By: Cormac Reynolds

The recurve bow is a popular choice that is aptly named based on its appearance. These bows have curved tips at both ends of the bow, which is a better design. This helps to increase the speed of the arrow when shot which means longer distance, more power in the shot, and better accuracy at long distances. Add in a smoother release and there’s a reason people really love this option. This is actually the only style of bow used in competitive target archery (including even The Olympics). These are a favorite for many types of hunters and target shooters, as well.

Why Are Recurve Bows So Special?

They are versatile bows. In fact, recurve bows are commonly either solid one piece designs or they can even be multi-part. In fact if you are looking at getting involved with competition shooting, you’ll quickly run into the common “takedown recurve bow” which often breaks down into three parts. That makes transport and packing easy, and they can work just as well.

These bows are made from a wide variety of materials. It’s not unusual to see one recurve bow made out of wood like traditional models, as well as more modern materials like carbon, fiberglass, and more! Look at this state of the art samick sage recurve bow for instance – beautiful.


Ancient Egyptians first came up with this new bow design and used it to build one of the earliest (and largest) empires of the ancient world. Thousands of years later, it’s still considered a winning design. That tells you a lot about these remarkable bows.

What To Look For

Knowing the recurve bow is a preferred design still doesn’t help with picking out the right one. While there are many things to look for, like online reviews, quality of materials, reputation of manufacturer, you will also want to size it properly. The first step is looking at finding a bow that is going to be a little bit shorter than the archer. That’s a good rule of thumb first step, but then you need to look at draw weight and draw length as these are huge factors when it comes to accurate shooting in archery.

One of archery’s most famous bowhunters, Fred Bear, took an incredible amount of game with his recurve bow. Including this record Polar Bear.

Recurve Bow Sizing

If you’re completely new at this, then it is always a good idea to ask an experienced archer or a coach for help figuring out the measurements. Having unusually long or short arms for your size, or unusually strong or weak arms, will directly affect what the proper sizing is going to be.

While a general table can be given for what to look for size-wise, keep in mind that this is just a general rule of thumb to narrow down the most likely size of bow you need. The first measurement is the archer’s draw length, the second is the most common size range of bow for someone with that sized draw.

Draw size – Bow size range

25 inches or less  – 54 inches to 62 inches in length

25-27 inches       – 64 inches to 66 inches in length

27-29 inches       – 66 inches to 68 inches in length

29-31 inches       – 68 inches to 70 inches in length

Over 31 inches     – 70 inches to 72 inches in length

You want to find a low draw weight when possible. This is true of archers of all experience ranges and not just novices or beginners.

Look At Cost

Some of these bows can be incredibly expensive. Keep in mind that there’s a huge difference between basic recurve bows, hunting recurve bows, and the really high end recurve bows for competitive shooting. There are many affordable options for starters, and this is a good way to go before stepping up to a bow that you can “grow into” as an increasingly talented archer.


Quick Checklist

  • Does your bow match your draw length?
  • Is it lightweight?
  • Is the bow affordable for your budget?

Follow these and you will be much more likely to end up with an exceptional recurve bow.