Your Complete Guide On The Best Recurve Bows of 2018
What exactly are recurve bows? The aim of this article is to introduce you to them. It will teach you what they are, the individual parts that make up a recurve bow as well as advice on stringing, shooting and finding the best recurve bow.
When looking for a decent recurve bow, it can often be very confusion to know which one is best. There are so many different choices and if you are new to the world of archery, you want to make sure you are getting a suitable bow. The aim of this buyers guide is to help simplify it for you by showing you what things to look out for when buying a recurve bow.
It can be very hard to say which is the best recurve bow as there are so many different things you need to consider when buying one.
You need to take into account things such as the size of the bow, the draw weight, the style you want. Its also important to take into account what you are using the bow for, is it target archery, mounted archery or even bow hunting.
If you then know that you want to choose a recurve bow for your archery, there is some advice on what you should look out for and a recommendation for a great beginner recurve bow.
Let’s get started into the great world of the recurve bow!
The Best Recurve Bows 2018
There are so many different bows and if you just want to find the most recommended, the table below will help show that.
What is a Recurve Bow?
A Recurve bow is often also known as “Olympic Bow”, because it is the only style of bow allowed in competition. You can tell a recurve because each end of the bow (known as the limbs), point away from the archer. The benefit of these curves is that it allows the bow to store more energy, which is what helps give the arrows their speed when shot. Many people prefer them to traditional bows because they can shoot more accurately as well as faster and further distances.
Another benefit of these recurve bows is that they tend to be shorter in length, making them smaller if you are into bow hunting or simply want something a little less cumbersome. They do tend to make a little more noise than traditional bows, but this does tend to depend on the different bows.
The bows have changed a lot of the years and most of the modern recurve bows are take down bows. This basically means when you have finished with it, you can dismantle it into 3 different parts. Ideal for if you want to transport it or store it easily, as well as allowing you to purchase the parts individually. Being able to buy replacement parts such as the limbs is perfect for when you need to upgrade, you don’t need to buy a whole new bow.
Parts of a Recurve Bow
The recurve bow is made up of different parts, as mentioned if it is a takedown bow then these can be dismantled. There are many different parts that can be purchased and added at a later stage to help with your archery such as sights and stabilisers. These are completely natural and not needed to become good at archery.
The main parts that you will find on all recurve bows are;
1. The Riser
The riser is crucial when it comes to the recurve bow. You can find it in the centre of the bow between the limbs. If you were to use any accessories such as sights then they will connect to the riser (as long as it has the holes available). Originally they were made from wood, however aluminium is becoming more common due to them being lighter. You can also find carbon fiber risers that again are even lighter.
The grip is a part of the riser and is where you would be holding the bow. The grip is very important as you want it to fit your hand naturally and feel comfortable. They can often be replaced, allowing you to find one that you like. To be honest, I have never had a issue with the ones supplied with the recurve bows I have brought.
2. The Limbs
At either end of the riser are the limbs, these are flexible wood or in many cases fiberglass or carbon fiber. It is these that when the string is pulled stores and then releases kinetic energy needed to fire the arrow at your target. Many limbs are manufactured following a common standard, this means that you don’t always have to stick to the same manufacture for limbs as the riser its connected to.
As you begin experienced with archery and your strength increases, you may upgrade the limbs to ones that have higher pressure and more weight.
3. Arrow Rest
Old bows people would have rested the arrow on the hand that was gripping the bow, now recurve bows have what’s known as the arrow rest. This is usually plastic or in some cases metal and is where the arrow rests whilst you draw the bow.
4. Bow String
The bow string is attached to both of the limbs and is what you naturally need to pull back with the arrow attached, releasing this releases the stored energy which then shoots the arrow. The bow string needs to be fully drawn in order to get the most of your shot.
How To String A Recurve Bow?
It’s important to learn how to string a recurve bow, it is important to remove the strings as this decreases the tension on the bow which means the bow and string will last longer. If you also decide to get a take down bow, you will need to remove the string to dismantle the rest of the bow.
