The Best Recurve Bow: Our Picks for 2023

Table of Contents

Humans have been practicing archery for more than 20,000 years, and the invention of the recurve bow dates back to around 1000 BC. For such an old tool, recurve bows are surprisingly complex, and they’re not a “one-size-fits-all” device—they’re all unique, and you’ll need to find one that fits your needs.

Below, we’ll take a deep dive into the top recurve bows on the market today. We’ll get you started if you’re looking for a target bow, a hunting bow, or a versatile, “best-all-around”-type model, and we’ll discuss our pick for best recurve bow overall.

By the way, we’ve included some great beginner bows, but if you can also check out our guide to the best beginner recurve bows, if you’d like to start from square one. 

Let’s dive in:

Quick Picks: Overviews of Our Favorites

Here our top picks, and for whom we think they’re a good fit:

> Best Recurve Bow / Best All-Around: PSE Archery Night Hawk

> Best Recurve Bow Package with Gear: Southland Archery Supply Gravity Hunting Bow Package

> Best Recurve Bow for Beginners: PSE Archery Razorback

> Best Recurve Bow for Bowhunting: The Samick Sage Takedown Recurve

> Best Recurve Bow for Youth: Southland Archery Supply Spirit Jr.

> Best Budget Bow: CenterPoint Sycamore

> Best Recurve for Tall Archers: Ragim Archery Wildcat Plus

Alright, now let’s go into some detail:

Best Overall Recurve Bow

You’ve probably seen us talk about this bow on other pages. It’s one of our overall favorite pieces of archery equipment, not to mention recurve bow.

PSE Archery Nighthawk

Thanks to its range of features and quality design, the PSE Archery Nighthawk is a good choice for bowhunters and target shooters, whether experts or beginners.

Sale
PSE Archery Night Hawk Traditional Takedown Recreational Shooting Recurve Bow, Right, 62″- 50
  • CRAFTED FROM HARDWOOD – Constructed from hand-selected woods for an eye-catching look and great performance
  • RELIABLE STABILIZER – The built-in stabilizer of the recurve bow helps minimize vibrations, minimize shock and produce less noise
  • STABILIZER BUSHING – The stabilizer bushing offers dependability in the field and provide enhanced performance

We chose the Nighthawk as our top pick overall because it suits just about anybody. This is what stood out in particular.

Draw weight is available from 20 to 50 lbs. While it isn’t adjustable, you can choose various draw weights when you get the Nighthawk, allowing you to calibrate it to your experience and upper body strength. A beginner or younger archer can start low, while a veteran looking to hunt big game can go for the higher power. Just remember that at least 40 pounds of draw weight are recommended for hunting deer.

The takedown design is easy and intuitive. By being a takedown bow, you can easily store it when you’re not using it, but more importantly, you can upgrade the limbs without needing any fancy tools or risking the integrity of the bow. If you’re a beginner, start with a lower weight and then upgrade later.

The 62-inch bow length is appropriate for most archers. Although we do wish there were some more options, most people will be able to shoot a 62-inch bow with little issue.  

Right- and left-handed models are available. Not only did PSE decide to produce the Nighthawk with a wide range of draw weights, they also produced it for both right- and left-handed archers, something a lot of manufacturers overlook. Using the appropriately handed bow makes accuracy easier, and it’s safer too.

There’s a bushing for adding a stabilizer. By adding an aftermarket stabilizer, you can increase the accuracy of your shots, either on the range or while hunting.

The wooden riser is elegant and stylish. Be honest. Part of the reason you want a recurve bow is that they just look cool. Well, the Nighthawk is one of the coolest. The hardwood riser has excellent craftsmanship that looks good on the range, blends in in the woods, and can endure rough conditions.

Pros:

  • Range of draw weights available
  • Easy takedown design
  • 62″ length
  • Right- and left-handed
  • Accessory bushing
  • Sleek hardwood riser

Cons:

  • No other lengths available

Best Recurve Bow Packages

If you’re interested in archery as a hobby, you should definitely look at recurve packages. These usually include most if not all of the accessories you need to get started so you don’t have to go find them on your own.

SAS Gravity One-Piece Hunting Recurve Bow Package

With a good assortment of included accessories on top of a quality, expertly crafted bow, the SAS Gravity package is an excellent way to get started with archery on the right foot.

