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Thread: Difference between a Compound bow and a Recurve bow??

  1. #1
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    Difference between a Compound bow and a Recurve bow??

    Hi All,

    I am doing some research on bows and I am a complete newbie, have never shot an arrow ever so had following questions:

    1) What is the difference between Compound bow and Recurve ? why would you select either one?
    2) Can a Recurve be your first bow ?
    3) I like Recurve bows more than Compound bows.. looks wise.. so what are the beginner, inexpensive Recurve bows ?

    Thanks in advance.



  2. #2
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    Compounds are more powerful to put it in a simple way. They are faster, quieter and easier to shoot accurately due to let off and the way they are set up. Recurves are very simple in the way they are made. Sometimes just a ''stickbow''.... Recurves dont have cams therefore there is no let-off. Let-off is what is produced when a cam rolls over in the valley. Let-off allows you to hold a percentage of weight at full draw as opposed to the max draw weight. This enables one to hold and aim longer when using a compound. I could explain this all day so ill allow someone else to chime in and help out...

  3. #3
    Probably the best thing to do would be to go down to your local archery shop and try a few out. See which one you like best and ask the pros there which they would recommend. It helped me out. =]

  4. #4
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    I am planning to try out archery next week at the Pro shop.

    Thanks for the replies..

  5. #5
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    Although I do agree with DeepFried, a recurve is easier to set up and initially shoot, it does take a bit longer to get proficient with it though as most do not have sights, or a peep......some do though, also most recurves are shot with fingers and either a glove or tab, and most compounds are shot with releases, the effective distance is much shorter with a recurve too, as most try and keep their shots at 25 yds or less when hunting, cost may be an issue too, a good recurve will last a very long time with proper care and will never become outdated, and it's much easier to work on yourself,where as compounds usually need a press and some experience to correctly work on them, also compounds can be shot barebow, but most aren't and require buying a sight, peep, stabilizer, arrow rest, and a release which may, and usually does when added all together with the cost of the bow itself cost more that the recurve, also they become dated pretty quick, but that can also be a plus, often times you can find a great compound with many of the things needed used for a very good price if you know what to look for...it's apples and oranges really, both have a different flavor........Kudos to you for doing the research!!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LongDart View Post
    Hi All,

    I am doing some research on bows and I am a complete newbie, have never shot an arrow ever so had following questions:

    1) What is the difference between Compound bow and Recurve ? why would you select either one?
    2) Can a Recurve be your first bow ?
    3) I like Recurve bows more than Compound bows.. looks wise.. so what are the beginner, inexpensive Recurve bows ?

    Thanks in advance.
    1) Compound bows have wheels/cams at the end of the limbs, Recurve do not.
    2) Sure, why not...
    3) How do you know you like recurve bows better than compound bows, if you don't know the differences between the two?

    Like somebody else said, find a local archery shop and try out a few bows and see what you like.
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  7. #7
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    I started out with a recurve and longbow about 35+years ago. I now shoot compounds, but occasionally I fling a few through my Kodiac Magnum! Starting off as an instinctive shooter really helped me with my focus. Even after picking up the compound and using one for a few years I still refused to use a release or sights. Once I started using sights and a release, I now wouldn't change a thing. I still enjoy shooting the recurve and longbows and its surprising how fast everything came back to me, even shooting with fingers w/o a tab or glove.
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  8. #8
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    "3) How do you know you like recurve bows better than compound bows, if you don't know the differences between the two?"....LOOKS,lol....But I'll bet he can tell the difference between the two.................and I forgot to answer this: "why would you select either one?".....Well that's a very good question, and a very subjective one too, speaking only for myself, I grew up shooting recurves, and when Compounds came out I jumped on that bandwagon like my butt was on fire, and stayed with them for 25 years, although I still shot recurves every once in a while for fun, then the decision to switch back to stickbows was made for me when a lady late getting her child to school, who was driving a brand spankin new car without insurance rearended me at 35 miles an hour at a school crossing it broke my neck, then a couple other accidents shortly after made for two more breaks..... I was told I couldn't ever shoot a bow again.. and I didn't for 5 years, the another life changing accident led me to pick up an old recurve I still have, and been shooting stickbows ever since, I have though bought a couple compounds and shoot them occasionally now, but I have found the stickbows to be just a lot funner to shoot, I used to get really upset if I hit even an inch away from where I was aiming, now if I get within an inch I'm extremely happy... and in a nutshell I shoot stickbows because their just more fun to me..... and yes it can be your first bow it was mine, and I believe it's easier to go from a stickbow to a compound than the other way around..........

