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Long Bow vs Recurve Bow: The Differences

Last updated January 17, 2022| Archery

If you are someone who is new to archery, and you are still deciding on exactly what type of bow you should start with. A lot of people in the beginning gets confused on which kind of the bow should they begin with whether it be a recurve bow or a traditional long, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of these bows. If you are one of those people then you are surely at the right place, below in this guide we will be going through all the details that you may need to know about both recurve bows and longbows, to give you all the clearance on the facts to choose the right bow for you and your archery style. You must be aware that there are many different types of archery, and it is very important to figure out that which one you will be choosing for yourself for shooting purposes with your new bow.

You will find many common types of archeries such as 

  • Target archery
  • Field archery
  • Hunting
  • Traditional archery
  • 3d archery

You will have to practice a lot for mastering this different form of archery. All of this totally depends upon which kind of styles in archery you are aiming for the shooting purposes, only then you will have to decide what type of bow you will need to participate in them. For example, Olympic target archery only shoots with recurve bows.

Not all types of archery have strict rules like in the Olympics, but some actually do, there are many other types of archery that may allow different types of bows to be used specifically. For instance, you will find many 3D archery shoots and tournaments will have a special longbow or traditional archery class, which may allow archers to shoot longbows by their own competitive division. So, below in this we shall discuss everything that you need to know in order to choose which kind or archery bow you must choose for yourself among longbows and recurve bows and which one suits you the best.


Generally, longbows are better for occasional backyard shooting and traditional archery shootings. Longbows can also be used in target, field, and 3D archery as well. Even though longbows are not as common as recurve bows are. No doubt that they can be used for bowhunting, but special attention has to be paid to the draw weight of the bow. Longbows are the best option for beginners, they are a lot easier to shoot with precision for new archers and they also offer a great way to get into archery.


  • Longbows are normally more forgiving.
  • Longbows are a better option for beginners to use.
  • Longbows are very much easier on the archer’s fingers and joints.
  • Longbows shoot more quietly as compared to recurve bows.


  • Longbows can have more hand shock on the bow hand due to their weight.
  • Longbows are not considered ideal for bowhunting.
  • Longbows are larger, and therefore harder to store and transport as well.

parts of a long bow - Heart for Outdoor

Recurve Bows

Recurve bows are considered as the most versatile type of bow, recurve bows can be used for target archery, field archery, 3D archery and bowhunting as well. Recurve bows are the best at power, speed, and precision. Even though they have a bit of a learning curve, if you do a lot of practice with the recurve bows you will succeed a lot in your aim.


  • Recurves offer both more power than longbows
  • Recurve bows offer more speed than longbows.
  • Recurve bows are much more precise than longbows.
  • Recurve bows allow you to shoot at a lighter draw weight and then increase the draw weight by simply buying new limbs instead of having to buy a whole new bow.
  • Recurves can be better for bowhunting because of the correct draw weight in them.
  • Recurve bows are much easier to store and transport as compared to longbows.
  • Recurve bows are the most adaptable type of bows.
  • Recurve bows can be used in many different types of archery.


  • Recurve bows are more difficult to shoot as compared to longbows.
  • Recurve bows will need more practice to shoot accurately than longbows.
  • Recurve bows put more stress on muscles and joints.
  • Recurve bows shoot louder as compared to longbows.

parts of a recurve bow - Heart for Outdoor

Recurve Bow vs Longbow

The recurve vs longbow comparison list is a lot more than you think. You may see that there are many differences among these two bow types. Those differences also include their origin, design, material, uses, and benefits, as well as draw length and limitations. Longbow and recurve bow’s care and maintenance requirements are somewhat related, but they also include some particularities. Let us see more about these two bow types in detail.

