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Thread: Recurve or longbow?

  1. #1

    Recurve or longbow?

    Which type of bow, and why?
    Is it just a matter of taste or are there some important characteristics that I should be aware of? So far I have only shot recurve (and compound), but are getting curious about longbows.
    I get a bit confused though when I read about "the speed of a recurve" vs. "the pointability of the longbow" etc. I know that pound for pound the recurve is faster, but not much with the modern reflex/deflex longbow. And normally I hear that a recurve is more accurate, but that dosent fit with the saying that a longbow is more forgiving..

    I guess there are someone out there with experience that can cive me an advise or 2.



  2. #2
    Viking, those are good questions/observations. I like a long bow. 64" or longer.

    Howard Hill, Ferguson and others of the fraternity of awesome shots used longbows so I can not think that a recurve shoots better. but I would think that the recurves received that rep because of repeatability of shots for many people because of design features which helped the shooter be more consistent. Like locater grips. Cosistency in your shooting is what makes for accuracy and repeatable grip is important.

    For me a forgivable bow is one that is tuned properly for me.

    I don't think arrow speed makes much difference to a hunter. Accuracy and penetration are the criteria i want. A bow that shoots a fairly heavy arrow is going to give me that. Speed is kewl but not necessary.

    I have found I can get around in the bush as easy with a 66" bow as with a 58" bow.

    It is really all about what suits you. It is a very individual sport.

    I do think that with persistence, any bow can be shot well. Some need more persistence than others.

    We are fortunate to live in a time when so many variances are availabe. At the same time, that can be a hindrance. I think most of us will shoot better if we stick with one bow.

    gd

  3. #3
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    Pointability in Longbows is due to the arrow shelf being so close to the hand, with some practice you can build up a pretty good relationship between where you point your hand and where your arrows lands and the longer limbs will make the whole shot sequence from start to finish much smoother and refined, in comparison the feel of a Recuve can seem a littled detached as the arrow isn't so close to the hand and seems to have more punch on release of course the extra mass in the riser takes out a lot of this punch but you can still feel it.
    I think the advantage of a Longbow is that in the right hands it can be more accurate on shorter distances (say up to 35yards) where the Recurve has the edge over 35 yards plus it's a lot less cumbersome in a tight spot.

  4. #4
    ah geeze what a can of worms you just opened...

    I guess it depends on what you want to do with your shooting.. if you want to goof around with different arrow spines, shoot a longbow. If you want to play with gap-vs-instinctive shooting, well, yeah... bad example...

    Hey ya know what? I grew up shooting a recurve, switched to a c... c... c-c-compound when I was about 17, because everyone else did...

    threw all that trash away and bought a longbow about 7 years ago and ain't ever looked back.

    Who cares? Life's short. Have fun. Fling wood.

  5. #5
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    Well...here we go again!
    What do you prefer? Back in the good ol'days it was recurve or longbow. No wheels.(LOOOOOOng time ago).
    Then somebody got the idea to take a recurve and add wheels to it and, well, you know the REST of the story.
    Seriously if you shoot the recurve, you can shoot the compound and vise-versa because everything is the same, except for the letoff. You can stand there with the compound and hold more wgt. longer. You still have to come to draw, anchor and aim before you release. You did that with the recurve and you do it with the compound.

    However, that's where we separate the men from the boys, or the recurve shooters from the longbow shooters. Now then, depending on how you decide to shoot your longbow will decide whether you will even get into the longbow.
    There are methods to sighting and shooting and you can go back and reread the posts that give information on split finger shooting vs three fingers under and so fourth. I was never taught the three fingers under approach, and use the split finger method.
    I also use the Zen method of concentration/aiming and that's what works for me. It allows for a faster second shot IF you need it. The method with the longbow is coming to draw, anchor and releasing all in one fluid motion. Your mind's eye is already on the target so that when you reach anchor the arrow is on it's way.

    The methods of shooting are different. Recurve and compound can be paralleled, the longbow is in a "class" by itself.

