Are you interested in archery? Would you like to know what the difference is of a recurve bow vs a compound bow. It really is a good question and you know that you’re smart just by beginning in the right place to get information.
The purpose of this article is to help you figure out the differences between traditional archery and compound bows. I’m going to cover the pros and cons of each as well as some of the best uses and practices to go with them. The entire field of archery is pretty big and you’ll find bows and setups especially made for certain applications.
I want you to be able to know the difference of a recurve vs compound so that you can make the best decision for you. It’s important and you don’t want to waste your time or money pursuing down the wrong lane just because you don’t know.
We’ll start with the things that are the same, then the recurve bow, and follow with the compound bows.
Start by asking the right questions
The most important thing to consider when you want to know about differences in types of bows is what the purpose is. Don’t buy one or the other without knowing what you plan to do with it. Here are some good questions to answer so you pick the best bow for the application.
What do I want to shoot? – This is really important. If you want to shoot olympic archery,go bowfishing, or do historical reenactments. These all require something very different.
How much time do I have to practice? – You’ll need to practice either way. Shooting a traditional bow typically takes more time to reach the same accuracy if shot instinctively.
Am I trying to learn a skill or learn how to use a tool? Typically a skill is something that you plan to do repeatedly and quite often. A tool is something that you can set up and learn the basics and then come back and use it the same way after a long time away. If you’ll spend a long time away for whatever reason, most people prefer a compound that can be tuned and put in storage when needed.
How important are art and aesthetics? This is a very personal choice and quite subjective. It’s also the main place where people argue and decide on what they like best. I’ll keep this part short and let you make up your own mind.
Do I want to go to archery competitions? You normally will have to fit certain requirements for archery competitions with what you’re shooting. If there’s only one kind of competition around, then it’ll matter.
Similarities between a recurve and a compound
There are some things that are the same for both a compound bow and a traditional bow so let’s start there.
- Both types of bows have a strength good enough for hunting.
- Both types of bows MUST BE TUNED PROPERLY. Shooting a setup that isn’t tuned properly will give poor results no matter what you’re shooting.
- They only shoot good if you shoot good. No amount of technology makes up for poor performance.
- Both types of bows have versions where you can add accessories to help you shoot better. Examples: bow sights, stabilizers.
- Price is the same – You can spend just as much on a good recurve as you do on a good compound.
Recurve Bow Pros and Cons
Here’s a one piece wooden laminate recurve bow.
A recurve bow is a bow that has no mechanical leverage other than the design of it’s shape. Some of the main pros for this type of bow are.
- Variable draw length – You only need to draw this bow back as far as you want. The weight will increase the farther back you draw it. It is possible to overdraw a bow, but most of the time, this isn’t a problem.
- Variable draw weights – Takedown bows offer the ability to change the draw weight be exchanging the limbs of the bow. One piece designs do not offer the ability to change draw weights.
- One piece and breakdown designs available – Take down designs are extremely mobile and pack into a small space. One piece designs are very rugged and are minimal on maintenance.
- Artistic and elegant experience – Most people, myself included, agree that there is a mental and artistic experience that is better experienced through a traditional bow.
- Better suited for instinctive shooting – Through a better connection to the bow and type of experience, most instinctive shooters choose a traditional bow. This also means that knowing the distance to a target is not important.
- Effective distance – The effective distance for both accuracy and power are much shorter for most people with a traditional bow.
- Amount of time bow can be held at full draw – A recurve bow is only held at full draw for a few seconds, like 2-3 seconds. You hold the full weight of the bow at full draw.
- Needs more consistent practice – A traditional bow needs more practice to shoot to a high degree of accuracy.
Compound bows Pros and Cons
Here’s a Bowtech Admiral bow with a great sideview so you can see all the parts.
- Mechanical advantage for higher draw weight – A compound bow offers the ability to shoot an 80 pound (this is the symbol #) draw weight with about the same effort it would take to draw back a 50# traditional bow. That’s a rough guide, but that’s how it is for me.
- Faster arrow speed – An arrow from a compound bow typically flies in the ranges of 300 feet per second (FPS) and above. Traditional bows are around 140-160 FPS.
- Let off of bow weight at full draw – Following my example of a compound bow at 80# draw weight. The bow at full draw feels like holding a 35# bow.
