Compound Bows vs Recurve Bows

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Competition and comparison are a part of the sport, and when it comes to sports equipment, a comparison of various tools may add to your experience in many ways!

If you are a new archer or need to learn archery, a reliable and compatible bow is essential.

With so many brands and features of archery bows, one may ask, which one is best for me?

There are many types of bows but you’ll most likely be choosing between a recurve bow and a compound bow. We are discussing each type of bow here to see which one is better for you.

Although choosing a bow is more of a choice than suitability, beginners will find this article useful as it explains the differences between bow types.

We are discussing each bow in detail along with the pros and cons so that you will understand what to look for when you go to buy one!

Recurve Bow

This bow type is what we all have seen in books and movies.

Hunters of the olden times carried these around their chest and displayed masculinity by shooting accurately without any effort.

This bow is a simple curved limb with bowstrings to aim and shoot.

However, we can attach some accessories to improve their speed, accuracy, and comfort level.

You can find one-piece models or even takedown models, such as the PSE Pro Max Recurve Bow, which can be dissembled for carrying in a bag or traveling.

While the former kind of recurve bow is a straightforward design, it has a lesser ability to be updated and modified than the latter.

This means that you can use accessories with a takedown recurve bow to improve its function.

With a takedown recurve bow, you can reduce draw weight or improve speed by accessorizing!

Didn’t think this term could be used for archery? Well, Hello! This sport is just as forward as the fashion industry!

Compound bows vs recurve bows advantages disadvantages comparison
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Delaney Gonzales

Advantages of a Recurve Bow

For archery beginners, the most straightforward tool to handle is a recurve bow.

It looks simple and is easy to work with.

One of the advantages of a recurve is that it is like a basic outline of a bow, to which you can add more and more accessories to improve its functions.

A takedown recurve comes apart in three pieces:

  • riser
  • top limb
  • bottom limb

For portability, this feature is excellent, but it has another significant advantage. The ability to accept accessories and add-ons which improve the game!

You can experiment with different limbs of lighter material[1], or a more considerable curve of limbs to go with the riser.

Another advantage of the recurve is that there is no complicated design. As a beginner, a bow can be overwhelming for you.

The simpler designs seem user-friendly and easy to handle.

Therefore, many beginners and especially young archers tend to pick up a recurve bow as their first weapon on the range.

Another advantage of the recurve bow is that they are quick to use.

No extra measures, no time-consuming arrow placement, and a simple method of just setting the arrow, aiming, and voila! You just shot an arrow!

However, the easier the shot, the more chances of beginners underestimating their tool and the sport.

Holding a bow and arrow means responsibility, and a recurve gives beginners the confidence that they have full control over their weapon.

Disadvantages of a Recurve Bow

Seeing all the advantages from the other side of the hedge makes them look like a negative!

A recurve bow is simple, and beginners tend to like them. However, a simple tool will not allow you to grow as an archer.

The adjustments and tuning needed on the complicated compound bows also add to your experience and knowledge of the weapon.

A recurve bow does not always have the speed to shoot down a big animal.

As long as you are on the range, a recurve bow can be a good companion, but as soon as you decide to hunt, you might feel that your bow might not support you with many medium and big game.

A recurve bow has lower power when compared to a compound bow.

Your recurve bow relies more on your strength and skill as an archer. This implies that the bow is only a weapon to shoot the arrow.

Power, focus, and precision will have to be yours. Not to mention the fatigue level of using a recurve.

Unlike compound bows, the recurve will make you feel exhausted as it does not offer any assistance with force.

Which bow type is best for beginners hunting modern compound or traditional recurve bow

Compound Bow

Compound bows are a modern-day tool that makes archery and hunting easier. Now you can go for a round of archery or hunting without worrying about getting tired.

The compound bow has a complicated design, but it provides a lot of convenience features as well.

A compound bow is a lightweight riser and limbs that have two wheels, also called cams, attached to both ends.

These wheels take off a considerable amount of weight from the archer’s shoulders as they help draw and release the arrow with lesser force from the archer, but with full speed due to the string tension and efficient cam system[2].

Don’t miss our roundup of this year’s best compound bows for women!

A compound bow has lesser draw length, which means that an archer will not have to pull the arrow a great deal.

Similarly, the draw weight you feel is reduced as the compound bow assists archers by adding force to the arrow.

Compound bows are considered modern as they were created in the 1960s and are the founder of the term ‘let off’ as it was an unknown concept before the compound bow came into being[3].

‘Let off’ means taking off the burden, or weight from the archer by reducing draw weight and increasing speed due to the cam system.

A compound bow is lightweight, as it is usually made of aluminum or fiberglass. This construction makes it easier for the archer to hold their weapon for longer.

With this bow, you can hunt for longer or practice archery for more time!