SAS Gravity 60″ One-Piece Hunting Recurve Bow Package with Finger Tab, Stringer, Armguard, Paper Target Face, Sock Sleeve and Tube Quiver (50lbs, Right Hand)
  • A Fast Compact One-piece 60″ Hunting Recurve Bow; Fast Flight String Compatible
  • Limbs: Hard Maple and Black Fiberglass
  • Deflex Limb Design for Refined Accuracy

We’ve found that to keep prices low on archery packages, manufacturers sometimes include lower-quality equipment, even bows. That’s not the case with the SAS Gravity package. It’s a gorgeous, well-crafted bow with a riser of hard maple and fiberglass limbs. But it’s not just its looks that we like.

The lightweight design is easy to hold. Weighing in at just two pounds, the SAS Gravity is one of the lighter recurve bows we’ve found. That makes it easier to aim, especially if you’re relatively new to shooting, and your muscles aren’t used to holding a bow out steady.

Draw weights are available from 25 to 55 pounds. While 25 is enough for hunting, it’s still low enough to be manageable by new archers and even youth. Just check your local laws as some states require as much as 45 pounds of draw weight to hunt whitetail deer. Meanwhile, the higher 55-pound end of the range is pretty good power for a recurve bow.

The 60-inch length covers a range of archers. Being 60 inches long, this bow is good for most women and teenagers as well as many men. If you’re taller, the SAS Gravity is also available in larger sizes, just not the full hunting package, so be sure to check that out.

Most important accessories are included. We were impressed with the detail SAS took with this full bow package. Not only does it have essential accessories like an arm guard and finger tab, it even has a quiver, bow sleeve, and paper targets for practicing. The one thing it doesn’t have? Arrows!

Pros:

  • Beautiful hard maple riser
  • Lightweight
  • Range of draw weights available
  • Essential accessories included
  • Deflex limbs
  • Paper targets included

Cons:

  • Package only available in 60 inches
  • No arrows included 

Topoint Archery R3 Takedown Recurve Bow Package

The Topoint R3 recurve package is a great way to get everything you need to start bowhunting in one package without going over budget.

Looking for a recurve bow package with everything you need to start target shooting or bowhunting? Look no further than the R3 takedown recurve package that made our list for a number of reasons.

The value is almost unbeatable. For a full recurve package, the price for the R3 is surprisingly low, especially considering all the different accessories you get with it. Naturally there are the necessary accessories like the arm guard and finger tab, but Topoint took it to the extreme. You get 12 arrows, plus a quiver and sight, important for hunting. Plus, you even get advanced maintenance accessories like string wax, a bow stringer, and Allen keys. We were truly blown away with everything Topoint included in the package.

The draw weight goes up to 50 pounds. Topoint doesn’t manufacture the R3 with the biggest range of draw weights we’ve seen, but they did give it plenty of power. On the low side, you can get 30 pounds and 50 on the high side, meaning it can certainly be used for hunting.

The aluminum riser has a camo finish. While wooden risers usually blend in with a hunting environment, a camo design is just that much better. When all of your equipment breaks up patterns, it’s difficult for game like whitetail deer to see you.

The 58-inch length is good for women or teenagers. While a bit short for full grown men, the R3 is 58 inches long, which is a lot better for women or teenagers who are still growing and don’t have long enough arms to handle the draw length of larger recurve bows.

Pros:

  • Great value

  • Arrows and accessories included

  • Maintenance equipment included

  • High draw weight available

  • Camo finish

  • Suitable size for women and teenagers

Cons:

  • Heavy

  • Too small for most men

  • Right-handed only

Best Recurve Bow for Beginners

Beginners need a certain kind of recurve bow. It needs to help them learn without being overwhelming. We’ve found that one bow in particular meets these requirements.

PSE Archery Razorback

Due to its manageable draw weights and light weight, the PSE Razorback is a good choice for beginners who still want an effective and well-crafted recurve bow.

PSE Archery Razorback Traditional Takedown Recurve Recreational Shooting Bow, Right, 62″- 30
  • CRAFTED FROM HARDWOOD – Made from hand-selected Walnut, Burma White, and Beech Wood with Hard Maple and Fiberglass limbs
  • RELIABLE STABILIZER – The built-in stabilizer of the recurve bow helps minimize vibrations, minimize shock and produce less noise
  • SIGHT BUSHINGS – Sight bushings provide increased optimal performance

Many people who aren’t even avid archers have heard of the PSE Razorback. It’s a famous bow for a lot of reasons, many of which have also made us consider it one of the best bows for starting out with the archery hobby.