    Good luck


    45-70

  6. #6
    From the book, "Zen, and the Art of Archery"
    "...so I must become without purpose, ON purpose?.."
    And that pretty much sums up all Eastern Philosophies, right there.

  7. #7
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    "Pointability in Longbows is due to the arrow shelf being so close to the hand."
    What are we talking about here, a whole 1/4" at the most? A very negligible difference.

    "The method with the longbow is coming to draw, anchor and releasing all in one fluid motion."
    And those that shoot recurves can't do that? I know many that do.

    "separate the men from the boys, or the recurve shooters from the longbow shooters."
    A very subjective viewpoint... can't we all just get along?

    There are many pros-cons when comparing the two. It's a personal thing. You won't know what you like until you try them both. Advantages/disadvantages or whatever, are based on each archers' personal experience with them. My experience from shooting both... Recurves are noisier than longbows as a result of string-slap on the limbs, but are generally faster. Recurves have a more stable feel in the hand, especially take-down models but are also heavier to tote around. Most longbows (especially the D's with flat grip and shelf designed nowhere near centershot) require more diligence in arrow spine tuning. Basically, it's a different animal... but not a bad thing really. In your case Viking, the reflex/deflex design of some longbows especially those with a semi-recurve grip, lessen the transitional differences when switching from recurve to longbow. BOTH of them can provide wonderful things when loosing an arrow.
    a few compounds, and a boat load of recurves/longbows

  8. #8
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    oh - i hate that eastern philosophy nonsense!l

    "Zen" - in other words - state the obvious in some paradoxal fashion and you appear to be "profoundly spiritual". OR - make some really stupid statement that makes no sense, but sounds good, so that nobody will question it -for fear of appearing not smart enough to figure it out!

    eeew - Now that i have vented about that -

    I would suggest that you try several different models and styles of both longbows and recurves and then decide. I have shot recurves that are terrible and longbows that are fantastic, etc...

    I would say find a bow that feels good to you and shoot it.

    For me personally - i like the recurve - it just "feels" better to me than most longbows - recurves seem to draw smoother, seem to fit the hand better, and seem to be more natural to shoot - to me anyway.

    Now - i have shot a few longbows, however, that were awesome and if i had the money i would buy a few of them as well, but since i have a wife and six kids, i have to be happy with one bow at a time for now, and in my case it is a Black Widow TF one-piece recurve.

    and no "Zen" BS for me - i just look at what i want to hit and shoot. How does it work - simple - what occurs is that the mind is seeing the arc of the arrow as it flies - even though you are looking at the spot - you still catch the flight of the arrow. This is how you learn to accurately through a baseball. After some time and shooting at different distances - the subconscience just makes it happen - no deep "spiritual" deal going on here - just reflex actions and hand-eye coordination. How many times have you ever gotten into your car and drove home from work and then realized that you don't remember your trip at all?? You just drove - it just happened - same principle - and you didn't need "Zen" to pass drivers education.

  9. #9
    Well, it seems like it boils down to "a matter of taste".
    Nothing wrong with that ofcourse, I just expected it would be some main difference in terms of longbow vs. recurve characteristics...

    Thanks for the input so far.

    After all; since I own two compounds and a recurve I think my next bow will have to be a longbow

  10. #10
    Here's my take.

    I think you should get good with a recurve and then switch over to a longbow. IMHO if you can't shoot a recurve well, then chances are that you won't be able to shoot a longbow all too well either.

    As far as shooting characteristics, I pretty much agree with Pinelander. If you're going to get a longbow, I'd avoid a D-shaped one. I haven't shot one that didn't shake like crazy. And if you do get a longbow put a quiver on it for some weight.

  11. #11
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    The degree of difficulty in shooting the three bows consistently is #1 - Longbow, #2 - Recurve and # 3 Compound. I would go along with the idea of trying a Recurve first and if you learn to shoot that to your satisfication then consider trying the Longbow with the standard straight grip for even more of a challenge.

