I Want to Shoot Archery.
But Which Bow is Right
for Me? I Want to Shoot Archery. But Which Bow is Right for Me?

Archery is for everyone because it’s a personalized experience, featuring different disciplines and bow types to match your interests and personality.

Do you want to ride a horse and shoot a recurve bow? You can do that. Do you want to take a hike and shoot targets with a compound bow? You can do that, too. Or you can just relax and have fun shooting arrows in your backyard.

Personalizing archery includes choosing the right bow for you. Do you want to shoot recurves, crossbows, compound bows or all three? The choice is yours alone because one bow isn’t any better than the others. All are fun to shoot, and each has unique characteristics that make it special. With so many options, there’s a bow for everyone.

Recurve Bow

Recurve bows are the only bows the Olympics allow. Many archers also shoot recurve bows in field archery and 3-D archery, and when bowhunting with higher poundage bows. Photo Credit: USA Archery via Facebook

Recurve bows have graceful curves and classic good looks. They’re the iconic bow you’ve seen in movies like “The Hunger Games” or in the hands of Olympians like Brady Ellison. Even though Katniss’ bow in “The Hunger Games” doesn’t look like Ellison’s, they’re both recurves and both are awesome.

Recurves offer many options. They’re available from classic wooden bows to modern recurves made of metals, fiberglass and carbon fibers. Recurves can be shot with or without sights. If you shoot a recurve without sights it’s called “barebow” archery. With so many types of recurve bows available, shoot as many as you can to help decide which bow best fits your needs.

Shooting a recurve is relaxing and puts you in touch with archery’s roots. It’s a Zen-like experience that melds mind and body into one fluid action. Recurves are such fun to shoot that they feel like a natural extension of the body.


A crossbow’s mechanical latch holds and locks the bowstring in place, rather than the archer holding the bowstring at full draw with physical strength. They also have a mechanical trigger and can be fitted with magnified telescopic sights for precise aiming. Photo Credit: Paul Sherar

Crossbows possess an undeniable cool factor. Although historical in design, they look futuristic and they’re fun to shoot. Maybe that’s why zombie hunter Daryl Dixon from “The Walking Dead” chose the crossbow.

Crossbows have many features that separate them from recurves and compounds. For instance, archers don’t hold a crossbow at full draw. Crossbows have a mechanical latch that holds the bowstring for you. That means you can take more time to aim, even though your arm supporting the crossbow’s forend will tire soon enough. Crossbows also have a mechanical trigger and can be fitted with magnified telescopic sights for precise aiming.

These design features give crossbows a shorter learning curve, which means you can start shooting bull’s-eyes faster.

Compound Bow

Compound bows are known for their widespread use in field and 3-D archery, and bowhunting. Many archers also shoot compounds in target archery. Photo Credit: USA Archery via Facebook

Compound bows are a compromise between recurves and crossbows, in that they’re easier to shoot than recurves and more challenging than crossbows.

Compound bows differ from recurves because they use a pulley system that lets the archer hold a fraction of the bow’s drawn weight. This feature is called let-off. For example, if you have a 40-pound bow with 80 percent let-off, you only hold about 8 pounds at full draw. Let-off helps archers practice longer and take more time aiming.

Today’s compound bows are engineered for accuracy and ease of use. They’re excellent for recreational shooting, bowhunting and competitive archery.

Choosing a bow is a personal choice, but wise choices aren’t possible without shooting the different bows to learn your likes and dislikes about each. To do that, visit nearby archery shops, whose pro staff will help you pick the best bow for your budget and tastes. Once you decide on your preferred bow style, the pro can tailor the equipment to fit you.

If you’re ready to find your perfect bow, find an archery store here.

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