Recurve Bow VS Compound Bow

If you are thinking about taking up archery as a hobby or have an interest in bowhunting, you will need to get yourself the right tool for the job. In hunting and archery history, bows have been used in different shapes and forms.

If you see different types of bows online or in nearby local shops and get confused that all the bows are the same as they are created to shoot arrows either for archery competition or hunting or refreshment only.

Throughout this article, we will be taking a look at recurve bow vs. compound bow and discussing the pros and cons of both, as well as their intended uses. While there are more types of bows available, recurve and compound bows are the most popular.

If you are not able to decide between them or not sure of the differences between a compound and a recurve; this article will comprehensively outline everything for you.

We will also give you an insight as to what each type of bow is used for, by what type of archer, and for what reason!

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1. Compound Bow

For an inexperienced eye, a compound bow might look very complicated.

Once you have familiarized yourself with its components, the compound bow has some charms to offer a large part of the train weight is taken from you due to its rotating wheels at the ends of the limbs.

Even though the compound bow has so much power, you do not need a ton of force to tension it.

In general, this bow is well-armed against environmental influences such as heat and humidity: It does not consist of organic materials. Instead, it is mostly of aluminum, carbon fiber, or a magnesium alloy.

Apart from the fact that they are probably the most robust bows, the choice of the material increases the arrow speed, accuracy, and distance that can be shot.

Nevertheless, the compound bow is only suitable to a limited extent for beginners in archery. Its individual components have to be fine-tuned to harmonize with each other.

If you do not find an experienced contact in a club or a specialty store, getting started can be a bit bumpy.

Read: 10 Best Compound Bows For Hunting

1.1 Advantages Of Compound Bow

  • Compound bows are faster and shoot farther than recurve bow.
  • They are more powerful and effective for big games, including deer, turkey, and bear.
  • Require less upper body strength to hold in the position.
  • They are also accurate enough to take smaller game such as rabbits, squirrels, and some birds.

1.2 Disadvantage Of Compound Bow

  • Compound bows are more technical and complex in design. Therefore, they are expensive.
  • The ability to re-string your compound bow in the field is almost impossible. You need a variety of tools to adjust the cams and wheels and a Bow press to re-string the bow if needed.
  • Compound Bows are maintenance intensive.

2. Recurve Bow

The recurve bow has also been behind for a few years. It has already been used by mounted archers to fire precise shots from medium and short distances in armed battles.

The name originates from its unmistakable appearance: the limbs are rounded or curved. This makes the tendon easier to pull out than with a longbow, and the position can be held more easily.

It is easier to aim the target with this bow because of the more stable anchor position.

For this reason, the recurve bow is ideal as a beginner bow. With a so-called blank bow without visor and stabilizers, getting started in archery will challenge you to the right extent and promote your skills.

The arrow rest, which is not used on a longbow, takes away the difficulty of stabilizing and aiming the arrow at the same time.

Read: 14 Best Recurve Bows For Hunting

2.1 Advantages Of Recurve Bow

  • Recurve bows are easily accessible to archery beginners because of the starting price point and ease of use.
  • You can anytime upgrade your recurve bow, assuming you are using a takedown style recurve bow. This is not possible in a compound bow.
  • The ability to disassemble the bow allows for more options during transport, with specialist bags available that are designed to hold a disassembled bow and all related accessories in a small footprint.
  • The added size of recurve bows also leads to increased stability during the draw.

2.2 Disadvantage Of Compound Bow

  • Recurve bows are not typically as powerful as compound bows; because of the mechanical assistance that a compound bow offers, bows of the same draw weight will have vastly different power outputs.
  • Recurve bows are also heavily reliant on the level of technique the archer possesses, making it more challenging to reach higher levels of proficiency.
  • Fatigue is also more likely to set it when using recurve bows, and archers will need to practice often to keep themselves physically capable of performing.

3. Showdown: Recurve Bow Vs Compound Bow

3.1 Draw Weight 

Most of the top-end bows available in the market are at around 70 pounds of draw weight. With the draw weight of 70 pounds in both the bows, you can accomplish pretty much anything with this power.

In ideal conditions, when everything remains constant, the performance of both the bows differ. A compound bow performs better than a recurve bow drawn in similar circumstances. 

Winner: Compound Bow

Read: What Is The Draw Weight Of A Bow

3.2 Accuracy 

The longer strings and multiple cam alignment of a compound bow will allow the archer to generate more power during pullback.

This let-off power makes it easier to hold the bow as it takes 50% less strength to draw back the arrow and helps to improve stability. Because of this stability, it will not let your hands shake during shooting. This allows hitting the target more accurately.

On the other hand, to pull the same draw weight in a recurve bow, you have to employ the same strength.

Like, if you want to draw 70 pounds, you will require the same force to hold the string, which creates some shakiness of your hand and reduced accuracy.

So, a compound bow can deliver more efficiency than a recurve bow. 

Winner: Compound Bow

Compound Bow VS Recurve Bow! Which is better??