- Extended amount of time at full draw – The reduced weight at full draw lets you hold the arrow ready to shoot for a much longer time. For me, it’s about 30 – 45 seconds normally.
- Less forgiving if out of tune – A compound bow is much more complex and with all that, it’s important to keep all the moving parts in tune otherwise the entire thing will have problems.
- Shoots lighter arrows – At short distances, less than 20 yards, this isn’t a problem. BUT, most compound shooters will venture out to at least 70 yards and lighter arrows are more easily affected by the elements and everything else, so you need better shooting conditions and a clear shooting lane for these types of shots.
- Requires more tools – The modular design of most compound bows means that you’re going to be using more tools and using many different parts. It’s also why if you choose a compound bow for starters, I’d completely recommend a Ready To Shoot package like the PSE Stinger
The last thing I want to mention is also really good to know.
It’s okay to get both. It’s okay to change your mind. It’s more important to get started than it is to sit around and talk about all the tiny little things that don’t matter at all until you actually have a bow.
To your skillful success.
I love going to shoot my bow. I love spending time outside and relaxing. I have a lot of reasons that I like going to shoot my bow.
What about you? What are your reasons for shooting?
What about all the times that you’re not feeling like doing anything for months? What’s with that? I don’t care who you are, the longer you spend away from shooting your bow, the worse you’ll get. So how do you get motivated to spend time practicing?
He’s having fun now, let’s keep that motivation going!
My steps on how to get motivated
I never practice. My whole life, practice has been something negative. I HAVE to practice so I can be good at something and most of the time that means it sucks and is no fun. Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to get kids to practice? It’s because it’s no fun.
Instead, I just go shoot my bow. I don’t attach any sense of practice to it. I might decide to do something that looks like practice out at the range, but I just go out to have fun. I have no intention of forcing some kind of practice that ends up creating a negative view of going to the range, backyard, or wherever.
I change the amount of time I shoot. In fact, it probably is over an hour at a time, but that’s just how long it takes me to go through the 3d target course. If things just don’t feel right, or I lose more than 3 arrows, I quit and go home. I don’t want to have to deal with a bad day when I go shoot my bow to relax and feel better. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 2 hours. If things start going downhill a lot, then I take a break. If they continue to go downhill, then I stop for the day.
I joined an archery club and we had a weekly meetup to go shoot the 3D course. It was a fun time to hang out and go shoot. It helped me shoot more often and that made me shoot better. I wasn’t going to practice, I was going to hang out with friends. If I had a day where I just wanted to go by myself, then it’s no problem. It was a lot of fun to go with all the other people. I learned the most during that weekly meetup. More than anywhere else.
Reward yourself for your efforts. Hit your first bulls-eye? Go get some ice cream. There’s no point in trying to be stoic and pretend that you shouldn’t be happy or excited with your progress. If you are trying to get your child interested in the sport, you could make it a ritual of going to the range and shooting and then having some special parent child time while getting a coke or ice cream.
What makes you feel good? Is it shooting, being outside, alone or with friends. Take the things that you’ve found to enjoy the most and repeat it. Most people don’t even consider of creating a happy environment. You can do the same with your hobbies and interests. If shooting with a group is what makes you happiest, then find that and keep going. Eventually you’ll just be going to hang out with friends.
Those are my 5 steps on how to get motivated to practice.
I know that there are days were you just feel like you need to shoot, but you really don’t want to. That happens to everyone for almost everything.
Find what part of archery makes you happy and focus on that. I love it and I love many of the benefits I’ve found out of the sport. If you take a bit of time and find out what part you like, then you can shoot more often and have more fun and you’ll never even think you were practicing to begin with.
Lots of times, people go around looking for archery videos to learn something. That’s a wonderful idea and you should do that. But, now and then it’s just cool to watch other people having fun and it gives you ideas for your own practice.
Instead of rambling on like I usually do, I’m just going to get on with it. I will do the one safety warning and make sure to tell you and be safe about things.
Let’s get onto the Archery Motivation
Lars Anderson Speed Shooting
This guy does tons of really neat trick shots. Most of them center around speed shooting. I’m sure you’ll notice that his accuracy is pretty good too. He’s done lots of practicing to get to this point.
