Last Updated On: March 5, 2024

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Picking between longbows and recurves might be challenging for beginners getting into traditional archery or hunting.

In this article, we'll comprehensively compare longbow vs. recurve.

We'll look at:

  • Differences between the long bow and recurves
  • What are their pros and cons?
  • Which one is for beginners and hunters

Let's dive in:

What is a Longbow?

long bow

A longbow is a type of bow that's longer than regular bows. Its length is about 1.8 meters, and widely used for hunting and warfare purposes.

English longbow has a high draw weight ranging from 60 to 180 pounds (270 to 810 Newton) and requiring great strength and skill to handle effectively.

What does it mean?

It means that you’ll need a lot of force to pull back the bowstring to its full draw position.

The bow's length provides a greater distance compared to other bows.

Modern longbow is practiced in various archery disciplines and hunting.

What is Recurve Bow?

recurve bow

A recurve bow is a type of bow that has limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung.

This design allows the bow to store more energy and deliver more power to the arrow than a traditional longbow.

Recurve bows are commonly used in archery and are often made from a combination of wood, fiberglass, and carbon fiber materials to achieve the desired balance of strength and flexibility.

Longbow Vs Recurve (Deep Comparison):

1. Basic Design:

basic design


Generally, a long bow is straight when not strung and curved (D-shaped) when strung.

Recurve has a more wavy form that resembles an "M."

But be aware that there might be overlap because of modern hybrid designs.


The one-piece long bow is usually made of a single piece of wood carved to the desired shape.

Recurve bows are made of several layers of laminated wood or composite materials such as fiberglass and graphite.


When strung, the string on the long bow does not touch the belly but one point at the string nock (end of the limbs).

On the other hand, recurve bow has the string sit against the belly of the limb.

2. Anatomy:

Recurve bow parts:


Risers on recurve bows are made of different materials, such as aluminum, carbon fiber, or wood.

Besides that, there are numerous holes on the risers for mounting extra gear, such as sights, stabilizers, and arrow rests

The bow can be cut past the center.

The grip has more “meat” and several styles that the longbow doesn’t have, such as:

  • High wrist
  • Standard straight wrist
  • Low wrist

The limbs on recurves are thinner and wider than the long bow, but they store more energy.

Besides that, there are various lengths from 48” to +70” that can fit your needs and desires.

Longbow parts:


The long bow has thicker, longer, but narrower belly limbs.

The riser is also smaller, making them smoother to shoot due to its limited range of motion.

Modern longbows come in a wide range of styles and materials.

3. String “pinch”:

Recurve bows produce more "pinch" (injury to your fingers) on the string, which results in a less smooth release and impact on your accuracy.

string angle

Longbows have far more gentle and acute string angles because the limb tips flex less, making them more stable and smoother to shoot. You’ll have less string pinch or finger injury.

The secret behind it:

The longer the limbs, the less likely the string moves out of the center, and the more stable it is because the limbs don't have to move so far.

Sounds cool, right?

4. Drawing Experience:

The Argument Against Instinctive Archery

In general, a long bow is better for instinctive shooting (a kind of traditional shooting with no sight) thanks to its lighter draw and slower speed.

You’ll feel light draw at the beginning but firmer at anchor.

On the contrary, a recurve is better for aiming because it has a faster speed and heavier draw.

You’ll feel firmer at the beginning, but the light at the anchor, which is comfortable to hold the anchor for a longer time.

This is crazy:

When the string lifts from the return curve, recurves also have a slight let-off effect that makes you feel easier to draw, but after that, the power is added pretty quickly.

That’s why you have the feeling of firm first and light later above.

5. Forgiveness:

Archery Tips for Beginners

Longbows are more forgiving and easier to shoot than recurves since you don’t need to discipline drawing techniques strictly.

Although you’ll still need the correct archery technique, a minor error won’t affect your accuracy.

Besides that, you can't twist the limb tips from side to side.

Want to know why?

This is because long bows limbs are heavier and more difficult to twist than a recurve.