3.3 Weight 

A recurve bow has very minimal parts and is, therefore, lighter. A compound bow is smaller in size but has more parts such as a cam, stops, and multiple strings. The extra thickness of the riser to cope with the strain makes it heavier. 

Winner: Recurve Bow

3.4 Size 

A recurve bow of similar power is lighter, but it is bigger. A 70lbs recurve bow will typically measure anywhere from 60-64” from limb tip to limb tip. A compound of similar power will measure 30-32” from tip to tip, making it a smaller bow in comparison.

Winner: Compound Bow

Read: What Recurve Bow Size Do I Need

3.5 Noise 

Both the bows create some sound while releasing, but it can be reduced by fitting limb dampeners and string silencers to help lower the noise created from a shot.

If your bow is properly tuned and you are using an arrow that’s just the right weight for the power of the bow, then you’d expect both bows to be quiet.

Winner: Draw

3.6 Portability

A takedown Recurve bow can be divided into three pieces, riser, top, and bottom limb to transport them.

You cannot do this with a compound bow; once a compound bow is assembled, it will remain as it is. But you cannot shoot with a recurve bow when it is in pieces. 

Winner: Recurve Bow

Archery | One-Piece or Takedown Bows?

3.7 Adjustability 

There are different types of limbs available for a recurve bow to increase or decrease the power of the bow. A bow with one set of limbs will give you one range of power only.

Compound bows can have their draw weight and draw length adjusted by a tool to tweak the position of the cams. 

Winner: Compound Bow

Read: How To Shoot A Compound Bow And Arrow Within 1 Hour

3.8 Durable

The manufacturer using the same durable materials to construct modern recurve bow and compound bow. High strength wood or aluminum is used for making the riser of the recurve bow.

Whereas, aluminum or carbon is used for crafting the riser of the compound bow. Wood lamination is a standard material used to construct limbs of both types of bow.

Winner: Draw

3.9 Affordable

Compound bows are a little expensive than a recurve bow because they are complex in design as they are built with various parts. Alternatively, recurve bows are simple and half the price of a compound bow. 

Winner: Recurve Bow

Read: 4 Tips For Buying Archery Gear For Beginners

3.10 Maintenance and repair-ability

The recurve bow is simple in design. It is straightforward to fix too. You can string or unstring a recurve bow without difficulty. The limb of a recurve bow damaged, you can set it with a bolt or change it with a similar one.

In the case of a compound bow, you never do the above. So, maintenance or repair is smoother of recurve bow. 

Winner: Recurve Bow

3.11 Accessories

You can take the help of accessories, including sight or mechanical release to shoot an arrow accurately in a compound bow. These accessories can be used for some recurve bow also but not for all.

Usually, to release arrows using a recurve bow, you will depend on your human skills instead of using accessories. There are few accessories for recurve in comparison to the compound.  

Winner: Compound Bow

Compound bow accessories
Compound bow users tend to use more accessories and aids

3.12 Style

This may be the most subjective feature on the list. Style and aesthetics highly depend on who you are asking.

Some may find the complicated, mechanized, and modern feel of compound bow to be more appealing. On the other hand, age old simplicity of Recurve bows has its own charm and following.

Thus, there is no verdict on style from us. We will leave this for you to decide.

Winner: Draw

4. Which One Is For You?

There are some pros and cons to both the bows. If you are a beginner, a recurve bow should be your choice because it is inexpensive, easy to use, and less technical than a compound bow.

A compound bow can be used when you have some practice of using a recurve bow because it has a complex design, mechanism and requires various other accessories.

On the other hand, if we think for archery competition like Olympic – there is no alternative other than a recurve bow.

According to Coach Zeober, a member of the advisory committee of the Washington State University 4H Shooting Sports explains details on this that:

“The recurve bow provides a lot more feedback for both the archer and the instructor meaning flaws in form and technique will almost always be more accessible to identify.

Conversely, the compound bow has the effect of concealing minor (and sometimes major) flaws in drawing technique and execution mainly when a release mechanism is employed”

4.1 Which Is better Bow For Hunting?

If hunting is your calling, then you must go for a compound bow because it needs less force to pull the string to get the same braw back power, accurate and smaller in size.

It is also more accurate and more forgiving in comparison to Recurve Bows.

Read: Essential Gear For Hunting

4.2 Final Verdict

If you are a beginner preparing yourself for an archery competition, then a recurve bow is your best choice.

If your goal is hunting, bow fishing, or youth archery, you can choose either recurve or compound – it’s up to you.

Archery | Compound or Recurve?


Undoubtedly, there are varying levels of differences between the bows. Therefore, it would be unfair to assume that all bows are the same.

To ease out the confusion as to what suits you the most and what fits in the best with your physique, we have tried to make a multifaceted comparison of the two most popular choices. 

A bow is an essential component of your hunting experience, and a wrong choice can not only spoil your experience but also prove disastrous in terms of safety.


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