Longbows vs. Recurve vs. Compound Bows – Informational Guide

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If you have been into archery for very long, you probably know your way around different kinds of bows and own the right one for yourself, as well.

But if you are a beginner who has recently found their way into the world of archery, this article is perfect for you.

It will break down the basics of different bows for you and help you decide which one you need.

Comparison Chart of the Longbow vs. Recurve vs. Compound Bows

PRODUCT
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Southland Archery Supply Pioneer Traditional Long Bow

  • Best Longbow overall
  • Strong fiberglass limbs are made out of maple laminations
  • A riser constructed out of Makore wood and Cassia Siamea
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Southland Archery Supply 22-29" Long Bow

  • Runner up longbow
  • The 60-inch long form of the bow is designed ideally for small hands
  • Reinforced composite construction for ensured strength and durability
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SinoArt Sparrow 54" Traditional Long Bow

  • Best longbow for the money
  • A Dacron string for an enhanced archery experience
  • Laminated ebony wood riser along with laminated fiberglass and maple wood limbs provide strength and durability to the design
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Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow

  • Best Recurve Bow overall
  • Constructed out of hard maple and black fiberglass for the best results
  • A 62-inch long design with a takedown feature allows the limbs to collapse to a shorter structure
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Toparchery Archery 56" Takedown Hunting Recurve Bow

  • Runner-up recurve bow
  • Casting aluminum riser with fiberglass and maple limbs ensure high strength of the unit
  • The model with a 56-inch overall length and takedown design allow an enhanced archery experience
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PSE 10 Snake Recurve Bow

  • Best recurve bow for the money
  • 60-inch long design provides with great precision
  • An ambidextrous model that ensures the best performance
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Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro

  • Best compound bow overall
  • A multi-shooter bow that provides the best experience
  • An extended draw length for all the longer draw archers
View Latest Price
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Bear Archery Cruzer G2 Compound Bow

  • Runner up compound bow
  • Lightweight design with a great shooting speed
  • Adjustable draw lengths and draw weights ensure you get exactly what you want
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BISON by JUNXING Compound Bow for Hunting

  • Best compound bow for the money
  • Top quality construction for enhanced durability
  • Unique design for perfect shots every time you shoot
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What is a Longbow?

A longbow is one of the oldest types of bows. It is the shape that typically comes to mind when you first think of a bow. As the name implies, these models are pretty long. They are more or less the same as the height as their user. Since it is that long, it does not feature a significant recurve. These models have narrow limbs, so when viewed from the side, they produce a circular, or D-shape.

These are very simple devices in terms of their construction, form, and use. This makes them perfect for all beginners. The advantage of using these bows is they allow a fairly long draw to the archer. When it comes to aiming and shooting, you will find these units are less likely to shoot your arrow more sideways than you intend to. In fact, these units are the easiest to shoot with, which is why most beginners would prefer this type.

What is a Recurve Bow?

A recurve bow is a little more complex than the standard longbow. It features a shape that is close to the number 3. The ends of the limbs of this bow are designed to curve away from the user. This curve of the limbs is known as the recurve, after which the bow is named.

The special design of these bows allows them greater power while shooting. But since one needs to be more precise with aiming with this bow, it may not be the best choice for beginners. But again, practice makes perfect. You won’t learn to shoot accurately with any bow unless you’ve tried over and over again.

What is a Compound Bow?

A compound bow, right from the first look, is complex, to say the least. It is designed with a very complicated form. It includes wheels at the very ends of its limbs which allow the bow to compound the forces held within the bow once it has been drawn. And that is where it gets its name.

In contrast to what they look like, compound bows are fairly easy to use. Aiming with this bow doesn’t require a high level of accuracy or precision. Along with ease of aim, they will also offer you a great shooting power.

Longbow vs. Recurve vs. Compound - Similarities and Differences

Basic knowledge of different types of bows is necessary in order to acquaint yourself with the world of archery. But it is certainly not enough to make the right choice

It is essential that you understand the differences and similarities between these models. In order to help you understand those better, here is a side-by-side comparison of all these models.

Differences

Let's start with the main differences between the three models:

  • Structure

The most basic difference between the three models is that of the structure. The three different types of bows have considerably different structures, all enabling them with different features.