It has mid-range draw weight options. You can get the Razorback with draw weights from 20 to 35 pounds. That’s right in the sweet spot where a new adult archer can learn serious archery without being overwhelmed. Just check your local laws if you want to go hunting with it as 35 pounds may not be enough.

It’s insanely lightweight. Although the exact weight depends on the draw weight you get, some Razorback bows weigh as little as 1.8 pounds. This lightweight design is ideal for beginners whose shoulder muscles might not be used to holding a bow out in front of them for long periods of time. This way they can take steady, accurate shots and learn faster.

Both right- and left-handed options versions are available. Though experienced left-handed archers might use a right-handed bow, it’s a much better idea for a beginner to use the appropriately handed version. It isn’t just easier to shoot. It’s safer too.

The take down design is convenient and versatile. Being a take down recurve bow means that you can easily remove the limbs. This is great for storage in the off season or even transportation. More importantly, it means you can upgrade the limbs. As a beginner, you might decide you want more draw weight in the future, so you can exchange the included limbs for ones with more tension.  

Pros:

  • Renowned quality
  • Manageable draw weights
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Right- and left-handed
  • Take down design

Cons:

  • White limbs stand out
  • No length options

Best Recurve Bows for Bowhunting

Not all recurve bows can be used for bowhunting. Whether it’s due to legal restrictions or just the necessities of the hunt, most bowhunters opt for recurves with more power and other design features that facilitate shooting live game. In our opinion, these are the best for bowhunting.

 

Samick Sage Archery Takedown Recurve Bow

Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow and Arrow Set 62 inches – Ready to Use Archery Set Including All Accessories Needed to Start Shooting
  • READY TO SHOOT – Includes: Riser – 2 Fiberglass laminated limbs (Choose from 25 lbs – 60 lbs draw) – 14 dacron bowstring – arrow rest – 6 arrows – 2 brass nocks – stringer tool – arm guard – finger guard – quiver.
  • ERGONOMICALLY DESIGNED – Samick’s risers are manufactured with imported Maple wood, for lightweight and highly durable bows, with a comfortable ergonomic grip.
  • FEATURES – Pre-installed threaded Brass Bushings for various attachments and upgrades, such as, Brass Plunger, Stabilizer, Sight, Quiver, Bow fishing reel.

If you read our article last year, you know the Samick Sage was actually our top pick for recurve bows overall. It definitely still has a place in our hearts. In fact, for 2023, we’ve decided it’s the ideal recurve bow for traditional bowhunters for a number of reasons.

It has serious power. The Sage is one of the most powerful recurve bows on the market, available with a maximum draw weight of 60 pounds. That’s enough power to potentially take down big game, and it also means higher arrow speeds and therefore more accuracy and lethal energy.

It’s ready for bowhunting accessories. The Sage was clearly designed with bowhunting in mind because it has threaded brass bushings that you can use to attach accessories like a stabilizer or sight, even a quiver.

Samick included an ergonomic hard maple riser. The expertly crafted riser on the Sage is easy to hold even if you have to keep it steady for long periods while you’re waiting for your quarry to come into range. Perhaps more importantly, it’s warm, too, something that becomes an issue in the late whitetail season.

The construction is top-shelf quality. The limbs are laminated fiberglass and therefore maintain their tension better than other limbs over multiple uses. Similarly, the dacron bowstring is one of our favorite features. Not only does it resist fraying, but it minimizes vibration for a quieter and more accurate shot.

Pros:

  • Powerful
  • Bushings for accessories
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Warm hard maple riser
  • Laminated fiberglass limbs
  • Dacron bowstring
  • Right- and left-handed versions

Cons:

  • Difficult take down

Bear Archery Grizzly

We highly recommend the Bear Archery Grizzly for experienced traditional bowhunters who want a quality bow to take on the toughest hunting challenges.

Bear Archery AFT2086150 Grizzly Recurve 50#, Brown
  • Limbs overlaid with clear maple and backed and faced with high-strength black fiberglass
  • Crowned, cut-on center arrow shelf
  • Comes with leather side plate and bear hair arrow rest

The Grizzly is one of the most in-demand recurve bows, and it’s sometimes even hard to find in stock. While it’s definitely a top-shelf model, we certainly think it warrants its reputation, namely because of the features that make it ideal for bowhunting.