It means you’ll have a more steady shot due to the limbs' forward motion upon release.

But after release, you’ll have more string slaps and hand shock than recurve bow.

Recurve is less forgiving

If you don't have proper form, the limbs will often torque when you release them.

A minor change in form, bow materials, and tunning might significantly impact the accuracy.

6. Accuracy:

10 Archery Essential Gears

The accuracy of a recurve bow ranges from 40 to 400 yards, while that of a longbow is from 30 to 100 yards.

Recurve bows are more accurate than longbows due to their shorter length and more complex design with additional gears.

What does this mean?

You can shoot arrows more accurately with tons of gear, making them ideal for target shooting and competitions.

7. Draw Weight:

recurve bow draw weight

What is draw weight?

A bow's draw weight is the force required to pull the bowstring back to a fixed position.

The draw weight of a longbow is from 60 to 180 pounds, while that of a recurve bow is between 50 to 70 pounds.

Longbows usually have higher draw weights than recurve bows.

Why is it important?

Higher draw weight means:

8. Power and Speed:

target practice

Recurves are more powerful and faster than longbows, which I find to be much more satisfying.

They also provide nicer tactile feedback and push straighter arrow trajectories, making them slightly more accurate overall.

Let me tell you:

A recurve's design allows for greater energy storage and release, resulting in faster arrow speeds.

How much faster?

Recurves travel 10–20 feet per second faster than longbows of the same draw weight and length.

9. Noise and Vibration:

Longbows are quieter and produce less vibration than recurve bows due to their simpler design and "no string slap."

Recurve bows, on the other hand, produce more noise and vibration due to more powerful limbs.

