Recurve vs Compound Bow

Bows are a great prepping and survival tool since they are quiet, relatively easy to carry, and arrows can be repaired and reused. Bows are famously known weapons and the traditional bow has been used by people for thousands of years. In these modern times bows, and even archery itself, have evolved. Some folks practice traditional archery with a simple bow like a recurve bow, while other people embrace modern archery with a modern recurve bow. Some archers prefer one or the other, while other archers understand that each bow style has its own advantages, so they use both styles of bow types.


The archery community embraces all archers, both compound and recurve archers. That being said, the two bows have some basic differences and more nuanced differences as well. Draw length, draw weights, There and learning to shoot and hunt with a bow can seem daunting. If you’ve looked into archery at all, perhaps you came across the two major types of bow: recurve and compound.


In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about recurve vs compound bow. We will review the recurve bow, the compound bow, the shooting style for each, any why many archers who are preppers choose one over the other when it comes to prepping. We will also talk about some cool stuff like arrow speed and which style bow offers more accurate shooting. Then we will come to a conclusion on which bow type is the better option in a survival situation where your bow is the source of your next meal.

What Is A Recurve Bow?

The recurve bow has existed for over a thousand years, and they are often referred to as the “traditional bows,” yet they have the contemporary looks of a modern bow and there are many different styles. Most are made of several layers of laminated material or wood.


Its limbs are placed at the top and bottom and curve in an opposite direction from the belly of the bow at the end, which is why it is called a “recurve” bow. Recurve archery is a popular sport. Recurve bows have been used at the Olympic Games as well since archery was reintroduced into the Games back in 1972. Quality modern recurve bows have adopted the newest materials and are assembled with the use of high-quality materials.


How Do I Use a Recurve Bow?

Proper form isn’t easy for beginner recurve archers. When using a recurve bow, the archer must hold the grip first. Whilst holding the grip, lift the arms up leveling with the shoulder and then pull the string straight back with your fingers backward way past your head. As you draw the string back to full draw, you will focus at the target by aiming through a sight. After drawing fully and aiming, let off the string by opening your fingers. Try to keep the bow in the same position after the shot in order to hold it steady during the tension release. Basically, the force that was put in the limbs will travel through the string discharging the arrow. The recurve bow’s arrow can easily travel at over 100mph. Recurve bows are often used for long distance shooting, but that’s not really something that matters when it comes to choosing a bow for prepping.

What Are Recurve Bows Made Of?

The recurve bow can be bought in both modern and traditional styles, and both styles vary in the materials used to make the bow. The traditional ones often lean towards the use of woods that have been shaped by force or heat (or both usually), whereas the modern recurve bows involve various different materials in order to build them. The common materials used for modern recurve bows can be wood, fiberglass, carbon, carbon foam, carbon fiber and metallic alloys (magnesium or aluminum).

Advantages of Recurve Bows

  • Recurve bows give a more natural feel, since archers typically use their fingers to hold the string.
  • It can take time to learn a recurve well, but you will be mastering the precision or accuracy skill in a recurve bow over a period of time.
  • Recurve bows have been around for longer than compound bows.

What is a Compound Bow?

The compound bow was first devised during the 1960s, invented by a man named Holless Wilbur Allen. It is a more complex modern bow and the archer needs to know how to use one before shooting. You can easily distinguish a compound bow from other bows due to its build and cam mechanism. Typically, a compound bow has pulleys, also called cams, at the end of each limb and its cams may be wrapped with one or more cables going around the opposite limb. The modern compound bow has been innovated and is assembled with the use of high-quality materials as well. Most compounds are lighter weight than their recurve counterparts.


Using a Compound Bow

When using a compound bow correctly, the archer must pull the string backward reaching the mechanical stop, or anchor point, with the use of thumb release. As the bow is being drawn by the compound archer, the required force also diminishes. This results in more power from a lower draw weight for compound archers. Then, the archer will look through its scope to aim at the target and will initiate the mechanical release aid to discharge the arrow from the string. The force that was put in the limbs as well as in the cables will be distributed into the string discharging the arrow. Depending on the kind of a compound bow and type of cams used, compound bows can require a large amount of force in order to use properly. Some cams load the full weight of the draw at the very beginning, making it difficult to use for new recurve shooters. So always do your research before buying a new bow. That’s why most people need some training before being proficient with a compound bow. As for speed, a modern compound bow’s arrow can travel over 215mph.

What Are Compound Bows Made Of?

Compound bows rely mainly on composites and artificial materials in their construction. Typically, a compound bow is made of carbon fiber and aluminum alloy. Some have tried out DIY solutions, but making one on your own is exceedingly difficult due to its complexity of the working mechanisms.

Advantages of Compound Bows

  • With proper cams, compound bows can still be effectively used without a much effort, and the release aid gives further assistance to archers who have weaker fingers.
  • Compound bows distribute force into the arrow more directly and efficiently than a recurve bow, so they are arguably more accurate.
  • Learning compound bows is still easy for beginners. A beginner can learn a compound bow pretty quickly, quicker than a recurve bow in most cases. 

The Expert's Favorite Compound Bow

Since a compound bow is going to be your best choice for prepping, we at Prepper base took some time to purchase a few compound bows and see how they performed. Luckily we know both recurve and compound archers, so we tried these out for ourselves and then took some time to quiz our compound bow hunters about their favorite compound bows and release aids.

Differences Between Recurve and Compound Bows

Shooting Feel

Perhaps, the greatest distinction between these two bow types is how the bow feels when shooting. Compound bows are popular these days, with some added easy of use for most folks thanks to the cam mechanism. Recurve bows are considered to be traditional and are harder and rougher by margin to shoot because of its shooting mechanism as well.


Release Mechanism

Compound bows offer a mechanical release process through a release aid, which helps archers shoot arrows a lot easier and with excellent precision. With recurve bows you release the string with your fingers. With the use of the release aid, archers do not need to put too much effort with their fingers to release the bow string which gives benefits to archers who aer young, or people who may have weaker fingers, arthritis, etc. Lastly, a release mechanism allows archers to shoot consistently under any circumstances.

With a recurve bow, the archer needs to master the technique without any reliance on a release aid. Furthermore, recurve bows require a good bit of physical strength to use consistently and accurately.


Draw Weight of the Bow

At the point when a bow is fully drawn, the string is totally pulled and the arrow is about to be shot. In a recurve bow, pulling the bow becomes heavier when it is fully drawn. The estimated drawing weight of the recurve bow is about 40lbs. Archers need to move quickly and aim effectively. Needing to hold back such a heavy draw while aiming can be difficult.

On the other hand, compound bows are harder to draw when they are pulled between about 60-90%. At the point when the compound bow is fully drawn, the tension the archer feels pulling the string is a lot lighter than a recurve bow. This one advantage means an archer can take as much time as necessary and aim well, unlike with recurve bows.

So Who Comes Out On Top?

Depending on one’s physicality, both recurve and compound bows can be used to aid someone’s survival as a hunting tool. But since everyone is not always at 100% strength, especially in a survival or SHTF situation, compound bows are probably going to be the better choice. Compound bows do not require prior experience or a set of skills in order to use—making them easier to use and more effective at the same time.