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Are takedown recurve bow limbs interchangeable?


One of the most appealing characteristics of takedown recurve bows is the ability of the limbs to be taken off of the riser.  This has many advantages including making the bow more compact for easy transportation.

But what about changing the bow’s draw weight?  Are takedown recurve bow limbs interchangeable?  I decided to look into this because this is actually what I’ve been wondering as someone who wants to get back into traditional archery.

Takedown recurve limbs are interchangeable between risers that use the same limb attachment system.  Limb attachment systems can be divided into 2 basic categories:

  1. Proprietary systems
  2. International Limb Fitting (ILF) system

Companies that make entry-level to mid-range takedown bows will generally use their own proprietary limb attachment system; you won’t be able to use these limbs on another riser from a different manufacturer. 

By contrast, limbs that are made with the ILF system will fit on any riser that is made to work with ILF limbs; ILF limbs are interchangeable between ILF risers. 

What Is ILF?

The International Limb Fitting system, or ILF for short, is a limb attachment system that was originally designed by Hoyt Archery back in 1985.  The limbs and riser are designed with a dovetail and detent slide and lock together for quick attachment and takedown.

ILF limbs are also adjustable for draw weight and tiller making them extremely customizable.  The simplicity of this method has made it stand out at the time so that today ILF is almost the industry standard.  Many manufacturers produce limbs and risers using the ILF system and this makes the limbs interchangeable between different brands.

ILF limbs and risers tend to be favored among competition shooters for their pin-point customization.  When tuning the bow, ILF limbs allow for draw weight and tiller to be adjusted.  This enables the archer to get an extremely fine tune for their bow and arrow setup.

For competition shooters, this customizability is a huge advantage where fractions of an inch can mean the difference between winning and losing.

For those archers who just want to shoot casually, ILF limbs are an excellent option that offers long-term value.

Let’s say you’re starting out: you probably don’t have the muscles developed in the back and shoulders to draw a heavier bow weight comfortably and without injury.  So let’s say you choose to start out with a lighter draw weight.

If you buy an ILF riser, you can start out with, say, 25 lbs limbs and work on perfecting your form.  When you get proficient at 25 lbs, you can upgrade to heavier draw weights as you see fit for a fraction of the cost of buying a whole new bow each time.

Now that you have multiple sets of ILF limbs, you can swap them out for lighter limbs whenever you want for easier shooting or if you want to further perfect your form.

ILF limbs offer many advantages for archers who want the ability to fine tune their bow and arrow setups and for those who want multiple limb sets of different draw weights.

Types of Risers

ILF risers are used for hunting, target and Olympic archery.  A quick note on Olympic archery:  risers used for Olympic archery are longer than other risers and are typically a minimum of 21 inches but most commonly 25 inches in length.

Olympic ILF limb draw weights are most commonly rated for a 25-inch riser.  From what I’ve found, ILF risers can be divided into 3 basic categories based on cost and the number of accessories (sights, stabilizers, etc) that can be added:

  1. Entry Level – less than $200
  2. Mid-Range – $200 to $600
  3. High-End – over $600 (can be over $1000)

Entry level ILF risers offer the basic capabilities for adding sights and stabilizers.  For someone just getting started, this is the best option to get into the sport without breaking the bank while offering the ability to upgrade in the future.  The materials are usually wood or aluminum with just the necessary machining to reduce weight.

Mid-range ILF risers offer the same capabilities as Entry Level risers with a few more degrees of customizability.  These risers start to get into more advanced materials and often blend wood and aluminum with more machining for optimized weight reduction.

High-end risers offer the best of the best when it comes to weight reduction, customizability, and performance.  These risers are engineered for top performance and use materials like higher-grade fine-machined aluminum or carbon fiber.

With so much fine-tuning capabilities, these high-end risers are not the kind you would want to bring on a hunt where they will get banged up and thrown out of tune.

All ILF risers will work with ILF limbs.

Which Recurve Limbs ARE Interchangeable?

Here are some examples of ILF risers that offer interchangeability between ANY set of ILF limbs:

Entry Level

  1. NIKA Archery Raptor ILF Riser comes with maple/fiberglass laminated ILF limbs. This would be your BEST value for an Entry Level ILF riser  (check the current price on Amazon)
  2. SAMICK 25″ Avante X2 Olympic Style ILF Riser comes ready to mount arrow rest, sights, and stabilizers and will take any ILF limbs you like (check the current price on Amazon)
  3. WNS Axiom-a
  4. Infitec Challenger

Mid-Range

  1. Samick Discovery ILF Riser (check the current price on Amazon)
  2. Hoyt Satori Traditional
  3. X-Sport Collegiate
  4. Kaya K3

High-End

  1. Spiragelli DMS
  2. Hoyt Grand Prix Epik
  3. Win & Win INNO CXT
  4. MK Archery Alpha (also accepts Formula ILF limbs)
  5. Uukha Xpro

All of the above-listed risers will accept ILF limbs and some of the High-End risers will also accept Hoyt’s Formula ILF limbs.

Which Recurve Limbs Are NOT Interchangeable?

Takedown recurve bows that do NOT offer the interchangeability of the ILF system are much less expensive than ILF risers.  The reason for this is because they only accept limbs that are made by the same manufacturer.  Here are some examples:

  1. Southwest Archery Takedown Recurve Limbs, these WILL FIT Samick Sage Takedown Recurve bow, and Southwest Archery Spyder Takedown Recurve (check the current price on Amazon here)
  2. PSE Archery Nighthawk Recurve Bow (find it at Bass Pro Shops here)
  3. Samick Sage (check the current price on Amazon here)
  4. Southwest Archery Spyder (check the current price on Amazon here)
  5. Vista Monarch Takedown Recurve Bow (available from Bass Pro Shops here)

All of these risers will work ONLY with the manufacturers proprietary limb attachment system.

Peter Sontrop

I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy field archery and target shooting with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.

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