Factor 1: Design

Design of anything that has to be used practically needs to be perfect without any compromise. Design is a very critical factor defining the difference between longbows and recurve bows. It directly affects the performance of the bow, not only its appearance. The following sections bring you the key design differences on the longbow vs recurve list.

i) Recurve bow

When we talk about design you will instantly notice on a recurve bow that the ends of the limbs are curved, away from the archer. You may wonder how this key design difference will affect the working of the bow? Hence, recurve bows are more powerful than longbows, especially due to this curve. In addition to this difference, these bows are actually smaller (shorter) as compared to longbows. Apart from that, they are wider as compared to longbows. They are thinner when it comes to the bow depth.

ii) Longbow

The basic and significant design feature of a longbow are its limbs that form letter “D” with the draw line. That also makes a half moon which makes it a crescent shape. There you will find no curves. Also, their distinguishing individuality and uniqueness is their length. These are considered as the longest bows among all of them. Normally you won’t see such bows that are as tall as the archer. For instance, if you are given a 60 lbs. longbow, don’t be amazed if it measures the amazing 64 inches. Furthermore, the particularities of the longbow design include thinness in its width and thickness in its depth.

Difference between the longbows and recurve bows with respect to design

Some of the beginners might get confused when it comes to understanding the different types of bows because obviously, they are new to these kinds. The simplest way to understand if a bow is a longbow or a recurve bow is to check if there is connection between the string and the limbs. If you find no link, you have got a longbow. In case you find a link, it is a recurve bow.

Additionally, you may get the underlying differences between them once you can calculate their delivery of energy into the arrows.

Factor 2: Material

The second factor is the material that we are going to consider in our recurve vs longbow comparison guide. Though, you will not find many differences when we talk about this factor. In the previous times, both of these bows were made from exactly the same materials that were the wood and the leather. Since those were the only materials available for their making.

But today’s date, we have many different materials at our disposal. Let’s see which materials are used for which bow type.

i) Recurve bow

Currently, recurve bows are usually made from four different types of materials. Those are:

  • Carbon fiber
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Fiberglass

There are many differences between different producers and the type of recurve bows as well. Specifically, more traditional ones out of them choose laminated wood for their bows. While others choose a blend of fiberglass and laminated wood, carbon laminations, and metal. The usage of new and modern materials did not only make these bows look more modern but has also increased their precision and overall execution.

ii) Longbow

Unlike recurve bows, most of the longbows are made from laminated wood or layered fiberglass. In addition, those bows that are made from wood, may sometimes have a carbon center in them. As a result, modern longbows become stronger than they ever were. As we know that longbows are also light in weight, and this property makes them more appropriate for contemporary use as well.

Factor 3: Uses and benefits

Here we come to the part that depicts the recurve vs longbow differences the best – uses and benefits. Pay attention, as understanding this section will help you choose the most suitable model for your own needs.

i) Recurve bow

As we know by far, the recurve bows are more powerful as compared to longbows. All this credit goes to their precise, curved design, and due to this feature, you can make very powerful shots as well. In this matter, the clear winner of the longbow vs recurve speed competition is the recurve bow. Recurve bow’s arrows will go faster as compared to longbows. Moreover, you should consider using a recurve bow if you want an extremely compact bow. As the recurve bow is considerably shorter than a longbow, you can easily handle and carry it with you. Another among the most helpful benefits of recurve bows is its easy repair process. We will discuss in detail about this feature in the Care and Maintenance section later on.

Recurve bows are somehow the better choices if you are someone who would like to experiment and try new things with their shooting. Specifically, recurve bows can be adjusted according to your preferences as you can buy different types of limbs that impinge on its precision, shooting ease, and power as well. Last but never the least, the recurve bow is the best choice for matches. If you are planning to improve yourself or if you are an ambitious skilled archer, our recommendation would definitely be the recurve bow as it is used in international target archery competitions and the Olympics.

ii) Longbow

If you have done a lot of research on longbows and the longbow vs recurve bow comparison, you certainly might have heard the term “a forgiving bow”. You must have wondered at any point what this actually means? Actually, a longbow is a little easier to use and it guarantees that the arrow flies in a straight line. This is the reason that even beginners and inexperienced players can get some really good results with this bow.

The second most important advantage of this incredible bow is quiet in action, by quiet we mean the voice it makes. According to my understanding no one would like noisy bows. Apart from this quality, the longbow can be a better choice when it comes to hunting just because of the less noise. There is actually less string-limb contact. So, in this case, you never even have to use string silencers if you have this type of bow.

