If you’ve decided you want to buy a recurve bow, choosing what kind of bow need not be a challenge. If you take a look at all models and options available, you might be forgiven for feeling slightly overwhelmed and confused. This is completely expected for a beginner, but the truth of the matter is no matter what bow you pick as an amateur archer, you’re more than likely going to be happy with the results. It’s still worth understanding what you’re going to use the bow for to help narrow our choices.
Why Do You Want a Recurve Bow?
Are you only planning on using he bow for target practise, or would like to try hunting as well? (please bear in mind that hunting with a bow is not legal in every country)
If you only intend to use the bow for target practise then you can probably pick just about any bow you want that fits with your budget. You could just simply pick one of the bows recommended below that fits in with your budget, looks good and you’ll be all set to fire some arrows down a range within a couple of days.
While every recurve bow will work for shooting at targets, not all bows are good candidates for hunting. However, the number one defining features which dictates whether or not a bow will be suitable for hunting is the draw weight. The model, features and colours are all secondary to the draw weight of the bow. In case you didn’t know, the draw weight refers to the amount of force it takes to pull a bow string over a set distance, this distance is universally set at 28 inches for recurve bows. The draw weight directly relates to the power of the bow, so the higher the draw weight, the faster and further the arrow will travel. This is very important for hunting for a couple of reasons.
When you’re on the range shooting at targets, you bow not need to be especially powerful. Your arrow is only required to penetrate a flimsy cardboard or foam target, which obviously does not require a lot of energy. However, when you’re hunting, your arrow needs to penetrate tough skin, layers of fatty tissue and on occasions bone as well. So how do you ensure your bow is powerful enough? The answer is to simply pick a recurve bow which has a draw weight which exceeds 40lbs. It is of course possible to use a less powerful bow for smaller game such as rabbits, in which case a 30lb bow would probably suffice. But for anything larger you’re going to need a more capable bow. The main problem is that not all beginners can draw a 40lb bow. However, after a few weeks off training and building muscle, nearly everyone will be able to draw 40lbs or more.
To Quickly Recap
- If you’ll only ever use your recurve bow for target practise, then you can safely pick just about any bow that you like the look off.
- If your main priorities are hunting, then you can still pick any bow that you’d like, as long as the draw weight is at least 40lbs.
- It’s worth bearing in mind that longer bows are generally more accurate, however, they are also more unwieldy. A long bow is probably not something you’d want to lug around in the wild.
Do You Need a Take Down Bow?
When you come to choosing your recurve bow, you’ll probably want to consider getting a take-down bow. A take-down bow is basically a recurve bow which allows you to remove the limbs from the riser. There are three good reasons for choosing a take-down recurve bow over a traditional ‘one piece’.
- Take-down bows are much easier to transport. Since the limbs can be removed from the riser, the resultant pile of parts is much more manageable and can most often fit inside a standard rucksack.
- A take-down bow is far easier to service. If any one component breaks or needs to be repaired, then you can just send that one bit away for repair or replacement, not the whole bow.
- Lastly, a take-down bow is upgradeable. For example, let’s say when you first buy your bow all you want to do is shoot some arrows down the range, so you opt for a 30lbs bow. If after a few months you would rather have a 40lb bow, all you need to do is replace the bows limbs. Everything else can remain the same.
How Heavy Should My Bow Be?
The draw weight of the bow is not the only thing worth considering. The physical weight of the recurve bow is worth taking into account in your decision buying process. When you’re shooting, you’ll often need to keep the held out at arms-length for long periods of time, which can become incredibly tiring. The vast majority of recurve bows are between 2 and 3.5 lbs, which is a suitable weight for a beginner. If you’re not sure what to go for, try and get a bow that weighs 3lbs or less. However, don’t let this influence your buying decision too much.
How Big Should My Recurve Bow Be?
Ideally you’ll want to pick a recurve bow which is at a minimum twice your draw length. For example, if your draw length is 28 inches, you’ll want to make sure your bow is at least 56 inches in length.
Should I Buy Any Accessories?
You may wish to consider investing in some accessories for your recurve bow, for example a bow sight or release aid. Many recurve bows will come with pre drilled holes to hold attachments, making the whole process easier. Many archers prefer not to have any accessories, instead relying on experience and skill to shoot accurately. However, there is no harm in choosing to buy some accessories, even it’s a simple peep sight or adding an arrow rest, you might find it makes your shooting experience that much easier.
What Arrows Do I Need?
One of the first steps you need to consider before picking your arrows is to find out your draw length.
Arm Span Draw Length
The arm span method of calculating your draw length is one of the easiest methods to follow. Firstly spread your arms out, making sure they remain parallel to the floor and while keeping your back flat. Next have someone measure the distance between the two middle fingers on each hand, finally divide this measurement by 2.5. The resulting figure will give you a pretty solid approximation of your draw length. For example, if your arm span is 70 inches, dividing 70 by 2.5 results in 28. In this case your draw length is likely to be 28 inches. If you prefer to work in cm, the same formula can be used.
What Length of Arrow?