The longbow features a long design. It is heavy and long, shaped like the letter D or a semi-circle. The ends of the limbs in this bow are toward the archer, since the bow curves only from the center.

The recurve design is the shortest and is in the shape of the number 3. Its limbs curl away from the archer. So it basically features two curves, one in the center and the other at the ends.

The compound bow has that most complex structure of all, one that can’t be compared to any basic letter, number, or shape. The ends of the limbs of these units feature no curves, but wheels that allow the forces to compound.

  • Power, Aiming, & Shooting

These three are the main features that play a crucial role while shooting your bow. The performance of the model based on these factors can be the deciding factor.

A longbow may not prove to be the most powerful bow. It was one of the first bow types but is no longer commonly used and the lack of power is one of the main reasons. However, when it comes to shooting, the bow can be said to be forgiving. It is easy to shoot with, given the fact that the unit doesn’t require much precision.

A recurve bow is designed to be more powerful than a longbow. With its recurved limbs, the model is capable of storing much more energy when drawn, and as a result, the arrow is shot with more power. The shot, however, presents with a little more torque, meaning it is likely to sway from the path that you set it on.

A compound bow is the most powerful of the three. The wheels on the limbs compound the forces, and with the ‘let off’ mechanism of these models, the unit can fire with equal power to any other bow with half of the work. Even with its shooting, the bow doesn’t require the precision that a recurve bow does and proves to be fairly easy to use.

  • Maintenance

This factor plays no role while shooting with bows, but is important after use. Any product with a high maintenance cost is a greater hassle and should be bought if only its function is worth it.

A longbow is easy to restring if ever necessary. But once it’s broken, it’s gone. There is no way to fix it. All that can be done is to buy a new one.

A recurve bow is perhaps the easiest to fix. The limbs of this bow can easily be replaced and fixed, if the damage isn’t too extensive.

A compound bow can neither be stringed by the average person nor be fixed if something were to go wrong unless you are a professional. Since it is an assembly of a number of parts, there are more things that can go wrong with these models. But most of them can be fixed with the right knowledge and skills.

Similarities

  • Style

All three bows feature a unique shape, but when handled the right way, they will be sure to look sleek and stylish. Their use exhibits grace and elegance that will be sure to make you look good.

  • Noise

When it comes to the noise made while shooting, a longbow might be best, since it’s considerably quiet. A compound bow and recurve bow are, however, the same. They both are loud but  limb dampeners and string silencers can be used to help reduce the noise.

  • Accessories

There are a number of accessories available for all three types of bows. The accessories used for these units may or may not be the same. But what they all have in common is the easy availability of the required accessories. Any shop dedicated to hunting or archery, in general, will have the right kind of accessories.

  • Construction

Bows are made up of different materials. Then, how does this count as a similarity? The construction of the bows is based upon the same manufacturing techniques. This gives them similar durability and functionality.

Our Favorite Longbows

In order to give you an idea about what the best longbows should look like, here are a few of them. We reviewed our favorite longbows so you can see the basic features a good longbow should have.

Southland Archery Supply SAS Pioneer Traditional Wood Long Bow (50 pounds)

PROS

  • The Shape Ensures Enhanced Stability While Shooting
  • The Provided Bag Ensures No Damage Occurs While Not in Use or During Transport
  • The Construction is Optimized to Provide Great Strength and Durability
  • Creates Minimal Noise so as Not to Disturb You or Your Prey

CONS

  • Does Not Come With a String and Has to Be Purchased Separately

This bow is one of the best bows one can use, and when it comes to longbows, it is the best choice. Everything from its design to its functionality is absolutely perfect. You can look for other bows, but you will be sure to come back to this one.

The riser of this unit is made out of exquisite Makore and Cassia Siamea woods, while its fiberglass limbs are made out of maple laminations. This construction provides it with strength and durability that is second to none. You can count on the professional design and top quality materials to serve your model with the best of features.

The shape is optimized to provide greater stability. This feature will greatly enhance your shooting experience, along with making it a lot easier. And to protect its 68-inch long form, you get a padded bag along with the unit. This will ensure your unit is kept in the utmost safety between shooting sessions.

Bottom Line

The model promises a perfect bow and that is exactly what it delivers. From its form to its function, everything about this unit is exactly the way you would want it. For this reason, we believe this unit is the best longbow you can find for yourself.

