An impressive range of draw weights, from 15 pounds for pint-size beginners to 55 pounds for intermediate to advanced archers. Smooth draw that allows for excellent accuracy at all weights. Limbs fit solidly to the riser thanks to provided thumbscrews. Plenty of brass bushings preinstalled for accessorizing. Stringer is included.
The arrow rest could use improvement, and experienced users may opt to replace it with a rest of their choice.
A sturdy and nicely decorated fiberglass bow with wood tips. Lower draw weight, between 36 and 50 pounds, that’s good for teens and beginners, or works well as a horse bow. Holds up well over hundreds of releases with little wear on the faux leather grip.
Noticeably noisy when drawn due to the wood tips, though that can be reduced by rubbing beeswax into the notches.
Much easier to travel with, as the bow limbs can detach from the center riser. Lighter and heavier limbs can be interchanged. Grip is smooth and comfortable to hold. Holds up well to frequent travel, target shooting and even hunting.
Lighter-weight limbs may fit too loosely in the riser inserts, and the bowstring’s quality is just OK.
Looks elegant and feels good in the hand. Limbs fit snugly and securely into the riser. Fast to take apart or put together, and strings quickly. Wood and carbon shaft arrows are equally accurate thanks to a smooth draw.
Bottom limb can be difficult to seat correctly and lock in tight when assembling.
Sturdy and simple build with an easy pull at 25lbs. Includes arrows, quiver, adjustable sight, finger savers, and armguard. Perfect for ranges or backyard practice.
Armguard is made of lower-quality material. Some reviews say the instructions are vague.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
The archery recurve bow was history’s first major improvement in basic bow design. Instead of a single length of wood tensioned with a cord, the tips bend away from the user (hence “re-curve”). This seemingly simple change makes a tremendous difference in the available power. Instead of needing a longbow the height of a man, the bow could be much shorter, and archers could use them on horseback rather than on foot.
Good modern recurve bows are still uncomplicated and easy to use, making them ideal for beginners. They’re also popular with more experienced archers, whether for target shooting or hunting. In the right hands, the recurve bow is a formidable weapon that’s perfectly capable of taking down large game. However, the wide choice available can make selecting the right bow difficult, especially for those new to archery.
We at BestReviews have been looking at the different styles and performance options so we can help you decide. Our recommendations cover a number of popular alternatives. In the following buying guide, we look at the construction in detail and offer suggestions on how to select the right model for your physique.
Archery recurve bows are made of all kinds of materials in different combinations: wood (solid or laminated), leather, fiberglass, aluminum, and modern composites. Some archers think natural materials make for a better feel, but synthetic alternatives are often stronger and are certainly less susceptible to damp conditions. That said, it’s not unusual to find wood and fiberglass in a laminate that combines the benefits of both.
Nobody is sure when the recurve bow was invented, but it was probably around 1000 BC. Early examples are horse bows, used in central Asia quite possibly by the Mongolian tribes of Ghengis Khan.
Designs vary from traditional horse bows to modern skeleton frames. Which you choose is a matter of personal taste. One important choice is between a one-piece (or solid) recurve bow and a takedown model.
A takedown bow has limbs that can be removed from the riser (the central portion). It makes the bow easier to transport, and, in the event of damage, you might only need to replace a limb, not the whole bow. It also means you can change the draw weight (which we discuss below). Takedown bows can be a little more expensive than one-piece bows, and they are frequently heavier, but it depends on the maker.
A takedown bow is generally accepted as the better bow for learning the sport. Many archers choose a one-piece as a second bow after they’ve gained some experience and know the specifications that suit them.
There are several measurements to consider when buying a recurve bow, but the two most important are draw length and draw weight.
Draw length: This is basically the maximum distance you can pull back the bowstring. It’s the distance at which you’ll be most accurate and generate the most power. To calculate your draw length, stand with your arms held out from your sides, parallel to the floor, hands and fingers extended. Measure the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the other, then divide that by 2.5. Most people have a draw length between 26 and 30 inches, though there are exceptions.
Draw weight: This is the force required to pull back the bowstring. It’s rated in pounds but often written as 30#, 40#, and so on (for 30 pounds, 40 pounds, for example). The lightest is 10#, which would be a bow for a child. Adult bows run from 25# to 70#, though few go beyond 60#.