  12. #12
    Just recently switching over from a compound I can say recurve is easier.I have tried both recurve and longbow.First,the grip on a recurve is similar to a compound.Getting used to the low grip on a longbow was tuff.Now some longbows have recurve style grips which would make it easier.Second most longbows are not cut to center making arrow spine a little more critical.Plus most recurves are a little heavier making them easier to stabalize with the bow arm.

    CB

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by 45-70cannon
    I also use the Zen method of concentration/aiming and that's what works for me. It allows for a faster second shot IF you need it. The method with the longbow is coming to draw, anchor and releasing all in one fluid motion. Your mind's eye is already on the target so that when you reach anchor the arrow is on it's way.
    Congratulations, you just described how I shoot a recurve! You can also gap shoot both of them if you wish.

    I personally find most longbow handles uncomfortable (though in a custom bow you can choose a handle). I also find that they have more handshock which I hate (though I have shot some that have less than my recurve). And of course they are generally longer, a 64" recurve is pretty large, a 62" longbow is tiny.

    That being said I've shot a few longbows (the martin vision for one, usually the reflexed bows) that I would purchase in a heartbeat if I had the money. Recurve or longbow is mostly irrelevent as far as my accuracy goes, handshock/type of handle is much more important. The recurves generally are more comfortable for me.

  14. #14
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    opinions, opinions, opinions

    My, my...I believe all these opinions were stated in other posts over the last two or three pages. Pinelander, sorry but I don't know too many recurve shooters that snap shoot. Most shoot the recurve the way they shoot a compound. Bring the bow up, come to draw, anchor, aim and release. Notice, I said most. There are exceptions to every rule.
    The longbow distinction is as you bring the bow up it is being drawn so that when you reach anchor it is gone...released, the aiming being done long before hand. Now then in case you haven't figured things out....I am a staunch traditionalist. Hill bows, wood arrows, feathers, split finger, zen method shooter. The way Zen method was explained to me was that you concentrate on the spot on the target and when you come to anchor the arrow is on its way. I don't know any other way to explain that NOR do I care who thinks they know how, and whether they believe it or not. It works for me.I haven't read a single solitary book on who says this and why that and whats B.S. and what isn't. I had a mentor, and I do everything he told me to do right to this day. I like to try to explain how things go or how they went for me, but in the end it isn't what works for me at all, because we are all individuals and it is trial and error and you find what works for you.
    I've never shot a reflex/deflex/cowflex/horseflex design, I've never wanted to....I stick to what works for me. I'm not aware of the changing attitudes in traditional bowmanship, apparently there are changing attitudes because it is ever so prevalent on this site. I simply try to explain how I do things...what works for me....and I try to explain why it works. I don't know the technical crap, or the "proper explanations" as someone else pointed out...something about not being able to figure out why this or why that. You're right! I've never had to, because my mentor explained it HIS WAY and the bottom line????

    IT WORKS FOR ME.

    In the end, everyone has to find what works for them. If listening to others helps? Great. If trying nine million bows does it, so be it. If you're into the reading all the books to see which "professional" says is right, great!

    Bottom line???

    you figure it out.
    I just know what works for me

  15. #15
    Originally posted by Lumis17
    Here's my take.

    I think you should get good with a recurve and then switch over to a longbow. IMHO if you can't shoot a recurve well, then chances are that you won't be able to shoot a longbow all too well either.
    I'm not sure I agree with that, but looking at it again, I'm not sure I don't agree.

    True, recurves and longbows are very different, but they are also very similar. Your basic techniques are very identical. You draw, aim anchor, shoot.

    But if you can't master these with a compound, nor a recurve, then a longbow is going to be a waste of money.

    Most people talk themselves out of shooting trad, thinking they'd be spraying arrows all over the place. If you can point at a doorknob from across the room, and KNOW you are pointing at the doorknob, you can shoot trad.

  16. #16
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    45-70cannon, the problem isn't that you say how you do it, thats fine. the problem is that your attitude is along the lines of "My thoughts are the only way, different methods are Blasphemy!!" when there are MANY other ways of doing things. You say you believe that it doesn't really matter, whatever works for you, but: "Seriously if you shoot the recurve, you can shoot the compound and vise-versa because everything is the same, except for the letoff....You still have to come to draw, anchor and aim before you release." isn't saying that.

