Compound vs. Recurve Bow: Which is Best?October 24, 2013 by Melanie Swick | 13 Comments
Recurve and compound bows are similar in some respects because they both have strings and arrows, but the similarities end there.
Much like the AR-15 vs AK-47 debate, archers are embroiled in an everlasting debate over whether a compound or recurve bow is better. The fact is that both deliver entirely different pros and cons. If you are having a hard time deciding which one to buy, then here are the major differences between them.
A recurve bow is sometimes called a traditional bow because it’s basically the same bow and arrow that used around the world for centuries. There is only the bow body and a single string. While these weapons were traditionally made of wood, most modern versions are made from (or include) carbon or fiberglass to provide greater strength and durability.
Compound bows use modern technology and materials. They have several strings and pulleys attached to the limbs, which are typically made of aluminum or carbon. The body is sturdier and much smaller, making them ideal for stalking game through thick terrain.
Power and accuracy
The compound bow is definitely the winner when it comes to power and accuracy. The longer strings allow the archer to pull back farther to generate more power. They also make the bow easier to hold because it doesn’t take as much strength to hold the arrow back, which helps improve stability. Since it doesn’t take as much strength to draw the bow, you can easily hold it while you wait for a clear shot.
Recurve bows usually aren’t as powerful and require the same force to hold the draw, which can lead to shakiness and reduced accuracy if you have to wait for a clear shot. Your accuracy should be comparable if you aim and take your shot quickly.
Accessories are available for both types, but more are available for compound bows; most commonly, sights or trigger releases. Sights obviously help you aim, and the trigger release will make it easier to release the bow-string consistently, resulting in greater accuracy.
Some recurves have sights, but this is uncommon because recurve archers are usually purists who prefer a most instinctual and skills-based experience.
Compound bows are most commonly used for hunting. Due to their power, accuracy, and ability to fire arrows over a long distances, they are perfect for larger prey like deer or bear.
Recurve bows are sometimes used for hunting, but they are better for smaller prey; they can take down larger animals, but shot placement is much more critical. More commonly, they are used in shooting competitions.
Recurve bows are usually cheaper because there are no complex mechanisms. It’s just the body and a string. Compound bows have larger bodies, longer strings and pulleys. You might be able to find a compound bow priced similarly to a recurve bow if you are willing to shop around.
So the short answer is “neither.” Both are great bows; which one is best for you comes down to your personal preference, skill and experience, and budget.