Compound Bow vs Recurve Bow For Beginners

If you’re looking to get into archery, you’re bound to encounter varying opinions and information regarding the sport, which can make searching for your first bow a challenge. You’ll soon come across two types of bows in particular; compound and recurve. But how do they differ and which one is best for beginners? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know.

So, are compound bows or recurve bows best for beginners? Beginners may work best with a recurve bow as they have a simpler design and are considered easier to use. However, compound bows come with many customizations and are known for their increased power. Ultimately, making an accurate choice depends on how you intend to approach the sport and what you’re trying to accomplish with each shot. 

Each bow design comes with unique features and specifications.

As we shall now see in the next few sections.

So keep reading.

That way you’ll ensure you get the right bow, for you.

Is a Recurve or Compound Bow Better for Beginners?

Although somewhat subjective, recurve bows are an excellent choice for beginners as they’re generally more cost-efficient than compound bows and allow you to cover the basics of archery without investing in all the bells and whistles that compound bows provide. 

The recurve design is definitely larger and could seem disproportionate to the human body. 

Still, it’s much lighter and easier to maneuver than a compound bow, simply due to its materials. 

Recurve bows help you get over the learning curve you’re bound to encounter if you’re new to archery. 

If you were to start with a compound bow, that learning curve would be even more prominent as they come with many different accessories and attachments you aren’t familiar with yet. 

Keep reading below to get a deeper look into how a recurve or compound bow could be the best choice for a beginner.

When A Compound Bow May Be Better For A Beginner

Not everyone wants to sit at the range all day, and some would rather test themselves in a hunting environment to really put their bow to the test. 

Many people have their own preferences, but if you’re new to archery, a compound bow is a solid choice if you’re looking to hunt or simply want the benefits and effortless power the bow provides.

You’ll also want to remember that compound bows can get pretty expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. 

Sure, recurve bows are significantly cheaper, but they’re also as simple as they come and don’t allow as many modifications. 

Archery can be an exhausting sport, and compound bows help with that fatigue by providing the power you need without requiring as much strength on your part. 

Don’t get me wrong, all bows require some upper body strength, but compound bows make it easier for you by design.

When A Recurve Bow May Be Better For A Beginner

As I mentioned earlier, recurve bows are great to learn all of the necessary basics of archery. 

Along with being highly affordable, it’s one of the best ways to get a feel for the sport without having to make too much of a financial commitment. 

They’re known to be quite large in comparison to others, but you can find recurve bows designed for adults and children alike.

The recurve design looks pretty similar to the standard longbow, but they don’t offer the same performance by any means. 

Recurve bows provide a surprising amount of power due to the long, curved limbs. 

You’ll also find that recurve bows take a little bit more strength to pull back the drawstring in comparison to compound bows.

Most beginners start off spending most of their time with practice targets, and if you’re looking to give the sport a shot but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, cost efficiency is an important aspect of this decision. 

If you’re brand new to archery, you don’t want to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on a feature-stacked compound bow. 

Although it may have every bell and whistle you might want, it isn’t exactly what you need to start learning the basics. 

Recurve bows are a top choice for any beginner that wants to learn the ropes without breaking the bank.

Is A Recurve Or Compound Bow Harder To Shoot?

From a design standpoint, recurve bows are definitely harder to shoot, as compound bows have cams and other features that make the entire process of drawing, aiming, and shooting much easier. To clarify further, compound bows are known for their “let-off,” which reduces the weight of the draw, allowing you to get the most power every time you release an arrow.

Although recurve bows were used for hunting, war, and practice many years ago, they’re primarily used for target practice and sports events such as the Olympics in modern times. 

Considering their simple design, recurve bows provide a surprising level of power and accuracy, but this is also dependent on your know-how and upper body strength. 

Even if recurve bows are known to be harder to shoot, this isn’t to say compound bows don’t come with their own challenges.

From another aspect, the sheer height and weight of your body can have an effect on the performance of your shooting. 

This is why it’s imperative that you purchase a bow that’s form-fitting to your size, so you can comfortably repeat each action without obstruction. 

Recurve bows are already quite tall by design, so if it happens to be too large, you might have trouble using it to its fullest potential.

Are Compound Bows More Powerful Than Recurve?

Most recurve, and compound bows are known to handle up to 70lbs of draw weight, but this doesn’t equate to the exact amount of power they’re capable of upon releasing an arrow. Compound bows tend to be more powerful as their design offers a quick acceleration when you release the drawstring, making them a force to be reckoned with.

This acceleration comes from the cams that are common with compound bows, and you won’t find these features attached to any recurve bow. 

The compound design definitely has more of a learning curve, but they’re an excellent choice for hunting or even precision targets from varying distances. 

It’s important to note that recurve bows can accomplish many of the same feats that a compound bow can, but they simply can’t match the power that the compound design is capable of.

With a recurve bow, it’s a pretty simple stationery design that doesn’t offer much else other than the bow and drawstring. 

In contrast, compound bows come with many interchangeable attachments that allow you to modify their performance how you see fit. 

Whether you stick to the range or hunt on a regular basis, if you’re looking for the most power, a compound bow would be your best choice in the long term.

I’d say recurve bows are excellent for beginners to get started and learn the ropes about archery and how the equipment functions. 

Once you’ve become knowledgeable of the fundamentals, recurve bows may not serve your purpose the way they did in the beginning. 

Naturally, you’re going to want an upgrade or something that takes your education one step further, and a compound bow would be your next step.

Regardless of which one is more powerful, the amount of power recurve bows provide shouldn’t be underestimated. 

They can also be very precise, which is what makes them such an excellent prospect for training and competitions. 

Recurve bows are also much lighter than compound bows making them easy to transport. 

Some people find recurve bows to be a little more exhaustive as they require more repeated strength on your part. 

Pulling back the drawstring over and over will undoubtedly cause fatigue, and the recurve design doesn’t have any assisting features such as cams to provide effortless force.

Differences Between Compound Bows and Recurve Bows to Consider

When you’re ready to purchase your first bow, there are many factors to take into consideration outside of their use cases and design. One of the most apparent is the amount of strain it takes to achieve a full draw. I touched on this briefly already, but compound bows are much easier to pull the drawstring. 

With recurve bows, you’ll experience more strain in your shoulder, hands, back, and muscle fatigue. 

Next, their release mechanisms are quite different. 

If you’re using a recurve bow, it’s vital that each release is as even and accurate as possible; otherwise, you may not hit your target. 

Since the recurve design doesn’t come with any features to help you aim, pull the drawstring, or keep your arrow straight, it’s entirely reliant on your patience and skill to get the best shot. 

On the other hand, compound bows are built with a release aid that not only helps with accuracy and stability, but it’s less wear and tear on your muscles and body as a whole.

To Summarize

Hopefully, this article has alleviated any questions or concerns about your decision to get into archery. 

It may be challenging to sort through the different types of bows and their features, but there are a few staples that every beginner should start with. 

A recurve bow is a great tool for teaching about the sport, general practice, and various competitions if that’s your goal. 

If you’re looking for a more feature-rich design that’s more suited for target practice and hunting, a compound bow would be the way to go.

Looking for a starting bow? Then my following guides may be for you: