Types of Bows and Arrows

Depending on what kind of archery you are interested in, you may decide to use a different type of bow for your craft. In case you were not aware, there are three different types of bows that archers tend to use: longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows. This article will discuss the differences between compound and recurve bows, what they are used for, some pros and cons to recurve bows and compound bows, and then what comparisons you can draw between them. If you are looking for an article to learn more about the differences and what might be right for you, your experience level, and your particular type of archery, this article is for you.

Everything You Need To Know About Bows Before Buying One

Bows and arrows have become increasingly popular as hunting and target practice weapons over the past few years. This has been for a variety of different reasons, although how affordable and easy to use they are compared to many other weapons has been one of the primary reasons behind this. With the weapons becoming somewhat more common in the community, many hunters have become increasingly more interested in them, although they may not know too much about them.

Some people may believe that the majority of the weapons are the same, although this isn’t the case; instead, there are quite a few different types of bows, each of which provides their own benefits, as well as disadvantages. This means that any potential owner will need to spend a significant amount of time considering which one they want to purchase, which means that they’ll need to know the key differences between each of the bows. This is also something that extends to each of the arrow types, many of which can make a significant difference when it comes to accuracy and ease of use.

If you’re looking for all of the information that you need to decide which bows and arrows that you should buy, then you’ve come to the right place, as we’ll look at each of these types in-depth to help you make your choice.

Main Types of Bows

As we mentioned above, there are quite a few different types of bows, which we’ll look at below. However, it should also be noted that the weapons can be made from quite a few different materials, which can drastically affect the weight, feel, and overall accuracy of them. Because of that, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about which materials work best for you. Some of the more common materials that are used in bows include:

  • Wood
  • Fiberglass
  • Carbon Fiber

Each of these materials can have benefits when used in certain parts of the bow, which is why the majority of manufacturers tend to use a composite of the materials. This can often mean that the bow has optimal performance while reducing many of the negative effects of each, with one of the most notable being that wood bows can be deformed during colder months, as MadeHow notes.

With that in mind, if you’re starting with a bow, it’s recommended that you choose a composite bow until you become more experienced with maintenance and overall bow care. Once you’ve decided on a material, you’ll then need to choose which type of bow you’ll want to use, of which there’s quite a large choice.

Recurve Bows

The recurve boy tends to rise and fall in popularity every few years; as Target Crazy notes, much of this can be because of the Olympics, as it’s currently the only type of bow allowed to be used at that level. These are named because it first curves towards the archer before curving back in the opposite direction, hence ‘re-curve.’ These then straighten out when you’re drawing an arrow, which can subsequently lend an extra bit of power when you release the arrow, and can also add some extra speed to it.

It should be noted that there are two types of recurve bows, modern and traditional. There aren’t many differences between the two, with the most notable being that modern versions can offer a significant amount of customizability, such as adding sights, weights, stabilizers, and much more. However, to properly customize and upgrade your bow, you may need to have a certain amount of experience with it, as adding these upgrades can take some expertise.

As Top Survival Weapons notes, recurves don’t need too much strength to properly fire, which can make them perfect for budding archers, as well as those who may not have too much upper body strength. Once you become more experienced with the weapon, you’ll then be able to start upgrading it, or you can try switching to one of the others types, depending on what you’re looking for.

Compound Bows

A compound bow typically features a pulley or cam system that allows an archer to add a significant amount of power to the shot, which needs considerably less effort from the user. On top of this, it also means that you’ll spend less time, and energy, holding the string, which means that it can be great if you’re hunting and want to make sure that you have your bow ready for when you spot your prey. As Art Of Manliness notes, this can often be one of the better bows for hunting.

While this system may seem like it makes the bow much easier for newcomers, this might not be an accurate statement, as it needs much more maintenance and assembly skills to operate effectively. For those who do know how to keep the compound bow well-maintained, this can be one of the natural choices to go with.


Crossbows can be a natural choice for gun owners looking to switch to a new weapon, chiefly because it’s operated much like a rifle. These have a mechanism that allows the string to be pulled back and have the arrow locked into place, which can have a variety of advantages for owners. What many people may not realize, however, is that there are two different types of crossbow.

The majority of people will be familiar with the standard crossbow, which is the one that’s similar to a rifle and requires two hands to operate. There’s also what’s called a ‘pistol’ crossbow, which takes its name from the fact that it’s similar to the weapon in terms of size, and can be seen as somewhat of a miniaturized version of the standard version.

Both of these weapons can offer a significant amount of customizability, with the likes of scopes and much more being available. As such, you’ll be able to adapt either one of them to your needs.