The bow is powerful but consistent. The laminated maple and fiberglass limbs provide consistent tension through the shot, and that means better accuracy. Additionally, you can get the Grizzly in a good range of draw weights from 30 to 60 pounds, the 60-pound one being the most powerful and therefore best for hunting purposes.

Bear Archery used high-quality materials. As a top-shelf recurve bow, just about everything included with the Grizzly is impressively crafted. For example, we love the leather side plate and bear hair arrow rest. These are much better for your arrows than cheaper materials and can increase the life of your fletchings. 

It’s a one-piece laminated bow. The Grizzly isn’t a take down recurve. Instead, it’s a single piece made of laminated wood and fiberglass. While this isn’t as convenient for storing and means you can’t upgrade the limbs, it’s much better for consistency and accuracy, something you need if you’re a traditional bowhunter looking for a challenge. 

The beauty and craftsmanship of the design is unmatched. The brown maple riser is absolutely gorgeous and reflects the detail that goes into manufacturing the Grizzly. Few bows look as sophisticated on the range and at home in the woods.

Pros:

  • Powerful
  • Accurate
  • Expert craftsmanship
  • Bear hair arrow rest
  • One-piece design
  • Gorgeous maple riser

Cons:

  • No take down
  • Top-shelf price range 

Best Recurve Bows for Youth

Archery is a great hobby for youth. Mentally, it builds character and discipline. Physically, it builds upper body strength and coordination. The best recurve bows for youth do all this while motivating and encouraging growth. Oh, and they’re usually smaller too, of course.

Southland Archery Supply Spirit Jr.

We highly recommend the Spirit Jr for children or young teenagers who need a small bow that’s still ready for advanced archery so they can learn and advance in the sport.

Sale
Southland Archery Supply Spirit Jr 54″ Black Limbs Beginner Youth Bow Package with Target Sight, Armguard, Stringer, and Stick On Arrow Rest (14 LBS, Right Handed – Draw String with Right Hand)
  • Riser Is Crafted From Quality Lamination Wood; Limbs Are Made of Maple Laminations and Strong European Fiberglass
  • Recommended Shooter Heights Up to 5’4″
  • Pre-installed Brass Bushings for Stabilizer, Bow Sight and more.

At Complete Guide to Archery, we love Southland Archery Supply bows, which is probably why their Spirit Jr model is our favorite for youth. It has a number of great features that help young people learn while giving them a proper introduction to archery.

The price is entry level. For an SAS bow, the Spirit Jr is pretty easy on your budget. This is ideal for a youth bow because they will likely need to upgrade to a bigger or more powerful bow going forward. Similarly, they may decide they don’t like archery after all. This way you haven’t made too big of an investment.

It’s just 54 inches long. The Spirit Jr is a small bow, yet it still has a full adult recurve design. It’s definitely not a little toy bow. At 54 inches, it’s good for taller kids or teenagers not fully grown.

The draw weights are low. You can get the Spirit Jr with a draw weight of just 10 pounds, manageable for just about anybody. That said, if the young archer has a bit more upper body strength, you can go as high as 22 pounds. Just keep in mind this isn’t really enough to hunt with, just learn on.

The bow is capable of advanced archery. More than just something to play around on, the Spirit Jr is ready to go the distance if the archer is. Not only is it made of tough maple wood and laminated fiberglass, it has brass bushings for important archery accessories. You can attach a stabilizer and sight to really start improving accuracy. Plus, the bow even comes with essential accessories like an arm guard. 

You get a three-year warranty. It’s pretty rare to find even adult recurve bows with three-year warranties, so this speaks to the craftsmanship SAS put into the Spirit Jr. Even if your young archer does decide to upgrade later, it’s likely you’ll be able to pass the bow on to someone else.

Pros:

  • Entry-level price range

  • Youth size

  • Manageable draw weight

  • Durable construction

  • Bushings for accessories

  • 3-year warranty

Cons:

  • No finger tab included

Bear Archery Bullseye X Recurve Bow Package for Youth

Versatility is the reason the Bear Archery Bullseye X made our list for youth, its multiple sizes giving you more options for growing kids and teenagers.

Bear Archery Bullseye X Take Down Bow for Youth, Right Hand, 15 lb. Draw Weight
  • TAKE-DOWN DESIGN: A Take-Down bow designed for older, more experienced children
  • RECOMMENDED AGES 12+: Recommended age range for children is 12 years old and up
  • ACCESSORY COMPATIBLE: Right-hand only riser offers sight and arrow rest mounting holes

The Bear Bullseye X is another great bow for youth. In fact, it works for a wider range of kids and teenagers than the Spirit Jr. Plus, it has a number of great features.

