What is a Recurve Bow (Traditional, Takedown, Longbow)
A recurve bow is a bow with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. The tension of the string holds the limbs out (called “drawing”) and, at full draw, this lack of tension or rigidity A recurve has been used as a hunting tool by archers for thousands of years. Here we will go through some of the details you need to know.
The first most obvious and basic thing when looking at a recurve bow is seeing the top and bottom tips are curved back on this type of bow.
A recurve bow is one of the oldest types of bow in the world. Of note was its first use by Egyptian archers thousands of years ago. This type of bow was reintroduced in the Olympic games in 1972 and has been one of the most-watched sports ever since.
The most common type is known as the takedown bow and has the ability to be compacted by taking down the edges for easier transport.
The recurve bow is usually not made of a single type of material and has many different pieces. Commonly being made from composite materials such as fiberglass and wood components and the handle being made of carbon fiber.
A typical Arrow can travel at over 200kph from a recurve bow.
Different Types of Recurve Bows and Their Uses
This is a recurve bow that does not include the usual extras in technology today which means it won’t include a clicker, sight, stabilizer or high tech arrow rests. This is more of a purist bow that just has the basics.
Olympic Recurve Bow
This is a recurve used for competition and includes a few equipment extras. Of note are the clicker, stabilizer, and sight.
The Sight is used to improve shooting accuracy and allows you to have a dot or pin to see through and align your shot but not have it magnified.
The stabilizer is a piece of metal that sticks out from the rod and adds balance and stabilization and the clicker is a small piece of metal that is placed above the arrow and provides a clicking when the arrow is drawn helping the archer make sure they draw the same way to provide a point of reference and increase overall accuracy.
Is a Recurve Bow the same as a Traditional Bow?
Technically there is no difference because they are one and the same however there is some minutia.
- Traditional bows sometimes have recurve limbs and some do not
- More of a purists type of bow and won’t use any sights or stabilizers
Traditional bow types include the:
Shape sets it apart from a recurve as it has a D shape, usually made from a single piece of wood.
The name given to bows that can have their limbs taken apart can be recurved bows.
Benefits of a Recurve
- They are cheaper than compound bows meaning they are great for a start and act as good beginner recurve bows
- Easy to transport and light in weight
- A favorite for purists as you get a much more traditional old-school experience in archery
- The upkeep is much smaller as there are much fewer moving parts and pieces than a compound bow allowing you to learn the basics easier
Parts of a Recurve Bow
Riser – A handle in the center that is used as a base
Limbs – Can usually detach for easy carrying and transport, are the main tension parts of the bow
Bowstring – Loops around the limbs to provide the tension
Sight – Put above the riser and grip and usually holds the pin
Sight Pin – Used to aim at the target
Stabilizers – Protrude from risers used to held stability as per name
Long Rods – part of the stabilizer
Short Rods – part of the stabilizer
Dampers – reduces vibration and balances the bow
Nocking Points – Dimples between the bowstring where an arrow fits
Clicker – Checks the draw length
Arrow Rest – Where an arrow rests before shooting usually under the clicker
Pressure Button – A spring that is depressed when your arrow is released and makes sure that the arrow goes straight towards its target and reduces horizontal oscillation from the fingers (1)
Finger Tabs – protects from the pressure of the string
Armguards – Protects forearms from string hitting it
Chest Guards – Protects the bow from clothing getting caught or stuck in it
Finger Sling – Worn to make it easier to control follow-through from the wrist.
How to Choose the Right Weight for your Recurved Bow
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when considering a recurve bow is the draw weight since if you purchase a bow with a draw weight that is too high for you will have problems firing the bow. A good rule of thumb is using lighter poundage as a beginner and then progressing to a higher one as you get used to your improved form and you can adapt.
Below we have a chart to help you make your decision on good draw weight.
|Youth (Age 7-10)||10-14lbs|
|Youth (Age 11-13)||10-18lbs|
|Teenagers (Age 14-17)||12-22lbs|
|Young Adults (Age 18-22)||16-26lbs|
How to Choose the Right Length Recurved Bow for your Build and Style
The length of a recurve bow will depend on your height and arm length. If you are taller than six feet (183 cm) or if you have long arms, then consider getting a longer bow. If not, then you may want to get a shorter one that can be easier to drawback.
To determine the correct size you need to stand with your arms extending out and at shouldn’t height without stretching and extending out naturally. Have someone then measure your arm length and the distance from your finger (middle finger) to the toe other and take that number dividing it by 2.5. This will be your draw length and it’s usually very close to the actual length. You can then use the chart below to determine the length of bow you’ll need.
|DRAW LENGTH||BOW LENGTH|
|14-16 inches||48 inches|
|17-20 inches||54 inches|
|20-22 inches||58 inches|
|22-24 inches||62 inches|
|24-26 inches||64-66 inches|
|26-28 inches||66-68 inches|
|28-30 inches||68-70 inches|
|31 inches and longer||70-72 inches|
- Easy to shoot well but requires practice
- Archery draws the bow and the limbs begin to harness the energy from the draw as the limbs bend
- Archer will aim at the target and make the shot which involves a) releasing the string that’s in their fingers and letting the arrow fly.
- The shot is completed by keeping a good follow-through and position when the arrow is let out from the bow
The biggest usual detriment to shots are shooting distractions these can include…
External distractions – Voices, wind, weather, noises
Or internal distractions like – Lack of confidence, stress, lack of focus
Recurve Bow Speed
Recurve bows are not made for speed like compound bows are but they can still provide a decent speed for those that are more practiced. A lot of people will say that speed is overrated as you can still get a great penetration with your arrow shooting at the average recurve bow speed.
The way to measure the speed of a recurve bow is to use an arrow. The bow is fired at a target 20 yards away. The arrow has a metal-tipped point that sticks in the target, so it can be measured how far the projectile traveled in one second.
Recurve bows can shoot arrows at speeds of up to 250 feet per second. Speed for bows is measured in FPS and your typical archer will shoot between 140-160 FPS with a recurve bow. (2)
A recurve bow is our personal favorite and one of the great pure forms of archery. It’s great for beginners and an excellent way to enjoy archery. We highly recommend you pick up a recurve or read some of our buying guides to help you make a purchasing decision. As always if you have any questions feel free to drop us a line and will help you choose a great recurve bow.
(1) oscillation – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/physics-and-astronomy/oscillations
(2) FPS – https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-see-your-frames-per-second-fps-in-games