A beginners guide to the 4 types of archery bows

Mavis LUncategorized

If you’re reading this post then chances are that you’re starting out on your journey to becoming an expert bowman. But, before you jump right into the sport, you might want to read about the different types of archery bow the sport offers! Archery bows have evolved a lot over the years. These days many are constructed from high-tech materials such as fibreglass and carbon fibre, and some have advanced shooting mechanisms. The four main types of bows available include recurve bows, compound bows, longbows and crossbows.

Recurve Bow

These archery bows are named after their distinct shape where the central parts of the limbs curve toward the archer, and the tips of the limbs curve away. This configuration is designed to reinforce the archer, providing more power with less strength needed to use the bow. This is why recurve bows are frequently used to teach archery. Beginners will usually start out with a barebow recurve which consists of two bow limbs; a riser to help balance the bow, a string and an arrow rest. Most people will start their archery journey with a recurve bow. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re not suitable for skilled archers. Instead, modern versions of the recurve bow are also used in Olympic events.

Compound Bow

Compound bows were invented in the 1960s and they are the most modern archery bow type. They utilise an innovative system of cables, pulleys and eccentric cams to assist the archer in holding a heavy draw weight. While drawing the bow still requires a good deal of strength, the pulley system kicks in at full draw and helps the archer hold the draw weight for a longer period of time, without excessive muscle fatigue, so they can focus on aiming.

Unlike recurve and tradition bows, compound bows are almost exclusively constructed from man-made materials. This means that they are less affected by changes in temperature and humidity than archery bows made of natural materials. While compound bows provide better accuracy, distance and arrow velocity, you typically wouldn’t see beginners using them because of its complexity.

Traditional Bow/Longbow

Traditional archery bows, aka Longbows, are characterised by their simplicity as they consist of a long, slightly curved piece of wood the same height as the archer. However, they do not have arrow rests or sights. Thus, they are much more difficult to aim than more modern bows and do not have nearly the same velocity as compound or recurve archery bows. Also known as the ‘medieval bow’, longbows were first recorded in use during a battle in 1298 and were a dominant weapon on the battlefield until the mid-16th century. Because of its simplistic build and high-level of difficulty, it’s truly an archery bow that the best archers seek to master.


Unlike the other archery bow-types listed above, crossbows have a short bow positioned horizontally. They are believed to have originated in China, as far back as 600 B.C, and were commonly used in battle. In modern times, they are mainly used for hunting and sports.

The bows are drawn by way of a crank mechanism; the string is then attached to the trigger mechanism and locked in place until the archer fires. Crossbows have short firing ranges and need heavier draw weights to perform on the same level as compound and recurve bows. These bows are frequently used for target archery, but be advised that regulations on crossbows can be quite strict and vary between countries. So do make sure you are familiar with your local laws before owning one!

Does archery sounds really complicated? Well, try out archery tag then! In Archery Tag, players use bows to eliminate their opponents by shooting them with safe foam-tipped arrows. It’s an adrenaline pumping and action-packed experience that you and your friends (or even colleagues) will bound to enjoy! What are you waiting for? Contact us today!