    You also seem to make fairly strong statements about stuff you really do not know anything about. For example, if what you seem to be claiming is true, why can you not shoot a recurve as a snap shooter (you pretty much answered this already - you don't know much about recurves and have only watched other shooters.)? You would get a much better response if you said "I think", or "The way I shoot is" instead of "It's impossible" or "The only way".

    As for snap shooting being the only way, watch some old Howard Hill videos - he didn't always snap shoot, he actually mixed forms based on his type of shot. Most people I know (both in real life and on the internet) shoot the longbow the same way they shoot a recurve - snap, split vision with or without a pause, gap, or whatever.

    And there are also plenty of people who pause but it has nothing to do with aiming. I for one pause to mentally picture my release. I find myself more consistent that way but has to do with a correct release, not aiming. As long as my release is going good I usually come pretty close to snap shooting (no pause at all leads me to target panic fairly quickly, though I can certianly shoot well for a time that way - again nothing to do with aiming).

    "I am a staunch traditionalist. Hill bows, wood arrows, feathers, split finger, zen method shooter."

    Interesting. I shoot a recurve from a design that is over 4000 years old. I bet you either shoot a laminated design or one with a single growth ring for a back which isn't a desiegn over 400 years old (Hill bows are generally laminated which is less than a few hundred years old).

    Nor is there any particular evidence that old methods are snap shooting only. Most likely thier release style varied on the conditions like Hill did.

  17. #17
    Originally posted by PineLander
    What are we talking about here, a whole 1/4" at the most? A very negligible difference.
    Hey now, wasn't I saying that when we were arguing about elevated rests awhile ago?

    BTW, I'm going to give the pointability factor to recurves and compounds. Since recurves and compounds are cut past or close to center I think they're more "pointable." I can take a recurve or a compound barebow and it'll only take me a few minutes to get dialed in before I start shooting good. If I pick up a longbow I swear I have to point the damn thing way to the right to get it to shoot in the middle. That, or cant like crazy.

    To add to my comments from before, I personally don't see any advantages to a longbow in terms of actual shootability or shooting characteristics. They're lighter, yeah, but I see that as more of a disadvantage. The less mass weight the more shock and recoil it seems and its also harder to hold steady. That coupled with the grips on longbows seem to make it hard to get a consistent, torque-free grip. For aerial targets and trick shooting the lower mass weight is probably an advantage, though. Maybe I haven't shot the right longbows or maybe I haven't shot them enough, but those are my observations.

    Hill, Ferguson, and all the other famous shooters who shoot or used to shoot a longbow are the exceptions, not the rule. They're exceptional archers who just preferred longbows over recurves. I'm sure they'd do just as well with a recurve or even a compound. For every great longbow shooter out there, there is also a great recurve shooter. When arguing about anything I'd rather look at the normal everyday archers I see at the shops and shoots and from what I can see, longbows are just more difficult to shoot (inherently or not).

    Longbows are fun, yeah, but I'll stick to my previous comments and say that if you're looking to become an accurate archer then you should probably stick to a recurve for awhile before making the switch.

    As far as this whole Zen/aiming/whatever argument...Well, here's the key to shooting accurately: form and concentration. Snap shooting, gap shooting, staring at the spot, longbows, spirituality, burning a hole, etc aren't going to cut it by themselves. If you can't concentrate on each and every shot and you don't have a solid, consistent form then you aren't going to improve much at all, regardless of what you're shooting.

  18. #18
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    Which type of bow, and why? Is it just a matter of taste or are there some important characteristics that I should be aware of? So far I have only shot recurve (and compound), but are getting curious about longbows.
    I get a bit confused though when I read about "the speed of a recurve" vs. "the pointability of the longbow" etc. I know that pound for pound the recurve is faster, but not much with the modern reflex/deflex longbow. And normally I hear that a recurve is more accurate, but that dosent fit with the saying that a longbow is more forgiving.
    I prefer a one-piece (mild) deflex/reflex longbow with a locator grip. For me, this design is fast, quiet, comfortable, and very shootable. Minimum handshock, stable, forgiving, extremely smooth to draw.