Don’t worry though, it is incredibly easy to string a bow. It’s important that you do learn how to do it as incorrectly stringing the bow could cause damage and actually void the manufacturer’s warranty.
There is a tool known as a bow-stringer which can be purchased from your local archery shop, they will also help you with stringing a recurve bow if needed. The Bow stringing is recommended by manufacturers because its is the safest way of unstringing and stringing a bow.
The stringing is used to help flex the bow as though it was being pulled, which makes the limbs bend allowing the string to slide into the right place. When you stop flexing the bow the string is in place and you can remove the bow stringer.
Below is a step by step guide on how to string a recurve bow;
Step One: Attaching The Bow String
The first step is actually attaching the string of the bow. There are two loops on the string, the larger one goes on the top and the smaller one on the bottom. You should start from the top limb and then do the bottom. Simply place the top string loop over the bow and then with the bottom one place slide it on but make sure it goes into the groves.
Step Two: Using The Bow Stringer
Repeat the process with the bow stringer, placing the top one on first (this again is the larger loop). With the bottom one place this over the bottom limb. You will notice the bottom one is actually a pouch, this is to help keep tip in place
Step Three: Stringing A Recurve Bow
This next step requires you to stand on the bow stringer, don’t let this put you off. Hold the bow by the handle and with the string facing down and the riser facing you, stand on the bow stringer with both feet.
Pull the bow up and you will notice the limbs will flex, this is the bow stringer taking the draw weight (as though you were shooting the bow). Don’t pull up to much, just enough so you can easily move the top bow string down into the groove to lock it in place.
Step Four: Final Checks
Now you need to remove the bow stringer but before you do, face the bow away from you as though you were going to shoot an arrow. Remove the bow stringer, the reason you face it away from you is incase the string comes off.
Check that the string is in both string grooves and you are ready to attach your arrow and fire. To remove the string, simply follow the same process.
Shooting A Recurve Bow
One thing I get asked a lot is about actually shooting a recurve bow. There are many clubs that will give you training but if you would prefer to give it a go yourself, below you will learn exactly how to do it.
1. Getting The Right Stance
The stance is critical if you are wanting to get the most out of your shot, if you have a poor stance then you will really struggle to not only hit the target but get the right amount of draw on your bow. Stance is really a technique that you need to make sure you master early, picking up bad habits can make it really hard to drop them in the future.
You want to stand side on to the target, if you are right handed, your left hip will be facing the target. You want to imagine an invisible line between your legs, this is your shooting line. To help with stability make sure your legs are shoulder width apart.
Keep your body upright and your back straight, turn your head to face the target but make sure the rest of your body is facing sideways.
2. Holding The Bow
Now you have your stance right, the next step is to hold the bow correctly. If you are right handed then you need to hold the grip of the bow with your left hand. Keep the handle held firm but make sure your grip is comfortable, do not hold the bow to tight as this will impact your aim.
3. Attaching The Arrow
Keeping the bow faced downwards you want to now attach the arrow, which is known as “Nocking”. You will notice at the end of the arrow there are 3 fletchings, one of them will be on its own and in some cases might be a different colour. When attaching the arrow you need to make sure this single fletching is facing up to the sky.
Place the arrow onto the arrow rest on the riser. The bottom of the arrow will often have a notch which is usually plastic which will clip onto the bow string. The arrow will now be attached to the bow and ready for you to aim.
4. Holding The Bow & Draw
Lift the bow up until it is at shoulder height and straighten out your arm. You need to make sure your arm is fully stretched and locked in place, if your arm is bent at the elbow then you will find it harder to hit your target.
Place your fingers directly under the arrow and pull the string back until it goes to the side of your mouth. You want to keep your thumb out, therefore a good tip is to put your thumb in the thumbs up position, helping it get closer to the corner of your mouth.
You should know which eye is your dominant eye already and it is that eye that is open, the other eye should be closed. This will hopefully mean that your using your strongest eye to aim. Position the arrow point to the centre of the target and get ready to shoot…
6. Release (Shooting)
Gently release your fingers from the string to let the arrow fly, if you sudden move your fingers then you will find your arrow will move off target. Do not move away from the shot, keep the bow in the same position until your arrow has hit the target.