Longbows are perhaps one of the more well-known types of bow, thanks in large part to the fact that it was used in a variety of countries until the introduction of firearms. As the name implies, this type is much longer than the majority of other bows and forms a D-shape when being used. Because of its size, however, it may not be too appropriate for hunting, or for newcomers, and is primarily used for the likes of target practice.


This type of bow has also been termed the ‘American Flatbow,’ with the name being derived from its historical use by Native Americans for centuries. Real World Survivor notes that the flatbow has undergone a few notable design changes over the past few centuries, although much of this has been focused on the materials that have been used in it. As such, the outside design tends to have somewhat of a flat shape, which is how it received its name.

Kyudo/Yumi Bow

A Kyudo, or Yumi, bow is a traditional Chinese bow that resembles a longbow, although it naturally comes with a variety of Asian influences. Similar to the longbow, these can be quite difficult to use accurately, with its size of roughly 2 meters in length making it difficult to aim, especially if you’re hunting. However, if you’re looking to take your target practice to a new level, then this might be the right choice for you.

The bow is also asymmetrical from where the string meets the bow, which can add further confusion to many who are starting off with archery.

What Are The Different Types Of Arrows?

As we mentioned above, there can be a variety of different materials used in arrows, with many of these having a large effect on the arrow’s accuracy, speed and much more. Durability can also be a large aspect of this, as can how much penetration you’ll see in an animal if you’re hunting. Because of that, you’ll need to put a considerable amount of time into which arrows you’ll want to use.

The below video by NuSensei offers a great insight into the many differences between the different types of arrows, although it’s still worth looking at the different materials and how they may affect your use of them.

Carbon Arrows

Carbon arrows are perhaps the sturdiest ones that you can buy, and can withstand a considerable amount of abuse; naturally, it’s not recommended that you abuse them, but it’s nice to know that they’ll be able to put up with the majority of impacts without breaking. While they can be incredibly durable, one notable downside is that they’re not fixable, so once they’re broken, they’re unusable.

There’s also the fact that carbon arrows can be somewhat heavier than many other types, which can have an effect on the likes of speed and may slightly affect accuracy. By compensating for this extra weight, however, you shouldn’t have many issues with it.

Aluminum Arrows

Many light bows may need an arrow that’s made out of a lighter material, as the weight can have a drastic effect on where and tear. This is where aluminum comes in, as it’s perhaps one of the lightest materials used, and can easily be bent back into shape, should it become damaged, as Archery Buff notes. They’re also one of the more affordable types of arrow, which can be beneficial for archery newcomers, as it allows them to become familiar with their bows without spending too much on arrows.

Wood Arrows

Wood is the most obvious choice for an arrow, which is primarily because it’s been the most common material for them for much of the weapon’s history. This has also made it the most affordable one to choose, depending on which type of wood you’re using. However, this can have a variety of drawbacks, such as being easy to break and splinter, meaning that you’ll need to handle them with more care than you would with other arrows.

Fiberglass Arrows

When it comes to target practice, you’ll need a relatively sturdy arrow that doesn’t break too easily, although many people may not want to go for carbon fiber, for a few different reasons. This is where fiberglass can shine, as they’re quite affordable for the amount of durability that they offer. As Arrow360 notes, however, they may not be much use outside of the archery range or at a summer camp, so if you’re looking to hunt, then it may not be the best choice.

Where Can You Buy Bows & Arrows?

There are quite a few different places that you can buy bows and arrows, with sporting goods stores and online being two of the most common. In many cases, all you’ll need to do is search for an appropriate store near you, which shouldn’t be too difficult. When you’re going to buy one, however, its recommended that you ask questions when you’re doing so, especially if you’re somewhat of a novice in the niche. This is because you’ll want to ensure that the bow and arrows that you’re buying are suitable for you and your needs.

Being informed before you make your decision is a vital aspect of purchasing any weapon. The majority of sporting goods and hunting stores will be able to work with you to determine which bow is suitable for you, especially as a newcomer in the area. When you’re more experienced, you’ll be able to better determine which bow that you want; however, it’s still recommended that you ask questions about particular brands and models, depending on what you’re looking for.

Just because there’s a significant number of bows and arrows available doesn’t mean that you need to buy each of them, which can often be an expensive process. Instead, you can start out with the one that interests you the most and begin building your collection from there. By doing so, you’ll be able to better determine whether or not you want to change it in the future.

Choose whichever one stands out the most for you, and then start ticking them off the list, should you decide to buy different types. This will let you feel the benefits that each of the different types, as well as materials, have to offer.

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