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Recurve and Compound Bows

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Recurve and Compound Bows

Old 07-02-2008, 05:55 PM
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Default Recurve and Compound Bows

I was wondering what is the differences between recurve and compound bows. I have seen them, but have never used them, I am new to the sport of bowhunting.

Also, any reccomendations on a bow around $300-400 would also be helpful

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Old 07-02-2008, 06:44 PM
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Default RE: Recurve and Compound Bows

Other than the obvious aesthetic differences (a compound featuring wheels/cams at the tips and cables in addition to strings) a compound bow most notably features "let-off".

The best way I can describe this is to show you on a graph and roughly describe whats going on...

With a recurve, the draw weight is expressed as #s (pounds) of course, but, as you draw a recurve bow, the further back you draw, the more the weight will increase. So, we use 28" as a standard draw to express the peak weight of a recurve bow..... for example a 45# draw recurve would be hitting 45#s at 28". At just 3-4" it might only be 5#s or so. At 29", it might be up around 48#s. Here is whats is called a draw force curve that will show how the weight goes up as the bow is drawn:

With a compound bow, the peak weight might be 70#s... only compounds have let-off (most do anyway).... that let-off is expressed as a %.... say 80% let off. To keep the math easy, lets say we have a compound that peaks at 100#s with 80% let-off. As you draw the bow back, the force you are pulling will reach 100#s... however, as you approach full draw (also known as the valley) 80% of that weight will be 'let-off' so you will only be holding 20#s at full draw. With a 100# recurve at full draw (lets assume 28") you'd be holding the full 100#s.

Here is a graph showing a roundabout draw force curve for a compound... note at the end (right hand side) the weight drops suddenly to the blue dot.... that blue dot represents full draw.

Here is a link to a website I pulled that last image from that does a pretty fair job explaining compounds in depth.... pretty good read.

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Old 07-02-2008, 06:54 PM
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Default RE: Recurve and Compound Bows

Well, you say you've seen both kinds of bows so I don't guess you need a description. Recurves are ancient designs updated with modern materials. Compounds are thoroughly space age designs that have only been with us for the past 40 years.

Basic differences are:

A compound stores more energy per unit of draw weight and once the cam(s) roll over at the end of the draw cycle, the draw weight drops dramatically, anywhere from 65-99% depending on design. The increased energy storage makes for faster arrows. They are, for all practical purposes, universally shot with mechanical release aids, sights and mechanical arrow rests. There is a wide variety of accessories that you can add to the bow to make them more pleasant to shoot. It's not unusual for the bow's collection of accessories to equal or surpass the price of the bow.

A recurve stores less energy per unit of draw weight than the compound. It therefore shoots much slower arrows than the compound. Recurves are almost always shot with fingers release. Though you can certainly use sights on a recurve if you want, most do not. Instead, traditional shooters use a variety of barebow (without sights) aiming methods ranging from 'instinctive' - just look, point and shoot - to various methods of using the point of the arrow as an aiming device. About the only accessories a traditional shooter needs are a shooting glove or tab, an armguard, quiver and a bow stringer, maybe string silencers and a bow case.

Just as a compound forces you to be a better hunter than you need be with a rifle, a recurve forces you to be a better hunter than you need be with a compound. The recurve also demands more time, energy and effort to gain and maintain bowhunting proficiency than a compound does. But recurves are so much fun to shoot that it really doesn't seem like work. So it doesn't seem to be nearly as difficult to find the ability to free up shooting time as it appears to be with the compound.

And yeah, I'm biased. I have used compounds for years for tournament shooting, but I love the recurve and longbow for bowhunting.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:13 PM
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Default RE: Recurve and Compound Bows

Ok, thanks!
So for a beginner a compound bow would be better?

And how do I find the right amount of drawback weight for me? I haven't been to my local sporting goods store yet, but i just want to get some background info before I go, thanks
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:26 AM
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Default RE: Recurve and Compound Bows

So for a beginner a compound bow would be better?
99.9% of the guys on this forum would say yes. I'd say, maybe, but not necessarily. There still remain some of us who began bowhunting before compounds were invented, so we know it doesn't take cams and cables to bring along a beginner. Honestly, a lot depends on you... your mindset, personality and eventual goals.

Are you of an artistic mindset? Recurve. Or more mechanically inclined? Compound.

Are you a Type A, gotta win at everything, gotta be successful NOW kind of personality? Compound. Or are you more laid back and content with maybe paying some dues in order to enjoy the eventual rewards better? Recurve.

What do you want out of bowhunting? The challenge of trying to successfully hunt animals using an archaic weapon similar to what our ancestors used? Recurve. Or are you intent on hunting only for meat trophies with more challenge than a rifle but not as much as the recurve? Compound.

Most will chose the compound but there are those individuals who appreciate the esoteric mystique of traditional archery.

Draw weight is an attribute that depends very much on the individual. Get thee hence to the store, hopefully one with a knowledgeable archery staff, and they can fix you up with what you need.
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