Once you’ve found your draw length using the technique above, you’ll need to add 1 to 2 inches to that, this new number will be your perfect arrow length. For example, if you’ve calculated that your draw length is 28 inches, you will need to use arrows that are between 29 and 30 inches.
Once you’ve found the length of the arrows needed, you’ll next be faced with the weight of the arrows required. Generally speaking, if you’ll only ever be using your bow for target practise you can choose arrows which match your recurve bows draw weight. So if your bow is rated for 45lbs draw weight, you’ll want to get arrows rated at 45lbs or above. The only exception to this is if you’re planning on hunting. If you want to hunt with your bow you’ll probably want to pick arrows that are rated slightly higher than your draw weight.
What Other Accessories Do I Need?
If you’re new to the sport of archery, or if you’re a pro returning from a hiatus, there are likely a few accessories that you cannot do without.
Archery Must Buys
There are a few things that it’s impossible to do without, they are archery must haves, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to get involved in competitions, you’re going to need these accessories.
The Recurve Bow
It should be obvious, but you need a bow. You cannot participate in the sport of archery without a bow, it doesn’t need to be expensive, it’s better to get something that meets your budget.
The Bow Stringer
The bow stringer is a must have piece of kit that every recurve archer should have. It’s the only way to string a bow safely and consistently. You might have seen people using the step through method to string a bow, this is both dangerous to you and the bow. Use a bow stringer. Consider the Webbing Saddle Stringer.
You need arrows to use with your new recurve bow. Buy at least six to get you started.
A nocking point provides a consistent place on your bow string to nock your arrow. The nocking point is important for two main reasons. Firstly, it’ll improve your accuracy as you’ll always be shooting the arrow from the same location. Secondly, it helps protect your hand from being nicked from the arrow fletching. I can thoroughly recommend Saunders Archery Bow String Nock Points.
Once you’ve gathered all of the above, it’s time to put it all together and shoot some arrows. So, what do you plan to shoot at? Targets are made for being shot at, they are therefore the ideal choice. Targets can be a crudely drawn picture or a more complicated bulls-eye target, whatever you prefer, you’ll need a backstop to stop your arrows. You can buy foam blocks especially made for the purpose, or if you have access to hay bales they can also suffice. Check out Lightweight Archery 60x60cm Self Healing Foam Target.
Nice To Have Accessories
This list contains items that are nice to have but are not essential to shooting your recurve bow. Most of these items are related to improving your comfort, so for that reason alone they are probably worth investing in, or at least adding them to your shortlist of things to buy.
An arm guard is there to protect your sleeves, skin and hair and keep them out of the way of the bow string as you release the arrow. It does this by covering your forearm, and even sometimes your whole arm in a protective sleeve. As a beginner, you’ll be prone to accidentally dragging the bow string along your arm, this can hurt, so it’s best to protect your arm as you learn to prevent doing this. Recommend option MyArmor 11.8" Arm Guard.
If you shoot your bow often enough without a finger tab, it’ll cause your fingers to blister, which can be quite painful and may lead to problems further down the line. You can avoid this by wearing a leather glove or by using finger tabs. A modern finger tab can include spacers which additionally help the archer from pinching the arrow. The Leather Traditional Archery Gloves is a great option.
Many bows already come with an arrow rest installed. If it doesn’t, you’ll definitely want to consider purchasing one early in your archery hobby. The arrow rest as the name suggests is what the arrow rests on as it is drawn, the rest can be a simple static rest, or something more complicated that falls away as the arrow is released. It is possible to use your hand as an arrow rest, but long term you’ll want to buy one.
If you have an opportunity to study your bowstring closely, you’ll see its made up of thousands of tiny fibres. If the bowstring is not full lubricated, these fibres rub against each other causing friction, which can cause the bowstring to snap. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to regularly wax your bow string, this keeps the fibres lubricated, but it also helps to protect the string from dirt, dust and water. It’s recommended to wax your bow string at least once every 4 weeks, or every two if possible. Bohning Tex-Tite Bow String Wax is a great option.
Completely Optional Accessories
The rest of this list is comprised of accessories that are not required, but they might make your archery more enjoyable. For that reason alone they are worth considering for further down the line.
Recurve Bow Sight
A sight is used for aiming your bow. Most recurve bows will not come with a sight, this is partly due to most recurve bow archers preferring a more challenging traditional shooting experience. Unlike compound bow archers, most recurve bow archers prefer a simpler archery experience. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t invest in a bow sight. A bow sight can help a novice archer to shoot better understand were an arrow is likely to end up based on were it’s being aimed.
A quiver is simply a container for holding your arrows. Some archers will just stick the arrows into the ground in front of them, pulling each one out as required. This can be a bit rough on the arrows, especially in rocky ground, so if you can invest in a quiver it’s something I would recommend. Some types of quivers attach directly to the bow itself, which is especially useful for hunter, while other quivers may attach to your waist of on your shoulder. It’s by no means an essential piece of kit, but it can make your life easier. I can recommend the G4Free Archery Deluxe Canvas Back Arrow Quiver.