types of bows
Gear Reviews

Types of Bows

The bow and arrow have played a big part in human history. From being used as a strategic battle weapon to being a life changer for hunters, the bow and arrow has stamped itself as a versatile tool.

Nowadays, it isn’t used as a weapon during wars, but it is still a silent and effective choice amongst hunters. Whether it’s elk, deer, moose, bear, or even fish, using a bow and arrow is not only a blast but an adrenaline rush, to say the least.

Archery has also become a major sport amongst different countries, even for people who have no intention of hunting. For example, the Vegas Shoot is the biggest and most prestigious indoor archery tournament in the world. The event brings in over 4,000 competitors from all over to compete. It’s also one of the sports during the Summer Olympics.

Over the course of the history of the bow, there have been several different designs made. In this article, we will discuss the different types of bows, what they are used for, shooting ranges, and design.

What is a Bow?

types of bows

A bow and arrow is a short-range weapon that was first discovered over 60,000 years ago in South Africa. It has several different uses but originally it was used as a weapon for battle or for hunting.

The bow is made of an arch-like band that has loops on both ends with an elastic string attached. The arrow is then “nocked” or attached to the string. It is drawn back and released, projecting the arrow at its target.

The bow can shoot at different distances depending on the design and type. Typically speaking, a bow can shoot an arrow anywhere from 10 to 500 yards accurately.

Nonetheless, no matter what type of bow you shoot, it takes a lot of practice and persistence to be accurate. Not only is practice important, but there is quite a bit of technique that goes into play with being a good shot.

Types of Bows

Let’s take a look at the different types of bows and their capabilities.

Recurve Bow

Dating back to thousands of years, the recurve bow is a survivalist best friend. Crafted with a 3-point shape, the ends of the recurve point towards the target with the string attached.what is a recurve bow

This is a light bow, which makes it great for long-distance hunts. However, the recurve is challenging to master because of its poor accuracy at long distances.

The speed at which the arrow travels when shot from a recurve is completely dependent on how far the archer can draw back the bow. This is why you will see people who hunt with them making kills at distances under 30 yards.

For the traditional sportsman, mastery of the recurve bow is a work of art. It takes patience and an immense amount of trial and error to become accurate with the recurve. Nonetheless, it presents a challenge for those who like simplicity. Not only is the recurve very light but it is also low maintenance because of its simple mechanics.

For many of us, the recurve is the first type of bow we were ever handed as a child at summer camp.

It’s also an inexpensive option. A person can find a well-made recurve under $200, making it a budget buy.

Compound Bow

compound bow

The compound bow has become the bow of choice amongst most hunters and sportsmen because of its increased accuracy and power. That’s not saying that the compound bow doesn’t take constant practice to be a good shot.

Where the compound bow differs from the recurve bow is that it has adjustable sights. Depending on your preference, you can have sights ranging from 10-80 yards. It is common to see the sight pins ranging from 20-60 yards because anything over that takes plenty of skill.

Another major difference between the compound bow and the old-school bows is its mechanics. Unlike the recurve, the compound bow uses wheels or cams. This  loads up the power when the bowstring is drawn back. When the drawstring is released, the bow projects the arrow at speeds up to 350 feet per second.

Not only is the compound bow more accurate and powerful, but it is also more customizable. Sportsmen and hunters can add accessories to their bows such as stabilizers, scopes, noise reducers, and arrow stands.

Most compound bows are made of aluminum or carbon fiber. These materials make them durable, but light enough to pack in the field or to hold for long periods in a tree stand. The typical length for the hunting bows ranges from 17 to 28 inches long whereas the competition compound bows are longer ranging upwards of 40 inches long.

The compound bow is the most popular pick for competition and hunting. The pricing can vary, depending on the brand, year, and features. Buying a compound bow is like buying a car, you can make them as fancy and accessorized as you like.

A person can find a new bow starting at just under $500, but depending on what you’re looking for, it can be well over $1,000.



A crossbow is an interesting bow that has a design that is mixed with a bow and a gun. Unlike, the recurve and compound bow, the crossbow isn’t held vertical. Instead, it is held like a gun with it close to your body.

It still uses a string to project the arrow, however, instead of you letting go of the string, the arrow is released by pressing a trigger like a gun.

Even though the crossbow may seem like new technology, archeologists have actually found it over 2,500 years ago. There have also been writings that have mentioned weapons resembling a crossbow in the early 300’s A.D.

Similar to the compound and recurve bow, the crossbow is still used for hunting and competition.

Crossbows shoot arrows at fast speeds up to 400 fps, they are also capable of shooting the farthest at ranges up to 500 yards. For treestand or blind hunting, bowhunters can shoot at targets at long distances.

Since they are a mix between a rifle and a bow, it is common for crossbows to be equipped with a scope. Once these weapons are sighted in, they can be quite accurate and effective.

Compared to the compound bow, the crossbow is heavier, not making it ideal to pack around on a hunt. However, they aren’t nearly as expensive, you can typically find a decent crossbow setup starting at $250.


Longbows are similar to recurves in the sense that they are both a type of traditional bow. Additionally, they both take a lot of practice and strength to shoot accurately.

A longbow has a slightly different design, where it has a D-shape whereas the recurve makes a 3-point shape. They are light and typically made with a single piece of wood that has a slight bend to it.

During the time when longbows were used in wars, they were effective weapons up to 300 yards! That’s pretty impressive for the technology that was available during those times.

For hunting and competition, the modern longbow can be accurate from 60-80 yards. However, shooting accurately at this distance will take time.

The longbow doesn’t seem to hold the same power as the recurve because of the recurves capability of loading power in its limbs. Nonetheless, the longbow is quieter and known to have a smoother draw out of the two.

You can purchase a quality longbow for under $200. The nice thing about the purchase is that besides arrows, that’s all you really need to starting shooting.


Bows have a strong place in our history, and remain a fun activity for hunters and athletes alike. Which bow fits your needs, wants, and interests?


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