Recurve bows have recently made a big comeback as a popular weapon for hunting, target shooting, and even some competitive archery. With all of the options on the market, finding the best recurve bow to suit your individual needs can be a time consuming process. This guide will break down the many differing bow options on the market, outline which bows are designed for which purposes, and review the most important considerations when purchasing a bow.
The #1 Recommended Recurve Bow
For shooters looking for the best overall bow at a reasonable price, without any specific needs in mind, check out the Martin Jaguar Elite Takedown Bow. A fairly priced recurve that is available online anytime, the Jaguar is a great bow from one of the world’s leading bow manufacturers. On top of the excellent accuracy and power, the takedown design means it is incredibly easy to transport and pack wherever needed.
Best Recurve Bow for Target Shooting
The PSE Blackhawk Recurve bow is a beautiful option for target practice and hunting alike. The bow works wonderfully for the neophyte as well as the expert archer. The PSE Blackhawk has a highly durable limb design: one resistant to twisting damage. The arrow rest that comes with the bow lends to shooting accuracy. The bow has a quiet shot and delivers an arrow free of vibration. The PSE Blackhawk is known for its level of accuracy. The price of the bow is equally reasonable, right around $250.00. This recurve bow is not a takedown recurve option.
Best Recurve Bow for Hunting
One of the leading recurve bows for hunting is the Martin Archery Hunter Recurve: a bow best for a person who is right hand dominant. This bow has a mid level price of $620.00. The bow has a Shedua riser, a 62-inch string length, and weighs two pounds and three ounces. The draw weight on the Martin Archery Hunter Recurve is 35 to 65 pounds. This bow has been in production for the past 50 years and remains popular among hunters today. The Hunter lives up to its name as it was built to deliver a speedy, accurate shot. Its long length helps to provide accuracy and stability. The bow comes with a stringer, Flemish bowstring, and an arrow rest. The limbs on the bow are made of hard Maple laminations coupled with black fiberglass materials.
Best Takedown Recurve Bow
The PSE Coyote Recurve Bow is an overall great takedown bow. It has a 40-pound draw weight and a 60-inch length. The price is quite reasonable, costing just under $260.00. The recurve bow’s 40-pound draw makes it great for hunting or target practice. The Coyote sports a classic style; the bow’s limbs are made of wood materials and a machined aluminum riser. The takedown functionality makes for easy transport and storage. The grip is comfortable and form fitting, and the bow comes ready for a sight, mounts, and stabilizer. The exterior has a Mossy Oak Camouflage finish.
Most Powerful Recurve Bow
Even the diehard archery traditionalist will appreciate the features of the Hoyt Buffalo Recurve Bow. With a 50-pound draw, it is one of the most powerful bows on the market. The bow is priced around $815.00, and features an attractive wood finish. The Hoyt’s Fred Eichler Signature bow offers stability and considerable accuracy. The bow has a machined aluminum riser, a dual radius shelf, and an exclusive limb system called the Paralevel Limb System, which ensures an ultra smooth draw. Every bow is assigned its own specific number. The bow comes with a calf hair side plate, rug rest, bow stringer, padded carry case, and Flemish string.
Best Recurve Bow for Beginners
If you are new to archery and want to get a taste before investing hundreds of dollars into the sport, the Bear Firebird Youth Recurve Bow is priced at an affordable $47.00. The bow has limbs made of composite material and is compatible for both left hand and right hand dominant shooters. The bow measures 60 inches and has a draw length of 22 to 28 inches. The draw weight of the Bear Firebird is 30 to 35 pounds, meaning its a better bow for learning to shoot, rather than hunting. This bow is ideal for people ages 12 and older. Another plus for beginners, the Bear Firebird Youth Recurve Bow is covered by a warrantee that addresses any issues with the limbs during the first five years of ownership.
Best Youth Recurve Bow
If you are looking to get your youngster started with archery practice the Martin XR Recurve Bow Kit 135 is a real deal. The Martin XR Recurve kit comes with a 46-inch bow that can be used by a left or right hand dominant beginner. The kit comes complete with a target, tab, armguard, belt quiver, and arrows. This bow is a takedown recurve for ease of storage, and the kit also comes with an elevated arrow rest, a full sight window capacity, and a bowstring. The draw weight of the Martin XR Recurve is between 10 and 20 pounds. The nicest part of the kit is the price: everything included for right around $90.00.
