Academy Sports and Outdoors Logo
Academy Sports + Outdoors
Academy, LTD
skip to main content
Main content starts here.

Recurve Bow Vs. Compound Bow

WriterAcademy Staff
10 min read
Recurve Bow Vs. Compound Bow

Looking to understand the differences between recurve vs compound bows? Whether you want to get one for target practice or an upcoming hunt, you should understand the fundamental similarities and differences of both bows!

These distinct bows each have more to them than first meets the eye. In this guide, you'll learn all about how these bows work as well as their key advantages and disadvantages.

Recurve vs Compound Bow: What's the Difference?

The different types of bows each have their advantages and disadvantages. What is best depends on your experience level and the type of sport hunting or archery.

Recurve Bows

Recurve Bow

A recurve bow is as close to survivalist, self-reliant hunting bow you can get without entirely abandoning technology. These are relatives of the earliest bowhunting, dating back thousands of years.

Advantages of a Recurve Bow

Mastering a traditional bow takes a great deal more practice, technique, and right-down artfulness than mechanized, compound bows. However, they tend to be lighter and easier to carry. That can be a serious advantage on a hunt.

  • Lighter and easier to carry
  • Less mechanisms to upkeep
  • Traditional sportsmanship

Disadvantages of a Recurve Bow

Like all traditional bows, a recurve bow does not have the mechanisms (wheels and pullies) that compound bows or crossbows have. They rely entirely on your strength. Despite the lighter weight, they require more force to draw.

Having great upper body strength is more important on a recurve bow and a compound bow. The recurve bow will also require you to be closer to your target, which involves technique and talent that are honed by experience. Mastery over years also has the drawback of taking a lot of years and time to pick up.

  • Requires more upper body strength to draw and hold
  • Must be closer to your target
  • Requires more practice

Compound Bows

Compound Bow

Compound bows are made to accommodate a lot of accessories and tools, like archery sights and stabilizers.

Advantages of a Compound Bow

You still have to practice and sight your bow in with a compound bow, but not as much as the more minimalist recurve bow. Since they do not rely on physical strength as much, compound bows allow more accuracy and power from a greater distance. That means related skills, like stealth and concealment, are less critical. A compound bow also allows more customization than a traditional bow.

  • More accuracy and power
  • Greater distance from target
  • More customization and add-ons
  • Requires less upper body strength

Disadvantages of a Compound Bow

The compound bow has a more modern feel, which works against it for archers looking for that back-to-the-roots experience. It also means that stringing, tuning, and maintaining your bow requires more gadgetry and skill.

The more complex the machine, the more mechanical savvy you’ll need. Unlike a traditional bow, the compound bow’s draw is set, so you must be sure to size your bow correctly when buying. Compound bows are also considerably heavier and bigger than a recurve bow.

  • Heavier than a traditional bow
  • More maintenance
  • Draw length is more important

How Recurve Bows Compare to Traditional Bows

Before we tackle the question of which is better, recurve bow vs compound bow, we should distinguish exactly how a recurve bow relates to a traditional bow. A recurve bow is a type of traditional bow.

Recurve Bows

Recurve bows shoot faster and more powerfully than a long bow because of the number-three shape.

  • At the tips, the bow curves out toward the target.
  • The draw length on a recurve bow is more important than on a longbow.
  • A traditional bow’s bowstring can be drawn back as far as you are able to pull it.
  • A recurve bow has a set drawback length.

Traditional Bows

Traditional bows and arrows conjure heroes in tights traipsing through the woods or medieval warfare.

  • Under the category of “traditional bows” though, you will usually find incredible craftmanship and modern usefulness.
  • Since they require upper body strength to pull back the bowstring, traditional bows are more physically straining.
  • Traditional bows include longbows and recurve bows.

Long Bows

The long bow is differentiated from the recurve bow mainly by its shape. It has a straight grip and is the most commonly thought of half-moon shape. The recurve bow looks like the number three.

  • While it has a greater depth than the recurve bow, but is thinner in width.
  • Proper form is critical for using the longbow.
  • The thicker depth makes it harder to shoot a straight arrow.

How to Choose Between a Recurve vs Compound Bow

How to Choose Between a Recurve vs Compound Bow

You do not actually have to choose between recurve bows and compound bows. A compound bow is a fantastic way to get into archery and bowhunting. Get comfortable landing a true shot and improving your bowhunting skills on a compound bow.

Compound bowhunting can give the foundation and amp the interest in traditional bowhunting. The compound bow may hone your ambition to take on the longbow.

What kind of bow you are looking for largely depends on your hunting experience level and style as well as the game you are hunting. Bowhunting is a difficult, but highly rewarding, way of hunting. For the true sportsman and hunter, bowhunting can be seen as the highest indicator of skill level.

Have Fun Out There!

Find all your archery equipment and supplies at Academy Sports + Outdoors online and in-store.