TIP: Fire a couple of arrows and you will hopefully notice a pattern as to where the arrows land, adjust your aim to compensate. For example if I shot 4 arrows and they all went in the top left side of the target, id move my aim a little down and to the right, this should mean I hit the centre.
How To Choose A Recurve Bow?
If you are looking for the best recurve bow for you and your needs, there are a few things you need to consider. Thinking about these should help you narrow down the bows until you find your perfect bow.
The Use Of The Bow
Before you start looking for your bow, you need to figure out what you are actually going to be shooting at. This is important as different recurve bows are more suitable for different uses. Are you planning on doing target archery or do you intend to go bow hunting or even bowfishing.
If you are hunting then no doubt you will want a smaller recurve bow that is lightweight but is also quiet. Bowfishing requires a bow that offers enough speed to get through the water and also needs to be lightweight as you will need to aim for some time to get the right target. Once you know what you will be using the bow for, you can narrow down your choices a little.
Find The Right Draw Weight
Draw weight and getting a bow with the right draw weight is essential, you should make sure to get the right draw weight before buying a recurve bow. Your draw weight will depend on your age, frame and your gender.
As you continue with archery you will find your strength will increase and therefore your draw weight will also improve. Its important that you don’t spend a fortune on a recurve bow as your first bow, you will soon need to upgrade to a stronger bow.
If you are planning on hunting then you need to make sure the draw weight is a minimum of 40lbs, this is to ensure you have the strength to do a humane kill. A child would normally use a draw weight of 10-15lbs, on average women have a draw weight of between 25 and 35.
Men will usually start with a draw weight of 40-55lbs, with larger men going up to draw weights of 60lbs. As mentioned it does depend on gender and size so the above is just a guide, below is a break down of different weights and ranges of draw weight.
Archers Weight (lbs)
Small Children (70-100)
Larger Children (100-130)
Small-Frame Female (100-130)
Medium-Frame Female (130-160)
Small-Frame Male (120-150)
Medium-Frame Male (150-180)
Large-Frame Female (120-150)
Large-Frame Male (120-150)
NOTE: You would not start with these weights as it would be too much. You need to start low and build your way up to higher draw weights.
Do You Need a Takedown Bow?
As already mentioned a takedown bow is exactly as it sounds, it allows you to takedown the bow and dismantle it into smaller parts. A full length bow can take up a lot of space and some people don’t like to have to transport a full sized bow. Being able to dismantle it can be more convenient and is often very important if hunting.
Weight of the Bow
Another aspect to think about is the actual weight of the bow, now to be honest most recurve bows are not actually that heavy. They vary from 2-3.5lbs, if you are planning on holding it and aiming for extended periods of time then you would probably be better going for the lighter option.
Do You Need Accessories?
There are some accessories that can help you even further such as sights, these fasten to the riser via pre-drilled holes. If you therefore intend to use accessories or feel like you would want to in the future, it would be a good idea to get a bow that has pre-drilled holes already in the riser. There are a lot of wooden risers that don’t have the holes already in them, drilling them yourself could void the warranty.
Recurve Bow Buying Guide - 9 Things To Look For?
As mentioned when looking for the a recurve bow, whether your a beginner and it’s your first one or you are more experienced and looking for an upgrade. We are all after different things but there are a few things we need to consider when making a purchase. I have gone into more detail on these below to help you learn what you should consider when looking for that perfect bow.
|Martin Saber Elite|
Pricing is a very important aspect, as we all have different budgets. You also need to consider your needs, if you are new then you might not initially buy the most expensive bow. It’s only natural that you do want a top rated recurve bow but that does not always mean the most expensive.
All of the recommended bows on this page can be found on Amazon and they usually do offer very good pricing. I have also marked in the above comparison its price range and in the more detailed reviews below, I have pointed out those that are ideal for anyone on a budget.
2. Draw Weight
Draw weight is the amount of strength that is needed to pull the string back and hold it whilst aiming. It is therefore important to make sure you find your draw weight before purchasing a bow. If you do get a bow that is too heavy and harder to pull, you will struggle to get your shot and it will make your technique suffer.
