Archery: How to Choose a Bow

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Archery: How to Choose a Bow

The world of archery provides an array of options, which can be overwhelming to those new to the sport. Choosing the right type of bow is vital to long-term success and enjoyment. The novice archer must choose not only from a compound, recurve, or traditional bow, but must also choose among several types from these categories. The right choice depends upon how the bow is to be used and the user's overall comfort and experience levels.


Choosing the Right Archery Bow

There are three major types of bows: traditional, recurve, and compound bows. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. A novice archer or bow hunter should consider experience level, purpose, and comfort when purchasing any bow.

Traditional Bows

A traditional bow is a bow that carries a slight curve. It is the oldest kind of bow, so it is sometimes referred to as a primitive bow. These bows can be made of wood or of fiberglass. Bows made of more than a single material are known as composite bows. A bow constructed from a single piece of wood is known as a self-bow.

Traditional bows as a rule do not have the power, speed, or accuracy of recurve or compound bows and require more strength to draw. However, they are lighter and quieter. The relative lack of power means it is not as popular among hunters as recurve or compound bows. The traditional longbow and its variations are used most often for recreational archery and target practice as well as historical re-enactment.

The archer shopping for a traditional bow is often looking for a high-quality bow that represents a specific historical tradition. The bow should be made of durable materials and should be the right height and weight for the archer. The draw weight – the amount of strength it takes to draw the bow – should be in a comfortable range.

Recurve Bows

A recurve bow is similar to a traditional bow except that each end has an additional curve. This curve allows the bow to release more smoothly and confers greater speed to the arrow. This type of bow is used in Olympic competition for recreational target practice, and for hunting.

Choosing a recurve bow depends upon how it is going to be used. For target practice, almost any beginner recurve bow will provide a good experience. However, for hunting, it is important to purchase a bow with a high draw weight. Without sufficient draw weight, the bow will not shoot an arrow fast enough or powerfully enough to kill an animal. For small game, the recommended draw weight is 35 to 40 pounds. Larger game, however, like deer or elk, require at least a 40-lb. draw weight. Many beginners cannot pull a 40 pound bow and start at a lower weight. With practice, though, a beginning archer can build up to a stronger bow that can successfully take down larger game.

Compound Bows

The right compound bow is the easiest to shoot and the hardest to choose. Compound bows are individualised, matched to the archer's arm length, strength, and preference in how the bow feels when drawn. Compound bows are commonly used for hunting, as their structure allows the archer to produce more power and speed while exerting less strength.


Type of Bow



Traditional (long bow)

Simple construction

Easy to use

Easy to choose a comfortable bow

Harder to pull

Less accurate, slower

Recurve bow

Basic model usually a good match for beginning archer

Not as powerful or as accurate as a compound bow for hunting

Can take time to build up strength to pull a hunting-weight bow

Compound bow

Produces speed and power with less strength from archer

More accurate

Compensates for less-than-perfect technique

Complex construction and numerous features makes it more difficult to choose an appropriate bow for a beginner


An archer does not require as much strength to pull the bow to the equivalent of 40 lbs. or more – the weight required for hunting larger game. A compound bow can also be equipped with sights and other accessories to increase accuracy and compensate for small imperfections in form.


How to Buy an Archery Bow on eBay

Buyers can find a wide range of archery bows on eBay, both new and used. To narrow your search, enter the type of bow into the search field. For example, look specifically for a compound or a recurve bow. Look for the bow's height, weight, draw strength, and other details that will help you decide if it is a good choice for you. Also, be careful not to buy a right-handed bow if you are left-handed. Having the right bow for your size, strength, and interests ensures you enjoy your purchase for years to come.

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