    Primarily it is a matter of taste. There are longbows on the market that look/feel/shoot very much like a recurve, there are recurves with longbow grips/risers. There are longbows on the market that are faster than some of the recurves. There are recurves that are not cut past center, and longbows that are,.......and on and on.

    Some folks go with the advice they are given (right or wrong), some like the looks of a recurve, some like the nostalgia of a longbow. You can get a bow and develop your form/style around it, or you can choose a bow that fits you and feels right for the style you want to use.

    A recurve or longbow that is cut to or past center will be more forgiving with arrow spine vs one that is not. This will mean you don't have to be as picky about matching your arrows to your bow, and if you don't draw consistently to the same anchor it won't tell on you as bad.

    All else being equal, slower bows will be more forgiving than faster ones--the faster bow will enhance any mistake you may make. The faster bow will allow you to have more lee-way on your yardage estimation....everything is a trade-off. Look for the happy medium.

    My ideal bow is fast, but not built with speed being the #1 priority--it must also be forgiving. Due to tounament regulations (and I do love to shoot tournaments) my bow (with strike plate) must be at least 1/8" from being cut to center. This is not a problem if you take time to match your arrows to your bow. It is very smooth to draw (mine gains 2.5# per inch pulling 66@30.5), and has very little felt handshock (all bows have some--you may not feel it due to being used to it or a massive riser that absorbs it). It is light and manuverable with a locator grip for consistent hand placement. It fits my hand like a glove, with having to adjust anything--just pick it up and shoot.

    You can use whatever method of "aiming" you choose with either bow. I seldom shoot a recurve, but when I do I shoot it exactly like I do a longbow. I shoot different styles of longbow the same way. I have learned to force myself to take my time. I pick my spot before I raise my bow, slowly raise the bow, slowly draw to anchor, hold for at least a couple of seconds, release, and follow through with both by bow arm and drawing arm. I don't conciously gap shoot, except on targets at least 40 yds or further. Snap shooting can lead to serious bad habits, primarily short drawing and target panic--I say this from my own experience and from talking with others. If it works for you, that is great....but I would never recommend it to anyone starting out. I have seen very, very few people who can consistently shoot well by snap shooting.

    There is no one right or wrong way to shoot. The basics remain the same--consistency, picking a spot, following through--but methods that work for one may not work for another. Byron Ferguson is a dang good shot, and so is Ricky Welch--but their shooting methods are not the same.

    Shorter answer would be decide what you want in a longbow, and go from there. I can help if you want, and/or ask others who have shot lots of different styles. I've shot and/or owned everything from the super-short highly deflexed riser type, to the extremely radical "hybrid" type, to moderate deflex/reflex to Hill style--3-piece, 2-piece, and 1-piece.

    Brand names and cost can mean something, but only goes so far. Basically it means that for some reason or the other--whether it be quality or name recognition, that bow has been popular. Jerry Hill longbows have been around for a long time, but if you shoot one you may wonder how they have survived. I shot a Hill style longbow this past weekend, and when it was being made I believe the cheapest style offered was $800, going on up to $1,200-$1,500--and it shot just like every other Hill style I've shot--no better, no worse. The most expensive does not mean the best. A big name stamped on the side does not mean it will work for you.

    Good luck,

    Chad
    Support the Future of Archery--Support the NASP

  19. #19
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    I shot Recurves for 12 years before I switched to a "D shaped" Longbow and I wish I had always shot Longbow. I was a pretty good Recurve shooter always placing well in tourneys but since I switched to the Longbow I can shoot it so much better than my Groves Recurve easily beating the Recurve shooters scores I once used to compete against.
    The Zen method described in previous posts best describes my shooting method and apart from my hand being closer to the arrow and partly using that to aim and zone in, nothing much else has really changed in my shooting methods, so I don't know if it's the Zen method thats better suited to Longbows or the arrow being closer to my hand has help me improve.
    using my hand to aim isn't a visual thing, it's a bit like turning a light switch on without looking, you just know where to put your hand.

