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4 Different Types Of Archery Bows Every Pro Should Know

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Tim Rhodes

The bow invention was one of the significant achievements in the past.

Soldiers used bows to ensure they guard their societies.

Hunters also used bows for their daily routine.

In the past, bows were widely used in all corners.

Almost everyone had their bow, including young kids.

Let’s discuss the four main types of bows.

Every archer should be aware of the various kinds of bows before venturing into any related activity.

Table of Contents

4 Different Types Of Archery Bows Every Pro Should Know

The broad knowledge enables them to choose wisely for the best equipment to use.

Here are the four main types of bows every pro should know.

1. Recurve Bow

A recurve bow, as the name states, has limbs that curve away from archers when unstrung.

It stores more energy, and it’s efficient in energy delivery compared to a straight-limbed bow, making the arrow possess a greater amount of energy at a fast speed.

Many archers prefer using shorter bows as long weapons are always tiresome and non-efficient for many individuals.

This bow provides the feature of efficiency in terms of the shorter bows.

The recurve limbs produce a lot of noise when shot, which is somehow disturbing due to the extreme stress applied to those materials used to make the bow.

These recurve bows come in almost the same shapes but in a confusing state such that their owners can only identify them.

It’s always hard to use different recurve bows not used to as they always have different recurves, whereby an extreme recurve bow is always uncomfortable to use.

Using a different recurve bow is easily dangerous, and when strung backward from an unstrung state, it can easily get damaged or destroyed on attempting to make a shot.

During the eighth century, this recurve bow was already in use as it’s recorded in one of the Bible books.

This bow can easily break the arm of an unskilled archer when attempting to recurve as it easily springs back and regains the quiescent state position.

Composite materials are used to make these recurve bows.

Modern Recurve Bow Parts

Arrow Rest

These are different forms of arrow rests, which all signify one use.

This is where the arrow rests when drawn.


This is the bow’s rear side, especially when viewed from the opposite side of the string.


This is the bow face in the same direction as the string.

Bow Sight

This is an aspiring help that is usually attached mainly to the riser.

Brace Height

This is the distance from the string to the deepest grip part.

It has a traditional word that was used long ago; fistmele.

The traditional word, though modernized, means the same thing.


This is the part that is usually held by the hand used to hold the bow.


These are various parts of the bow located on the upper side and the lower side.

Nocking Point

This is the place where the end of the arrow is fitted on the bowstring.


This is a firm section at the center where the limbs are mainly attached.


It’s a chord that attaches the limb tips and helps convert the stored potential energy into kinetic energy that is then possessed by the arrow.


It’s a strap that prevents the bow’s falling from the hand as it’s attached to the handle, fingers, or even the wrists.

Tab or Thumb Ring

It’s a leather made protection, especially for the units that draw the string.


It’s a measured result involving the limbs and the riser.

The difference is calculated between the distances of the limb-strings where the riser is attached to the limbs.

It’s mainly a power reflector in terms of balance for both limbs.

Recurve Bow Advantages

  • They are very light compared to other bows
  • They are portable due to their minimal weight
  • They don’t require complicated upkeep mechanisms
  • They possess long-dated sportsmanship

Recurve Bow Disadvantages

  • They require a lot of applied strength to hold and then draw
  • They are better suited for experienced archers
  • They are hazardous if not well handled, especially with new archers

2. Compound Bow

This is a unique type of bow that was developed long ago in the year 1966.

Its US patent was granted in 1969.

This kind of bow is mainly designed to use a levering system, typically using pulleys and cables that facilitate limbs’ bending.

Many archers broadly use compound bows in hunting and target practice.

There’s assurance confidence in hitting the object in target when using compound bows.

Compared with the limbs of the recurve bow and those for the longbow, the compound bow’s limbs are much stiffer, bringing a mechanical advantage for the user of compound bows.

This feature is made possible by the pulleys and cables system that is used in the compound bows.

There’s much less energy dissipated in the movement of limbs of the compound bows.

The result is that the compound bows’ rigidity makes it more energy-efficient compared to other bows.

The compound bow doesn’t react to the changes in temperature as well as humidity.

The result is due to the high levels of technology used to construct the compound bow and its corresponding rigidity.

Any alteration in the two above mentioned aspects doesn’t affect the bow’s normal functioning as it remains more accurate even with the changes.

There’s a rotation of the cams when the bowstring is drawn back from the bow.

When the cams rotate, they offer a let-off scenario for the bow and arrows.

The result is made effective by the fact that the cams are rather eccentric than round.

