What is a Recurve Bow? Put simply: A Recurve Bow is a bow which has limbs that curve away from the archer when it is unstrung creating a shape similar to the number 3. When the bow is braced it is pulled into a more recognizable bow shape due to the string being shorter than the unstrung bow but the ends of the limbs still point away from the archer.
This shape means that a recurve bow can store much more energy than a traditional longbow so the archer can shoot their arrow faster and further with the same draw weight.
History Of Recurve Bows
Although they are one of the more recent developments in archery, recurve bows date back to around 1800BC where they were heavily utilized by the Assyrian army. They were so important, in fact, that Assyrian kings were often depicted holding a recurve bow, showing just how highly regarded they were.
And as we move through the ages, many famous armies made use of recurve bow – particularly ones with a large number of troops mounted on horseback, such as the Mongols. The smaller, more portable shape of the recurve bow made it much more versatile than the longbow and could be used to devastating effect by a skilled archer.
How Does A Recurve Bow Work?
The secret to how a recurve bow works is all down to its shape. When the string is drawn back, the curved limbs hold more potential energy than a traditional bow so that when it is released, these curved ends accelerate faster than the rest of the limb.
All that extra energy means more power and a flatter, faster arrow trajectory.
Why Is A Recurve Bow Better?
Better is, of course, subjective. There are definite advantages to all different types of bows but there are also lots of areas where recurve bows excel:
Power – Take two similarly sized bows and a recurve bow will almost certainly be able to generate more power due to those curved limbs. There are longbows that can match a recurve bow for power but they are (obviously) going to be a lot bigger.
Size – Because of the extra power that comes from their shape, recurve bows are a much more manageable size for most archers. This has been particularly useful throughout history where the recurve bow has been put to devastating effect by archers on horseback – you try using a longbow while galloping across a battlefield!
Ease of use – It’s not that recurve bows are necessarily easier to use, but the lighter draw weight for the same power output means they are more approachable for newcomers so they can work on their aim while they are still building up their strength.
Accuracy – Another slight twist here – the accuracy of the bow is mostly down to the archer using it but, with the addition of sights, clickers, and stabilizers, an Olympic Recurve Bow is unmatched when it comes to accuracy.
Horseback Archery – OK, maybe we covered this under size already, but what’s more impressive than a skilled archer doing what they do while riding a horse?! If it’s good enough for the Mongols, then a recurve bow is good enough for us!
It’s easy to see why this relative newcomer to the world of archery quickly became, and remained, one of the most popular bow choices for archers around the world.