Best Recurve Bow for the Money
The Bear Archery Super Kodiak Recurve is a mid-level bow with an exceptional design. This bow has been the favorite of many archers due to its durability and accuracy. The bow has a 60-inch length, a leather side plate, bear hair mat, and an arrow shelf cut on center. The structure of the bow is rich and deep brown hardwood laminates. For only $730.00, you definitely get your moneys worth with the Bear Super Kodiak.
Best Recurve Bow Under $300
The Martin Archery Jaguar Elite 55# is an excellent option for those with a budget of $300. The bow offers a vibration free experience and the riser is comfortable to grip. The bow has a 55-pound draw. It is light with an ultra sturdy build and the capability to add a stabilizer or additional accessories. The bow comes with an adjustable arrow rest. The limbs on the Jaguar Elite are created from wood and are made even sturdier with a lamination of fiberglass materials. The riser is made of magnesium and aluminum. The grip has Thermal V protective dampening for a non-slip grip on the bow riser. The bow is a takedown option, which disassembles with the release of a couple of screws. This bow has been known to last for more than a decade due to its exceptional build.
Best Recurve Bow Under $200
The Martin Saber Takedown Recurve Bow features a 30-pound draw and a camo dipped exterior. The bow has a list price between $180.00 and $199.00. The riser is crafted out of durable, long lasting, laminated hard wood. The upper and lower limbs of the bow are crafted out of fiberglass. The takedown structure ensures ease of disassembly and storage. The bow features Vibration Vortex VEMs and a grip with Thermal V protective dampening features to ensure a vibration free shot. This bow delivers a powerful shot from a high quality riser and has a solid, well-made grip with an ultra-smooth draw. The Martin Saber Takedown Recurve Bow comes with an owner’s manual ensuring ease of use. The draw weight is 30 pounds, the length of the bow is 64 inches, and the bow weight is 3.4 pounds in total.
Best Recurve Bow Under $100
The Martin Archery Alder Recurve bow has a 15-30 pound draw, making it an ideal bow priced under $100.00. The bow is available for right or left handers and is great for recreational target shooting. The bow is made of all wood materials and it is a takedown option for ease of transport and storage. The bow is sold with draw weights ranging from 15 to 30 pounds in five pound increments.
Best Recurve Bow Brands
When compared to the other companies in the archery industry (such as Martin, Hoyt, and Bear), PSE is newest to the scene, with its beginnings in 1970. Former Magnavox Corporate engineer Pete Shepley offered his ideas to other, already established companies, but when they didn’t bite, he decided to pursue his passion for archery full-time and started up his own company. Shepley began making release aides, arrow vanes, and compound bows, and in the early 1980s, the company moved to Arizona. Today the company’s home office, factory, and facilities span an entire city block. The company has more than 20 patents for archery products and bow design. PSE was one of the first businesses to machine accessories and bow risers from solid aluminum materials, and the company has developed an innovative, four stage creation process for making ultra-light bows.
The PSE Blackhawk Recurve bow is available for the right or left hand dominant individual. This bow is ideal as a traditional bow and it is a single piece structure. The draw weight of the bow is between 35 and 50 in five pound increments. The draw length of the Blackhawk Recurve is 60 inches. Laminated wood is used to craft the riser. This bow is part of PSE’s Heritage Series. Priced at around $250.00, the Blackhawk is a highly affordable recurve bow option.
Martin Archery has been in the industry since 1951 when the company was first established. The company has existed as an American icon for nearly 65 years, which makes it even harder to believe that following Martin’s death in 2013, the company faced difficulties and near extinction. An executive, Rich Weatherford, saw promise in Martin Archery and thought the business would be a good investment to turn a profit and create American jobs. In October of 2013, both Weatherford and Diversis Capital partnered up in a joint venture to buy Martin Archery a mere three days before the company was to be put on the auction block. Weatherford seeks to revive the ideals of the founder of the company, Gail Martin.
The new owner seeks to integrate the best technology for manufacturing compound bows. Three new product lines have been added to the company since 2014 including accessories, compounds, and takedowns. In fact, in 2014, Weatherford ensured the revamping of the entire Martin product line. As of 2015, the company entered the market with 14 brand new compound bows, a revamped takedown bow product line, and bows that have been added for both target archery as well as bow fishing lines. The brand new compound bows are sporting high-end, durable upper and lower limbs. Clearly, Weatherford has put a breath of life back into the company as he pursues business success backed by dedication, passion, and hard work.