The eccentric state makes the cams rotate, making their radii change, a feature that isn’t possible with the round cable state.

There’re two tracks featured in each of the bow’s two cams.

There’s the inner track as well as the outer track.

The inner track connects mainly to the opposite cam or else the opposite limb through a system of cables.

The outer track is majorly where the bowstring of the compound bow operates and runs.

When the bow is drawn, due to the difference in the weight of the limbs and the cams’ leverage, there’s a change in the ratio of bowstring pay-out and the cable take-up.

Archers can create different profiles for draw-strokes by manipulating the shapes of the cam, as mentioned above tracks.

Archers explain that compound bows can either be soft-drawing or even hard-drawing.

With the case for soft-drawing, there is a let-off that is gradual as a result of a very slow build-up to peak weight with a long valley at the far end.

This scenario is very common, and experienced archers find it comfortable and reliable to continue practicing.

For the issue of hard-drawing, it occurs exactly opposite of the soft-drawing features.

There’s a very fast build-up in peak’s draw-weight, especially in a long plateau where there’s weight maintenance.

There’s a relatively quick let-off in the compound bow with a short valley.

Many of the compound bows offer a relatively higher let-off rate with an average of 0.8.

This feature allows the archer to relax and then focus on the intended object or target at which it’s being shot.

This compound bow is most popular in the United States, where it was developed and has proven to be a piece of dominant equipment with the hunters and archers in general.

This compound bow many referred to it as a composite bow, but modern technology has distinguished it further and outlined its key specifications for accuracy.

Compound Bow Advantages

  • They shoot faster than any bow out there and also further
  • They require less upper body strength for drawing and also holding into position
  • They are very accurate with shots on target
  • They have a greater Effective Kill Range

Compound Bow Disadvantages

  • They require extensive maintenance for effective use
  • Time wastage in terms of string adjustments to fit individual demands
  • They require extensive practice for proficiency
  • They look complicated compared to other bows out there in terms of appearance

3. Longbow

Longbows are described as a piece of tall equipment that was used often in war.

It’s estimated to be around two meters long.

The bow must be very long enough for easy drawing by the user.

The user should draw the string mainly to a point on either the body or rather the face.

Therefore, this statement means that the length of the bow varies with the different arm lengths of the users in most cases.

In the European countries, a longbow was mainly viewed as any bow with a length of more than one meter.

In the London countries, they described a longbow as any bow with a length of averagely of 1.6 meters as they gave it a range of 1.5 to 1.8 meters.

Many historians, Mary Rose, Jim Bradbury, and Richard Bartelot, came on board to give the average estimated length of a longbow as 1.8 meters in length.

The various longbows have varying draw weights.

The historians, as mentioned above, contributed greatly to the issue of draw weights and lengths.

There is an estimated draw weight for the longbow of an average weight of 90 pounds to 110 pounds, which, when converted, brings about 400 newtons to about 500 newtons.

The various draw weights also have their estimated draw lengths, as most estimates showed a varying length of 76 centimeters.

There’re also extreme estimates in terms of the bow’s draw weight of up to 700 newtons with an average draw length of 76 centimeters.

Today’s technology has modernized the longbow and provided a fixed draw weight of a maximum of 270 newtons and a minimum weight of as low as 200 newtons.

The came case with the draw length is also a fixed length of as low as 71 centimeters.

The feature mentioned above was made possible as many archers and hunters couldn’t hold a maximum weight of up to 500 newtons and a draw length of 76 centimeters.

Many archers and hunters can now comfortably use the longbow for their various needs.

For anyone to be an expert, they have to pass through several training pieces that will aid their proficiency.

The training pieces entail laying one’s body in the bow but not drawing the strengths of the arms in that case, which mostly happens with most nations.

Using arm strengths can be risky and tedious, making the practice or training last for a very short time.

There cannot be a perfect shot without the training mentioned earlier of laying one’s body into the bow and not using arm strengths.

Laying one’s body into the bow generally means keeping one hand, especially the right hand, at rest while pressing the bow’s weight with all their body weight for there to be a shooting effect.

As mentioned earlier, the feature brings about bending of the bow letting off the arrows for intended shooting.

The longbow is very firm as a very strong material is used to construct it.

Many people argue that they have no idea about the material used to construct the bow.

There have been many materials for discussion, like the horn, yew, elm, and even ash.

Well, most longbows are constructed using the yew, a coniferous tree wood.

The yew has been regularly confused with elm as a good number also argue longbows are made of elm rather than yew.

Yew takes years to dry to be made into a good shape to be used for longbows.