There are charts that show you the recommended draw weight for people of a particular height and build, and they’re a good place to start. However, two people 6 feet tall, for example, will almost certainly have different musculature. Strong individuals may prefer a heavier bow than suggested. That’s okay, but you need to beware of getting a bow with too high a draw weight. If you can’t control the draw, your accuracy will suffer.
Any bow from 25# and up is fine for target shooting. A 40# bow will stop a deer (and is a good all-round draw weight). A 60# model in the hands of a skilled archer with the right arrow is capable of putting down a grizzly.
This can have an impact, too. A longer bow can increase accuracy up to a point. As a general guide, you want a bow that is around twice your draw length. If your draw length is 29 inches, for example, a good bow length would be 60 inches or so. There are always exceptions, and traditional one-piece horse bows tend to be shorter, though typically their range is less.
This is the distance from the bowstring at rest to the frame of the bow (the grip). This isn’t always mentioned because it’s more of a concern for experienced hunters than novice archers or target shooters. Brace height affects the arrow speed. Shorter usually means faster, although the arrows usually make more noise, too, which isn’t something a hunter really wants! The solution is vibration dampers fitted to the bow, but that’s probably more complexity than you need right now.
Bow weights vary from around 1.5 pounds for a child’s recurve bow to about 3.5 pounds for a large, powerful takedown model for adult use. Weight is more a product of the materials and construction than something you need to worry about. Even if you’re hunting all day, the difference in weight will have little impact.
Arrows: Keshes Archery Carbon Hunting and Practice Arrows
A bow isn’t much use without arrows! While they can be quite a personal choice, and there are usually different models for target shooting or hunting, these have removable tips so they can be used for either discipline. This 12-pack should be plenty to get you started.
Bow stringer: SAS Archery Recurve Bow Stringer
Designed to give you the control you need for quick and easy bowstringing, this model is made of tough, long-lasting nylon and has a rubber friction pad for a more secure grip. It’s reliable and very affordable.
Bowstring wax: Allen Company Bowstring Wax
While some bowstrings are still made of natural fiber, synthetic versions last longer and perform better in all weather conditions. A good wax is an absolute necessity for any archer, and Allen’s is cheap, effective, and made in the United States.
It’s not a good idea to share your recurve bow. As you use it, it becomes acclimated to your pull and grip. Someone else could upset that balance, particularly if they have a greater draw length than you.
Inexpensive: You can get a cheap archery recurve bow for $40 or $50. These aren’t very powerful, and you may not get a lot of choice in terms of draw length and weight, but they’re fine for a bit of target shooting.
Mid-range: Better-quality bows, available in a range of different draw weights, start at around $70. From there up to around $160 you have many choices, including many excellent takedown recurve bows. We expect most people buying their first bow can find what they want in this price bracket.
Expensive: Spend more than $160, up to about $400, and you can find recurve bows of exceptional quality and power. In this same range are comprehensive recurve bow sets that include arrows, stringer, arm guard, and case. If you’re new to archery, it’s worth considering a set rather than buying those items individually.
Premium: A few craftspeople still make authentic replica recurve bows using original materials. These regularly exceed $1,000. Persian-style bows made from horn can cost as much as $3,000.
Q. Is a recurve bow better than a compound bow?
A. It’s not really a question of “better” but of personal preference. Most people learn with a recurve bow because of its comparative simplicity. These bows remain popular with many who feel they’re a more direct reflection of an archer’s skill. A lot of hunters prefer them because they’re more portable (particularly the takedown style) and easier to use in rough cover. Compound bows take less effort to fire because of the mechanical assistance: you’ll typically be able to shoot a 20% to 30% more powerful compound bow than recurve. However, they’re more expensive and more complicated to maintain.
A. The bow maker should provide instructions, but in general it’s pretty straightforward:
A. It depends on usage, of course, but a couple of years isn’t unusual. You can expect some minor fraying (often an indication the string needs wax), but if strands start to unravel, it definitely needs to be replaced. Bowstrings aren’t expensive, so it’s not worth risking excess wear. If it snaps under pressure, it could injure you and break your bow.