The key is therefore to find a bow that you can comfortable pull back. The more you do archery you will find your upper body strength will increase and therefore your draw weight will also go up. If you get a bow that allows you to change the limbs then you will be able to change them so you will be able to add draw weight (meaning you don’t have to buy a whole new recurve bow!)
What you plan on using the bow for will also impact on what draw weight you might want to look at getting. If you plan on going bow hunting, you need to be able to fire the arrow so that it gets a killing shot – which means you might end up going for a higher draw weight.
With target archery you don’t have to go to high with the draw weight, although you will want something that is at least 25 lbs if going for 70m targets. A youth will normally be able to use bows with a draw weight of 10-20, a average women’s is 25-35 and the average mans is 40-50.
3. Left or Right Handed
Another thing you need to consider is what bow you should get in terms of left handed or right handed. Just because you are right handed, doesn’t mean you should get a right handed bow. You should get a bow that is dependent on your eye dominance. If you left eye is stronger and your right handed, you might prefer to get a left handed bow as your aim could potentially be better.
Interestingly many beginners do hold the bow in the wrong hand. If you are right handed then you would actually hold the bow in your left hand, but use your right hand to draw the bow.
4. Bow Size
It can be confusing when you see bow size/length. The draw length is basically the amount of distance between the nock point and the grip, with an extra 1 ¾ inches. Its very important to find the right draw length, you can read more about it here. To quickly explain how to do it, simply extend your arm span which is fingertip to fingertip and then divide this by 2.5.
When you buy a recurve bow it will have a bow size in inches, this is also the same length as the string. If you ever need to replace the string then you know if your bow is 60”, you need to get the same length string.
Have a think about what accessories you might want to use on your bow. The riser is either in wood or metal, with wood normally being a little cheaper. Accessories will use holes in the riser to attach such as sights and stabilisers. Metal ones will come with these pre-drilled, however some wooden ones may not.
If you plan to add accessories then it might be worth making sure they have the required holes in them, to avoid having to drill them yourself.
6. The Weight of the Bow
When shooting your bow, whether target archery or when hunting, you will be holding the bow for some time. You therefore need to make sure the overall weight of the bow is not too much. Most bows are fairly lightweight, but just bear that in mind when picking a bow.
7. How the Bow Looks
I personally feel that the way the bow looks is important when buying it. It could tick all of the boxes but if I don’t like the way it looks, why would I buy it? It is going to be a personal choice on if you like the look of it or not, but one that you should take into consideration.
8. Takedown Recurve
Bows can take up a lot of space and even more so when you take the string off, therefore many people opt for a takedown recurve bow. Many can be put together without any kind of tools and can be easily stored in a case. If your space is limited then it might be worth thinking about a take down.
Usually take downs can also be upgraded because the limbs can be replaced. This is often useful when you outgrow a bow or need increased draw weight. The benefit of this is that you can simply upgrade your current recurve bow and you wont need to buy a new one.
Something I often look at when buying anything and not just a bow is the warranty. Since you will be hopefully using your recurve bow often, you want to be sure it is covered for any issues outside of your control. Usually the warranty will cover the riser and the limbs of the bow but not the strings and arrow rests, this is normally because they do wear over time.
Normally the only reason the riser or limbs break is because of a quality issue. It’s worth noting that the warranty period is normally for a set period of time, which would depend on the individual manufacture.
There are some things that could void a warranty such as drilling your own accessory holes and even firing the bow without arrows (dry-firing) – all things you should avoid doing.
Detailed Look Of The Best Recurve Bows
If you are looking for a recurve bow that is great quality and not too expensive, the Spyder Takedown bow is perfect. Online it has said to be a more improved version of the Samick Sage, interestingly it was designed by those that actually engineered the Sage.
One thing that really impressed me was the comfort of the bow, it felt incredible to shoot from which makes it ideal for beginners as well as more experienced archers. The Spyder Recurve bow is lightweight at only 2.8 lbs and is a decent sized bow at 62 inches.
