How To Choose A Recurve Bow (Guide From The Experts)

By Andy Ryan


Updated at
group aiming their bow

Recurve bows have been around for thousands of years and for good reason, they are still one of the favorites for many people and have a special place in the Olympics. The weight, length, and model of a recurve bow are all factors to consider when selecting one but there are a ton of other factors most people don’t always go through but can be critical.

If you’re looking for the ideal recurve bow for the first time, here is a guide from our experts to learn how to choose one.

Below well be going through the steps for you to get started including:

1. Determining what you’ll be using the bow for
2. Determining how heavy the bow you’re buying should be
3. Finding out the ideal length for your bow
4. Determining what arrows you’ll need
5. Determining what accessories you’ll need


1. What Do You Intend to Use It For?


When choosing a recurve bow, the first thing you should think about is what you want to use it for. Do you want to use your recurve for target practice or hunting? Target practice and hunting may require different setups and if you’re going for a more professional bow that will be future proof you may want to go for something a bit more feature-rich. All of this is key to choosing something that you will be happy with. A lot of people start with something basic and move up but if your set on a hunting setup will guide you through.


Choosing a Bow for Target Practice Only



If you just need a bow for target practice, any bow will work. All you have to do is pick one that fits your budget and appeals to you since your requirements are so low the steps in the next sections only serve as a guide of preference since for target practice even the most basic and cheapest recurve is a great start in the sport.


Choosing a Bow for Hunting



When choosing a bow for hunting the draw weight of the bow is the most important factor in determining whether you can hunt with your recurve. Draw weight is the level of power necessary to pull a bowstring over a distance of 28 inches. Your bow will be more powerful and your arrow will go further if you increase the draw weight, but as well cover in the next sections you need to choose the right weight for your particular body type.


One-Piece vs Take-Down



The one-piece bow is the most simple type of bow since it is what it sounds like just one single piece and regardless of what kind of style you shoot. Setup time is minimal, Complexity is zero all you need to do is string the bow and you are ready.

Takedown bows on the other hand give you more complexity for convenience, they allow you to disassemble the bow into multiple pieces and essentially “take down” the bow for easier use. You clip the limbs together, attach the strings and your bow is ready to go. And of course, if you want to disassemble the bow you can remove the strings and limbs, hence takedown. 

The most common reason for choosing a takedown bow is storage and transportation if you are carrying your bow in a case or a bag then it is much easier to take a bow apart and store the pieces separately. Another advantage is that it is modular which means if for whatever reason you need to swap components out, you can. 

Some takedown bows have risers (a device that connects the upper part of the bow to the lower part and holds all your equipment), not all, depending on whether they do the system is adjustable for many. If you need to correct any mismatch or misalignment you can do so and you can also configure the Tiller (the distance between the upper limb of your bow to the string and its lower limb to the strange which is measure from the base of those limbs) as well as some bows using the ILF system (International Limb Fit system which standardizes the attachment of these limbs to risers). You can adjust the draw weight depending on the bow with these. And this means you can gradually go up in draw weight or you can do some fine-tuning to get a better match for your particular arrows. 


2. What Should The Weight of The Bow Be?



The bow weight usually ranges from 25 pounds to 45 pounds, and even 55 to 65 pounds. But you don’t have to choose a 60-pound bow to shoot the arrow from a long distance, even in the Olympics. (1)

For shooting around 70 meters distance, archers usually use a bow that is only around 25 pounds, and sometimes it is 35 pounds. It is very important for you to pick the weight of the bow that your arms can handle,  that your muscles pull back and hold steadily. As long as you can easily handle the weight of your bow without tiring quickly you can move on to the next step.


3. What Should The Recurve Bow Length Be?



The length of the bow depends on the draw length of the bow that you have.

The draw length is the distance from the nock point to the grip’s neck plus 1 3/4″. This length is usually the same as the compound archer’s arrow length requirement. 

Draw length is the key to deciding the length of the bow and the arrow length that you are going to use.

A great way to measure your draw length is by putting your back against a wall and measuring from your middle fingers to each other (you may want to get someone to help you do this).

Stand with your backside to a wall and expand your arms out against the wall to determine your draw length. Calculate the length of both arms, hands, and chest is measured from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger. Your draw length is calculated by subtracting 15 and dividing by 2. Because your wingspan is normally equal to your height in inches, your draw length will be your height in inches minus 15 and then divided by 2, or a fair starting point.

