longbow vs recurve

Longbow Vs Recurve: 2024 Ultimate Guide for Beginners

When it comes to the debate of longbow versus recurve, there are several factors to consider.

The longbow is traditional, requiring skill and strength for its longer draw length, while the recurve bow is more compact and versatile, with a shorter draw length but still offering speed and accuracy.

Longbows lack those swept tips, but their limbs bend gracefully throughout the bow’s length. Recurve bows draw more smoothly, in general, but bow designs play significant roles in how they draw. 

Well-designed longbows can be incredibly smooth, especially if their length matches the archer’s draw length. Taller archers, for example, find longer bows smoother to draw than shorter bows. If you have to buy between the two, shoot some recurves and longbows at an archery shop, and choose the one that puts the biggest smile on your face.


The longbow, with its simple design and long limbs, has a rich historical background and offers a sense of traditional archery. It requires a higher level of skill and strength to shoot effectively, but its longer draw length can deliver impressive power and accuracy. Longbows are ideal for


The recurve bow, with its curved limbs, provides a more compact and maneuverable option. It is favored by many modern archers due to its versatility and ease of use. The recurve bow’s shorter draw length can still generate considerable speed and accuracy, making it popular for target shooting and competitive archery.

A recurve bow stores more energy and delivers energy more efficiently than the equivalent straight-limbed bow, giving a greater amount of energy and speed to the arrow. this is currently the only bow type allowed in the Olympic games. 

Some advantages are as follows:

  • Recurves offer great power, speed, and accuracy over longbows.
  • Recurve bows retain speed/power at lighter draw weights, which can be increased by purchasing new limbs 
  • Recurves can be broken down, making them easy to store and transport.
  • Recurve bows are very versatile as they’re an accepted bow type in many different archery disciplines.
  • Recurves can be used for hunting because of the increased speed/power.

Recurve vs Longbow for Beginners

When choosing between a recurve bow and a longbow for beginners, consider versatility and tradition. Recurve bows offer adaptability and are versatile for various archery styles, while longbows have a classic charm and a steeper learning curve due to their traditional design


In general, recurve bows have a slightly longer effective range than longbows, usually up to 60-70 yards due to their design allowing for better energy storage and transfer.

Longbows, while still capable, typically have a slightly shorter range of around 50-60 yards.

Archer’s skill also plays a significant role in range and accuracy.


When it comes to longbow vs recurve accuracy, recurves are generally more accurate but only when an archer uses the proper form.

The synthetic materials of recurve allow economic, predictable manufacture for consistent performance.

The greater mass of a modern bow is in itself an aid to stability, and therefore accuracy.

Arrow Speed

In terms of arrow velocity, recurve bows typically have a slight advantage over longbows due to their design, allowing for more energy storage and faster arrow speeds.

For Hunting

When deciding between a recurve bow and a longbow for hunting, the choice hinges on your hunting style and personal preferences.

Recurve bows offer versatility, adjustability, and good arrow speed, making them suitable for various game and hunting scenarios, while longbows excel in stealth and offer a traditional hunting experience, albeit requiring more skill for accuracy due to their longer draw length.

Ultimately, the decision should align with your hunting approach and comfort with each bow’s characteristics, ensuring a successful and enjoyable hunting experience.


The traditional construction of a longbow consists of drying the yew wood for 1 to 2 years, then slowly working the wood into shape, with the entire process taking up to four years. The bow stave is shaped to have a D cross-section. 

The recurve consists of limbs and a riser (the center section of the bow). The limbs are usually made from multiple layers of fiberglass, carbon, and/or wood on a core of carbon foam or wood. The riser is generally separate and is constructed from wood, carbon, aluminum alloy, or magnesium alloy.

Bow Noise

A bow that shoots quietly is a top feature for many of today’s archers. When it comes to generating bow noise, vibrations and the twang of the bowstring are responsible. Longbows are quieter than recurves because the string doesn’t hit the limbs as much, in turn resulting in less string slap.


Longbow strings are made of hemp, flax, or silk, and attached to the wood via horn “nocks” that fit onto the end of the bow. Modern synthetic materials are now commonly also used for strings in recurve. The cord of the recurve attaches to both limb tips and transforms stored energy from the limbs into kinetic energy in the arrow


Recurves generally have a smoother draw when compared to longbows. However, a longbow can also be smooth if the length of the bow matches the archer’s draw length. Most archers want a smooth drawing bow so they choose to recurve.

Size and Mobility

Recurves are generally smaller than longbows. Longbows range in size from 5 ½ feet to 6 feet or more. While there are a few takedown longbow options available, the majority of longbows don’t offer this option.


Recurve easily break into smaller pieces to transport them from one place to another. Takedown longbows are very popular because recurve is so easy to transport. 


Recurves have more tuning options, making them much more versatile. Recurve bows allow the use of arrow rest, sights, stabilizers, and some bows allow you to swap out different limbs. While the longbow lacks these characteristics.

Modern Use

No English longbows survive from the period when the longbow was dominant (c. 1250–1450), probably because bows became weaker, broke, and were replaced rather than being handed down through generations. 

The modern recurve is the only form of bow permitted in the Olympics (though the compound bow is permitted in some categories at the Paralympic Games) and is the most widely used by European and Asian sporting archers.

Hunting Performance

Some modern hunting recurves are one-piece bows. Hunters often prefer one-piece bows over take-down bows, because the limb pockets on take-down bows can make unwanted noise while drawing. 

Even though both bow types work well for hunting, recurves tend to generate more power. Speed and power are important in hunting situations for accuracy and humane reasons. Due to the less accuracy and less power longbow is very rarely used in hunting.


Longbows have a long history and were the original bow design. This is the bow type for archers who enjoy the historical appeal of medieval archery. While longbows may have been the original bow design, there’s no need to rule out recurve bows.


Availability of longbow vs recurve. Recurves are now considered to be the modern standard as this bow type provides archers with many options. This means you can expect to see a much larger selection of recurve bows available for purchase vs longbows. 

If you’re a competitive archer who wants to participate in tournaments, clubs, and/or the Olympics, choosing a recurve is the right bow choice for you.

Social Importance

The importance of the longbow in English culture can be seen in the legends of Robin Hood, which increasingly depicted him as a master archer, and also in the “Song of the Bow”, a poem from The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

Vandal Savage showed talents with a composite recurve bow on the Young Justice episode Evolution.


Now that we’ve covered the similarities and differences between recurves and longbows, you should have a better idea of what is right for you. Since each bow type comes with its unique benefits, you must decide which one will best support your style of shooting. You can read here is a recurve bow better than a longbow?

The lightweight and quiet longbows make for a basic, fun way to try archery. While the high performance, small size, and large availability of recurve bows help provide more accuracy and precision.

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