Who Invented The Recurve Bow (History)

By Andy Ryan


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old man aiming his bow

The Recurve Bow is the most popular traditional bow.

Though there is no concrete evidence as to who invented the recurve bow, in general, it is thought to have originated in central and eastern Asia: China, India, and Korea with the Mongolians being credited as the first creators where the recurve was used commonly on horseback.


Recurves, with their natural curves, have been used for centuries in Asian countries such as China, India, and Korea. For many years, the recurve bow, which was invented around 1600 BC, was the primary ranged weapon in most armies.

In the second millennium BC, the recurve bow spread throughout Egypt and much of Asia. A composite recurve was the standard weapon of Roman imperial archers. During the Ottoman Empire’s reign, Turkish archers used recurve bows, which were made from wood laminates glued with animal tissue like horn and sinew to devastating effect.

Composite recurve bows were used in drier European countries during the Middle Ages because the laminate glue did not moisten and lose its adhesive power; in wetter areas, the all-wooden straight longbow was the standard.

From the third century onwards, the Huns used the Mongolian recurve bow. With the use of a recurved bowstave, this was an evolutionary step forward in bow technology, allowing for more power without making the bow larger. This made it easier to transport and, if necessary, fire from horseback. This bow was a step forward from the traditional straight bow in that it could accurately deliver an arrow over 500 yards with lethal effect.

Most popular recurves are made from native species of wood, which are used for the making of bows. For the better protection of the bow maker’s hands, the wood used is often tempered with a protective coating of natural plant resin or beeswax. The hide is also often dyed black.

Origin / Inventor

The real origin of the recurve bow is thought to be in China, Japan, and Korea. If you want to go more specific to culture it’s though the Mongols were generally considered as one of the first inventors of the recurve bow, which was made of composite materials like sinew and wood. The recurve bow, which was primarily used on horseback, had two distinct advantages for Mongol warfare.

The first modern bow that was clearly identified with a particular use was the style of bow employed by the armies of the Chinese Shaolin, a Buddhist monk sect. (1)

For years, no other bow could match the Mongolian recurve bow’s combination of more power, portability, and accuracy, and the Mongolian recurve bow was probably unrivaled for 1000 years until longbows became popular. Mongolian archery has a long and glorious history.

The Mongolian recurve bow, which was immortalized by the Mongols from the third century onwards, is widely regarded as one of the most powerful and lethal bows in history. This bow, along with the stir up, helped the Mongols and their descendants dominate many battlefields for centuries, allowing them to build one of the world’s largest empires.

Olympic Tradition

Since archery became a permanent fixture on the Olympic program in 1972, the recurve bow has been the bow of preference. It’s also used at the Paralympic and World Games, as well as nearly all of World Archery’s major tournaments, such as the World Archery Championships and the Hyundai Archery World Cup. Recurve bows are also recognized by World Archery for other disciplines such as indoor, field, and para archery. (2, 3)

In ancient times the Olympic Games were considered a test of man’s physical endurance. Bows were extremely important in these events, and the man who could best utilize the bow and arrows in hunting (or war) was often awarded an annual reward.

The recurve bow is well-known in target archery and the Olympics, where it is the only type of bow permitted in competition. Field archery, 3D archery, and bowhunting with higher poundage recurves are all popular among archers.

Recurve Bows in Archery

Archery dates back to approximately 64,000 years ago when simple bows and arrows were crucial to our species’ survival. Target archery, field archery, hunting, traditional archery, and 3d archery are the most common types of archery. To compete in some of these, you need a specific type of bow.

Recurve bows are the most versatile type of bow, as they can be used for target archery, field archery, three-dimensional archery, and bowhunting. Power, speed, and accuracy are all strengths of recurve bows. The string rests on a portion of the limb’s belly, and recurve bows have a distinctive hook at the end of their limbs.

When the string is pulled back, the limbs store energy, which is then used to propel the arrow forward when the string is released and the limbs snap forward. The heavier the draw weight becomes as the bow is drawn back, the more energy is stored in the limbs.

Tradition or Technology?  

The recurve bow is a modern evolution of traditional bows that have been around for millennia. Modern recurve bows are made with cutting-edge materials like laminated carbon fiber and carbon foam in the limbs, but many manufacturers also use natural materials like bamboo. A recurve bow’s riser, or handle, is frequently made of aluminum or carbon fiber.

Modern recurves are similar to traditional recurves in terms of design and appearance, with the exception of metal risers. Traditional archery performance has been improved by high-tech innovations. A recurve bow that incorporates cutting-edge materials and manufacturing methods is still a traditional bow, despite today’s technological advances. Modern recurves are all takedown bows, and many of them have carbon fiber limbs.

Recurves are used to hunt deer, bears, and other wild game. Although they’re not as accurate as modern bows, they are sometimes still used for hunting in the hunting sport called European deerstalking.

The recurve bow is well-known in target archery and the Olympics, where it is the only type of bow permitted in competition. Field archery, 3D archery, and bowhunting with higher poundage recurves are all popular among archers.

Below are other article guides you can refer to;

(1) Buddhist monk – https://www.britannica.com/topic/bhikku
(2) Paralympics – https://www.britannica.com/sports/Paralympic-Games
(3) World Games – https://www.gameinformer.com/2021/11/09/the-top-10-open-world-games-to-play-right-now