10. Draw Length:

Best Longbow for Hunting Deer (2018) In this article, we’re going to point you in the right direction to choose the best longbow for hunting deer. Also, we have reviewed the 5 top rated longbows that are great for deer hunting. Best Longbow for Deer Hunting Reviews: IRQ 54" Wooden Longbows Mongolian The IRQ hunting wooden longbow is an all-new high performing traditional longbow that is designed for optimum use for both left and right-handed shooters. The IRQ 54” comes with a 32-inch arrow, plus 5-inch and 6-pack natural feather fletches as well as 100-grain silver broadhead. It also delivers a 100% handmade design pump, coupled with a high-intensity resin material and top quality wood. IRQ 54 Via In addition to commendable performance, and well thought out design, the IRQ hunting bow also rooms a Cow leather material, as well as a fiberglass limb, which, translates to smooth draw and accurate shooting for both professionals and beginners deer hunting and other targeting practice. Indeed, all these integrated designs allow for high performance, great comfort, flashy speed, low hand shock and more precise shooting. The IRQ hunting bow we reviewed houses a maximum draw length of 32 inches, and a draw weight of 30-65 lbs with a bow length of 54 inches. Check it on Pros Integrated with the best materials for optimum use Comfortable and perfect for both left and right-handed shooters Comes with accessories to give a pleasurable hunting experience Extremely strong and durable Doesn't produce any hand shock Cons It isn't lightweight as compared to the Longbowmaker Longbowmaker Hungarian Style Handmade Longbow The Longbowmaker Hungarian style Handmade Longbow turns you into a skillful Archer and makes you shoot like a champ in no time. Thanks to its fast, convenient, and reliable handmade design. The Longbowmaker earns our top position on our list by serving up a draw weight at 20-110LBS and a Bow Body Length at 145cm, which are perfect for both beginners and seasoned archers. Longbowmaker Hungarian style Handmade Longbow Flagella Recurve Horsebow Archery 20-110LBS H1 Via The Longbowmaker is now the go-to longbow if you are looking for a brand that delivers a safe draw length at 33 inches and a draw length of 28 inches to give you high accuracy on target at a flashy speed and with fewer vibrations or hand shock. Expert Advice: Wood feather arrows are most suitable for longbows because of traditional style. You should check them out on The best part is that the longbow riser, string, and Limbs are made from durable materials, which make this bow draw smoothly and accurately. With a 131cm string, the Longbowmaker is suitable for all types of bow users, even though you aren't that tall. The Longbowmaker is an absolute joy to shoot with as it gives you the needed flexibility to shoot more than 200 shafts without any defects. Check it on Pros Very comfortable to use Save a lot of time dissemble different parts for easy storage It is very accurate It is sufficiently strong and durable Doesn't produce any hand shock Pros No arrow attachment 3. Archerymax Handmade Mongolian Style Longbow The Archerymax rooms a durable construction and also comes with a wrapped snake skin, spiraling the length of the belly of the bow to add to a traditional decor on the bow. For starters, you can conveniently shoot out to 45 yards with this bow even without no holdover, and still hit a 12" diameter even as a beginner.—All thanks to its well-constructed fiberglass design and a rugged wood Shas. ArcheryMax Handmade Mongolian Style Longbow Black Leather Archery Traditional Recurve Bow 20-80LBS Via Just like the IRQ 54", the ArcheryMax is a cinch to use for both left and right-handed shooters. It measures 54" long at full stretch and still produces a smooth and quiet release. That's all good, but it was its 20-80lbs draw weight, 54 inches bow body length and 52-inch string length that clinched the deal, making it the ideal type of bow for beginners. Similarly, the ArcheryMax Longbow also features a standard Draw Length at 28 inches, and a safe draw Length @ 34 inches, which allows you to fire up to as many rounds as you want at any distance. Check it on Pros Purely handmade and excellent craftsmanship The fiberglass material makes it extremely strong and reliable You can easily shoot at a target without a nock point and still aim at your target accurately Offers Integrated design for optimum performance The release and the draw are smooth and supple Cons Offers a cheap string 4. SAS Pioneer Traditional Wood Long Bow We'd have high praise for this wonderfully crafted, well built, and strong traditional longbow due to the caliber of wood used to make the bow, making it look more like a traditional English longbow. SAS Pioneer Traditional Wood Long Bow Via For starters, the bow is carved from Makore and Cassia Siamea wood, which are perfect for medium draw strength as well as a steady shot on target. It also features a strong fiberglass limb, which is made of Maple lamination to give your bow the needed stability and less hand shock. Check it on Pros Light as a feather, but sturdy The release is superb and smooth It is beautifully and expertly made It produces smooth shots even without a proper setup of the brace height Easy to use and practice with Cons You might notice a little bit of hand shock Only for right-handed users Longbow Vs Recurve for Hunting If you are just starting out in bow hunting, one of the questions you might probably be asking is whether you should buy a longbow or a recurve bow? What are their differences? To answer your question, let's get these two types of bows a bit straightened up, so you know their differences. So, let's start with the longbow and critically look at its pros and cons. longbow-vs-recurve-2 Longbow The longbow is arguably older than the recurve bow due to its primitive design. One sweet perk about longbows is that they are more forgiving to shoot than recurve bows. This is because they have thin limbs compared to recurve bows that have large limbs. Even at that, they are mostly well made of thick and durable material compared to a recurve bow. This means you can't twist the limbs, even when you didn't shoot it properly. Apart from giving you a more forgiving release, the string in a longbow has a better opportunity to slide off your fingers smoothly instead of having a violent release. Pros Cons Longbow Perfect for ground hunting More forgiving release in shooting Lighter and a little bit quieter than recurve bows Easy to draw and shoot smoothly Quick and fast to reload after shooting Not too great for tree stand Less compact and flexible Recurve Great Speed, and flexibility in the limbs Comes with the perfect bow length Perfect for tree hunt Accurate and consistent at a longer distance Less forgiving release in shooting You can't quickly draw the bow and shoot smoothly without a release Slow to handle and to draw Recurve Bows Just like we said earlier, recurve bows have larger limbs and also feature wider tips than a longbow. They are generally slim and wide. So, when you're about to shoot and not releasing well, or your release is unstable, you might end up twisting the limb. And this can throw your shot off if you end up twisting or grabbing the string wrong. Easily Slide Off The string of a recurve bow has an opportunity to slide off your finger more easily and smoothly when pulling it. So, the shorter the bow, the more the angle of the string on your fingers. And this will make any finger release a lot more difficult because now, you have more friction on the ends of the fingers. That is why you see most compound shooters use a release as opposed to fingers. Faster Shooting But one of the advantages of a recurve bow is that they tend to be a faster shooting bow. The reason is that the limb of the bow had been designed to have more power in the tips of the limb, and that transfers to arrow speed. More Compact Another big advantage of a recurve bow is that they are shorter and more compact than longbows. That means, it offers you the flexibility to easily maneuver it without producing much noise or hit tree branches when stalking prey. Bottom Line: Both recurve and longbows are great to work with. But the fact remains that longbows are more forgiving to shoot, they are light, fast and powerful enough, and all these make it something you want to a tryout. How to Pick the Best Longbow for Deer Hunting There are a lot of longbows out there. So you might want to look at some key factors before deciding to choose the one that best suits you. Below are some factors you should consider in order to choose the best longbow for deer hunting. What is the Draw Length of the Longbow