The Martin Jaguar Elite Takedown Bow has a framework made of fiberglass limbs and a riser made of aluminum and magnesium. The draw weight of the bow varies from 40 to 50 pounds and the bow’s mass weight of 2.6 pounds makes it ideal for easy transport. The Martin Jaguar Takedown bow is only available for right handed dominant individuals. The bow’s length is 60 inches. Ideal for a neophyte, the Martin Recurve bow comes complete with a user’s manual. The bow’s riser is attractive, durable, and offers a comfortable grip. The bow is sold with an arrow rest for greater shot accuracy. The listing price for the Martin Jaguar Takedown bow is just $199.99.
Another fantastic option in the market for a high quality takedown recurve bow is the Martin Panther Takedown Bow. The price listing of the Martin Panther is right around $300.00. The bow features draw weights of 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 pounds. The riser is crafted out of durable machined aluminum. The bow length is 62 inches and the entire bow weighs just 2.7 pounds. The limbs are made of Italian wood and the bow’s design is modern, sleek, and light. The bow has a VEMS (Vibration Vortex) in the riser to help minimize vibration after arrow release.
Hoyt is a company that sells compounds, recurves, and archery accessories. The company has been in the archery industry even longer than Martin Archery, preceding the launch of Martin by two decades. Hoyt was officially established in 1921. Today, Hoyt has 14 compound bow models available, including Carbon Spyder ZT, Tribute, Faktor, Ignite, Nitrum, Ruckus and Ruckus Jr, Pro Comp Elite FX, Freestyle, and Charger. Additional compound options include the Pro Edge Elite, Podium X Elite, and Pro Comp, and Elite FX. In terms of recurve bows for target archery, Hoyt has the Formula Series Limbs and Risers and the Grand Prix Series Limbs and Risers. Additional recurves made available by Hoyt include the Gamemaster II, Tiburon, Buffalo, and Dorado. The recurves come with natural or camo finishes.
The Hoyt Gamemaster II Recurve Bow is available in two bow lengths: 60 or 62 inches. The recurve bow is available in one of several draw weights including 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, and 65 pounds. The entire bow weighs about 2.9 pounds. The Gamemaster II brings new technology and old school design together in a single product with its slim riser, custom wood core, and impressive accuracy. The bow comes with a compact carrying case for ease of transport. The Hoyt Gamemaster II is priced around $615.00.
Fred Bear is the founder of Bear Archery. After seeing a documentary on bow hunting, Bear became interested in archery and crafting his own arrows, bows, and strings, and he mastered the art through the teaching of Art Young. In the early 1930s, Bear was making equipment for himself as well as his friends, and within six years he had dedicated all of his attention to the creation of Bear Archery. By the late 1940s, Bear Archery moved to Michigan. The founder of the company passed in 1988, but his dedication and commitment to crafting high quality equipment remain alive and well in the heritage of Bear Archery.
The Bear Archery Grizzly Recurve bow is for a right hand dominant individual. The price of the bow is right around $400.00. The Bear Grizzly Recurve bow comes with limbs made of a clear Maple core surrounded by fiberglass material. The structure of the Grizzly bow has remained unchanged since 1964. The bow features a Dacron Flemish string and is crowned. The bow is fitted with a cut on center arrow shelf featuring a Bear Hair Rest and a leather side plate.
How to Buy the Best Recurve Bow for Your Individual Needs
There are many different factors to consider when buying a bow, and all of the options listed above may have added to the confusion. If that is the case, continue reading this guide on how to buy the perfect bow to fit your needs.
What is a Recurve Bow?
The recurve bow is a weapon that can be traced back to 2000 B.C.E. in Asia. The bow is crafted from multiple pieces in order to achieve the curved shape. Early recurve bows featured limbs that were thin and wide. When the bowstring was removed on earlier bows, the bow limbs jutted forward from the bow’s grip. The recurve bow differs from the longbow in that the bowstring connects with the bow’s structure. The string on the recurve bow has a few inches of contact with the end of each bow limb, whereas the string on a longbow connects at two distinct points. When using a recurve bow you will find the limbs are forced vertically which speeds up the rate at which the arrow travels while simultaneously minimizing the shock to the hand holding the bow. To learn more about the history of the recurve bow and how they work, check out this Wikipedia entry.
Getting the perfect recurve bow for your needs requires that you determine the bow’s performance level. The formula for determining bow performance is the combination of assessing how a bow shoots, how it feels when used by the archer, the accuracy of the shot, and the level of smoothness the archer experiences when making the draw. The same formula also requires the assessment of grip comfort, the amount of hand shock the bow produces after an arrow is released, the quality of the bow’s structure, the materials the bow is made of (hinting at its durability), transport conveniences, and the speed of the arrows used.
