchangeable limbs make it possible for the bow to “grow” with the archer. For example, a youngster may start with 18 lbs (approx. 9 kg) pull weight and increase to approx. 30 lbs within a year, depending on the amount of training.
  • The adults shoot in the range of 40-42 lbs to be able to hit the target at distances up to 90 m. A competition that goes over 72 arrows (plus trial) can also be regarded as exhausting.
  • Like the longbow, the beginner’s recurve bow is shot with the fingers on which leather protection (tab) is worn. Targeted use is made of the visor attached to the middle part and the tendon shadow, and the neck’s anchor point.
  • It not only reads that more complicated than “rear sight and front sight” – it is! When you then know that the sun’s position affects the tendon shadow, you can imagine what a challenge that is.

But that’s exactly what makes recurve shooting so interesting. You practically never stop learning, and you get better and better with continuous training. And if you train hard, you will be rewarded more and more often with the feeling of having fired a “perfect shot.”

You Should Read: The 10 Best Takedown Recurve Bow for Hunting

The Compound Bow or High Precision Shooting

The compound bow is the latest development in archery and, how could it be otherwise, comes from America. It was mainly developed for hunting because there it can best exploit its specific advantages, to name just a few:

  • Shorter overall length
  • Higher launch speed
  • The bow is always tense
  • The more precise aiming device
  • More precise arrow guidance

Compound Bows Differ Fundamentally From Other Bows in Their Structure

They have pulleys on the limbs, whose mode of action can best be compared to that of a cable pull. These pulleys, also called wheels, cams, or speed cams, have the advantage that the bow does not have the full draw weight when it is fully extended, like a recurve bow.

  • In the beginning, you have to overcome a larger draw weight, the pre-tensioned rollers move backward, and you come to the point called “peak weight,” where the bow has the maximum draw weight.
  • Then, the rollers’ leverage sets in, and the pulling weight is drastically reduced; you are in the so-called valley. The difference to the above “peak weight” can be up to 75%; one speaks of the “let off” of a bow.
  • The advantage is obvious when fully extended, and the compound shooter has a lot less draw weight “on hand.”
  • The pulleys are connected with the so-called cables, so that compound bows have two more “cords” in addition to the string, which, together with the pulleys, make up the typical high-tech view of a compound bow (not to mention stabilizers and Sights).
  • The beginner’s compound bow can also be better adapted to the shooter’s needs, as it can be adjusted within certain limits in terms of draw length and draw weight.
  • The draw weight of most bows can be varied by opening or closing the limbs on the handle in the 20 LBS range, and you have the option of adjusting the extension length to 2-3 inches by hanging the string on the rollers (LBS does not mean Landesbausparkasse, but is the Unit of measurement English pounds 20 LBS = approx. 20 pounds = approx. 10 kg).

Read Also: The 10 Best Youth Compound Bow

Compound Shooters Also Have Various Aids at Their Disposal That Contribute to the More Precise Shooting

They have “rear sight and front sight,” only with archery. It is called “peep sight” and “scope.”

The scope is provided with a lens (2x-4x magnification), and you can compare it with the rifle scope on rifle shooters. The peep sight is worked into the tendon. It is provided with a hole.

The Role of Peep Sight and Scope in Compound Shooting

  • When shooting, the compound shooter looks through the peep and scope and thus has a very precise target option.
  • The compound shooter does not hold the tendon with his fingers but releases it with a “release.” Due to the extremely narrow tendon angle when fully extended, there is only very limited space for the fingers, hence the release, which has a loop that is placed around the tendon.
  • A big advantage of the release is the trigger: like with a rifle or a pistol, the trigger is pressed, and the arrow flies off. This way of loosening arrows (shooting them) is considerably easier than loosening them with your hand.
  • Compound bows have a movable arrow rest that works vertically and thus significantly less obstructs the arrow when firing than the rigid counterpart in the recurve bow. The arrow can detach itself from the bow without being influenced, and the trajectory is thus cleaner. Some archers use so-called folding supports, which, connected to the cables (that which hangs on the pulleys, cable principle), only fold up when the bow is drawn out to hold the arrow.
  • Furthermore, compound bows are almost always shot with so-called stabilizers, or stabilizers for short, which are also used in the recurve area. They serve to dampen the vibrations when fired and to give the arrow a calmer trajectory.

Of course, there are also purists among compound shooters who shoot completely without the aids, as mentioned above. These are so-called compound bare archers.

You Should Read: The 10 Best Arrows for Recurve Bow

The Advantages of a Compound Bow Are Therefore Obvious

A very precise aiming device, higher launch speed, flatter flight path, and an overall higher flight speed of the arrows.

All of this is very beneficial in hunting shooting, and there is also better handling of the bow because compound bows are significantly shorter than all other constructs.

You Should Read: Best Bow Hunting Backpack in 2023

Recurve Bow Vs Compound Bow – Which Bow is the Right One?

The question of which bow is right for you is ultimately an individual decision. It depends on how much experience you have and how much time and money you are willing to invest in your new hobby.

A recurve bow is certainly advisable to get started. It requires little maintenance, offers high precision, and can be shot at all levels of performance. However, there is still no alternative.


There are still many things to add about technical features such as turning the string in or out, lengthening or shortening the cable, selecting and synchronizing the roles, only that would go beyond this homepage’s scope.

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