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Longbow vs Recurve bow

Longbow vs Recurve bow

As a traditionalist, I can’t help but love the longbow. Having one in your hands takes you back to those legendary battles of old where the fields would be darkened with arrows as they flew overhead. Hitting your target with a longbow can be a very rewarding experience as you overcome the challenge.

When it comes to longbow vs recurve though you’re looking at a debate between stability vs power. The longbow will allow your arrows to fly straighter as they are less liable to string torque whereas recurve bows are the power king. Using recurve bows you’ll find you can shoot faster arrows and find them easier to adjust, and in a straight comparison, have more advantages than the longbow.

Recurve vs longbow for beginners

This is not an easy question to answer as they both have their advantages and disadvantages in this regard. I personally started on a longbow which is great as they are easier to aim which is the thing that keeps you interested and wanting to keep improving.
Recurve bows though aren’t much more difficult to aim and if you ever want to try archery out there is a high chance that you will be given a recurve bow, as there are a lot more of them available and also due to the other key advantages, such as the fact that they have a higher level of performance and they are smaller.

The size and portability of a longbow can be a downside for beginners as they are bigger and more difficult to handle. Each bow has their pros and cons so there isn’t a clear winner here but because recurve bows are the much more common option, it’s more likely you will start with a recurve bow and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Longbow vs Recurve speed

When it comes to speed there is one clear winner here and that it the recurve bow. This comes down to the science of it and how your effort of pulling the bowstring transforms itself into the energy that is placed into the bow. The energy stored in a longbow is less than in a recurve bow so the arrow is going to come out of it a lot faster.

The faster arrow will be able to fly towards its target at a much flatter trajectory which means that the arrow will be less affected by outside factors such as wind. This increased speed also makes it a better option for such activities as hunting where speed can make a huge difference to success or failure.

There are longbows out there though which are able to fire a very quick arrow which has more swept limbs which are able to converse a much higher level of power and there are longbows as well which have a very high draw weight. These bows though require a great deal of strength in order to be pulled so you want to ensure that you are capable before buying one.

Recurve bow vs Longbow range

Due to the fact that the recurve bow can fire arrows at a quicker speed, it also means that they are able to travel at a further distance as well. As you start to get more advanced you will be looking to shoot your arrows further.
Even though they have the advantage in aim as they are more stable, longbows are harder to use over long distances and often this extra effort can take away from your accuracy. Recurve bows require less effort so you can focus more on your aim without worrying about the distance so much.

If you’re going to be shooting targets from further away the recurve bow is going to be the easier choice for you to use. I love the thrill of the challenge though and hitting a long target with a longbow is a more thrilling archery experience. That though, is just with stationary targets, and if the range is going to be critical then you need to pick up a recurve bow.

What is the difference in a Longbow and a Recurve bow?


Everyone wants to have that extra bit of power in their bow but which one will deliver the more powerful shot? Well naturally a lot of that comes down to draw weight and you can get longbows which have a very high draw weight which is able to fire a very powerful arrow.
The recurve bow though looks the way that it does for a specific reason and that’s because its design allows the limbs to store up a lot of energy in a more efficient way than the longbow with its more traditional D shape that it has.
This effectively means that for the same amount of effort from the user, the recurve bow will be able to shoot a more powerful arrow as it stores the energy more efficiently. While both are able to have high draw weights, pound-for-pound the recurve bow wins the battle every time.


When it comes to aim you want to be able to shoot an arrow from a bow that is going to be a little more forgiving and one that will make sure that little mistakes with your hands don’t turn into big mistakes with missing your target. For a beginner this is even more important as you are more likely to make mistakes.

The aim of a bow is helped by the cross-section of the riser and it is also helped by the limbs of the bow being thicker and deeper as well. While these aspects can take away from their effectiveness in other areas, it does make the bow easier to aim.
With these traits the longbow is the winners as it has these features which all help with the aim. There will be less sideways movement of the bow and also a much lower chance of the bow torqueing as well. The aim in one area of the comparison where the good old longbow comes out on top.


How important sound is to you is going to be your own personal preference but the general feeling is that you would want a bow which is on the lower end of the decibel scale, as this is less likely to scare off wildlife and is kinder to your own ears as well.
On a longbow there isn’t a lot of contact between the string and the limbs of the bow so therefore the sound that it makes will be minimal if it is well set-up as all the energy will travel from the strings all the way down to the bow.

