Recurve vs Compound Bow: What's the Difference?

An archery athlete aiming at a target in the distance

If you’re new to the sport of archery or bow hunting, you may be wondering what the difference between a recurve and compound bow is. When it comes to recurve vs compound bows, the equipment can be quite complicated. From bow models to draw lengths to other accessories, it can be difficult to understand everything. 

If you can’t decide between a recurve or compound bow, we’re here to help make that decision a little easier. Let's dive into the similarities and differences between compound bows vs recurve bows and their advantages and disadvantages. 

What is a Recurve Bow?

A recurve bow has limbs that curve towards the archer close to the riser but out towards the target at the ends or tip. 

With this bow, you draw back the string that stores energy, then you release the string and the limbs snap forward to propel the arrow forward. 

Given that recurve bows typically don't have a predetermined drawback length, choosing the right draw length is essential for both beginning and seasoned archers. Draw length is one of the most crucial aspects of the sport because it can affect power, accuracy, safety, and form.

What is a Compound Bow?

A compound bow differs from a recurve bow in that it has additional strings and cables as well as small wheels at the ends of the limbs known as cams. 

When a compound bow is drawn back, the cams roll over and "let-off", reducing the amount of pulling force required by the user to hold the string back by up to 85%

Many compound bows made for children or beginners have highly adjustable cams that enable a variety of draw lengths and weights.

Hunting with a Recurve Bow vs Compound Bow 

Many people may find it easier to hunt with a compound bow because they have a mechanical advantage over recurve bows and can pull more draw weight. Even though the shooter still needs to draw the weight back, the term "let off" refers to the ability to hold the bow at full draw for a longer period of time while still exerting the same amount of effort. 

For instance, a 60-pound compound bow will require you to draw 60 pounds of weight, but you might only need to hold back 30 pounds of force. On the other hand, a recurve bow with a 60-pound draw weight will require you to draw and hold back 60 pounds when aiming.

Recurve vs Compound Bow Pros and Cons

Arrows in archery target on archery range

Advantages of Recurve Bows:

  • Most can be broken down into pieces 
  • Lighter to carry 
  • Requires less upkeep 

Disadvantages of Recurve Bows:

  • Requires more upper body strength 
  • Must be closer to your target
  • More practice is needed

Advantages of Compound Bows:

  • Smaller than a recurve bow
  • More adjustability and versatility 
  • Easier to aim 
  • More accuracy and power
  • Requires less upper body strength 
  • Can be further from your target 

Disadvantages of Compound Bows: 

  • Heavier than a recurve bow
  • Can’t be broken down 
  • More maintenance 

Compound vs Recurve Bow Hunting: Which is Better? 

The compound bow is the more popular option for bow hunters due to its smaller size and ease of transport after assembly as well as the fact that the "let off" allows you to hold the bow at full draw while you wait for the ideal shot.

When it comes to recurve vs compound bows for the young archer, you need adjustability. This is much easier to accomplish with a good compound bow than a recurve. A compound bow will last a lot longer and grow with the archer.

However, a recurve bow comes with unmatched simplicity. With no cables or pulleys, the design is straightforward yet efficient, making it very suitable for a complete beginner.

Overall, a compound bow or a recurve bow are both fantastic ways to get into archery and bowhunting and come with their own strengths and weaknesses. The type of bow that is best for you will depend on your experience level and personal style.

Shop the Ultimate Archery Trainer from AccuBow 

If you’ve decided that a compound bow is right for you, you need one that is trustworthy and dependable. The AccuBow is a special, one-of-a-kind compound training bow that enables you to practice archery and bow hunting anywhere, any time. 

It is perfect for all ages, strengths, and skill levels. From the AccuBow 1.0 to the foldable AccuBow 2.0 and even the AccuBow Nano which is great for kids and beginner shooters, we have the ideal archery training aid to take your skills to the next level.

You can attach your phone to your own AccuBow and download the AccuBow app to hunt virtually around the world, challenge friends and family, and experience a variety of shooting modes, such as bow fishing, tree stand hunting, and much more!

Get your hands on the best archery and bow hunting compound bow on the market and order your top-of-the-line AccuBow today!