There’s a range of sizes. Unlike many bows, you can get the Bullseye X in either 48 inches or 54 inches, the former better for kids and the latter teenagers who are already starting to grow. You can even get it in 62 inches for older teenagers or adults.

The draw weights are ideal for beginners and kids. Unfortunately, you don’t get a lot of options when it comes to the draw weight on the Bullseye, but it does vary based on size. The 48-inch version has a draw weight of 15 pounds, the 54-inch 24 pounds, and the 62-inch 26 pounds. That’s probably too low to hunt with, but a child or teenager who’s just starting out will be able to build their accuracy a lot better with the lower power. 

It comes with a string nock. For some reason, lots of bow manufacturers leave this out, even when it comes to full bow packages. You then have to find one on your own and attach it at the right point on the bowstring. We really liked that Bear included one with the Bullseye X.

Pros:

  • Multiple sizes available

  • Easy draw weights

  • Take down design

  • String nock included

Cons:

  • Right-handed only

  • No draw weight options 

Best Budget Recurve Bows

It may be because you don’t want to invest too much into your first bow when you may not end up enjoying archery after all. It may be because you want a backup bow. It may just be because you’re on a budget but still want to have fun with archery. Regardless, there are a number of low-cost bows out there that can fit your needs. These are some of our favorites.

CenterPoint Sycamore Recurve Bow Package

Great for both learning or practicing at the range, the CenterPoint Sycamore is a straightforward bow that gets the job done without unnecessary frills.

CenterPoint Archery AVRS25KT Sycamore™ Recurve Bow Package, Black/Brown, One Size
  • LAMINATED RISER FOR MAXIMUM STRENGTH – Ebony, white oak and walnut wood
  • HARD MAPLE AND FIBERGLASS LIMBS – Provides long-lasting durability
  • MODERN LIMB POCKETS – For easy assembly

It’s definitely hard to get a recurve bow with hard maple limbs in this price range. It’s not just that, though. We were really surprised at what CenterPoint was able to pack into this model at little cost.

Mid-range draw weight. The Sycamore comes in just one draw weight: 28 pounds. That’s in the middle point that’s accessible to most people. It might be enough to hunt small game with, but it may or may not be legal depending on your local laws, so be sure to check those if you want to bowhunt.

The riser is laminated wood. Made of ebony, white oak, and walnut, the Sycamore increases durability while still keeping weight down. In fact, it’s just about three pounds. That’s not the lightest on the market, but it should be manageable for most archers.

It has a take down design. Since the riser is well-made, you can always opt to change out the limbs for more powerful ones. The take down design uses modern limb pockets that are easy to use.

Pros:

  • Budget price point

  • Mid-range draw weight

  • Laminated wood riser

  • Hard maple and fiberglass limbs

  • Take down design

Cons:

  • Only 1 draw weight option

  • Cheap look

TideWe Recurve Bow and Arrow Set

If you want the challenge of bowhunting with a recurve bow but don’t want to drop a ton of money on more gear, you should definitely take a look at the TideWe recurve set, which has the power and accessories to hit the tree stand.

TIDEWE Recurve Bow and Arrow Set for Adult & Youth Beginner, Wooden Takedown Recurve Bow 62″ Right Handed with Ergonomic Design for Outdoor Training Practice (45lbs)
  • 【High Performance】TIDEWE’s recurve bow features a reliable wooden core and strong fiberglass & wooden limbs. In addition, we provide a powerful 16 strands daclon fabric bow string. This way you can focus more on successfully hitting your targets.
  • 【Ergonomic & Unique Design】 The riser is designed with rounded edges and a fine finished handle, making it very comfortable to hold. This comfort will allow you to have the best experience shooting multiple arrows or for extending amounts of time. Our design is also appealing to the eye making it unique in its own ways.
  • 【Easy to Assemble & Versatility】 This recurve bow is very friendly to put together. While following the easy to read instructions, set up can take less than 5 minutes. Our bow offers pre-installed brass bushings for various attachments and upgrades such as, stabilizers, sight, quiver, and bow fishing reels.

When it comes to performance for the money, it’s hard to beat this TideWe. Plus, it comes with a lot of accessories and features that greatly increase its value.