When you stretch your bowstring, the distance between the stretched string and your grip on the bow is called "draw length."

The draw length of a longbow is between 28 inches (71.12 cm) and 45 inches (114.3 cm), while a recurve bow is between 17 to 30 inches.

Longbows have a longer draw length than recurve bows, so you can shoot arrows to a longer distance than recurve bows.

11. Maneuverability:

Longbows have a length of 1.8 meters and a weight of 60 to 180 pounds, while recurve bows have a size of 1.4 meters and a weight of 50 to 70 pounds.

This shows that longbows are longer size and bulkier than recurve bows.

What does it mean?

It means they are less maneuverable in tight spaces.

12. Maintenance:

wax string


Both longbow and recurves are easy to maintain no matter what they’re made of, including:

  • Stringing
  • Unstring when not used
  • Waxing and drying to avoid moisture and lengthen the bow life.

13. Versatility:

Recurve bows are often more versatile than longbows.

This is because you can easily modify them with accessories like stabilizers, sights, and quivers to suit different shooting styles.

14. Stealth:

Shot deer precisely

Via The Huntin Grounds

Longbows don't have string contact with the bow's limbs when the arrow is released. They are quieter and get an advantage for hunting.

It makes the hunting process more stealthy and silent, preventing sensitive animals from noticing your arrow's release and jump string easily.

15. Transport:

carry bow by case

A recurve bow is generally more portable than a one-piece longbow due to its compact design.

Recurve bow limbs may be disassembled into 3 pieces and stored in a compact bow case, making them incredibly portable.

But note that modern taken-down longbows (2 pieces) also have the same mobility function.

So take a 2 pieced longbow if you want mobility.

Pros and Cons:

Here is the recap of pros and cons:


Long Bow

Recurve Bow






Wood, fiberglass or graphite


Touch at the limb nock

Touch at limb belly

String “pinch”



Drawing experience

Lighter draw at the beginning but firmer at anchor.

Firmer at the beginning but the light at anchor.


More forgive

Less forgive




Draw weight



Power and speed

Weaker and slower

More powerful and faster

Noise and vibration

Less noise and vibration

More noise and vibration

Draw length




Longer and bulkier

More compact





Less versatile

More versatile







So Which one is Better for Hunting?

recurve bow

The recurve bow is better and more practical for hunting than the longbow.

This is because the recurve bow has a more compact and efficient design that is faster speed and more accurate.

Its shorter length and curved limbs also make it easier to maneuver in tight spaces such as a tree stand or brush.

Additionally, you can easily disassemble them for easy transport and storage.

Which one is Better for Beginners?

Well, both recurve bow and a longbow is good for beginners who get into the fundamental of archery.

You should go to the local archery shop and try both and start light. Go with whatever you love.

Bottom Line:

At this point, I believe you should know the differences between longbow vs recurve.

Here’s my conclusion:

  • Longbows tend to be the connoisseur’s choice.
  • Recurves tend to be for people who want performance.

So which one do you prefer? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.