Southland Archery Supply SAS 30-35lbs 22-29' Robinhood Long Bow w/Armguard, Arrow Rest and 2 x Arrows (Brown)

PROS

  • Works for Both Hands
  • The Included Accessories Allow for an Optimal Archery Experience
  • The Serving Strings Are Extremely Durable, Unlike the Standard Ones That Break in No Time

CONS

  • The Included Arrows are Not of the Best Quality

If there’s a model that comes close to our top unit, it’s this one, and second by a very small margin, too. If you’re looking for a model that comes with an excellent shape and function, you do not want to miss out on this one, as it will be sure not to disappoint you.

Designed out of reinforced composite, this unit will provide you with a build that is not only durable but also strong and reliable. With its 60-inch long design, this Robin Hood bow is absolutely ideal for those who have small hands. Furthermore, it comes with a string that also guarantees durability. So, you no longer need to worry about constantly snapping strings.

This model doesn’t come alone, but in a complete package that includes all the necessary accessories one would need for a better archery experience. It includes a belt quiver, a finger tab, an armguard, an adjustable arrow rest, a target face, and two fiberglass arrows. All these items serve to provide all you need for the ideal archery experience.

Bottom Line

With a clear view of all the things this model comes with, you now have a better idea about how this model has made its way onto this list. Featuring all the items you need for the perfect archery experience, this model really does have it all. This is particularly true if you have small hands and find other models a little too large or unwieldy.

SinoArt Sparrow 54' Traditional Long Bow 20-35LBs Draw Weight One-Piece Longbow Recurve BowRight Hands for Beginner Women Teens

PROS

  • Fairly Quiet so You Can Bid Farewell to All the Disturbances
  • Simply Designed and Efficient to Use, Making it Ideal for Men, Women, and Kids Alike
  • Comes in Separate Models for Left and Right-Handed People to Allow Optimal Functionality of Each

CONS

  • The String May Offer Some Extra Torque, Requiring Extra Care While Shooting

Remember that the best products are not always the most expensive ones. It is completely possible to buy an item with the best features without spending a fortune on it. In fact, such items are the perfect ones since they provide you with good value for your money. This model by SinoArt is one such model designed to simply impress you without weighing too heavily on your pocket.

This 54-inch model features a traditional design that will take you back in the day when longbow use was at its peak. This classic, one-piece wooden longbow features separate models for left and right-handed people in order to ensure the best of performance. The simple, yet efficient, design of this unit is ideal for everyone from children to adults.

The unit features a laminated ebony wood riser along with laminated fiberglass and maple wood limbs. Meanwhile, the attached Dacron string is of the finest quality and will serve to last long. But that's not all it offers. This unit comes with an arrow rest that will be sure to provide you with an enhanced shooting experience with this fine model.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to save some cash on your next bow, but do not want to compromise on quality or features, this is the perfect unit for you. It will provide you with the best features, but within a budget, making sure you get the best  option for the money,

Our Favorite Recurve Bows

There are an abundance of recurve bows on the market, since they are the most widely used bows. Most of these models look deceivingly the same. In order to give you a good idea of which ones are actually the best, here are a few models that we think stand out among the others.

Best Recurve Bow Overall:
Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow

Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow 40lb

PROS

  • Ideal for Beginners Since it is Easy to Use
  • Comes Pre-Strung and With an Arrow Rest for a Precise Shooting Experience
  • It is Also Pre-Installed With Brass Bushings for Brass Plunger, Stabilizer, Sight, and Quiver

CONS

  • The Limbs Don't Fit Perfectly on the Riser, Causing Center Shots to Miss

Samick Sage is a renowned and trusted name in the world of archery. The brand only puts forth the best designs for archers, along with accessories. This unit is no different. In fact, it is one of the absolute best the brand has to offer to its users. This takedown bow is designed to provide you with a complete archery experience, but with great convenience.

This 62-inch unit comes with a B-50 string and an arrow rest that will serve to provide the best of necessities. But that isn't all. It also comes with pre-installed accessories like a stabilizer, sight, brass bushings for brass plunger, and a quiver. Meaning, what you get is not a simple recurve bow model, but an entire package for the best shooting experience.