  9. #9
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    Great Info, Thanks all and keep'em coming

  10. #10
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    I started out shooting a recurve back in the 60's. I never touched a compound until the late 90's. Many of the things that I learned shooting a recurve made my switch to shooting a compound easier. It is cheaper to shoot a recurve because they don't require as much maintenance and don't use all the expensive gadgets that go with a compound, depending on the type of shooting that you plan to do. Setting up a target recurve can be more expensive than a basic compound set up. If you plan to just have fun shooting paper, then a recurve might just be the thing for you. Your wallet will be your guide as to which way you want to go.

  11. #11
    If you like the looks of a recurve, but want the mechanical advantage of a compound you might like Oneida bows.

    Here's my Black Eagle:

    wfa-oneida-blackeagle.jpg

    Of course, the compactness and lightness of a recurve is hard to resist:

    wfa-takedownbowcase-finished.jpg

  12. #12
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    I started with a recurve bow, shot a compound for a couple years and then switched to recurves for the next 30 years. Due to a shoulder issue, I was compelled back to a compound late last summer and have been learning the fine art of shooting a mechanical release for the past 9 months. The compound bow was developed in the grarage of a fellow by the name of Hollis Allen back in the late 1960's-early 1970's for the simple purpose of reducing holding weight. Target recurves used sights, stabilizers and peep sights back then, but most hunting recurves did not to simplify the process. So when compounds began to gain popularity in the mid-70's, it was a natural for target accessories like sights, peeps and stabilizers to assist in aiming because the shooter could hold longer without fatigue.

    I agree that a fine recurve or longbow has a clean aesthetic appeal that is lacking in a typical compound. It took me quite a while to look at my favorite wheel bow with a visual appreciation anything near one of my recurves. However I would not be shooting or bowhunting today if compound bows were not available. As others have mentioned, classic recurves made in the 1950's are still good today and never go out of style. An "old" compound is a few years old and loses its resale value quickly because of model changes and innovations that make previous models conceptually obsolete. That is good if you are not seeking to stay on the cutting edge because buying a few year old bow is very inexpensive next to new ones.
    "Reality is always your friend. The reason is almost a truism.......everything else is a fantasy." ~ Dr. Henry Cloud

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillAdams View Post
    If you like the looks of a recurve, but want the mechanical advantage of a compound you might like Oneida bows.

    Here's my Black Eagle:

    wfa-oneida-blackeagle.jpg

    Of course, the compactness and lightness of a recurve is hard to resist:

    wfa-takedownbowcase-finished.jpg
    wow that looks beautiful !

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska at heart View Post
    I started with a recurve bow, shot a compound for a couple years and then switched to recurves for the next 30 years. Due to a shoulder issue, I was compelled back to a compound late last summer and have been learning the fine art of shooting a mechanical release for the past 9 months. The compound bow was developed in the grarage of a fellow by the name of Hollis Allen back in the late 1960's-early 1970's for the simple purpose of reducing holding weight. Target recurves used sights, stabilizers and peep sights back then, but most hunting recurves did not to simplify the process. So when compounds began to gain popularity in the mid-70's, it was a natural for target accessories like sights, peeps and stabilizers to assist in aiming because the shooter could hold longer without fatigue.

    I agree that a fine recurve or longbow has a clean aesthetic appeal that is lacking in a typical compound. It took me quite a while to look at my favorite wheel bow with a visual appreciation anything near one of my recurves. However I would not be shooting or bowhunting today if compound bows were not available. As others have mentioned, classic recurves made in the 1950's are still good today and never go out of style. An "old" compound is a few years old and loses its resale value quickly because of model changes and innovations that make previous models conceptually obsolete. That is good if you are not seeking to stay on the cutting edge because buying a few year old bow is very inexpensive next to new ones.
    Good to hear that many people started with a recurve and .. I am also going to do the same.