There are a number of draw weights available. In fact, you can get draw weights as low as 20 pounds and as high as 50 pounds. This means you can use it to start improving your accuracy or you can take it deer hunting. It also makes it more accessible to a wider range of archers, men, women, and children. You can also upgrade the limbs later if you want thanks to the take down design.

It still has bushings for accessories. Unlike a lot of budget bows, TideWe still included brass bushings on this model that allow you to attach accessories like stabilizers and sights. For this reason, despite its budget price, it’s still a good bow for serious hunting.

It’s a full archery kit. It’s frankly kind of crazy all the stuff TideWe included with this bow. There’s a finger guard, bow stringer, even a target. The best thing they included, though, is definitely the pack of six carbon arrows. Not only does this save you a trip and the hassle of picking out your own arrows, but they’re quality arrows that can help improve your accuracy while hunting. The only thing we thought it was lacking was an arm guard.

It’s easy to hold. Thanks to an ergonomic riser and fairly lightweight design of 2.45 pounds, the TideWe recurve puts less strain on your shoulder muscles while you’re aiming. This is good for accuracy in general, but it’s especially important when you’re hunting because you might have to wait for your quarry to come into range.

Pros:

  • Wide range of draw weights

  • Take down design

  • Bushings for accessories

  • Numerous accessories included

  • 6 carbon arrows included

  • Ergonomic riser

Cons:

  • No arm guard

  • Assembly required

Best Recurve Bow for Tall Archers

If you’ve read our other reviews, you’ve probably noticed that most bows come in a small range of sizes, usually around 62 inches. This is great for most people, but especially tall archers, those who are around 6’3″ or above or those who have particularly long arms, may need bows as large as 72 inches! Usually you have to seek these out specifically, so to give you a hand, here’s our favorite.

Ragim Archery Wildcat Plus

To avoid sacrificing hunting or target-shooting features just to get a big enough bow, take a look at the Ragim Wildcat, a 70-inch bow designed with advanced archery in mind.

Ragim Archery Wildcat Plus RH Recurve Bow, 70″, LBS: 40
  • Made in Italy
  • Laminated riser for strength and durability
  • Includes ragim’s patented “bow tuning System” That allows you to compensate for twisted limbs, or to fine tune the bow to your liking

Measuring 70 inches, the Wildcat is a big recurve bow. Tall archers can definitely take advantage of much longer draw length for power and accuracy. We also like the Wildcat because it’s a quality bow with great features, along with several other Ragim bows that come in large sizes.

It has enough draw weight to hunt whitetail deer. We specifically chose the Wildcat because it comes with a draw weight of 40 pounds, usually considered enough to hunt whitetail deer. If you’re not interested in bowhunting, you should definitely check out the other large Ragim models as well that have a wide range of lower draw weights too.

The laminated riser is tough. Whether hunting or target practice, you want your bow to be able to handle the repeated stresses of shooting. We found the Ragim design to be one of the tougher out there on the market, especially if you’re concerned about the longevity of your bow.

It has bushings for hunting accessories. Ragim included bushings so you can attach accessories like a sight or stabilizer, which are important if you’re going to hunt. They can also improve your accuracy even if you’re just a hobby shooter, though, so don’t overlook them.

Ragim included their proprietary bow tuning system. Recurve bows can easily get out of whack if the limbs twist even a little. By being able to adjust the limbs and bow to compensate for this, you improve your accuracy.

Pros:

  • 70 inches long

  • Hunting draw weight

  • Durable riser

  • Bushings for accessories

  • Ragim bow tuning system

Cons:

  • Right-handed only

  • Only 1 draw weight option

How to Find a Recurve Bow That Fits Your Measurements

Most people, when getting into archery, feel totally overwhelmed by all the information required to get a bow and start using it. There are only three measurements you need, and once you figure them out, you can find a recurve bow that fits, and you’re good to go.

The three measurements you need to calculate are:

1. Your draw length;

2. Your bow length; and

3. Your draw weight.

Here’s how you figure out each measurement.

Draw Length. What is draw length, you ask? Here’s the simple definition: the draw length measures exactly how far the archer pulls the bow string back before letting an arrow loose. Here’s a more complicated definition: the draw length is measurement, in inches, from the back of the bow handle (called the pivot point) to nock (the place on the bow string where you place your arrow) when the archer is at full draw.

