Compound Vs. Recurve Archery (Detailed Comparison) is reader-supported. When you buy something through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

If you are not familiar with the world of archery, you will easily find this type of gear pretty confusing. And at the time when you’ll try to purchase your very first bow, the realization of how complicated it is to distinguish between them will hit you. 

You will discover that there are a variety of bow models, draw weights, lengths, arrows, aim releases, and so many other accessories in archery. But no need to worry because we will introduce you to all the essential details that will immediately help you understand the archery world. 

Although there are numerous subcategories of bows available in the market, we generally break them into two prime categories: compound Vs. recurve archery.   

When it comes to compound vs. recurve archery, we will see that compound bows, with their advanced technology, are immensely popular. But we also see emerging interest among buyers towards recurve bows. However, there is a significant difference between their working styles, a method to shoot them, and advantages and disadvantages. 

Here we will be looking into the fundamental dissimilarities between compound Vs. recurve bows. So let us get started!

A Quick Comparison: Compound Vs. Recurve Archery

Regardless of you being completely new to archery space, keep in mind that the compound and recurve archery are not similar at all. Both of them store energy in their limb when you draw back the string and propel the arrow forward.

Here, the string gets released, and limbs tend to snap forward. In both archery styles, the more you draw back the bow, the more it will increase the weight of the draw. Hence more energy will be stored in the limbs.

However, the smoothness of this whole process depends heavily on the design and length of the bow. Also, the shooter’s stature plays an important role as well. 

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Before we get into a deeper comparison, check out the quick overview of the distinction between compound and recurve archery:

Compound archeryRecurve archery
Compound archery contains technologically advanced and mechanical bows.Recurve archery has basic and simple types of bows. 
Modern compound bows do not use wood.These can be made entirely of wood.
Comparatively, a longer string is used in compound bows.A single short string is used in recurve bows.
Pulling a string back is more effortless in contrast to recurve bows. Due to the use of a larger frame, it is pretty challenging to pull back strings in this type of bow.

Compound vs. Recurve Archery: Detailed List Of Differences

Although both the archery styles somehow have a similar practice, they still maintain significant differences that help users differentiate them from each other. 


The materials that have been used to make a bow significantly affect its durability and performance. Surprisingly, most recurve archery bows are made up of similar materials as compound bows.

However, due to comparatively more variation in designs and its styles in recurve bow, the range of materials used is higher.

The most commonly used materials in recurve bow include wood, carbon fiber, fiberglass, G10.

On the other hand, modern compound bows do not use wood as their manufacturing material, and these are usually made up of carbon fiber, aluminum, and fiberglass. 

Speed and performance

In terms of performance, compound bows tend to surpass the performance efficiency of recurve bows. Compound bows comprise modern technology and mechanical advantage over recurve bows with equally drawn weight.

Hence compound bows are more likely to impart higher energy quantities in comparison to recurve bows. Further, due to increased energy storage, the speed of the arrow shot through a compound bow will be much faster than the recurve bow. 

Aside from this, the compound bow can shoot over 300 feet within a second using a lightweight arrow. Whereas distance over 200 fps for recurve bow will be hard to cover. 

Shooting technique

For compound and recurve archery, the shooting technique follows similar underlying principles.

The two of the main principles involve repeatable shots and good form. Although there are different shooting styles through both of these archery methods, the basic concept remains the same: the ability to maintain the same position for every other shot. 

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Hence shooting techniques including bow-arm and shoulder position, alignment, and repeatable head position are similar in both of the archery styles. So the difference here comes by the factors like usage of sights, letting off of a compound, and using a release aid.

Apart from this, you will also see the differences in draws. For example, in compound archery, shooters will roll over the peak draw rate, and then they will settle into the anchor and proceed with aiming.

But in the case of recurve archery, the draw will look much smoother as it increases in weight gradually when the shooter pulls it back.

Aside from this, a compound archery shooter will aim and release the arrow quicker than a compound archery shooter. 

Aiming method

In the case of a compound sight, the shooter will use the precise aiming method even though there are numerous sights variety available. The shooters usually aim in the same manner.

On the other hand, recurve archery shooters like to implement many aiming techniques. Here, you will discover that the aiming style varies from gap shooting ( the shooter uses an arrow’s tip to set a distance under the target to instinctive shooting ( the shooter simply targets the sport they want to shoot).

Furthermore, another aiming method that recurves archery shooters use is string walking. In this technique, the shooter grabs the string under the arrow nock and sets the arrow’s point at the place they want to hit.

By placing their grip on various locations on the bow string, shooters adjust their link between the arrow and their eye. Hence, they efficiently hit the arrow lower or higher. 

Key Takeaways

No matter what style of archery you decide to start your journey within the archery world, the key to becoming successful involves constant practice and a lot of patience.

Within a few years, with a consistent approach, you will have a good grip on the compound and recurve longbow archery styles. Also, note that if you are shooting a 70-lb compound bow, then at the full draw, you will be only holding back merely up to 15 lbs.

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While if you are using a 70 lb recurve bow, you will be holding back the entire 70 lb at the full draw. This is why compound bows are more advantageous as they let you hold back for a long time even at the full draw; hence you can aim more efficiently.

We can say that compound archery design and style are more convenient for archers through the comparison. However, it ultimately depends on your preference. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors make recurve bow better? 

A recurve bow tends to have more energy storage and can deliver better energy efficiency compared to other archery bows. Hence, it puts higher stress on the materials of the bow giving good speed. 

Which one is a more powerful compound or recurve? 

Aiming with a powerful compound bow is easier than recurve bow in its full power, and this is because string forces in the compound bow at the full draw are decreased because of the let-off. 

Are recurve bows a better choice for beginners? 

Yes, recurve bows are a more suitable choice for beginners in the archery space. It is because these bows are affordable, do not need much maintenance, look stylish, and usually, experts use them to teach beginners. Furthermore, recurve bows tend to have takedown limbs. 

Do we need to unstring the compound bows? 

No, you need to keep your compound bowls always strung, and this is because it helps your compound bow case to fit with the shape of a strung compound. 

What is the farthest distance recurve and compound bows can shoot? 

The farthest range for recurve archery is generally between 20 to 35 yards. On the other hand, a compound archery shooter can typically cover a distance between 32 to 40 yards.

Furthermore, experienced compound archers can cover up to 60 yards of a shooting distance. 

Bottom Line

Archery has been a popular sport among people since ancient times, and it is an excellent skill of aiming and shooting arrows. With time, we are experiencing praising changes in the manufacturing methods of bows for archery.

From woods to aluminum, archery manufacturing companies experimented with different materials to provide satisfying products.

From the above comparison, hopefully, you can make a better decision on which archery style suits best for you.

We advise you to start with recurve and then move ahead to compound archery once you get experienced.

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