  14. #14
    LongDart, thanks!

    Here it is all put together and strung up:

    WFA-BearTakedownT2-strung.jpg

    and here's one which I made of hickory w/ a pecan heartwood backing:

    Flatbow-decurve-reflex-hickory-backed-hickory-braced.jpeg

    American Flatbow though, not a recurve.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by LongDart View Post
    Hi All,

    I am doing some research on bows and I am a complete newbie, have never shot an arrow ever so had following questions:

    1) What is the difference between Compound bow and Recurve ? why would you select either one?
    2) Can a Recurve be your first bow ?
    3) I like Recurve bows more than Compound bows.. looks wise.. so what are the beginner, inexpensive Recurve bows ?

    Thanks in advance.
    A compound bow uses 1 or 2 specialized pulleys called cams. These allow stiffer limbs to be used and a compound bow will usually be more powerful than a recurve of equal draw weight. When you've finished drawing a compound bow, the cams make the bow "let off", so once you've drawn the bow the holding weight gets lower. So with a 70 pound compound bow you might only have to hold back 14 pounds at full draw. So you can hold longer, and with less effort. Also, compound bows have the addition of a peep sight (both recurves and compounds can use sights) and a release aid. Recurve bows are shot with fingers/glove/tab.

    2. Definitely. The tuning process is different from a compound bow though, and this forum is mainly based on compound shooting. So it would be a good idea to get the shop or a local archer to help you get your bow shooting. Recurve tuning doesn't have to be terribly difficult though.

    3. Don't choose a bow based entirely on looks. If you prefer the style of recurve bows then that's fine, it's different from choosing on looks. You can either shoot traditional, which will usually use no sight and simplified equipment, or target/Olympic recurve which uses sights and more sophisticated setup. Take a look at your local shops to see what a setup will cost you. Here's what you'll need:

    Traditional:
    Recurve bow (or longbow/flatbow/w.e.) and string
    If you can't shoot off the "shelf" of the bow, then you'll need an arrow rest/ hair rest etc.
    Arrows
    Release glove, finger tab or finger savers...little bushings that go on your string to save your fingers
    Nocking points (can be a brass not or a strand of bowstring)
    Armgaurd (definitely required- you'll only hit your arm without one once. You'll learn real fast)
    Bow case/bag (Optional, but lots of traditional recurves are made of really nice wood that you wouldn't want ruined)
    String silencers (optional, can be homemade from wool)
    Spare nocks and vanes to repair arrows
    If you're shooting at home, a target and faces
    String wax (natural)
    Traditional quiver

    Olympic:

    Required:
    Bow riser (the stiff handle section), limbs to suit and a string
    Shoot around arrow rest, preferably with a "plunger button" which is like a shock absorber for your arrow
    Bow sight (Range from $10-$400, pick something easy to adjust)
    Finger tab/glove/finger savers
    Arrows
    Nocks, vanes etc. to repair your arrows
    Target and faces if shooting at home
    Fingersling (can be homemade from a shoelace or paracord)
    String wax suitable for your string (dacron)

    Optional, but some of it is recommended:
    Stabilizer
    V bar bracket, side bars
    Clicker
    Plunger button
    Bow case/bags
    Target quiver or ground quiver (usually integrated with a stand)
    Bow stand

    I've probably missed some things...but that should give you an idea of what you need to look out for and what kind of costs you're up for. Your shop should be able to help you out and get you set up.

    Oh just one last thing...if you drive a small car and have limited space traditional bows usually can't be broken down. Olympic recurves can be broken up into 3 pieces for storage and transport

    Edit: BTW I started with a fiberglass 1 piece recurve, and 5 aluminium arrows. I'd shoot at hay bales... I got it for about $20 when I was 8 or so. I still have it... I don't think I can draw it back far enough now that I've grown.

  16. #16
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    Very good info Bean Burrito, Thank you. That gives me a good idea and the difference between an Compound and a Recurve bow.

  17. #17
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    For me the difference is to hit a target or a spot on the target.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by igorts View Post
    For me the difference is to hit a target or a spot on the target.
    huh? I will still not be discouraged .. Recurve it is FTW

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