Make any necessary adjustments after ensuring that your bow is positioned as close to your ideal draw length as feasible. Remember to select the draw length that allows you to pull the bowstring back comfortably while keeping good posture, with your head held up straight and your rear (holding) elbow in line with and pointing straight away from the arrow.

The draw length on most bows can be adjusted in half-inch increments. If your bow includes a rotating module, altering the draw length is usually as simple as removing a couple of screws, rotating the module to the desired setting, and reinstalling the screws.

The next step would be to use this draw length to find your bow length.


Recurve Bow Length


Draw Length Bow Length
14” to 16” 48” Bow
17” to 20”  54” Bow
20” to 22”  58” Bow
22” to 24”  62” Bow
24” to 26”  64” to 66” Bow
6” to 28” 66” to 68” Bow
28” to 30”  68” to 70” Bow
31” and above  70” to 72” Bow

Chart of Archer Height and Bow Size


If you don’t have anyone that can help you measure your draw length another way to find bow height is to just use the basic concept that everyone is proportioned accordingly and check your height bracket in the table below, which will give you a corresponding optimal bow size. The bow length should be at least twice as long as the draw length, however, this does not always correspond to a reasonable option, thus the figures in this table might help.


Archer Height and Bow Size


Archer Height Bow Size (inches) – AMO
Up to 5’6″ 64
UUp to 5’10” 66
Up to 6’2″ 68
6’2″ and over  70


4. What Kind of Arrows Should I Get?



When it comes to choosing arrows, here is some advice to keep in mind.

For beginners, arrows that are about 2 inches (or 5 cm) longer than your draw length are recommended; once you’ve gained some skill and consider yourself an “intermediate,” you can begin by drawing arrows that are 1 inch (2.5 cm) longer than your personal draw length.

Buy low-cost items early, then upgrade once you’ve mastered them. Pre-made arrows are wonderful if you’re a beginner. the pre-made ones or the “shaft only” kind”

While choosing hunting arrows, consider the wind. Smaller arrows are less affected by wind than larger arrows, which is another reason why many hunters prefer carbon arrows and/aluminum hybrids to straight-up aluminum arrows. (2)

Your arrow’s flight will be affected by the weight of your point. If you use a hefty arrow point on a weak arrow, it will wiggle.

The back of the arrow can be made of feathers or plastic. Feathers, for example, will not disrupt the flight of the arrow if they come into contact with the bow grip since they gracefully flatten upon contact.


5. Do You Need Accessories on Your Recurve?



The following are the most important accessories for shooting a recurve bow of any type. Furthermore, whether you want to practice archery or become a hunter, these accessories are essential.

Arrow Rest: The arrow rest keeps the arrow in a consistent and accurate position. Although recurve archers sometimes shoot from the shelf, a customized arrow rest will increase accuracy.

Bow Sights: Even beginner shooters can enhance their accuracy with bow sights. Multi-pin sights are commonly used by bowhunters. Each pin is sighted in at a specific distance, such as 20, 30, 40, or 50 yards.

Release Aide: A release aide ensures a consistent string release and saves your fingers from repetitive draw cycles.

Arrow Quiver:  Bowhunters typically use an arrow quiver mounted on their bow to properly store razor-sharp broadheads.


6. What Other Accessories Do I Have To Get Started?


What accessories are useful but not necessary at first, and which products should you consider purchasing along the way? Before you can start shooting, you’ll need a few other types of equipment in addition to your bow. Here are some of the things you’ll need to get started, as well as what you can skip.


Accessories You’ll Need


  • Bow Stringer
  • Arrows
  • Arrow Quiv
  • Nocking Points
  • Glove or Finger Tabs


Optional Accessories


  • Bow String Wax
  • Targets
  • Arm Guard
  • Release Aide
  • Bow Sight
  • Bow Stabilizers
  • Arrow Rest
  • String Whisker Silencers


Wrapping Up


We hope some of these tips are helpful for you to choose a great recurve bow. This guide was to get you started and find your measurements and what type of bow you need but if you’re looking for some suggestions on actual models please head over to our guide on the top recurve bow options available today.


(1) Olympics –
(2) aluminum –