On a recurve bow though, due to its design the bow is much more likely to slap back on the limbs of the bow which makes a much louder sound. While this doesn’t take away from the performance of the bow, it does mean that it is louder so the longbow is the winner here.


It’s always hard to judge a price comparison between two separate objects as you have to take into account the features that they have and other crucial factors such as build quality. Not all products are built the same so it’s important to make sure you’re cross-checking any bows to make sure that you get value for money.

One way of comparing them though is to look at their basic models and see how the price matches up and here you can see that the two items are very similar in price and you’ll be able to find a cheap entry bow whichever model that you choose.
There is also the factor of repairs and maintenance as well and both of these bows are similar in this aspect too so there is no clear winner when it comes to which one is going to be easier on your pocket.


Even though most bows will be very well made, naturally problems will occur over time which means that your bow might be in need of repair. One of the most common problems that can happen is with the bowstring and both of these types of bow are easier to fix in that respect.

In terms of their construction, there is a big difference as a longbow is made of one continuous piece of wood whereas a recurve bow is made out of two separate pieces of wood. That means that in terms of repairs a recurve bow is the best option as you don’t have to repair the whole bow if it breaks.


Style is obviously an individual choice and both of these types of bow can be made to look very stylish and great to look at. Both of them are generally a lot better to look than a compound bow which can look quite ugly with its series of pulleys.
Between the longbow and recurve bow they have a different shape so it can come down to which one you prefer as the traditional longbow has a half-moon crescent look whereas a recurve bow will look like the number 3 in shape. They can both have traditional finishes or more colorful looks depending on your preference.


The two basic components of both of these types of bow are the limbs of the bow and the string. There are though a lot of additional extras that can be added to a bow to make them more helpful and easier to use.

Both of these two bow types can come with a riser from which you will be able to add a lot of different options such as a quiver, arrow rest and a sight among other items which make both of them very easy to improve upon so you don’t have to worry about that with either of these bow types.

Ease of use

If you’re going to be wanting to easily transport your bow then you probably want to look into getting a takedown recurve bow. With this type of bow you will be able to take it apart into its three separate pieces of the riser as well as the two limbs, meaning you can break it down into a very small size.
It’s important to note, however, that not all recurve bows have the ability to be taken apart and reconstructed so you should take it for granted that this will be an option if you’re looking for a bow that is very easy to transport.
With a longbow they are a lot more difficult to transport as they can’t be taken apart that they are one long solid piece. The longbow gets its name from the fact that it is, well, long, so if you need something smaller then you probably need to look for a recurve bow instead.

Does nostalgia matter?

I can’t help but have a soft spot for the longbow and I wish that they were the bow of choice for competitions across the globe. The longbows that we see today are essentially the same weapon that was used in all those battles of yesteryear and holding one gives you a rich sense of history.

I love using a longbow as it still seems like a genuine challenge to use one and a more rewarding experience. If you have the money then buying separate types of bow can be a great experience as you can mix up whatever you want to do.
For me, nostalgia is important and if you’re getting a bow just for fun and target practice then the longbow makes a compelling case to be your bow of choice.

Is a recurve bow better than a longbow?

Nostalgia aside, you have to look at the bare facts on which bow is the better of the two. In this respect a recurve bow is better in terms of power, speed, range and ease of use which makes it the bow of choice for many people and probably the better of the two overall.
The longbow is better in terms of stability of aim and the sound that they make and the two options rank around about the same in terms of price, maintenance, style and customization.

There is a reason that the recurve bow is the more common of the two options as this is the bow that holds the cards in more of the key areas. As much as I love being able to use a longbow, in a straight shootout between the two, the recurve bow would be the better bow.

4 thoughts on “Longbow vs Recurve bow

  1. Thank you for a nice review and an honest opinion I have both a bear grizzly and a montana love them both I always bring them both to the range!

  2. I’ve shot a recurve of 50# for about 45 years, and an 6 ft English longbow of 70# for 25 years. I like them both, and this is a good explanation of their differences. From experience though when switching between them it takes a bit of time to get back to the feel of one you’re going to.

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