There are a number of draw weights available from 20-60 pounds and the limbs can be changed. It is a little more expensive than the Samick Sage but The Spyder is a very good option if you have a little more to spend.
Great bow for beginners, hunters and those looking for the next step up from a typical beginner bow
The Samick Sage recurve bow is a great choice, it is low in cost when compared to alternatives and is perfect for both target archery and hunting. If you are new to archery then it makes for a great beginner bow, although more skilled archers do also recommend it as a very good bow.
It is a takedown bow, which means as you develop in archery you can upgrade the limbs to account for increased skill and strength. In terms of upgrades you don’t need any tools for this recurve bow to upgrade it, which is ideal.
The Samick Sage bow is available in a wide range of draw weights and has a version for both left and right handed archers.
I like the feel of this recurve bow in my hands, the grip feels completely natural. It has a arrow rest which makes it much easier for beginners to shoot from. I personally prefer not to use accessories but the riser does come with pre-drilled holes, allowing you to add additional accessories required.
All in all this is a perfect bow for a beginner and even someone with some experience.
3. SAS Spirit
The SAS Spirit is one of those bows that really stands out mainly due to the white limbs, I think these look great but not ideal if you are looking to go hunting. If you are looking for a bow that is very low cost, the SAS Spirit is perfect, in fact its probably one of the lowest priced recurve bows on the market.
The bow itself is only suitable for those that are under 5’7”, which makes it a great youth bow. Whether you are doing target archery in the garden or a family hunting trip, this will be an ideal bow. It is however very much an entry bow, it is not really anything exceptional. The performance of it is pretty average and even though it has some decent accuracy, many archers will grow out of it very quickly.
If however you are looking for a cheap bow to get started, then this could be a good option.
4. SAS Courage
The SAS Courage is a low cost hunting recurve bow, although it can still be used by target archers. It does look good but is limited on its ability to be upgraded when you do look at other recurve bows.
There is a good range of draw weights from 35 – 60 lbs, as the name shows it has a bow length of 60”. There are left and right handed bows available so it does cater for all types of archers, which is a great.
One of the things I liked and that others have commented on is the amount of pull that is not need to actually draw the arrow. Another positive of this low cost bow is how easy it is to takedown and assemble again.
5. Bear Grizzly
If you want a recurve bow that looks like a thing of beauty and history, the bear grizzly bow is just what you are looking for. I personally think it looks incredible, something I could imagine on my wall. A great thing about this bow is that it’s suitable for people of all skill levels, whether you are new or more experienced.
It’s not the cheapest bow but you are paying for quality as well as some great features. The bow is great whether you are looking to shoot targets or if you are looking for a hunting bow. The Bear Grizzly Recurve is low weight but at the same time offers some great accuracy.
One thing that impressed me was the noise that this bow produces…which is very little! This bow has been around for years and continues to be a top seller and recommended bow, simply because of its quality.
The PSE Razorback is a good starter, as it is affordable and also very durable. Due to its low draw weights it is really only suitable for youths and women, it should also only be used for target archery and not hunting. (its just not powerful enough)
I like the look of the bow and it is also very comfortable to hold, the hand fits perfectly onto the riser grip. Since it is made with children and women in mind, it is very light and can therefore be used for long periods of time without any problems.
When you receive the bow it will naturally come in parts but the great thing is that this bow can be assembled very quickly. Its simply a case of screwing the limbs onto the riser, since it doesn’t require any tools. The downside is that it doesn’t come with a stringer, so you will need to purchase one separately.
Overall this bow is good quality starter bow, its low cost and is very durable.
7. SAS Explorer
The SAS Explorer is a pretty decent starter recurve bow, but could also be used and enjoyed by an intermediate archer. The design is very simple but the aluminium riser gives it that elegant look and feel, it’s also available in a range of colours.
If you are not sure which type of bow you want, this does make a decent option to give you an introduction to the world of archery. The bow is also very sturdy and durable, as well as being very light weight.
A major drawback of this bow however is that it is only available for right handed archers. Some have also commented on the grip being a little uncomfortable. overall however it is a very good bow for the price.
