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How Many Types of Archery Bows Are Available?

Archery is one of the rapidly grown sporting events across the world.

There are 4 types of archery bows: recurve, compound, long, and crossbow. Each has its own use for sport and hunting.

In most of the tournaments, archery remains an integral part. The beauty of this game along with the ability to shoot arrows in the target remains the passion for archers. If you go back thousands of years, then too, the use of bow and arrows remain the principal option to attack and defend. There are different types of archery bows along with the arrows are available in the market. Before that, let’s have some more information about it.

Bow Types

The types of archery bows are segregated based on various aspects like side profile, material, a cross-section of limb, and other characteristics. But, generally, four types of archery bows are popular in the market. Those are:

  • Recurve Bow

  • Compound Bow

  • Traditional or Long Bow

  • Crossbow

There are several other types of bows, but these four types usually cover all types of archery bows.

Recurve Bows

Recurve bows are the basic model of bows. People who are starting to learn archery for the first time use recurve bows. An interesting fact is; modern versions of recurve bows are used in a mega-event like the Olympics.

The name recurve bows originated due to its distinct shape. The tips of the limbs are curved away and the central part of the limbs curve inward towards the archer. The basic reason for such shape is to enable the archer to apply more force while releasing the arrow using the bow. More power will be generated with less strength applied to the bow. And, that is the uniqueness of this types of archery bows.

Due to this reason, recurve bows are frequently used in archery events – be in training time or during the competition. Learners usually start with a bare bow recurve that is a combination of two bow limbs and a riser that helps to balance the bows in the initial days.

There is a sub type called the takedown recurve bow.

In modern times, recurve bows have been through lots of modifications. Now a modern recurve bow can be dismantled very easily for portability. Experienced archers used to add additional components like stabilizer, clicker, pressure button, and sights as per their convenience. Modern archery, like any other sports, heavily depends on technology and recurve bows have that capacity to accommodate all new things for better perfection.

Compound Bow

Compound Bows are one of the most modern types of archery bows available nowadays. As its name suggests, compound bows are a combination of eccentric cam, cable, and pulley. It is heavier compared to other models of the bow and requires quite a strength to pull it up. But the good thing is, due to the presence of the pulley system, compound bows help archer to hold the weight for a long time and no muscle fatigue is observed. Forgetting this part, the archers can concentrate on the shooting object.

Compound bows are generally constructed from manmade materials compared to recurve and traditional bows. Compound bows remain less affected in humidity and temperature change. This remains one of the biggest advantages compared to other types of archery bows. Beginners are not suggested to use compound bows due to its complexity, then can only use it once they have cleared the fundamental part using other types of bows like recurve or bare bow recurve. But compound bows provide better accuracy than any other type along with the velocity of the arrow and distance covered.

Traditional or Long Bow

Traditional bows are known for their simplicity. These were used in battlefields and was of the most important weapons for any side. A piece of long wood is prepared as the bow with the requisite curve and does not have any sight or arrow rest. That is why it is difficult to use and shoot that modern sophisticated bows. Even traditional or longbow does not create the same momentum and velocity like recurve or compound bows. Most of the archers keep a longbow with them for fun activities when they are not practicing. Longbows are normally used in places where archery is treated as a hobby. One can find several organizations and clubs dedicated to the traditional archery.


Crossbows also have a rich tradition and are believed to be originated in China. These types of archery bows were mainly used in hunting and sporting events. The appearance of modern crossbows looks like firearms. The operation of crossbows is slightly different as it uses a trigger mechanism that remains locked until the archer shoots. These are ideal for target archery with a short firing range. There are various guidelines and regulations on the usage of crossbows across the world, so one should check those before using it.

There are other types of archery bows also used by various people. Japanese Yumi bows were very popular among the samurai warriors. These bows are taller than the archer and are generally made from wood or bamboo. Reflex bows are another type where the archer needs to bend in the forward direction while releasing the arrows and gains good velocity after it is thrown. American flat bow is another such example which is also used in various archery competitions.

Bow & Arrow

Archery is the skill to use bows for shooting arrows. In primitive days, bows and arrows were used mainly for hunting. It was in the armory of several people to fight against opponents. Over the years, it has become modern with more power and sophistication. If you talk about the types of archery bows, the basic principle remains the same throughout. A bow is nothing but an elastic or semi-rigid arc where high tensile bowstrings are joined with the two ends of the bow. An arrow is a pointed tipped projectile with a long shaft to be thrown using the bow with power. With the introduction of archery as a sport in several international events, it has become popular among kids and youths.

If you are a learner of archery or already started practicing archery, then you must know all relevant types of archery bows used nowadays. Then only you could have a complete understanding of the subject and your learning can be completed.

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