Which of the Three Main Types of Bow Is Right For You?

Congratulations! You’ve been bitten by the archery bug! Before you start shooting, you have some decisions to make. First, you need to decide what kind of archery you would like to do; then, you’ll need to choose a type of bow to use. Here are the three top kinds of bows and the types of archery for which they are best suited:

 

Longbow

Good for: Traditional and target.

When most people think of a bow, they likely think of the classic longbow, which is the simplest bow regarding anatomy, but perhaps the most challenging to shoot. The bow is made up of two parts: the bow and the string. Unlike other types, there is nowhere to mount sights or other accessories; it’s just you, the bow, the arrows, and your target. If you’re looking for the most authentically old-school type of shooting, then a longbow might be for you.

 

Recurve Bow

Good for: Target, field, 3D, and bowhunting.

A recurve bow is like an upgraded longbow comprised of three subparts. The riser is the grip toward the center back of the bow. The limbs are two curved pieces that make the back C-shape of the bow and hold the string. The recurve is easier to shoot than a longbow, and it has the added advantage of having places to mount accessories such as sights, which help you to aim. The recurve is popular with beginners and experts alike, and it is the only type of bow allowed in the Olympics. Shooting a recurve bow without sights is called shooting barebow.

 

Compound Bow

Good for: Bowhunting and 3D.

A compound bow is like an upgraded recurve bow. Like a recurve, it has a riser and two limbs. However, instead of having the string connect directly to the bow as in a recurve or a longbow, it attaches to pulleys, called cams. If you pull the string back, the cams sustain the force, making it easier to keep it tense until the precise moment that you need to shoot. Compound bows allow the archer more flexibility with less muscle strain that other bow types, which is why they are quite popular with hunters.

The above recommendations represent the most common combinations of bow and archery types. That said, there’s a lot of flexibility here. For instance, you can (as many do) use a longbow for bowhunting, although it’s harder than a compound bow. Likewise, you could use a compound bow for target archery, although it might feel like overkill. Ultimately, the combination is up to you!

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