8. Tigershark Pro
The Tigershark Pro is made by the same company that brought us the Spyder, they have a track record of making high quality bows. This bow is similar in looks to their other bow and the Samick Sage, however it uses higher quality wood.
There are two versions available, the standard and the pro. The pro version gives improved performance, better accuracy and also makes it even lighter. If you do decide to go for the pro it does cost a little more but in comparison I would say its worth it. Both versions do however come with a pre-drilled riser, allowing you to add additional accessories.
Even though it is a great bow, there are some downsides. The stringer tool that comes with the package is not the best quality, so you might want to get a better one. (these are only around $10). The string is not the best quality (its a Dacron), I would personally recommend upgrading this to Fast Flight string.
Martin Archery make some excellent recurve bows and the Saber is one of 3. The build quality is very high and the price tag is actually very reasonable for the level of bow. This bow would be ideal for beginner and intermediate archers.
One of the great things about this bow is that it is ideal for both hunting and target practice, due to the high draw weights available. It is one of the heaviest recurve bows in this top 10 list, but this shouldn’t put you off.
The riser is made of high quality aluminium and offers a very comfortable grip, as well as vibration reducing technology. With the limbs attached its total length is an impressive 64 inches, helping to increase the accuracy of your shot.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this bow. It is only suitable for right handed archers, if you are left handed then you will want to look for another bow. The arrow rest is also made out of rubber, this will break after a decent number of shots so you might want to invest in a replacement.
Overall though a high quality bow at a decent price.
10. Martin Jaguar
This bow is not suitable for beginners or those that are just looking to do target archery, if this is you then you might want to look at one of the alternatives in the top 10 list. This bow has been made with the aim of bow fishing in mind, allowing you to add a bow fishing reel to the riser.
Now it could be used for hunting as long as you got one of the higher draw weights, but the look of the bow is not really suitable for land hunting (Its bright blue!). As it is mostly recommended for bowfishing, the bow itself is very powerful and more importantly its very accurate.
The limbs and riser are high quality and I really like how comfortable the grip is, ideal for when you are holding it drawn for an extended period of time. Its fairly light weight, although this does change with added accessories.
Price wise the bow on its own is prettying low in cost, although the price might go up slightly if you are looking to purchase accessories such as a reel.
The Archery Guide gets a few questions about the different types of bows, below are the most common questions asked about the recurve bow.
Can I Buy and Shoot a Bow Right Away?
More than often it will need you to string the bow and tune it, there are many guides to help do this and at first it might seem scary it is actually easier than it sounds.
How Much Should I Spend On My First Bow?
You don’t want to spend too much on your first bow as you will outgrow it very quickly. The best beginner bows are usually around $100-$200 and these are perfect for just starting out, some of them will take you further if you do upgrade the limbs.
Which Bow Manufacture Is Best?
There are some great recurve bow brands and I would always recommend getting your bow from one of these well-known manufactures. You know that the bow is going to be made of quality and will last a lot longer than some cheap knock off. Brands that are recommended are Bear, Samick, PSE and Hoyt – although there are others.
How Big Of A Bow Should I Get?
The larger bows do tend to be more accurate when you shoot, so many hunters tend to go for something a bit bigger but this does depend on transporting it etc. The length of the bow should be around double your draw length.
Can I Shoot My Recurve Bow In My Garden?
It will vary from country to country but it is completely legal to shoot your recurve bow in your garden. You do need to be careful and take full responsibility that the arrows remain in your garden.
I really hope this guide has helped you find the best recurve bow for you, whether you are a beginner, or experienced. Its really important to know what to look for and I hope this has shine a light on a typically though choice.
Adam has been enjoying the sport of archery since 2010, intially getting the bug for it whilst on holiday and trying it out in an activity center. Since his very first eperiance of holding a bow and arrow, he fell in love with it and can now be found at the range or in the great outdoors as often as possible.
His main go to bow type is a recurve but he loves shooting from compounds as well. Adam created The Archery Guide as a way to help others get into this great activity and to share his knowledge/experiences.