  20. #20
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    Traditionalists are longbow and recurve shooters, and the bows are made out of everything handy. I've been shooting longbow for many years and I was doing it when there were only a handful of bowyers out there and I can NAME them! They all made them from traditional woods and fibreglass. If you want bows made out of wood and nothing else, then you, my friends are primitive shooters. There IS a difference and you can't cross reference with me. I shoot the D shaped, Hill design and made. Yew cored or bamboo cored, glass added longbow. that's traditional the way it was taught to me and that good enough for me.



    Cheers!

  21. #21
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    i say shoot what feels right to ya...to me it's a longbow hands down...i don't like the "feel" of recurves throughout the shot. from what i've been told longbows can also be a bit harder to learn to shoot well...

    :/ that's the rumor anyway.

  22. #22
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    R vs. L?

    Wow....now I'm confused.....snap shooting and Zen? Having shot and owned recurves and longbows for over 40 years I feel that you need to give all the STYLES a chance and experience all the archery you can get. I honestly have never snap shot except in error and I am willing to learn Zen but don't know where to buy it. I always anchor and hold....regardless of what shape the limbs are....and then release. Keep it simple....enjoy it....do what works for you!

  23. #23
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    "Pinelander, sorry but I don't know too many recurve shooters that snap shoot. "

    Neither do I...
    a few compounds, and a boat load of recurves/longbows

  24. #24
    If you read Zen in the art of archery, they don't snap shoot. They hold for what seemed like endless amounts of time to the author at full draw.

    Zen is a relatively simple thing. It's to live completely in the moment without distraction. It has a long association with the martial arts not because it it obscures things, but because it both led to people who practiced it having superior concetration, and courage. It's somewhat like what athletes mean when they say they are in the zone.

    I know of lots of recurve shooters who snap shoot, at least in the sense that they fire quickly, sometimes even from a floating anchor. Fred Bear, and Asbell come to mind.

    It's really impossible to make a coherant argument about recurves vs longbows any longer. There are long longbows, and recurves. There are short recurves and longbows. There are very fast longbows, and very fast recurves. There are longbows with big risers and locator grips, and recurves with stright grips and minimal risers. There are longbows with limb shapes that would have marked them as recurves 29 years ago.

    Go back 20 years, and longbows were starting to change, but nonetheless looked pretty much like the ones HH shot, and recurves looked a lot like the one Fred Bear shot. There was 6-12" of length difference, there were limb stack/stability differences, speed difference, grip differences, and so on. You just can't make any categorical statements any longer.

  25. #25
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    Just a brief qualifier. I am a full time martial art instructor and owner of a Dojo (center for taining). Over the past 45 years my studies and research have led to training using zen principles. Here is a little about zen and why it is used by high performance individuals.
    Zen came from China called Chan and was connected with Buddism initially and moved to the warrior class when it was understood how the body could perform so much better with time spent on training the mind. Archery and samurai sword training was and still is very much part of the zen approach. Yes it was to develop a mind set that delt with fear or courage( target panic) and concentration but how it does this is through training the mind to let go of ego and " just do" this is why we have so much problem when we try so hard to fix things. Zen is to uncomplicate things by first dealing with what it is that complicates and chucking it all out to the degree that nothing else matters but the instant experienced and truly feeling that moment. Some of you say, " just do it" and stop making things so complicated and you are right but the "how " must be learnt first then letting go to allow things to happern. Training the mind to act ,the Japanese call this Mushin to act without thought.
    So one must first walk through the forest to get to the clearing.
    Then enjoy and have a picnic
    It is the oness of the perfect shot that has us all hooked in my humble opinion.
    I shoot long bow and recurve. I don't care. It is the experience of that great shot that keeps me saying "just one more"

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