On the other hand, elm doesn’t require many processes for it to be used for construction, and this feature makes it more preferred than yew.

It’s a very strong material that lasts years without any defect or any malfunction.

The perfect shape for a longbow is a D-shape for better and more efficient shooting.

For faster results and the need to avoid time wastage, this bow can be designed into its perfect shape when the wood is wet as there will be quick-drying for a thin layer compared to when it’s whole.

The surface of the bow is mainly applied with wax or even resin, which are water-resistant.

This feature makes the longbow long-lasting.

Longbow Advantages

  • They’re beginner-friendly for all genders
  • They facilitate an easier release of the arrow
  • They enable stealthy shots
  • They tend to favor tall archers for better results

Longbow Disadvantages

  • They tend to have less arrow speed compared to other bows
  • It’s sometimes complicated to make bow adjustments
  • They tend to be less mobile
  • They tend to cause hand-shock, which is very hazardous

4. Crossbow

The crossbow is quite different from other bows.

It’s operated by a very special kind of people referred to as crossbowmen or arbalists.

It has a major similarity with the gun.

Many people confuse this bow with a gun and end up buying the other bow types, leaving out this one.

This is an original bow like the others with various modifications for better results.

Crossbows have an exception as they don’t shoot arrows, but they shoot arrow-like projectiles similarly confused with arrows, called bolts.

The bolts are, in other terms, also referred to as quarrels.

Crossbows are held similarly to holding a long gun.

A crossbow consists of prods, which is a bow-like assembly that is horizontally mounted on a tiller.

Tiller is the mainframe that facilitates the surface for the prods to be mounted.

Both the crossbows and the bows use the same principle for launching.

The crossbows, however, differ majorly from the other bows.

In crossbows, the archer or hunter must manually maintain a bow’s draw using their fingers to pitch the bowstring.

This feature has made archers view having soft hands or rather fingers as a myth as they have practiced more and more, making their hands rough.

The archer has to pitch the bowstring with their fingers and then pull it back with their arm and back muscles and then hold it to aim.

The archer has to hold the bowstring in the same form to ensure that the aim shoot is accurate and if the position changes, the shot is altered.

This crossbow demands a strong person in terms of physical strength.

The bow also demands a stable person who doesn’t go shaking any minute when they’re operating their bow as this affects the aiming.

Crossbows use a locking mechanism.

This mechanism is effective mainly in maintaining the draw.

This feature limits the shooter’s exertion to pulling the string only into the lock then releasing it in the form of a shot through depressing a trigger or even lever.

This feature enables the crossbowmen to hold the bow for a long time without much physical strain.

Holding the bow for a longer period enables the crossbowmen to achieve better precision.

The crossbowmen are also enabled to handle relatively stronger draw weights because the bow uses a locking system.

The crossbows were invented long ago in the countries of Europe and also China.

They played an important role in the activities undertaken then, including warfare.

They were already in existence by the first millennium before Christ.

They proved to be the most commonly used weapons in wars during then.

The crossbow became on-demand on its first invention due to its unique characteristics.

Unlike the traditional bow, which demanded extensive requirements, the crossbow was simplified to suit every user.

The crossbow was the first bow that never required much training and practice as unskilled soldiers could use it with a lot of ease.

The crossbow doesn’t require much physical strength and effort compared to the traditional bow.

The training is much simpler as one can learn solely by themselves on how to operate the bow.

This bow is much cheaper also compared to the traditional bows.

Even though firearms have surpassed the bows in terms of warfare activities, crossbows remain on-demand at all times.

Their quiet firing and competitive shooting and hunting make them widely used all over the globe.

Crossbow Advantages

  • They have relatively higher shooting speed compared to other bows
  • They’re easier to shoot from a sitting position than compound bows
  • They’re more accurate as they’ve improved precision
  • They enable larger and heavier draw weights for effective shooting

Crossbow Disadvantages

  • They can be much heavier than longbows
  • The reload times can be time-consuming
  • They are a little bit noisier as compared to compound bows
  • They are relatively larger compared to compound bows

Final Thoughts

The bow invention was one of the major achievements in the past.

The bows ensured full security for young families as well as nations.

The four main types of bows are the recurve bow, compound bow, longbows, and crossbows.

These bows were majorly used in the past, but they’re also used currently.

The crossbow and compound bow tend to have similar specifications, mainly in their operation.

The bows require minimal training and are easy to learn as well as understand.

For the recurve bow and longbow, they are even much simpler due to their long existence.

The ability to use these bows depends on the cost of the bows and their difficulty in understanding.

These are the main types of bows; every pro should be aware of effective results.

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