One way to get a good idea about what bow might serve you well is to talk to other archers. Other people familiar with archery can make recommendations pertaining to the bows and brands they have used in the past specifically for target practice or hunting. Dealers in sporting goods stores or archery shops are also useful for recommendations. You should consider taking a close look at reviews online, especially those written by users of the product in question. Check out customer feedback to see what features bows have to offer, which are favored, and which ones users say you can do without. Of course, the specific features of your bow will be based on your particular user interests and your current archery skill level.
Recurve Bow Structure
The term “recurve” describes the framework of a bow. When you look at a recurve bow the equipment’s structure features a riser in the middle and two limbs extending from the riser. The bow is made of carbon, fiberglass, or wood. Each limb has an end portion that curves out and slightly back, resulting in a recurve. The framework was originally designed in ancient Egypt. The benefit of this design is that the bow can store up a greater amount of energy and can also deliver that energy with greater precision and effectiveness than a straight limb bow counterpart.
You will see the recurve bow is used heavily in the Olympic competitions, and the bow I personally prefer for hunting and field practice. In the past, horsemen used recurve bows as a form of protection. If you are a neophyte archer, you might opt for using a bare bow recurve fitted with a single bowstring and a rest for your arrow. Archers with a greater amount of skill might choose a recurve bow with all the bells and whistles including clickers, stabilizers, sights, and pressure buttons.
Recurve Bow Variants
Recurve bows are available in three types: Basic, Takedown, and Composite. If you invest in a Basic Recurve Bow, which is the least expensive option, the bow is made of opposing grains put together with glue or wood laminates. This process allows for the bow maker to get the right curve in the bow’s structure. The Takedown Bow is one that can be taken apart for ease of transport from one place to another. There are different methods for the breakdown of a Takedown Bow, including the Fred Bear Takedown option or the pocket and locking system method. Finally, a Composite Recurve Bow is the oldest type of bow, which were made from materials like laminated sinew, wood, and horn. Many hunters like recurve bows because they are lightweight, easy to use, and shorter and faster than other options. Before investing in any of the recurve variants, however, it’s important to determine your correct draw weight.
Deciding What Recurve Bow Works for You
Before you make that important bow investment, make sure you cover all your bases. There are certain things to watch out for when buying a recurve bow and there are definitely some coveted features to keep in mind when purchasing a bow. Here are a few things to consider while you are looking to buy the best recurve bow on the market.
The Reputation of the Manufacturer
Have you looked into the bow manufacturer and how long the company has been in business? What kind of bows does the company make? Are there any available user reviews that can tell you something about the quality of the bow you want to purchase? The top notch companies working in the archery industry take pride in their work and make bows out of quality, lasting materials. It is in your best interest to invest in a recurve bow made of exceptional materials and preferably one that comes with a product warranty. In contrast, some manufacturers are not as reputable and may produce a bow of substandard quality. Potential issues to keep in mind include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Inflexible bow limbs — The limbs on a recurve bow need to have the right level of flexibility in order for the bow to work correctly.
- Poor quality bowstring — The bowstring needs to be of the highest quality which also means you will need to wax the string occasionally to ensure the bowstring’s integrity.
- Uncomfortable poorly made bow risers — The riser of the bow is the portion in the mild of the upper and lower limb. As the grip area, it should be comfortable.
- A bow that cannot adapt to changes in the atmosphere — This can lead to potential damage to the structure of the recurve bow in the future.
Bow weight and draw weight are two entirely different things. When considering bow weight a lighter recurve bow will serve you well. If the bow is light it is easier to tote around and will allow more shooting time without exhausting yourself physically. Of course, with practice, you will be able to extend the amount of time you use the recurve bow with each session. Experts recommend a recurve bow less than three pounds in overall weight if you plan to use the bow for actual hunting. If the bow is for a female or youth, weighing closer to two pounds is ideal. However, if you are just using the bow for a bit of target practice, the weight of the bow should not be a profound concern.