Advantages of a Compound Bow

Compound bows like the Diamond Infinite Edge Pro (check out our review of the Infinite Edge) are more powerful and do not rely on the skill level of the archer.

The wheels on the top and bottom limbs are a turning point as they help reduce the force needed to draw an arrow.

The cam and pulley system makes it easier to draw, and the speed is too good to be true!

Moreover, a compound bow will give you more consistency as the shot is always as fast and as accurate as before.

With lesser skill even, beginners will achieve better chances with a compound bow.

This lightweight frame and secure shot system make the compound bow an ideal pick for new archers.

If you are just starting out, have a look at this list of beginner compound bows.

The sense of achievement and success builds confidence, which in turn translates to an improvement in shooting style.

Read Also: How to Shoot a Compound Bow

Beginners who start with a compound bow will love the feeling of achieving precision every time. There are no different ways of using a compound bow.

A fine-tuned bow will give the same speed and accuracy every time.

This consistency makes a compound bow user confident that he or she can achieve the same result every time, and instead of focusing on the bow, they concentrate on their style-improving every time!

Now that we have discussed the cam system enough, let’s see what else a compound bow has.

The arrow rest, riser, and the comfort of holding the bow are all features that add value to a compound bow.

A compound bow has many attached or pre-installed accessories that maximize your experience.

A proper scope improves visibility, and an arrow rest will make it easier for you to shoot in the same style.

Not to mention comfort features like lightweight riser and a narrow grip to maintain the steady hold.

The compound bow is like a luxury experience that improves success rate, making your adventure trips, and shooting range events experience memorable.

For hunters, a compound bow is the best bet as it is fast and accurate.

Secondly, the vibrating bowstrings’ noise factor and the tension in the limbs are reduced by the tuning and smaller bow parts that maintain silence!

With a compound bow, it is easier to aim as you have a sight that can help you see in less light.

All the people who like to enjoy a shoot-out in the early hours with friends or those who want to take a more extended trip to the woods can rely on the visibility factor with a compound bow.

There are many features to admire about a compound bow, as it is a perfect extension of your arms, and can give you the best experience when it comes to hunting down animals.

Disadvantages of a Compound Bow

The only drawback that I can think of is the assembly or tuning.

When you unpack your compound bow, it requires tuning as the draw length and draw weight have to be set according to the archer’s physique.

Similarly, when you need to hunt, the distance and type of game must be taken into account.

If you are a mathematical person, you can make the adjustments easily, but rather non-mathematical people will find it hard to tune.

Another disadvantage for beginners is that the high price of a compound bow makes it a tough purchase.

Hunters who want to invest in a good weapon will find the compound bow to be better than a recurve bow.

Best bow types recurve bow or compound bow best features

Battle of Features

After discussing each type of bow, let’s see how each of them fares when it comes to an absolute requirement.

Accuracy

When two hunters or archers of equal strength and skill use a compound and recurve bow, using the former will achieve more efficiency as this bow will facilitate a straight throw.

Moreover, the power needed to hit the target will be lesser with a compound bow than a recurve.

Price

The price of a compound bow is exponentially high when compared to a recurve bow.

If you feel that you are not ready to invest in an expensive archery tool, try a recurve until you become better, or take it up as a serious sport.

Many people don’t intend to spend a lot on a hobby or pastime that they don’t pursue in the future.

Ease of Use

If you want to exert less force and yield better results, compound bow it is!

However, many people consider it a complicated tool due to the tuning and assembly involved.

Many compound bow models are easy to assemble or don’t even require any assembling.

However, since the recurve has a simple design, it is natural for people to perceive that it is easier to use.

Final Verdict: Recurve or Compound?

Now that we have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both types of bows, it is easier to pinpoint the weapon that you want to buy.

If you are a newbie, who does not know much about bow and arrow shooting, it might sound more comfortable to work with a recurve bow.

Similarly, if you want to practice archery on the range and have no plans to hunt for the big game, recurve may seem to be a better choice.

Every individual chooses a bow according to their comfort and style of shooting. Selecting a bow is more of a personal choice.

However, every beginner or regular archer has to pinpoint their preferences. If you are looking for a simple and straightforward bow, go for a recurve.

If you want to improve over time and want to try various bow and arrow shooting activities, go for a compound bow.

Hunting for the big game might not be as fruitful with a recurve bow as with a compound bow.

Beginners can start with a recurve bow, and once they have perfected their skill, and decide to continue bow and arrow shooting, they may invest in a pricier and more effective compound bow that will last a lifetime!

Resources

  1. https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~archery/wp-content/uploads/docs/recurve-fundamentals.pdf
  2. https://www.outsideonline.com/2172756/how-compound-bows-work
  3. http://www.historyofarchery.com/archery-history/compound-bow/

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