There are two ways to get that measurement:

  • You can go to an archery store and have a professional measure you, OR you can
  • Put your back against the wall and spread your arms out, so that the backs of your hands are flat against the wall. Measure the length, in inches, from the ends of your fingers on your right hand to the ends of your fingers on your left hand, and then divide by 2.5. That’s number is your draw length! Yep! It’s that easy. Do that and you’ve got your draw length.

Here’s a quick example: if your measurement against that wall is 70 inches, your draw length would be 28 inches (70 inches / 2.5 = 28-inch draw length).

(By the way, the finger-to-finger measurement is usually pretty close to your height.)

It’s easiest to have someone else do this measurement for you, but if you’re alone at the moment, here’s a trick you can use: find a white wall where there’s a couple of feet worth of space. Put your back against the wall, and then put your right arm out against the wall, so that the back of your right hand is flat against the wall. Make a small pencil mark at the end of your fingers tips. Then, keep that hand against the wall, and stretch your left arm out and place the back of your left hand against the wall. When you’re there, bring your right arm over and make a small pencil mark at the end of the fingertips on your left hand. Measure the distance between the two marks on the wall, divide by 2.5, and wallah! You’ve got your draw length.

The draw length is perhaps the most important measurement you’ll take, so check it twice to make sure you’ve got it right. You can buy the best recurve ever made, but if your draw length is way off, you’ll have a hard time maintaining accuracy.

Bow Length. Now that you know your draw length, use the chart below to find out what size bow will be right for you:

Recurve Bow Length Diagram

This a general guideline, and it’s ideal to stick to the measurements listed above, but there’s a little more wiggle room when it comes to the size length that’s right for you. Usually, when you’re buying a bow, the description will list the range of draw lengths for that bow’s particular height. For instance, the Samick Sage recurve bow we discuss below is a 62-inch bow, which means that it’s ideal for an archer with a 22-inch to 24-inch draw length. However, as per the manufacturer’s description of that bow, it’s good for anyone with a draw length up to and including 29 inches, so there is sometimes a little wiggle room when it comes to bow length.

Draw Weight. Draw weight is a measurement of the force stored by a bow, stored in foot-pounds, when it is at full draw. That’s a little difficult to comprehend, so here’s a very, very unscientific way to determine draw weight: draw weight is a measurement of how difficult it is to draw the bow string and shoot it. A bow with a very low draw weight—10 or 15 pounds, for example—is going to be easy to draw, and a bow with a high draw weight—50 to 60 pounds or more, for example—will be much more challenging to draw. Bows with lower draw weights require less strength to use but shoot slower arrows, and bows with higher draw weights require more strength to use to shoot faster arrows (and with more force—something that’s important to bow hunters).

(By the way—many people will use a hashtag to signify the word “pound,” so a 30# bow would be a bow with 30 pounds of draw weight, and a 50# bow would be a bow with a draw weight of 50 pounds).

So, you want to get the draw weight right. It’s a VERY important measurement, because a recurve with a draw weight that’s too low will feel wimpy to you, and a recurve with a draw weight that’s too high will simply be too difficult for you to draw—or, worse, you’ll be able to put in the effort to draw it, but it’ll tucker you out very easily and you’ll strain your muscles. So, the right draw weight is important.

So, here’s the bad news: there’s no real test for it. There are some generally-agreed upon parameters, and for recurve bow, they look like this:

  • Young adults aged 18 to 21: 15 to 30 pounds of draw weight, with 20 pounds as a good place to start;
  • Adult women 22 and older: 20 to 35 pounds of draw weight, with 20 to 25 pounds as a good place to start; and
  • Adult men 22 and older: 25 to 40 pounds of draw weight, with 30 pounds as a good place to start.

There are plenty of bows with a draw weight of 40 pounds or more, but it’s usually experienced archers who buy those models. Archers on recurve bows usually need to build their strength in order to use bows of that draw weight, and that’s the good news—you will probably find that your strength will grow over time.

Here’s an important rule of thumb: “go low” on draw weights, especially if you’re just getting into archery. It’s a very common thing for people to imagine themselves a little stronger than they are, but think of it this way: if you have a bow with a draw weight of 35 pounds, every time you draw the bow, it’s going to feel like you’re lifting 35 pounds. If you’re at the range for an hour and you shoot 100 arrows, that’s going to tax your muscles. It doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, but repetition (and archery is all about repetition!) is going to make it feel like a lot. So go low—your body will thank you!

