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What Type of Bow is Right for You?

You’ll find many great options when it’s time to go bow shopping. The difficulty comes in selecting the right type of bow for you. Much depends on your needs and tastes.

Some people choose bow styles based on aesthetics and what looks cool. Others select bows based on their goals and how they’ll use the bow. Let’s explore some options to help you select “the one.”

Olympic Recurve

The crowd’s roar fades as your national anthem plays. The medal around your neck represents years of hard work and sacrifice, but earning this amazing moment was worth it.

If that’s your dream, an Olympic recurve might be in your future. That’s the type of bow Olympians use, but it’s also the bow thousands of recreational archers prefer. Recurve shooting is a fantastic, challenging discipline, and Olympic archery combines exercise and mental discipline.

These bows can be used for 3D, target, indoor and field archery. In outdoor target tournaments, including the Olympics, adults shoot targets at 70 meters. To shoot that far accurately, your Olympic bow needs different accessories than those used on other recurves.

Olympic recurves have three main pieces: a riser and two limbs. The bow disassembles for customization and transportation. You grip the bow’s riser, which is also where its sight and arrow rest attach. The bow’s limbs create its power, and bend in unison when drawn. When archers release the bowstring, the limbs snap forward, propelling the arrow to the target.

Long rods jut from an Olympic bow’s riser. These stabilizers help archers steady the bow for precise aiming. Its other accessories are a sight, clicker and arrow rest.

Compound Bow

Your target is 50 meters away. You dial your sight to the exact distance and prepare to shoot. At full draw, you can see the target in crisp detail through your magnified scope. You apply steady pressure to your release aid until it “breaks” and lets loose the bowstring, launching your arrow into the 10-ring.

If you love precision marksmanship, consider a compound bow. They’re capable of incredible accuracy. With lessons, you’ll hit the center regularly. You can shoot compound bows for recreation, competition or bowhunting.

Different compound bows have different uses. Target compound bows have one job: accuracy. They provide excellent shooting experiences. You can trick them out and accessorize them for maximize accuracy. Their target accessories include long stabilizers and finely adjustable magnified sights.

Hunting compounds require accuracy and portability, so they’re smaller and lighter than target bows. Their accessories are usually more durable to withstand outdoor hazards. That doesn’t mean you can’t compete or shoot targets with hunting bows. In fact, you’ll find competitive divisions for them, or you can change a few accessories and compete with target archers.


If you like recreational archery, you have your choice of compounds. You can even custom design your bow. If you like a target sight’s adjustability but the portability of hunting bows, you can choose a compound that meets your preferences.

Traditional Archery and Barebow Archery

You’re hiking in a forest that looks like something out of a Thoreau novel. But this isn’t a typical hike. You have your bow in hand and a quiver of arrows. You’re stump-shooting, a game where the woods provides a target-rich environment and your fun is limited only by your imagination.

Stump-shooting is one of many ways to have fun with traditional bows. Traditional and barebow archery are the ultimate challenge, but their added reward is extreme fun. Traditional bows are a stripped-down archery form that’s simple, elegant and romantic. It takes you back to the sport’s roots, when all you needed was a bow and a full quiver. Shooting bull’s-eyes with these bows is extremely rewarding because of the challenge.
These bows are simple, but capable of incredible accuracy. You’ll find endless bow styles, but traditional archery’s three main categories are longbows, recurves and barebows.

A recurve bow’s swept tips curve away from the archer, and they shoot arrows at faster speeds than what straight-limbed longbows can deliver. Longbows lack the recurve’s curved tips, but they’re steeped in history and bend gracefully in classic design when strung.

A typical barebow resembles an Olympic recurve, but without sights, stabilizers or other accuracy-enhancing gear. The barebow division is growing rapidly in competitive archery because people are drawn to these bows’ challenge and simplicity.

If you wear an analog watch, have an old soul, love the beauty of wood, or just want to shoot like Katniss Everdeen, traditional archery might be for you.

Still can’t decide? Don’t rush. You can choose more than one bow style. Consider a compound bow for serious competition or to consistently hit targets at long distances. Pair your choice with a beautiful recurve bow for stump-shooting and blissfully shoot arrows in your backyard. Whatever your options, the ultimate way to decide is to visit an archery store and test-drive some bows.



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Learn the basics here, from the different styles of archery to how to choose the bow that’s right for you.


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