Byron Ferguson Trick Shots
Byron Ferguson has been doing trick shots for a long time. I first saw him on TV about 5 years ago shooting a Tylenol pill with an arrow. I could barely even see it. I couldn’t find a compilation video of all his shots so you’ll just have to click on the recommended videos after it’s over to see more of his cool shots.
Traditional Archery Trick Shots
These two guys start nice and easy, you know, just shooting tiny objects with an arrow. It’s no big deal, except that the objects just start getting tinier and then farther away. It’s a really cool video to see that these guys put together. They look like they’re having fun too.
Some Pro Archery Shooting a Bunny
Not a real bunny, but a target called a bunny. I have no idea who came up with the term. These are professionals and you’ll get to see a very interesting competition shot. That’s mostly why I put it on this list. It’s not something you see very often, but to watch these pros take it on is very inspirational.
Youth trick shots
These kids are hanging out and doing some cool shooting in their backyard. They seem to have several different targets that they get to shoot. It’s fun and motivating to see kids hanging out and having fun shooting their bows. I’ll leave it at that and let you get on with the video.
Guinness world record shot
How could you go through a list of great and inspirational archery videos and not have a World Guinness record in there somewhere. What’s even better is that before you get the actual record-breaking shot, you get to spend a little time watching them do some other cool trick shots.
That’s it for my favorite trick shots and motivational shots. I might try to get around to bringing together some hunting videos or a group of more educational videos.
Please leave a comment and let me know what video you liked or what else you’d like to see.
There’s something really special about shooting your bow and making the arrow go where you want it to. When you’re shooting a traditional setup, there’s a very special connection and fun feeling that always draws you back to shooting again.
All that fun stuff being said, it’s also the absolute picture of disgust at the beginning when things are all awkward. You try shooting with those things called hands and the arrows fly, hopefully, in the direction of the target. Getting over this beginning phase and feeling more confident will make you enjoy things so much more and that’s where you want to get to.
My traditional archery tips
Stand close to the target – Your pride has no place in the beginning, or ever really, so get closer to your target. When I started shooting traditional, I stood about 5 yards from the target, even when I was shooting 3D targets at the archery club with a bunch of experienced shooters. You know what I didn’t have to do? I didn’t have to spend a lot of time looking for arrows and pretending that I was as good as everyone else. They also respected my honesty a lot and that helped in making friends.
Practice proper form shooting – Form shooting is where you go stand in front of a target and don’t worry about hitting the same point on the target. You focus entirely on your actions and movements being the same each time. What you are trying to do is get your arrows to group in one spot. This helps to tell you that you are doing the same movements the same way each time. Getting the same results to happen over and over will help you develop better accuracy in the long run.
Five shots a day – If you want to shoot instinctive, there is no shortcut other than practice. You don’t have to make it a big deal though. Most of the time, you feel like you need to shoot for an hour each time you get your bow out. This is simply not true. Try shooting only 5 arrows per day at your house. You can do this in about 15 minutes or less and it will work wonders on your instinctive shooting skills. Shoot from a different place each shot to work on your instinctive skills.
Practice meditation or focusing – It might sound funny at first, but the mental aspect of archery is huge so it would be a bad idea to ignore it. You’ll find that learning to control your mind and what you’re thinking about will significantly affect every shot. You need to do this for every single shot and you’ll find that the more distracted you are, the worse you’ll shoot.
Create a pre shot routine – Before every shot you take, you’ll find yourself doing the same things. This is the pre shot routine. It’s what you do to get your mind and body in the right state to make the best shot possible. It’s actually very important to make this consistent and something that you always do. All professionals have a routine that they go through to prepare for their sport and you should do the same.
There are a lot more traditional archery tips out there and in fact there have been many books written with several of them. I just want to point out some good things to be aware of. You can also read my 5 tips for increasing archery accuracy to get some more information.
Getting better with a bow is more than just going out and shooting a lot of arrows. That does help, but these archery accuracy tips will help you take your game up a notch. Sometimes the basic things will do the most good, and that goes just the same for your archery skills. We all know it’s important to do things the same way for each shot, but there’s more that you can do to increase your skills.
Match your equipment
It’s important to take the time at the beginning to match your equipment so that everything fits and meshes just right. This involves having a good arrow rest, properly matched arrows, correctly working peep sight, and more. For example, you don’t want to shoot off the arrow shelf with rigid plastic vanes. Instead, you would get an arrow rest made to accommodate rigid plastic vanes.