Nevertheless, you should certainly choose this type of bow if you are eager on historical, traditional, or classic bow styles. Consider it is an attractive and appealing bow that can fulfill your vintage archery preferences. Experts also say that this bow type is a lot better for beginners, as it is easier to learn the basics of archery properly with the longbow.

iii) Longbow vs recurve bows with respect to hunting

When it comes to longbow vs recurve for bow hunting comparison, even experts may get confused. Namely, both types have their pros and cons regarding this topic. The recurve bow is easier to carry around, especially in the forest, thanks to its smaller size. On the other hand, the longbow is more precise, and it is significantly quieter than the recurve bow.

Read More: What is the difference between all types of bows in archery?

Long Bow vs Recurve Bow: The Differences

Factor 4: Draw length

The difference would be incomplete if we do not talk about the draw length between longbow and recurve bows. It is very crucial to exactly verify your draw length. This will certainly help you become more precise and learn how to use the bow perfectly. Along with this, a draw length is usually comparable because it is somehow the same as the required arrow length.

Below we shall learn more about recurve bow vs longbow draw lengths.

i) Recurve bow

To define the accurate recurve bow draw length, we would recommend you use the mentioned method.

  • Measure your arm span.
  • Divide the result by 2.5.

By this method you will get a result in inches, and this is your perfect draw length determined based on your arms.

ii) Longbow

It is the length that you will get when you measure the distance between the throat grip and the nock point and add 1 inch and ¾ of an inch to that value.

Factor 5: Limitations

We have mentioned all the advantages, uses, and benefits of both the long and the recurve bows. Here, we will talk about the limitations and disadvantages of them both. Even if the experts on bows sometimes have dissimilar opinions on many factors, below is provided the detail about the insight into the most common and widely accepted statements on the recurve bow and longbow.

i) Recurve bow

The most noticeable limitation of the recurve bow is its limited precision. You will see for yourself that even the best recurve bows are less precise than the average longbows. Apart from this fact, these bows are very precise only if the archer is very skilled and experienced. This limitation can be the result of thinner limbs and the fact that you must draw the string far back to produce more power.

Apart from this, another limitation of the recurve bows is the noise they may produce. If you do not have string silencers with you, this can surely limit your performance when it comes to hunting purposes. This is the corollary of lots of contacts between the limbs and the string.

ii) Longbow

There are also numerous limitations to longbows. First and foremost, the Achilles heel of longbows is actually the power. Obviously, longbows are very powerful tools, but they are defeated by the recurve models in this case. This is why the longbow arrow flows more slowly than the recurve bow arrow. Another limitation unusual for this bow type is portability. As longbows are large unlike short bows, i.e., long, they are not very appropriate for carrying around all day in the woods. Also, takedown models are hardly ever seen.

Factor 6: Care and maintenance requirements

It does not matter at all if you use a recurve bow or a longbow or a compound bow or even a crossbow, you always have to take care of them no matter what. Neither the recurve bow nor the longbow is very challenging regarding the re-stringing. You can do it yourself very easily. Apart from it, you never need any special machines, devices, or any sort of tools to complete that task. You can re-string both bow types by just your hands.

When we talk about repairs, the situation is more complicated. Below is the reason why.

i) Recurve bow

When we talk about repairs, the obvious winner is the recurve bow. Do you even know Why? Simply put, you don’t have to worry much if your recurve bow is broken. You can buy new limbs and use your bow again. This is particularly true if you have a takedown model. Consequently, the easiest one to repair is the recurve bow.

ii) Longbow

Sadly, once a longbow is broken, there is nothing you can do about it. They are often single piece bows and it is not very easy to repair them. Even if you do it somehow, the quality and performance will get disturbed.


Although it is not easy to understand the difference between longbow and recurve bow without actually using and experiencing them. Both of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some major key factors that you must consider before choosing your bow type includes the intended use, preferences regarding style and tradition, as well as aspirations towards all the international competitions. If you are a perfectionist and you value accuracy, style, and quiet operation, we would recommend you to get a longbow in this case. It is also recommended for beginners. Apart from this key factor, if you want to take part in competitions and value faster and more powerful bows, the recurve type is the most appropriate pick for you.

We hope that the information provided in this article will help you decide whether longbow or recurve type is the best choice for you.

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