The unit features a metal limb pocket design in which the limbs are of hard maple and black fiberglass and one tapered knob. Thus, the construction of the unit not only provides it with enhanced durability but also a sleek design which will make anyone look good. Meanwhile, the takedown design allows you the convenience of carrying and storing when not in use.

Bottom Line

This unit is the perfect representation of all the best features you can get from a recurve bow. It provides quality of form, durability of material, and convenience of design. It is safe to say this unit is everything one could possibly ask for in a recurve bow.

TOPARCHERY Archery 56' Takedown Hunting 50lbs Recurve Bow Metal Riser Right Hand Black Longbow

PROS

  • Reliable and Durable, Making Sure to Last Long
  • It is Designed to be Ideal for All Archers, Experts, and Beginners
  • The Takedown Design Allows a Greater Convenience of Carrying the Unit and Storing it When Not in Use

CONS

  • Does Not Come With a String and Has to Be Purchased Separately

This model by Toparchery comes second to our top recurve bow only by a small margin. So, its functionality and efficiency are more or less same as it never fails to impress the users. If you invest in this model, you'll know exactly what makes is so impressive.

The unit is specifically designed with different models for left and right-handed individuals, ensuring that both get the maximum out of their units. With an overall length of 56 inches, along with a takedown design, the unit guarantees an enhanced functionality paired with the convenience of portability and storage. Isn't that all one can ask for?

It is designed with a high strength casting aluminum riser, which is perfectly polished. The limbs of the unit are of strong fiberglass with a maple core. The entire structure provides great strength and durability that is second to none. The unit will be found to be efficient and excellent in performance by beginners and experts alike.

Bottom Line

If a unit comes extremely close to being the best model, there has to be something special about it. This small review may not be able to justify the excellence of the model completely, but it is an attempt to provide you with an overview of all its features. To experience these first hand, you would have to invest in it, but rest assured that it won’t let you down.

Best for the Money:
PSE 10 Snake Recurve Bow

PSE 10 Snake Recurve Bow, 60-Inch, Black

PROS

  • Ideal for Use for Left, as Well as Right-Handed People
  • Provides the Best Features Without Being Too Heavy on the Pocket
  • A Draw Weight of 25 Pounds Allows the Unit to Perform with Great Excellence
  • The Composite Construction Provides Great Durability You Can Easily Rely on

CONS

  • The String Isn’t of the Best Quality and Needs to Be Replaced Soon

A recurve bow may be quite expensive, but some are more so than others. It is still not necessary to spend cash on fancy models for a few extra features. It is, in fact, better to spend money on a model that provides you with just the right features, like this PSE 10 Snake Model.

This efficient model is perfect for individuals who are right-handed as well as for those who are left-handed. With a draw weight of 25 pounds, this unit provides excellent archery experience to beginners, as well as experts. Its specialized snake design is meant to deliver the best shots, ensuring you get the best out of it.

The unit is a composite design and offers enhanced durability that makes it almost indestructible. The classic design of the unit, with its 60-inch frame, provide the archers with great precision, which is all you need from a bow.

Bottom Line

Do not spend extra money on fancy bows when you can get the best out of this unit at a much lower cost. This is especially true if you are a beginner and are looking to try out a new bow. This will be the perfect choice before you are ready to move on to better and fancier bows. Given its features and design, it will surely not fail you.

Our Favorite Compound Bows

The deal with compound bows is that at first look, they all look nothing more than complex. The same is the case on the second and third look, too. It takes a while to get used to its design and figure out which one is a better model. In order to help you figure it all out, here are the compound bows we like the best.

Best Compound Bow Overall:
Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro

Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro Bow Package, Black Ops, Right Hand

PROS

  • The Included Accessories Serve to Provide an Even Better Archery Experience
  • The Infinite Draw Setting Ensures You Can Adjust the Unit Just the Way You Want 
  • Features an Excellent Build That Guarantees Durability and Enhanced Performance

CONS

  • The Accessories Provided Are Not of the Best Quality and You Might Need to Replace Them Over Time

If you are simply looking to get the most out of your professional archery tool, look no further than this. With its outstanding design and perfect form, this unit by Diamond Archery will be sure to provide you with the best of experience, one unmatched by others.

The best part about this unit, for all those that like to make a longer draw, is the extended draw length. It has a solid back wall and an infinite draw setting that will let you adjust it to your liking. This multi-shooter bow will serve to provide you with an experience like no other compound bow.