Getting a recurve bow with the appropriate draw weight is crucial for your shot to be accurate. The draw weight is the amount of force put on the bowstring to make a desired shot. For the purpose of hunting live prey, a bow with a minimum draw weight of 40 to 45 pounds is required. If there is a draw weight less than 40 pounds and you attempt to cover an length of greater than 15 yards, it is more likely to miss a lot of shots during the hunt. This is due to the arrow not having enough force to penetrate the prey. The draw weight will determine the amount of force an arrow uses to penetrate your target. If your main concern is target practice, draw weight is not as critical as when hunting live game. Having a correct draw weight on your recurve bow will ultimately allow you to make an ethical kill as it contributes to the consistency of your shot.
You need to determine your draw weight based on your own gender and body weight. If you are new to using a recurve bow, go for the lighter draw weight that is ideal for your body type so you have an opportunity to get used to drawing back and using a bow. After spending time with the recurve bow, drawing back the bowstring should become more familiar. As your strength improves, upgrade to a bow with a higher draw weight. At this time, you can begin to base your draw weight on comfort level. Below are the draw weights recommended for beginner youths, women, and men:
- For small children who weigh anywhere between 70 and 100 pounds, the recommended beginner recurve bow weight is between 10 and 15 pounds.
- For older children who weigh anywhere between 100 and 130 pounds, the recommended beginner recurve bow weight is between 15 and 25 pounds.
- For females who weigh anywhere between 100 and 160 pounds, the recommended beginner recurve bow weight is between 25 and 35 pounds.
- For small-framed males who weigh anywhere between 120 and 150 pounds, the recommended beginner recurve bow weight is between 30 and 45 pounds.
- For other males who weigh 160 or greater, the recommended recurve bow weight is between 40 and 55 pounds.
Recurve Bow Length
When making a recurve bow investment you must consider bow length. To be able to make long shots, a longer recurve bow is necessary. Take for example the longbow when it was used in medieval England — the bow was often a bit taller than the shooter and the greater size of the bow allowed it to cover a distance of some 200 yards. A recurve bow that is 60 inches or greater in length is within the realm of being a “long bow.” To test the length, hold the recurve bow out in front of you as if you were releasing an arrow. The bottom limb should not come in contact with the ground. A bow 10 inches longer than your height is sufficient. Alternatively, you can use a formula of doubling your draw length for determining bow length, thus, if you have a draw length that equals 30 inches, you will need a bow length of 60 inches.
Quality of the Bow Riser
When buying a recurve bow, look for one with an ergonomically styled grip for maximum comfort during use. A good grip helps to minimize bow vibration following arrow release. It is good for the riser to have brass bushings so it can add important accessories to your bow as well, such as a bow sight and a stabilizer. The riser will be crafted out of aluminum or hardwood. Either way it needs to be light, but durable.
Quality of the Bow Limbs
Typically, a recurve bow’s limbs are made of fiberglass material. The fiberglass will make the upper and lower limb less prone to breakage over the course of time. The exterior of the limbs might be camo dipped for additional color, or the limbs might be a solid color like black. There are even some bows featuring a pink camo exterior for women.
Some recurve bows come with special features. Take for example the takedown recurve, where you can remove both limbs from their connection with the bow’s riser by unscrewing the screws that connect the parts. Essentially, the takedown bow is all about convenience and ease of transport, and it is in no way a necessity. The benefit of a takedown bow is that if something breaks you can replace a part instead of the entire bow.
Some new bow buyers wonder if they should invest in a left handed or right handed bow. The selection should be based on your dominant hand. If you are right handed, you will buy a bow to hold in your left hand, and if you are left handed, you will buy a bow to hold in the right hand. If you are ambidextrous it does not matter, as long as you are comfortable holding the bow. Essentially, bow orientation focuses on what hand you use to draw back the bowstring, not hold the bow itself.
There are a number of accessories you can use with recurve bows, all of which help to have an improved experience during target practice or hunting. Some of the primary accessories to consider include stringers to help get the bowstring on the bow more easily, and a bow holder to ensure the safekeeping of your recurve bow when it is not in use. An armguard can prevent potential injury in the event the bowstring accidentally strikes your arm. The armguard is actually a sheath that you place on your bow arm. It is sometimes identified as a bracer. A recurve sight helps to see the target with greater clarity and from a distance. An arrow rest is an accessory that attaches flush to the bow’s riser and holds the arrow in position until you release the bowstring.
Clearly, when it comes to recurve bows, there is a vast array of models to choose from, which means it is important to have a good sense of what you are looking for before you shop. It is a good idea to sit down and note the different features you are looking for in a recurve bow. Make sure you know the draw weight, length, and whether or not you want a takedown structure. Also, consider how you plan to use the bow. To begin, check out models from any of the leading manufacturers mentioned in this guide.