By the way—many recurve bows are made in a range of draw weights, so please don’t feel like you need to get a model outside of your range. In fact, takedown recurve bows—which we’ll discuss below—allow you to alter the draw weight of your recurve, allowing you to use whatever weight you like. The Samick Sage Takedown Recurve, which we discuss above, is a good example of that.

Draw weight is important to every archer, but believe it or not, particular draw weights are required by law for bow hunters shooting game. It takes a bow with a draw weight of at least 40 pounds to kill a white-tail deer, and a bow with a draw weight of at least 50 pounds to kill larger game such as elk. A bow with a draw weight less than those figures won’t be able to provide a humane kill, and most states have laws about the poundage that hunters need to use when hunting.

So, let’s recap. To buy a bow, you need:

  • Your draw length;
  • Your bow length;
  • Your draw weight; and
  • That’s it! Easy peasy.

Some FAQs

We get a lot of emails from visitors to the site, and there are a couple of questions we run into again and again, so I’m going to “head them off at the pass,” if you will, and answer them here. They’re mostly about buying bows and some of the most common issues that pop up. The first is the one we hear the most:

Q: When I’m buying a bow online, there’s an option to buy a left-handed bow or a right-handed bow. I’m not sure which one we should choose.

A: You would be amazed at how often we get this question. For most people, if you’re right-handed, you’ll hold the bow with your left hand and pull on the arrow string with your right hand. For most people, if you’re left-handed, you’ll hold the bow with your right hand and pull on the arrow string with your left hand.

For “Hand Orientation,” if you’re shooting as a leftie, you choose “Left,” and if you’re shooting as a rightie, you choose “Right.”

Q: So, I bought my bow… and I forgot to buy arrows! I’ve looked online, and selecting arrows is totally baffling. What do I do?

A: When most new archers get a bow, they forget that they need to buy arrows, too. One of our favorite for new archers is the Carbon Express Maxima Red SD Carbon Arrows.

Sale
Carbon Express Maxima Red SD Carbon Arrow – 6 Pack, Black & Red, 350 (50871)
  • DYNAMIC SPINE CONTROL – Patented high-tech carbon material construction that manages dynamic spine in a new way to make broadheads fly better. Maxima RED SD uses different carbon materials to control arrow flex to the RED ZONE
  • SMALL DIAMETER [SD] – Features a .203 inch inside diameter for better penetration and less wind-drift. Available in 250 and 350 Spine Sizes
  • RED ZONE – The section of the Maxima RED SD arrow shaft that manages arrow flex in flight, which is called dynamic spine. The RED ZONE is the best section of the arrow shaft to contain Dynamic Spine and make broadheads shoot best

 They use a patented “diamond weave” outer layer, which means they can get beat up and still remain usable, and that’s a great feature for new archers.

Q: What does the “#” mean? I see that everywhere.

A: A lot of archers use that as a substitute for the word “pound” when they’re referring to draw weight, so a 25# bow would be a bow with a 25-pound draw weight, and a 45# bow would be a bow with a 45-pound draw weight.

That hashtag, ironically, can make it a little bit difficult for us to post on social media, because it confuses the heck out of people. Now you know! Tell everyone for us, please.

Q: If I buy one of these bows, can I use it to fight crime?

A: No; that is specifically not allowed.

(Ok, so that’s not a real question we get. We just wanted to make sure you’re paying attention. But, really—no fighting crime).

And, last but not least, there’s one more question that we get a lot:

Q: When I’m ready to buy new limbs, can I buy whatever limbs I like, or do I have to stick with the limbs for the particular type of bow I have?

A: You should definitely stick with limbs that fit the bow. If your bow is a Samick Sage, get Samick Sage replacement limbs. If your bow is a Spyder Takedown, get Spyder limbs. Manufacturers almost always sell replacement limbs for their takedown recurves—we’ve yet to see a bow maker sell a takedown that doesn’t also offer replacement limbs—but just be sure you’re replacing old limbs with the same brand.

With all that said…

That Wraps It Up!

If you’re still here, we salute you! This was a long post, and we certainly threw a lot of information at you. If you’re new to archery, WELCOME! If you’ve got questions, leave them below and we’ll see if we can answer them for you.

This article is written by:

Gregory Johnson

Gregory Johnson

With almost 20 years of archery experience under his belt, Gregory founded the Complete Guide to Archery website in 2017. His purpose has been to spread knowledge about the hobby and sport to anyone willing to learn.
All posts in this category: Recurve Bows