Group your arrows.
Just because you bought a dozen arrows that look the same does not mean that they will shoot the same. It’s also a bad idea to shoot a bunch of completely different arrows all together. When you shoot your arrows, you’ll find that they all fly just a bit differently. I’ve found this is much less of a problem with the best carbon arrows and new arrows. Take all the arrows that shoot the same and keep them. Don’t use the other arrows that fly differently.
Focus on the smallest thing possible
There is a huge mental aspect of archery. Focus is one of the main elements of any shot. You have to clear your mind of all other distractions and focus all of your mental energy on the target. You can’t just focus on a big spot though, you need to focus on the smallest spot that you can find. A tiny imperfection or the hole from a previously removed arrow. By focusing on the smallest point possible, you increase your amount of focus and that really helps your shooting.
Develop a pre shot routine
Creating a routine that you do before every single shot helps you to shoot more accurate. You’ll see this a lot with golfers and most sports. It could be something as short as three deep breaths or as long as a couple of minutes. Whatever it is, it helps you to focus your mind and body to prepare for the shot. You’ll find that it helps you to know when it’s time to shoot and when you can relax.
Multiple anchor points
A lot of people will see others use the corner of their mouth as an anchor point to which they draw each time. This doesn’t work for me. I find that I will change my face up as I get more tired or just because. This means that the corner of my mouth is in a different spot. So I use two anchor points to make sure that I draw the bow back each time to the same place. For me, my knuckle on my thumb goes to my ear and the bowstring touches my eyebrow. Using two or more points helps to make sure you line things up the same each time.
Try using these archery accuracy tips to make your shooting better. I’d love to hear how using these tips has helped you our or if you have any other tips that you’d like to share.
When you’re first learning about archery, it can get a little confusing, especially if you only have a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love books, but sometimes you learn better by watching a video. I know instructional videos might not be the most exciting thing, but if you want to learn faster and easier, then watching archery videos is a great way to go.
I remember watching one such video that was of Rick Welch on shooting. It was extremely helpful, but it’s hard to make an instructional video that doesn’t get slow and that goes for every instructional video I’ve ever watched. All the important things I’ve learned from them more than make up for any type of video quality. A slick video doesn’t make you shoot better, it’s the quality so keep that in mind.
My take on all instruction videos below. People will show you the best way they know how. It does not mean it will be the best for you. However, these people are very good at what they do so pay attention and you’ll find bits and pieces that make you a better archer.
Helpful Archery Videos
Archery Mechanics ~ Instinctive Shooting ~ Instructional DVD – This 2 DVD set is very helpful on learning about archery completely. Compound bows and what all the parts are covered on the first DVD. You’ll also learn about choosing a bow and shooting it correctly. The second DVD is focused on Traditional shooters and covers a lot more in-depth on instinctive shooting. If you’re interested in both types of archery, this is the video set for you. Priced around $17 and 170 minutes long on Amazon.
Olympic Archery Beginner Videos – The Archery Great Britain site has this short set of videos that covers Olympic style archery beginner information. It’s short and very helpful to watch. You’ll learn about stance, holding the bow, and follow through. These videos aren’t to help you know which kind or type of bow to choose, but I found them very good.
Archery Pinboard – I found this group of archery videos that covers a lot of information. If you’re looking for more helpful tips, I’d check them out. I can’t vouch for all the videos, but I checked out several to make sure that it was good quality and it is. You’ll also be able to find some ideas to help you come up with things to shoot.
Setting up a compound bow video – This is a video about setting up your compound bow. It’s short, but it covers all the basics that most anyone can do on their own. This is really good if you’re a beginner and don’t have all the equipment yet.
Basic shooting instruction video – Here’s a short video that will help you get the basics of holding the bow and shooting it well. It doesn’t cover how to set up the bow. It’s only 24 minutes, but it’ll cover a lot and does stress the point at the beginning that if you start just shooting without any instruction, you’ll pick up plenty of bad habits and ideas. You don’t want this so learn the right instruction from the beginning.
I hope that these videos will help you to increase your accuracy and have more fun shooting. If you run out of things to shoot at, then I’d love for you to check out the printable targets that I offer. Every bit helps me to bring you more information and make your archery experience better.