What is the Difference Between a Compound Bow and Recurve?

There has always been a form of rivalry between Compound bows and Recurve bows. Although this rivalry is quite popular, these two bows did not come on the scene simultaneously. Let us delve a little deeper into the difference between each, starting with the Recurve bows. 

Recurve Bows

Recurve bows have been on the scene much longer than Compound bows. The sight of Recurve bows makes one remember traditional bows that were used in ancient warfare and hunting.

Recurve bows, crossbows, and traditional longbows played a major role in hunting and helping families feed before compound bows.

Recurve bows might be popular for being around for a very long time. There, however, is more to them. They are great when used as a weapon.

Early frontiersmen and Native Americans, brought down large game like buffaloes, deer, moose, and elk with the use of these bows.

While Recurve bows seem very accurate. The accuracy associated with these bows might not be because of how effective they are. It just might be linked to the efficient arrow placement of those that used them in the past. There is a huge likelihood that these men practiced very frequently as their accuracy was greatly linked to how well they could shoot and get a game to bleed out.

When an arrow is well placed and finds its way into vital organs of a game’s body, people do not have to spend so much time recovering the already killed game. The implication of this was more hunting could be done in a short time.

Pros of Recurve Bows

Recurve bows have several pros. Of these many pros, one stands out. This is the fact that they are very mobile. 


Movement from place to place while hunting will not be a challenge due to its high mobility. Additionally, they work without requiring any wheels of pulleys that will need to be maintained over time. Now, this does not mean Recurve bows are free from maintenance. It only means you will not spend as much time maintaining a Recurve bow as you will spend maintaining a compound bow.

With Recurve bows, you need little to no tools when maintaining them or restring them if the need for a restring arises.

Longer Lasting

Additionally, it is generally believed that Recurve bows last longer than Compound bows. They can also survive more drops, bangs, and bumps without any of their parts being damaged.

To get the best out of a Recurve bow, you will need to spend a lot of time practicing. However, as soon as you master the use of a Recurve bow, you will have no issues hunting large game.

Although Recurve bows are likened to traditional old school Long Bows, they shoot faster than traditional Long Bows. Although fast, to get the best from a Recurve bow, you will need more upper body muscles than what compound bows require.

The limb’s tips distinguish the Recurve bow. It has a shape that is quite like the number three. Its limbs’ tips are curved away from the shooter and towards the target.

Cons of a Recurve Bow

Upper Body Strength 

With a Recurve bow, you will need a great deal of upper body strength to pull the arrow and hit your target. Before you become skilled at placing arrows, you will need to put a great deal of effort into practice.

Does Not Have Long Range 

Recurve bows are not associated with long ranges when compared to Compound cows. The implication of this is you must get close to prey and master skills such as tracking, concealment, camouflage, and stalking if you must be successful with Recurve bows. These skills cannot be learned at once. They are skills that will take time and come with experience. So, to learn these skills, you will need to do a lot of hunting.

Pros of a Compound Bow

They Go Farther 

Compound bows are known to shoot faster, as well as farther than Recurve bows. They also have the power needed to take big games such as deer down from over a distance. This is one thing Recurve bows are unable to do.

Not Much Upper Body Strength Needed 

You do not need as much upper body strength to draw a compound bow as you do when pulling a Recurve bow. This implies that newer and younger hunters can effectively use a kids compound bow. That’s not all. Women that love hunting can also use these bows and not worry about getting sore in their backs.

They Are More Accurate 

Compound bows have a better Effective Kill Range than Recurve bows. With this in place, skills such as camouflage, concealment, and stealth become less important. They also feature a great deal of accuracy. Although they are accurate, you will need a good degree of practice before you can comfortably shoot down smaller games like birds, squirrels, rabbits, etc.

Compound bows were built to work with various accessories. Some of these accessories include fishing reels, stabilizers, sighting systems, rangefinders, etc.

Cons of Compound Bows

Need a lot of Maintenance 

Compound bows might be amazing in their workings. They, however, need a great deal of maintenance to work. It is almost impossible to get your compound bow restrung when you are already in the field. When adjusting the wheels and cams, you will need several tools. Additionally, to restring the bow, you will need a bow press.

There is a lot of complication associated with the use of Compound bows. They look a lot more complex than Recurve bows because they are more complicated. Before using a Compound bow, you will need to adjust it to give you the right fitting. Although you can simply adjust the draw weight and draw length for your personal needs, this process takes some time.

If you have ever made use of a bow in killing a game, you must have realized that using a bow to kill a game requires a great degree of practice before you become proficient. This is important as no one heads into the woods to kill game without being sure that they can take shots that can kill games.

Difference between Compound and Recurve

Effective Kill Range

To a large degree, bow hunting has a lot to do with getting to the right position to strike a game, as well as stealth. With a Compound bow, you can hit a maximum range of 30-35 years. However, the maximum range for a Recurve bow is 20-25 yards. This does not imply you will be unable to make longer shots. It only means you might not get the right accuracy from a farther distance if you use any of these bows.

It is one thing to hit a target and get it injured and another to make a lethal shot. It is important to consider this carefully before taking a shot. There will be no need to shoot at a game if you can’t kill it with the shot or will be unable to find it when it finally stops running from you.

Effective Range is about the distance a bow can hit an animal and take it down.

The maximum effective range of a bow is the kinetic energy it has when it impacts and the arrow’s speed. The kinetic energy is responsible for penetrability. For the prey to go down, the arrow will need to hit vital parts of the game’s body.

Generally, if you are looking to buy a bow because of its kill range, a compound bow will be better than a Recurve bow. This is because Compound bows can shoot at specific distances and speeds. If you want to go hunting with a bow, you must find its effective kill range. This way, you can avoid taking a shot that will most likely not yield anything of importance. 

Ease of Use

So long ease of use is being considered; you might want to select a Recurve bow over a Compound bow. With Recurve bows, there are no mechanisms or moving parts to cause you so much stress. Although certain Recurve bows have removable limbs, this can be altered, so your bow becomes easier or more difficult to pull back as you become an expert at archery.

Recurve bows that come with removable limbs are known as Takedown bows. Bows with this feature are more versatile than regular Recurve bows. This is because they can be broken down and put into a backpack. 

The ease of use of a Compound bow is not very straightforward. Nonetheless, the existence of the Let Off feature makes it easier to pull this bow and maintain a position for a long period without feeling so much strain in your arms.

The Let Off feature also makes it possible to make use of a site on the bow. This is because you have ample time to pick a vital organ and hit your target.


Most beginners learn archery with a Recurve bow. This is because they are cheaper and can be moved around easily. Additionally, it is easy to maintain. As people get better and want to hit longer distances, they might need a compound bow.


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