Recurve Vs Compound – Which Hunting Bow Is the Best for Beginners?

Archery (whether it’s bowhunting or simply shooting targets), one of the sports that has seemed to have taken the world by storm thanks to medieval movies and huge blockbusters such as The Hunger Games. Now, although the idea of being able to handle the bow and arrow with extreme finesse and expertise may seem very exciting, you must keep in mind that this can prove to be a slightly daunting, if not hard challenge, especially where beginners are concerned.

So the concern here is, which one should you stick with in the beginning if you are just getting started with archery or bowhunting. In this post, I will be comparing both types of bows and by the end, you will be able to decide which hunting bow is the best for beginners.

Brief overview of both bows

A recurve crossbow is  basically just a traditional bow with limbs that curves away from the archer when unstrung. This enables it to  store more energy and is able to deliver more efficiently than your average bow whether it being a crossbow or even a longbow, enabling the arrow to be released with more energy and travel at a higher speed, perfect if precision is of your concern.

Wherelse, a compound bow is very modern and uses a levering system. When a levering system is mentioned,  usually cables and pulleys come to mind, as they play a very vital role, that is  to bend the limbs.And in doing so, enables the product to be stiffer than the recurve ones.

This rigidity makes the compound bow more energy-efficient than other bows, as less energy is dissipated in limb movement. Now that you are familiar with the structure and make of the product, it is time to head on to the advantages and disadvantages.

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Characteristic of compound bow

Beginning with the compound bow, the longer strings present  allows the archer to pull back as far as she or he is able to in efforts to generate more power. This loosens your hold hence you do not need large amounts of energy and effort to retain the arrow in its firing position, overall improving stability, lending it greater power and accuracy.

Not forgetting to mention that with draw stops present in the pulley system, a consistent amount of force is supplied to the arrow on every shot, further increasing accuracy. With that being said, this bow has been said to be a great hunting companion, for with its deadly precision, large preys such as deer or even bears don’t stand a chance.

The design of the cams and pulley directly controls the acceleration of the arrow. A “soft cam” will accelerate the arrow more gently than a “harder” cam. Amateur  archers will typically go for  a soft cam whereas a more advanced archer may choose to use a harder cam.

It may be in your best interest to know that when a compound bow is drawn, the limbs are pulled in toward each other, so that they are facing one another horizontally, unlike a longbow or recurve where the limbs flex in the direction of the string. This slight difference,  minimizes the recoil and vibration felt by the shooter when the arrow is released which is perfect for beginners, as the initial recoil and vibration may be quite startling in inexperienced hands.

With additional features such as stabilisers and dampers, the archer has a steady hold at full draw and movement of the bow is reduced as the arrow is released, and in turn  absorbs some of the recoil shock that would otherwise be transmitted to the archer’s body, especially parts such as the shoulder and elbow.

Some of its disadvantages being are, the relatively large number of  parts requires additional maintenance and replacing just a string or making adjustments on the draw length often requires  a trip to an archery pro shop that has one. Hence, if you are on a budget and rather conspicuous about money, you might want to think twice before purchasing. Also, the relatively low holding weight of a compound bow compared to a recurve bow makes the compound more sensitive to shooting form faults.

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Characteristic of recurve bow

Next up is the recurve bow, it comes with a greater mass due to its limbs being made out of  multiple layers of fibre glass, and carbon on a carbon foam. It should be kept in mind that the greater its mass , the greater the stability, and therefore contributes  to greater  accuracy.

It should be remembered, however, that accuracy is directly linked to a bow’s draw weight, as well as how well an archer handles it. It’s therefore very vital, particularly for beginner archers, to never overestimate their capabilities, and to choose a draw weight that is able to match up to  their body build and level of experience.

With that being said, in comparison, the recurve bow is not nearly as powerful  and accurate as the the compound bow for it always requires the same force to hold the draw which can lead to momentary  shakiness and reduced accuracy. Hence, these bows are more commonly used in shooting competitions and for hunting smaller game.

However what it lacks in power and accuracy, it makes up for in ease of use and interchangeability, for most recurves today are “take-down” bows: that is, the limbs can be detached from the riser .

Moving on to the disadvantages, one of them being, it requires a lot of force to pull the arrow back and keep it there while you wait to shoot, hence you are most likely to tire easily and lose concentration and in turn, miss your target. It has been said that recurve bows, rely more heavily on the archer’s technique to ensure a clean shot, making their use a challenging experience . Nor is it supplied with any additional features to absorb the shock and recoil.

Final Verdict

After knowing the characteristic of both a recurve and compound bow, it’s time to decide which type would be the best fit for a beginner. Let’s have quick comparison on some of the important aspects.

Accuracy/Power: With the same skill sets and strength, shooting an arrow with a compound bow will be much more accurate and powerful (velocity of arrow upon releasing will be higher). In this case, compound type is better for beginners at least in the start.

Learning curve: As explained above, the compound bow uses modern mechanism to make shooting an arrow much more easier as compared to a recurve bow. While you will still have to learn up the basics of archery to be able to shoot well, you need much more practice if you are using a recurve bow. In this case, compound bow is a better choice for beginners.

Price: Any decent compound bow will cost you around $250 and above whereas a decent recurve bow will cost you only $100 or so. Generally, compound bow costs more than a recurve bow simply because it’s much more complex and it’s harder to put together. Having that said, you shouldn’t let the price influence your choice as it’s a form of long term investment. These products will last for years if not decades (unless you are always catching up with the latest editions).

Satisfaction: This is a somewhat weird aspect that’s very subjective to individuals. For those that enjoy the feeling of shooting an arrow, recurve bow is actually more suitable simply because it does not rely on any form of technology. Every shot is based on the archer’s skill and experience. (I personally prefer recurve bow too). If you are looking purely from the view of efficiency and result, then compound bow will be a better choice.


Generally, I think most beginners will be better off learning archery or bowhunting with a compound bow. However, whether which one is more suitable for you, it’s better that you try both and decide for yourself. Which type of bow you prefer?