This unit does not come alone, but with an entire package designed to provide you with all the necessities and accessories you are looking for. Along with the bow, it includes a DeadLock lite octane quiver, a three-pin tundra sight, tube peep sight, a BCY string loop, a hostage XL arrow rest, a comfort wrist sling, and lastly, a five-inch, ultra-lite octane stabilizer.

Bottom Line

This bow itself will provide you with functionality and form that will simply not disappoint you. It will prove to be efficient at its job and durable in structure, simply providing you with the best of what you need.

Bear Archery Cruzer G2 RTH Compound Bow - Kryptek Highlander - Right Hand

PROS

  • It Comes Equipped With a Number of Accessories for a Better Archery Experience
  • The Shape of the Limbs are Uniquely Designed to Create a Reliable Load Distribution
  • Features a Separate Model for Left and Right-Handed People, Allowing a Better Functionality

CONS

  • Needs to Be Serviced at a Pro-Shop Before it Can Be Put to Use

Here is the unit that comes second to our top pick in the compound bow category. Being second has no impact on its functionality and provides the archer with the best. This Cruzer G2 model by Bear Archery features a design meant to impress its user and it efficiently delivers that.

This unit is engineered with an outstanding design to provide maximum versatility, thus making it ideal for use by people of all ages, as well as skill level. The unit can be adjusted between 12 and 30 inch draw lengths, along with an adjustable peak draw weight between five and seven pounds.

This masterpiece comes equipped with a number of accessories that serve to optimize the hunting experience. The adjustments can be made with an Allen wrench and do not require a bow press. The model is lightweight and allows you to shoot at 315 feet per second, proving that it provides the best of functionality.

Bottom Line

Once the unit is serviced, there is no reason for you not to buy this unit. It maxes out all its features, ensuring you get the best out of it. From its unique design to the provided accessories, this unit is all you can possibly ask for.

Compound Bow for Hunting, Bison M3 30-60lbs Compound Bow Kit with 5 Pin Lighted Sight, 6 Carbon Arrow, BCY String, etc. for Outdoor Sport, Adjustable 23-30in Draw Length and IBO 320 fps Right Hand

PROS

  • Designed for an Enhanced Archery Experience, Be it Hunting or Training
  • Provides the Best Shooting Experience Without Being Too Harsh on Your Wallet
  • Made Up of the Best Quality material, Ensuring Your Unit Lasts Long Enough to Provide Good Value for Your Money

CONS

  • Might Be a Little Tricky to Get the Hang of

Compound bows are pretty expensive as they are. Looking for the perfect one will serve to cost you more money. Instead, look for an efficient one, particularly a model that provides the best features without completely ripping off your wallet. This model by Junxing is a perfect example of such a bow.

The unit is designed to deliver the best possible shots. Be it for hunting or simply for learning, practicing, and having fun, this unit will deliver its absolute best. In all circumstances, it will provide its best and ensure you get the best archery experience.

It is designed out of top quality materials, providing it with great durability. This ensures the money you spend on this lasts for a longer time without needing any fixes or replacements. It is designed to provide you with an accurate shot every time, ensuring you get the best from the unit.

Bottom Line

This model by Junxing is designed simply to deliver the best of its features and impress the user. Getting used to the unit may take a little while, but it will surely come with time. And when it does, you will realize that, indeed, not all perfect units cost a fortune.

Top Pick Between Longbow vs. Recurve vs. Compound Bows

Longbows are pretty outdated and can’t be titled as a top pick since recurve and compound bows perform a lot better. With that said, the competition lies between the latter two options.

If you are an absolute beginner, a compound bow may not be suitable enough for you. It does provide easy aiming and shooting, but the working mechanism is hard to understand. And knowledge of that is necessary in order for you to make the best out of the model. So for beginners, a recurve bow might be the best choice.

However, if you have been into archery for a while, and know your way around these models, even a bit, then compound bows are the ideal option since they provide the best power and shooting, along with easier aiming.

Conclusion

Archery is a great sport, whether for beginners or experts. The type of bow you use has a great impact on the results of your shooting. In order to ensure that you get the best out of this experience, you have to make sure you are using the right sort of bow, with the right sort of accessories, and you’ll be good to go.

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